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FRIDAY THE 13th: A NEW BEGINNING (1985)
[aka Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning]
“Jason Voorhees is dead! His body was cremated! He’s nothing but a handful of ash!”
Director: Danny Steinmann
Starring: Melanie Kinnaman, John Shepherd, Shavar Ross, Marco St John, Richard Young, Vernon Washington, Debisue Voorhees, John Robert Dixon, Carol Locatell, Ron Sloan, Dominick Brascia, Juliette Cummins, Tiffany Helm, Mark Venturini, Dick Wieand, Corey Feldman, Tom Morga
Screenplay: Martin Kitrosser, David Cohen and Danny Steinmann, based upon a story by Martin Kitrosser and David Cohen
Synopsis: During a thunderstorm, young Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman) hurries through the woods to the grave of Jason Voorhees. Hearing voices nearby, Tommy hides. To his horror, two young men begin to open the grave. Inside lies the body of Jason, worms crawling through the eyeholes of his hockey-mask. Suddenly, Jason sits up. A machete in the gut disposes of one of the thrillseekers, an icepick to the throat the other. Then Jason turns his attention to Tommy, who sits paralysed with terror as his nemesis approaches. As Jason raises his machete, Tommy screams….and the grown-up Tommy Jarvis (John Shepherd) jerks awake to find himself being transported in a van belonging to the Unger Institute of Mental Health. He is delivered to the Pinehurst Youth Development Center, where the assistant director, Pam Roberts (Melanie Kinnaman), greets him and takes him to the director, Dr Matt Letter (Richard Young). Matt tries to make Tommy feel welcome, but the young man is unresponsive. When Tommy has gone to his room, Matt tells Pam about Tommy’s tragic history: his self-defence killing of the psychopathic Jason Voorhees, and the years of therapy and drug treatments since. Matt worries that these very treatments may have damaged Tommy even more than his experience with Jason. In his room, Tommy is the victim of a practical joke involving a rubber spider. He retaliates by terrifying the young perpetrator, Reggie (Shavar Ross), with one of his homemade horror masks. The boy is impressed by Tommy’s handiwork. He tells Tommy that he is not one of the “nuts”, but at Pinehurst visiting his grandfather, George (Vernon Washington), who works there. Sirens sound outside, and Reggie rushes out to see what is happening. Sheriff Tucker (Marco St John) is returning two of Pinehurst’s residents, Tina (Debisue Voorhees) and Eddie (John Robert Dixon), who have been caught having sex on a neighbouring property. The neighbour, Ethel Hubbard (Carol Locatell), rides up with her overgrown, under-brained son, Junior (Ron Sloan), and threatens to shoot the next person she finds trespassing on her land. Later, the Pinehurst kids do their assigned chores. Joey (Dominick Brascia) infuriates Robin (Juliette Cummins) and Violet (Tiffany Helm) by getting chocolate all over their clean laundry. He then makes the mistake of pestering trigger-tempered Vic (Mark Venturini), who is chopping wood. Vic screams at Joey to leave him alone….and then snaps, hacking the boy to death with his axe…. As the sheriff takes Vic away, two paramedics approach the body. Roy Burns (Dick Wieand) lifts the sheet, freezing in horror at the sight that greets his eyes. His partner laughs at him, and Roy pulls himself together, helping to remove the body. That night, two young men break down on a lonely stretch of road. One is killed by having a lit flare jammed into his mouth; the other has his throat slit…. At Pinehurst, Tommy relives his gruesome killing of Jason Voorhees, then makes a desperate grab for his medication. Suddenly, in his mirror, Tommy sees Jason standing behind him, carrying a blood-soaked axe. Tommy spins around with a cry of terror – but there is no-one there….
Comments: Even as there were people who actually believed, however briefly, that Michael Myers died when Laurie Strode stuck that knife into him in Halloween (and I know there were, because I’ve asked), there were also people who believed that Jason Voorhees died at the end of Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter. And amusingly enough, it seems that the Paramount executives were among them. The gruesome conclusion of the “last” [sic.] installment of the infamous slasher series left the moneymen in quite a quandary. On one hand, Jason was dead, pretty much as definitively as anybody could be, having had his head sliced open with a machete, and then been chopped into itty-bitty bite-sized pieces by a psychotic Corey Feldman. (As opposed to, uh….) But on the other hand – The Final Chapter made – quite a lot of money…. What to do, what to do? Show a little integrity, and keep the promise inherent in The Final Chapter’s title, or throw integrity to the winds and screw a few more bucks out of the movie-going public?
Well, here we are. So I guess that answers that.
Of course, the initial dilemma still remained: how do you make a Friday The 13th movie without Jason Voorhees? (Ignoring the fact that Friday The 13th itself was essentially Jason-less – although, believe it or not, I’ve actually heard that film criticised for that!) Well, director Danny Steinmann and his co-writers, Martin Kitrosser and David Cohen, got together and came up with a solution – the result being Friday The 13th: A New Beginning, a film widely and passionately scorned as “the one without Jason”.
I have to confess, the fact that people sincerely despise this particular film because of its lack of a mute, faceless, personality-deprived killing machine strikes me as rather funny – as indeed does the increasingly hysterical web debate over who is the best Jason, the real Jason. (For what it’s worth, as far as I’ve got with the series, I stand by my original vote for Warrington Gillette in F13:2 – that stupid sugar bag notwithstanding. I know, I know, just a voice crying in the wilderness….) Considering how very much there is genuinely to despise in the Friday The 13th franchise, despising it because of who’s behind the hockey mask seems like overlooking the forest because of all those darn trees.
(But if you despise these films so much, I hear some of you asking at this point, and justifiably so, how come you’ve reviewed four of them so far? And how come you’ve just watched the fifth one twice running? And how come you’re about to spend a whole day of your life explaining just why you despise it? Ah, my friends…. To paraphrase Viveca Lindfors in These Are The Damned, if I knew the answer to that, I probably wouldn’t be doing it….)
So: Friday The 13th: A New Beginning. A film that almost manages to make its predecessors look like high art. Seriously. This entry is somewhat notorious for having both the highest body count of the series – averaging about one murder every four minutes – and the highest breast count. Remarkably, despite these “attractions”, the film still manages to be deadly boring. For one thing, it doesn’t even pretend to have a plot. It exerts itself just enough to set up its flimsy if-Jason-is-dead-who’s-doing-the-killing pretext, and then does nothing more strenuous than point a listless camera at some of the laziest story-telling you’ll ever have the misfortune to encounter. (The acting is also bad, but no worse than usual, I guess.) We have no interest – not even the of the vague “Gee, wonder how he’ll die…?” kind – in any of the potential victims. Moreover, this entry has an unbelievable number of cannon fodder “characters”; one insertion in particular is nothing short of disgraceful. All of this might be tolerable if there were a little more imagination in the way events are executed (so to speak), but I swear, even this film’s murders are boring! There might well be fifty ways to leave your lover, but it seems there are far fewer ways of offing a human being: the bulk of the killings in A New Beginning are nothing more than sluggish rehashes of the set-pieces from the previous entries. (For that matter, a fair few of the non-murder episodes are also photocopies of earlier sequences.) Worse still, they take forever to happen. I know I’ve complained about the protracted stalking scenes in some of the earlier entries, but at least in those, something was happening. Here, it’s like the killer is trying to run down an unseen shot clock. And if all of this isn’t painful enough, the icing on the cake comes in the form of – the Odious Comic Relief. The Odious, ODIOUS Comic Relief – aaaacckk!!!! (How did this film not cop even a single vote in my OCR survey!? What’s wrong with you people!!??) In short, A New Beginning is a very poor film, even by slasher standards – not because of its lack of Jason, but rather because of its dearth of imagination and originality. In fact, when you get right down to it, the single most interesting thing about this film is that this is the point in the franchise where we switch from Arabic to Roman numerals. How’s that for a claim to fame?
(Perhaps I should mention here that A New Beginning was the first of the franchise that I watched on DVD. This was a mistake. A big mistake. There is something fundamentally wrong with seeing movies like these in sparkly, pristine condition – looking like real movies. On a rented tape, the picture battered and grainy, the F13 films gain a certain nasty verisimilitude. Watching them with immaculate picture quality just emphasises their complete lack of substance.)
Although I hated much of The Final Chapter, I had to admit that I enjoyed its final showdown. The film ended on a high point, and left me thinking quite kindly of it. A New Beginning, alas, takes the opposite road, opening with its best scene (or at least, one of two) and then taking a rapid and ugly slide downhill. The film begins abruptly enough with a rain-slickered figure striding through the woods in the middle of a thunderstorm. (Let’s not waste any time getting to the clichés, right?) This turns out to be the young Tommy Jarvis, with Corey Feldman returning for a cameo appearance. (It seems that the initial idea for this film was to follow directly on from The Final Chapter, with the deranged Tommy picking up Jason’s machete. Corey Feldman, however – the little ingrate – rejected the opportunity to continue his slasher career, deciding instead to waste his time making something called The Goonies. Go figure.) Tommy stumbles out of the woods into a small cemetery, and approaches a fresh mound of earth which a grave marker proclaims to be the resting place – however temporary – of Jason Voorhees. (It speaks volumes for the production values of this series as a whole that you can look at a “cemetery” that’s about ten feet square, a hand-painted wooden grave marker and a coffin that has not been buried so much as just covered in dirt, and not be immediately aware that you’re looking at someone’s dream rather than “reality”.) Hearing voices nearby, Tommy runs back to the woods to hide. The intruders are our first victims, two young idiots who have decided to dig up Jason’s body just for kicks. (Oh, sure, we laugh now; but when F13:VI rolls around, we’ll be laughing out of the other side of our faces….) Having exposed the coffin, the boys pry up the lid and stare down at its contents: Jason, remarkably intact, considering Tommy’s virtuoso wielding of the machete, and with worms squirming out of the eye-holes of his hockey mask. You may be surprised to hear that Jason was buried in his mask, but that’s the least of it. He was also buried with his beloved machete – which he now puts to good use, sitting up, and slamming it into the gut of one of the grave-tamperers . (‘Scuse me. Like I said, this thing has an astronomical body count. I actually lost count on the way through, so I thought I’d keep a tally here.) He then produces an icepick – I think – and sticks it into the throat of the other guy . And then he goes after Tommy, who can only sit frozen, too terrified to move, as his worst nightmare comes towards him. He screams---
---and we get one of the film’s few neat touches, as a now grown Tommy wakes up from a nightmare. (This Tommy looks to be seven or eight years older than the earlier model, which I guess makes this a slasher film….of the future!!) As Tommy breaks out into a cold sweat, the opening credits roll, with Jason’s mask smashing through the film’s title, then swinging around and zooming towards the audience: any one of us could be Jason, get it?? And just to underline the point, the mask used here obviously isn’t Jason’s. At least – I’m reasonably sure his didn’t have baby blue trimmings.
Having been declared fit to re-enter society, ha ha, Tommy is deposited at the Pinehurst Youth Development Center, a halfway house for “troubled teens”. (Hmm…. “Youth Center”…. I got a bad feeling about this….) Remarkably enough, not only is Pinehurst not built at the site of the summer camp of the first two films, or at Higgins Haven, or at the Jarvis place, it may not be at Crystal Lake at all! Still, as it soon turns out, everyone in the vicinity knows who Jason Voorhees is, and that’s what really counts. The writers of this film seem to have taken my F13:3 plea for no more character development to heart, because there isn’t the slightest effort made to establish what any of the kids are doing at this place: except for Tommy himself and one other Center resident, who we’ll meet soon enough, there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly wrong with any of them. Tommy is greeted by Dr Matt, presumably the resident shrink (for all the good it does him), and his assistant Pam, who even at this stage is shaping up as Final Girl (although, not to be ageist or anything, she’s got a few more miles on the odometer than your standard FG). The film spends some time here setting up Tommy as the film’s Pseudo-Jason; rather too much time, as it is immediately evident that he’s just a red herring. Tommy goes off to his room as Matt and Pam tut-tut over how “all those drugs” he’s been treated with have probably “fried his brain”. Upstairs, Tommy sits staring at a picture of his family. (Hilariously, this “family snapshot” turns out to be a blurry still from The Final Chapter, showing Tommy’s big sister Trish, the elusive Mrs Jarvis, and Gordon The Amazing Defenestrated Dog.) Tommy then puts some work into his Prime Suspect status by producing a honking big switchblade from amongst his belongings and concealing it under his mattress. (Nice secure place, the Unger Institute of Mental Health must be.)
What follows is, inevitably, the most painful part of any slasher film: the “Meet The Meat” sequence. First up is the nauseatingly precocious Reggie, aka “Reckless”, who irritates all the more for being below the acceptable killing age. He is, in fact, the film’s Corey Feldman stand-in. (How’s that for a scary thought?) Reggie admires Tommy’s homemade horror masks (ooh! – continuity!), then runs out of the house upon hearing sirens. This heralds the arrival of The Incompetent Arm Of The Law, in the shape of Sheriff Tucker, who has brought in two of the Center’s “kids”, caught “screwing their heads off” on a neighbour’s property. Yes, folks, it’s the traditional Pair Of Horny Idiots, Eddie and Tina – the latter played, amusingly enough, by one “Debisue Voorhees”. (Alas, despite her sterling credentials, the film-makers didn’t have sufficient wit to make her the killer.) Hard on their heels come---come--- [*shudder*] Ethel and Junior. Hold onto your hats, people – and your sanity – and your lunch – and anything else that might want to make a sudden break for it, because it’s time to meet the Odious Comic Relief! Oh, that’s what the franchise has been missing up until now, all right! – filthy, foul-mouthed, inbred hillbillies!
(By the way, those of you who think I waste my life might wish to consider that someone actually took the time to transcribe most of Ethel’s dialogue into the Memorable Quotes section of the IMDb. And frankly, I’m grateful for it. It means I don’t have to do it here – which would, after all, require listening to it again….)
Spewing invective, Ethel suggests that it might be a good idea if Matt’s kids stayed off her land, before peeling out on her motorcycle. Matt and the Sheriff roll their eyes at one another, before the Sheriff, who knows Tommy’s history, dryly wishes Matt good luck with him. We then cut to “the kids” doing their assigned chores, and we meet Joey, who is – not to put too fine a point upon it – this film’s Fat Pathetic Loser. Joey appears clutching a candy-bar in either hand, and with dribbles of chocolate down either side of his mouth, like an overly corporeal sugar-sucking vampire. Joey trundles over to Robin and Violet, who are hanging up the washing, and endears himself to them by wiping his chocolate-covered hands all over their clean sheets. (Robin is a nonentity; Violet I’ll have a little more to say about later on.) Rebuffed, Joey waddles over to Vic, who is chopping wood – enthusiastically. (As I said, we learn nothing about the specific emotional problems of any of the kids at Pinehurst, but since Vic is about to reveal himself as considerably more than merely “troubled”, you kind of have to wonder whether including “unsupervised axe-handling” on the list of therapeutic activities was really such a good idea….) Joey prattles on and on and on, until Vic’s eyes gleam red and smoke starts curling out of his nostrils. Joey – eventually – takes the hint and starts to storm off, whining and whimpering about Vic’s meanness to him. And that does it. Vic swings around and buries his axe in Joey’s back – and then hits him again, and again, and again….while the witnesses cry out in horror .
There’s something about the business of “rating murders” that I’m not quite comfortable with…. Still, I guess if you’re watching a body count film, there’s nothing you can do but take it on its own terms and go with the flow. And on that level, I would have to call the killing of Joey not just the highlight of this film, but one of the highlights of the F13 series as a whole. Like the killing of Mark, the paraplegic guy, in F13:2, this scene is amazingly brutal and shocking; and coming as it does so completely out of left field, it is one of the very few genuinely original moments of the entire franchise. So – thumbs up to Danny Steinmann & Co.
Pity about the rest of this film, though, which (as Bart Simpson so succinctly put it) both sucks and blows.
Sheriff Tucker asks Matt about Joey’s family, and we learn that his mother died in childbirth and his father abandoned him, and that he spent his whole life moving from home to home, sob, sob, sob…. Vic is taken away, and two paramedics move in to start the clean up. (Amusingly, no-one seems to think that sending the Center’s “troubled teens”, including the seriously disturbed Tommy Jarvis, away from the murder scene might be a good idea.) One of the paramedics is called Roy; the other is never given a name, but since he bears a certain resemblance to a young Jon Voigt, I guess “Jon” will do. Roy pulls back the blood-soaked sheet covering Vic’s handiwork, and freezes, staring in horror – as well he might. Joey has been substantially rearranged. Jon jeers at the horrified reactions of both his partner and the watching crowd (like I said….), and Roy pulls himself together and gets to work.
We then cut to the evening, and the film’s shameless body count murders begin in earnest. Two young men who dress like they’re part of a Silver Studs tribute band break down out on the road that runs through the woods. Various obscenities are exchanged, we get an example of what our screenwriters consider witty dialogue (“I have to take a crap!” “Crap, my ass!”), and then one of the two goes off into the woods to make like the Pope. We waste endless minutes watching Dead Meat #1 wandering through the trees, and Dead Meat #2 fiddling with the car engine, before #2 is slowly approached by someone carrying a lit flare. Considerately, #2 simply stands there gawping as his stalker draws near and shoves the flare into his mouth  – granting us a lovely illuminated shot of one of the fakest fake heads you will ever see. This of course is the cue for #1 to finish up his bucolic business and return to the car. He fails to notice that his friend, who is slumped over the engine, is actually dead, and is justly rewarded a moment later by having his throat cut .
The next morning – or so we infer; they’re strangely unspecific about it, considering that they’re trying to set Tommy up as a suspect – Tommy relives his killing of Jason, hearing his own shrieks of, “Die! Die! Die!” and his sister’s desperate pleas for him to stop. This reaches a crescendo in his head, and he dives for his medication. As he swallows his pills, he glances up into his mirror and sees Jason, bloody axe in hand, standing behind him. He whirls around, but of course there’s no-one there…. Some blatant time wasting follows. Reggie argues with his grandfather, George; Tina mourns Joey; Jake (who stutters) hopes that Vic gets what he deserves; and Violet is tastefully ridiculed by Tina for setting too many places at the table. (Ah, yes. I promised you a description of Violet, didn’t I? Well, this film may putatively be set in The Future, but Violet is so 1985, you could bust a gut. Her wardrobe is early Madonna, her eye make-up matches the coloured streaks in her hair, and she spends all of her spare time alone in her room practicing The Robot!) Matt and Pam come into the dining-room, and Matt displays all of his professional skills by telling the kids that the best way they can all deal with the situation is by – having breakfast. Hope he’s not charging $100 an hour for stuff like that. Tommy wanders in, still borderline catatonic, and Matt asks him to call the missing Eddie. Eddie comes under his own steam, however, jumping in wearing one of Tommy’s own horror masks and giving its maker a good scare. Eddie is then sufficiently unwise as to inquire if Tommy “can’t take a joke?” Uh, no, Tommy can’t; and Eddie gets the crap beaten out of him. (And since I despise practical jokes, I say, Go, Tommy!)
Now, the previous scene may have been time wasting, but this--- This is TIME WASTING!! Yes, folks, it’s [*shudder*] Ethel and Junior. Now--- I’ve gotten into trouble before for over-literal transcribing of a film’s dialogue, so let’s see if I can give you a PG-rated version of [*shudder*] Ethel and Junior.
Ethel points out certain similarities between the chicken she is dismembering and the unfortunate Joey. Junior indicates that he finds this humorous. Ethel compares her son to a sexual aid usually favoured by women, and requests that he continue with his meal. Ethel opines that her cooking is excellent. Junior agrees with her. Ethel hears a noise and picks up a shotgun, averring that this will be that last time a certain coyote visits her henhouse. She finds a stranger on her doorstep, and inquires as to his identity and business.
(This is actually my favourite moment in the film, [*shudder*] Ethel and Junior notwithstanding. You may have thought that you have seen cannon fodder characters before, but I’m here to tell you that you’ve never seen a more shamelessly flagrant example than the guy who turns up here on [*shudder*] Ethel’s doorstep, who gets about twelve words of dialogue and thirty seconds of screentime, and then dies. Anyway---)
The stranger offers to do chores in exchange for a meal. Ethel requests that he clean the accumulated guano out of her chicken-coop. The stranger assents. As he walks away, Ethel attests that she finds him physically unattractive. Junior agrees that this is so. Ethel then observes that he himself is lacking in certain qualities often deemed desirable by the opposite sex. Junior agrees with her again. Ethel indicates that she finds him somewhat irritating, then returns to sectioning the chicken, accompanying her actions with a cry more usually associated with martial artists.
We then get a scene that’s almost relevant, with a brief cutaway to the Sheriff and his deputies searching last night’s crime scene, and Roy and Jon cleaning up the mess, and then it’s time for---yep, more time-wasting! Oh, but this time it’s time-wasting with breasts, and that makes all the difference, right? At a diner we’ve never seen before, and never will again, a car pulls in by chucking a doughnut. It is driven by “Billy”, one of the Unger Institute of Mental Health employees who dropped Tommy off at Pinehurst. Billy calls out for his girlfriend Lana (his one-hundred-and-fiftieth-rate Marlon Brando impression will set your teeth on edge), and after some painful “comedy”, she goes back inside to get changed. Billy wastes some more time talking to himself and then snorting cocaine, before someone puts us all out of our collective misery by slamming an axe into his head . Inside, we’re about to get our first gratuitous boob shot – although this one almost redeems itself by conceding just how completely gratuitous it is, as Lana rips open her uniform and bares her breasts with a cry of, “It’s showtime!” (No bra, of course. Watch enough slasher movies, and you could start to believe that the entire lingerie industry is just a figment of your imagination.) This contractual obligation out of the way, we then get another as Lana hears A Mysterious Noise out in the diner (amusingly, what we hear is plates breaking; what we see is pots on the floor), and is menaced by a Spring-Loaded Cat. Lana finally makes her way outside, however, and walks around Billy’s car to get inside, somehow managing not to see her boyfriend’s dead body sprawled in the road. A bit more time-wasting – muttering, coke snorting – and then Lana finds that She Is Not Alone. Her feeble attempt to escape ends with someone burying an axe in her gut . And just to top off this entirely senseless sequence, although we see the axe being swung parallel to the ground, a longer shot of the body shows it embedded in Lana vertically. Classy.
And then we cut to Tommy having another psychotic episode in his room. Yawn. This particular episode involves Tommy staring out of his window and seeing Jason standing below him in the yard, in a scene that in no way resembles the scene in Halloween where Laurie stares out of her window and sees Michael standing below her in the yard. Over at the Sheriff’s office, the Mayor of---Wherever is blowing his stack with his police officers – and who can blame him, since the Sheriff himself is sitting on his duff smoking a cigar, and his deputy is dozing peacefully at his desk? Sheriff Tucker announces that he knows who their killer is: Jason Voorhees. The Mayor has an attack verging on apoplexy, reminding the Sheriff that Jason was cremated – a line of dialogue that would come back to haunt this franchise the way that Dr Elkins’ insistence that “Sharks don’t take things personally” would later haunt the continuing Jaws series. The Mayor further requests that the Sheriff find him a live suspect, provoking a temper tantrum from the Sheriff, who I guess isn’t used to having to do any, you know, work. Back at Pinehurst, our Traditional Pair Of Horny Idiots, Eddie and Tina, are heading out into the woods to have some nookie and then to be horribly butchered – although it’s possible that the latter permutation isn’t quite as apparent to them as it is to us. The sex scene that follows is fairly discreet, being designed primarily to show off Debisue Voorhees’s breasts. While Eddie and Tina are At It, there is a false scare with some movement in the bushes – but this turns out merely to be the Nameless Stranger, copping an eyeful. He then gets a machete in the gut . Goodbye, Nameless Stranger! I’ll never forget you!
The deed done, Eddie and Tina obligingly separate, with Eddie wandering down to the lake to, uh, I dunno. We are then given some generous views of Ms Voorhees, who sprawls back on her blanket and displays almost all of her anatomy: her right leg is crossed most awkwardly over her groin, an odd piece of coyness considering that there was frontal nudity in both F13:2 and The Final Chapter. Anyway, Tina stretches and writhes in the sun for a while – and then looks up to discover that someone is standing over her with a pair of garden shears….  Eddie, sensing, I guess, that he’s been away long enough, returns to find Tina lying on her side, her back to him (and us – so that we have now seen all of Ms Voorhees, except….) He rolls her back towards him – her left leg now crossed over her groin – and recoils in horror when he sees her face. (And so am I horrified, chiefly by the thought of a brand of morality that makes it fine and dandy to see a close-up of a girl who has been stabbed through both eyes, while simultaneously forbidding the slightest glimpse of public hair. Ludicrous.) Eddie then gets the film’s most bizarre death, as he somehow manages to stumble against the very tree that someone is hiding behind, and ends up with a leather strap bound around his forehead, which is ruthlessly tightened….  (Hey, he’s screwing his brains out, geddit?? Oh, and do try not to notice that the strap is tightened with an anticlockwise movement in one shot, and a clockwise movement in the next.)
That evening, Matt and Pam fret over the non-appearance of Eddie and Tina. Pam has promised to take Reggie to a nearby trailer park to visit his brother, Demon, and she talks Tommy, who is lurking around behaving suspiciously, yawn, into coming along for the ride. While Reggie and Pam are visiting Demon (who reminds us that, yes, there was a time when it was cool to try and look like Michael Jackson) and his girlfriend, Anita, Tommy wanders around aimlessly until he is suddenly borne down upon by someone on a motorcycle, being almost blinded by its headlight. The rider turns out to be [*shudder*] Junior, who laughs uproariously at his own “joke”. But as we know, Tommy can’t take a joke….so Junior takes a pounding. YES!! Pam feels compelled to intervene (boo!), and Tommy, horrified by his own violence, drops Junior in the dirt and runs off into the night. Pam collects Reggie and the two depart. And then it’s back to Demon and Anita, with the former struck down by fast food belly and making a dash for the trailer park outhouse. As Demon moans and groans (urgh….), we are given the chance to entertain ourselves with some of the least obscene toilet wall graffiti I have ever seen. “Kilroy was here”, would you believe? Or the enigmatic, “Remember to flush, New Jersey needs the water”? How about the film’s one attempt at subtlety, “Fadden was here”? – presumably an attempt to hint that Vic has escaped from police custody and is the killer, except that when he was arrested his surname was clearly spelled out for us as F-A-D-E-N. Sigh. Anyway, Demon is suddenly startled by the outhouse being shaken, but this turns out to be Anita’s idea of a joke. Wow, she’s almost as funny as Junior, isn’t she? And then the two of them decide that this is the perfect opportunity for a romantic duet. Anita abruptly falls silent, and then the outhouse is shaken in earnest. Demon pushes the door open to find Anita lying with her throat cut . (This shot would have been more impressive if actress Jere Fields hadn’t chosen that precise moment to swallow.) He retreats, terrified, and a long spike is thrust through the outhouse wall. It plunges through Demon’s thigh, withdraws, then impales him through the gut. And Demon slumps down on the toilet, dead . (You know, even as I used to complain about the lack of character development in slasher films, then stopped abruptly after they gave me some in F13:3, I’ve now decided I’m also not going to complain any more about the lack of non-Caucasians in these films.)
Pam and Reggie arrive back at Pinehurst to find both Matt and George missing – as well as Eddie and Tina, of course. And Tommy. She orders the remaining kids inside and sets out to look for---well, anyone. We then cut to [*shudder*] Ethel and Junior, for a scene that will have you clutching your hair and crying out in agony and chanting, “Hurry up, Pseudo-Jason! Hurry up, Pseudo-Jason!” as we get about forty-five minutes, I swear, of Junior riding around in circles on his motorbike screaming with pain and bellowing, “THEY HURT ME, MA! THEY REALLY HURT ME!”, and Ethel shrieking back, “I AM MAKING YOUR DINNER! YOU HEAR ME?” Ohh, hurry up, Pseudo-Jason, hurry up, Pseudo-Jason, hurry up, Pseudo-Jason--- And Pseudo-Jason finally obliges – YES!!!! – by swinging a meat cleaver (where’d he get that? Oh, who cares?) from behind a tree and cutting off Junior’s lamentations at their source . We still have to listen to Ethel’s caterwauling for a while longer, but this is easier now we know that it is finite; and sure enough, Pseudo-Jason slams that cleaver through the window, whomps Ethel in the forehead, and leaves her face down in her own stew .
Oh, Pseudo-Jason! You’re my hero!!
Out on the road, Pam’s truck breaks down for no reason, except to keep her out of the way while the next batch of murders are committed. Oh, to be a Final Girl, now that the killing season is here! Back at Pinehurst, Jake is about to learn one of life’s most fundamental lessons: putting the moves on a girl while she’s watching Montgomery Clift is a waste of time and energy. (My contempt for Paramount, who actually allowed footage from A Place In The Sun to be polluted by appearing in this film, knows no bounds.) Anyway, Jake persists and, when he finally makes himself clear, Robin laughs in his face. Nice girl. Jake storms away, hurt, and goes upstairs to cry on Violet’s shoulder, but she’s too busy sealing herself in an eighties time-capsule to care. Jake stands in the corridor, indecisive, until all of his problems are solved via a highly unoriginal meat cleaver to the forehead . (Of course, this requires that Pseudo-Jason somehow managed to walk halfway down the corridor towards Jake without him noticing – but this is nothing compared to what Robin will shortly fail to notice.) Robin tucks in Reggie, who has fallen asleep on the couch, then goes up to her room. She’s feels kind of bad about her treatment of Jake, and proves it by….bearing her breasts. She climbs into bed – a single bed, people; remember that – and pulls the sheet up to just below her breasts. She lies there until she feels everyone’s seen all there is to see (which, not to be rude or anything, ain’t that much), and then she rolls over – ending up face to face with Jake’s corpse, which she mysteriously has remained unaware of up to that point. (This is not only logistically impossible, but we are given a good look at Robin’s bed as she climbs in, and there is clearly nothing there!) Robin screams, and is then disposed of via an even more highly unoriginal blade from beneath the bed . Cut to Vi’s room, where she is Roboting as though her, uh, life depended on it. Naturally, she notices nothing as someone enters her room, and ends up with a machete in her gut . Oh, boy! Haven’t seen one of those for almost five minutes!
Well, that disposes of pretty much all of the extraneous characters, so it’s time to start End Game. Now, I suppose I should in fairness insert a SPOILER WARNING here, since I will be revealing the identity of the killer – assuming you all haven’t worked it out for yourselves already. I mean, we’re getting a little short of options here, right?
Anyway, Reggie wakes up on cue and goes upstairs to find some bodies. I mean, to see what’s going on. For some reason he knocks on Tommy’s door, and conveniently enough, this just happens to be the room in which the killer has arranged the bodies of Jake, Robin and Vi, in a scene that in no way resembles that of the arranged bodies in Halloween. (And check out the way that Violet’s body shifts around between shots!) Reggie backs out in horror – and screams as someone drops a hand on his shoulder. It’s Pam. She demands repeatedly, “What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” in a weirdly intense way – but alas, no, it’s not what you might think. Instead of pulling the rug out from under us by having Pam turn out to be the killer – and re-working the end of Friday The 13th, with Melanie Kinnaman standing in for Betsy Palmer – they decided to re-work the end of The Final Chapter, with Pam and Reggie doing their impersonation of Trish and Tommy. And a very bad impersonation it turns out to be. At least Trish and Tommy stood and fought; Pam and Reggie are more the “scream and run” kind, as we are about to discover. The two hurry downstairs, and Reggie gives us the first of many trips. As Pam is hauling him up, a tall figure bursts completely through a closed door. A figure in work overalls who is carrying a bloody machete, and who is wearing – a hockey mask! A hockey mask with – baby blue trimmings!! Pam and Reggie scream their heads off and run out into the inevitable thunderstorm. (As befits her Final Girl status, Pam never gets nekkid. However, she wears no bra beneath her thin white blouse, and in the following scenes gets very, very wet….) They rush through the woods, and so very terrified is Pam at this point that the sweater she wears slung about her shoulders disappears and reappears between shots! Emerging, Pam and Reggie are hugely relieved to see the paramedics’ wagon parked on the road. Pam jerks the door open, and paramedic Jon slumps out, his (yawn….) throat cut . Pam screams. Reggie looks up and sees Pseudo-Jason standing nearby. And then he screams. And then the two run back the way they just came.
Reggie gets a start on Pam here, and takes off on his own; and we pass an irritating couple of minutes with Pam running after him screaming, “Reggie! Reggie!” (Hi, sweater! Bye, sweater!) Eventually, Pam stumbles into a small clearing where it just happens that Matt’s body has been nailed to a tree, a spike through his forehead . And Pam screams some more and runs off again, returning to the house. As she wanders around aimlessly, the body of George is tossed through a window at her. Just like Brenda’s body in Friday The 13th. And Rob’s body in The Final Chapter. We see that George has been stabbed through the eyes . Just like Tina in this film.
Pam runs out of the house to evade Pseudo-Jason and proves herself the most dismal excuse for a Final Girl we’ve yet suffered through (Amy Steel, where are you when we need you?) by tripping over in the mud and being totally incapable of getting up again. I’m not kidding. Pseudo-Jason is a good twenty yards from her when she trips, and yet with all that time she can do nothing more to save herself but slide around on the ground and whimper and whine. And as Pseudo-Jason draws near, she even gives up on that, and just sits there, waiting to be killed. Just like Vickie in F13:2. Unf--- I mean, fortunately, Reggie then reappears, making a dramatic entrance by driving an earthmover through the wall of the barn (!). What follows is even stupider than Pam’s behaviour: even though he’s got plenty of opportunity to both off Pam and make his escape, Pseudo-Jason just stands there, and lets Reggie slam the scoop of the earthmover into him. He hits the ground and looks dead – of course – so Pam and Reggie move in close for a look – of course – and then Pseudo-Jason grabs Reggie’s ankle – of course. Pam and Reggie take off, screaming. Pseudo-Jason staggers to his feet. His gut’s been ripped open, but no self-respecting slasher psycho would let a little thing like that slow him down. Pseudo-Jason follows Pam and Reggie into the barn, where this film’s showdown will take place. Just like in F13:3.
As Pseudo-Jason searches the barn, Reggie watches from the hayloft. Pseudo-Jason pulls open a storage cupboard, and Pam springs out at him wielding a chainsaw – just like Ginny in F13:2, only her chainsaw died on her for no reason. As Reggie waves his fist and cheers – the little moron – Pam and Pseudo-Jason duel, chainsaw against machete. Pam succeeds in slashing Pseudo-Jason’s left shoulder open – just like Ginny in F13:2 – and as Pseudo-Jason collapses against some bales of hay, Pam moves forward purposefully, as if she intends to violate every Final Girl edict in the book by actually offing a psycho killer when the opportunity first presents itself. And then her chainsaw dies on her for no reason.
Pseudo-Jason recovers himself and starts moving in on Pam, who manages to fend him off and scramble into the hayloft. And then someone appears in the doorway. Why, it’s Tommy Jarvis! Remember him? And Tommy and Pseudo-Jason face off.
(By the way, if the film-makers really wanted to con us into thinking that Tommy was the killer, they shouldn’t have hired someone a foot taller than John Shepherd to don the mask.)
Tommy stands motionless, bewildered by the combination of his memories and the sight that confronts him. Pseudo-Jason moves towards him but kindly refrains from killing him outright, instead slashing his chest open with the machete. This brings Tommy to his senses – more or less – and as Pseudo-Jason raises the machete again, he brings the switchblade out of his pocket and stabs his attacker in the thigh – just like Chrissie in F13:3 – then joins Reggie and Pam in the hayloft. Pseudo-Jason follows, but when he gets up there, there is no sign of anyone but Tommy, who appears to be dead [appears, I said]. Pseudo-Jason nudges him with his foot, then looks around for some live kill. He spots Reggie behind a wooden barrier and swings his machete at him, but can’t reach him. (Rats!) Pam suddenly appears and starts whacking Pseudo-Jason with what looks like an axe-handle, only with no axe-head, naturally. Pseudo-Jason takes this off her, and Pam is left dancing on the edge of the open outside door of the hayloft, Pseudo-Jason with his machete before her, a sheer drop to a conveniently placed spiky thing below. (I’m sorry, I’m not really up on farming equipment. I assume it’s some kind of soil aerator. Anyway, what matters is, it has lots of spikes.) Faced with this dilemma, Pam – does nothing. So Reggie has to come to the rescue, jumping at Pseudo-Jason and knocking him over the edge of the hayloft. Pam and Reggie embrace, then cautiously peer over the edge of the loft, to see the outcome. Naturally, Pseudo-Jason immediately swings a hand up and grabs Reggie by the ankle. (This is a very good trick, as an exterior shot shows that there is nothing Pseudo-Jason could have been hanging onto!) Pam and Pseudo-Jason then have a spirited game of Tug-O’-Reggie, during which Tommy regains consciousness. He struggles to his knees, picks up the machete and strikes at the killer’s clutching hand. Pseudo-Jason plunges from the loft, his mask coming loose in the fall, and is neatly and multiple-y impaled on the spiky thing . And as the camera peers down, we see the killer’s identity. It’s---it’s---
You know – Roy. Roy. The paramedic? The one who got upset looking at Joey’s body? Yeah, that’s him, Roy! Boy, that sure is a shock – or would have been, if we had more than him, the Sheriff and the Mayor to choose from at this point, and if all those lingering camera shots early in the film hadn’t been nudging us towards him right from the outset. (Amusingly enough, it turns out that instead of shaving his head, Roy chose to wear a bald wig under the hockey mask. Methinks the film-makers were scared that no-one would recognise ol’ Roy, if he actually shaved his head!)
Cut to the hospital, where Tommy lies injured, and Pam nurses the exhausted Reggie. Brace yourselves, folks, because we’re about to experience one of the stupidest “explanation scenes” in the history of the slasher film. (In fact, I’d go so far as to say, in the history of the slasher and of the giallo – and Lord knows there have been some doozies in there.) Sheriff Tucker approaches Pam, and opens Roy’s wallet. The first thing we see in there is – a snapshot of Roy! (I may be wrong, but my guess is that this was meant as a reminder of just who the heck Roy is. Or was.) And the next thing is – a snapshot of Joey! And then the bombshell is dropped: Roy was Joey’s father. “God knows why he kept it to himself all these years,” intones the Sheriff solemnly. Um – because Joey was a Fat Pathetic Loser, maybe? Anyway, when Roy saw Joey’s dismembered corpse (and don’t even try to calculate the odds of Roy being the paramedic called to remove his son’s dead body – your brain could melt), despite the fact that he’d had absolutely nothing to do with his child for the whole of his life, he was so traumatised that he just snapped. SNAPPED!! And, uh, decided to impersonate Jason Voorhees. No, I don’t get it either. I think they were trying to equate Roy with Pamela Voorhees, but it doesn’t really work, does it…? Anyway, the Sheriff shows Pam some other things from Roy’s wallet: newspaper clippings covering Jason’s various rampages (look close – the stories have nothing to do with their headlines!). And just when you thought things couldn’t get any dumber – one of the clippings has a photograph of Jason in action!! Hoo, nelly!
But wait! There’s more! An ending – yes, another ending – that seems specifically designed to piss off as many people as possible! Pam goes to check on Tommy, and after the two exchange some mumbled greetings – Tommy produces a machete and sticks it in Pam’s gut !
And then jerks awake from a nightmare. Panting, he gets out of bed, and looks in his dresser drawer….where there just happens to be a hockey mask….
….while out in the corridor, Pam again approaches Tommy’s room. She enters, and finds the bed empty and the window smashed. She stares in horror, not realising that, behind her, a hockey masked figure is raising a knife….
Er – [22 ½]?
I’ll be honest: I don’t know what the fudge was meant to be going on in this sequence. My best guess is that at the last moment – and having even then decided that there would be yet another sequel made – the producers decided to revert to their original idea of having Tommy Jarvis inherit Jason’s mantle, only with John Shepherd instead of Corey Feldman. But as we now know, this never happened. (A New Beginning? HA! More like A False Start.) Another Friday The 13th movie would soon be produced, all right, but before it was, the Jason-ites would have spoken. But that, as they say, is another story….
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