"Psychopath Jason Voorhees is dead.
He was killed by 12 year old Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman) in self defence. But if Jason is dead, who is killing the inmates of the Unger Institute of Mental Health? Now eighteen, Tommy (John Shepherd) is a resident of the Unger Institute and is plagued by nightmares. Nightmares in which Jason rises from the grave to take revenge. Nightmares which intrude into daytime reality. Who is that stranger wearing a boiler suit and hockey mask whom only Tommy sees?
Now a new killer is on the loose. Not confining his activities to the Unger Institute, he is also killing the local townspeople. The police are baffled. As the bodies pile up, it looks increasingly like the work of Jason Voorhees.
But Jason is dead isn't he?"
As they say, it’s not over until the fat lady sings and by 1985 the fat lady may have been garroted, decapitated or harpooned but she certainly hadn’t sung. Back then, cinema goers were gullible enough to believe that a ‘final chapter’ meant just that, but after the cash registers trilled to the tune of a $32.8 million for Joe Zito’s (supposedly) slasher full stop surely it surprised no-one that Crystal Lake would once again swoon to the swish of a rusty machete.
It’s the slasher fan’s eternal dilemma. We mourn for the never-were sequels for the likes of MY BLOODY VALENTINE (1981), but as soon as we get what we half-hoped for we usually end up wishing that the desire had remained unrequited. The cheekily monikered FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING is a case in point. Back in 1987 I greedily devoured the sequels as they first appeared on video in the UK (Parts 1 & 2 had come out before the whole nasties hysteria, but it had to wait until the, relatively at least, more liberal late 80s before the others began to trickle out - albeit in usually truncated forms). I delighted in the cheesy charms of Part III (Row, Dana, row!), and the grubby gothic thrills of the ‘FINAL’ CHAPTER (1984), but I remember being mortified and monumentally disappointed by PART V. Back then I thought Danny Steinmann’s effort was a crude, charmless mess of a movie (and remember, I was a particularly easy to please gorehound teenager). I’d seen it again over the years, and despite a fairly rousing closing fifteen minutes it always seemed to be the weak chain in the link. It was the film that could have effectively killed off the series, and the one that certainly started the rot; seemingly mirroring the subgenre’s descent into the mire. So, it was with some trepidation that I decided to watch to watch the fifth FRIDAY again …
It all starts so well: with a deft touch missing from most of the rest of the film, Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman making a welcome return) makes his way to his arch nemesis’s grave during a tumultuous thunderstorm. Obviously with some unfinished business, he spots the ramshackle grave of Jason Voorhees – who he had given an impromptu machete lobotomy in the last film, seemingly condemning Pammy’s boy to the afterlife. However, much to his horror, two teenage numbskulls turn up to give Jason an airing, shouting out such witty remarks as, “Let’s get a look at the main man!”. On the scale of horror movie mistakes this ranks right up there. Once they open the coffin lid they find Jason slumbering with hockey mask in place, and with worms feasting in his eye sockets. Obviously bowing to his last wishes, someone had buried Jason with his trusty machete – and to no one’s great surprise he comes back to life, making short work of the two numpty grave robbers. Tommy, however, is glued to the spot, when Jason disinters himself and lumbers menacingly towards him. Even when Jason raises the blade high above his head he doesn’t move. Down comes the machete, and … it was all a dream! Honestly.
Tommy (John Shepherd) is now a grown up, but seriously disturbed teenager. Haunted by Jason (the film’s original tagline boasted “If you’re still haunted by Jason, you’re not alone!”) he wakes up from the graveyard nightmare to find himself in the back of an ambulance. Time hasn’t been a great healer for Tommy, and he’s being transferred from a high security institution to the decidedly leafier ‘Pinehurst Youth Development Centre’. To Shepherd and the film’s credit, he gives a creditable performance as the twitchy youngster, very much at odds with some of the, er, more naturalistic acting on display in the rest of the picture.
As often happens in vintage slasher flicks, this forest-marooned dwelling is run by the beautiful people: Pinehurst’s directors Matthew (Richard Young) and Pam (Melanie Kinnaman). They don’t look much like mental health professionals, and just seem to coo approvingly like Mr and Mrs Brady as Tommy give them monosyllabic answers to their questions, whilst he plays with the zip on his bag in a nutty way. Rather hilariously, Tommy has smuggled in a flick-knife from the supposedly high security unit. Also showing an even more alarming lack of foresight, Matthew and Pam have allowed one of their evidently nutty charges, Vic (Mark Venturini), to chop up wood in the garden with a whopping great axe. Vic goes boss-eyed and gnashes his teeth as this FRIDAY’s butterball character, Joey (Dominick Brascia - who went on to direct the cheesy delight EVIL LAUGH (1988)), whines on in an ickle boy voice about chocolate bars before turning his attention from the woodpile, planting the axe in Joey’s back. Once Vic is whisked off in the squad car, glowering evilly in the back, the paramedics turn up to shovel Joey’s dismembered remains into a body bag. One of them sympathetically spits “Bunch of pussies!” at the sobbing teens, whilst the other, Roy (Dick Wieand), looks shocked to discover the identity of the murder victim – in-fact, he looks so bug-eyed and shifty you half expect to hear a gong sound and see a neon hockey mask flash thirteen times above his head!
Perhaps surprisingly, Pinehurst isn’t shut down by social services. After a few mawkish words about the dear departed its back to things as normal: and that means new wave robotic dancing (courtesy of the gothy Violet (Tiffany Helm)), and the ubiquitous horny teen couple keep making eyes at each other, Eddie (John Robert Dixon) and Tina (the appropriately named Debisue Voorhees) who keep sneaking into their neighbour's cabbage patch to make whoopee. Meanwhile, the fact that Tommy keeps seeing glimpses of Jason Voorhees skulking around in the rhododendrons is doing nothing for his mental health. Obviously, it comes as no big surprise that body parts start to fly as a mystery assailant who may or may not be Mr Voorhees taking a holiday from the grave starts carving up bad bit players for crimes against hair …
To be honest, there’s no real point detailing the rest of the plot as the last half of the movie (bar a vaguely rip-roaring finalé) is an almost random selection of clips of the masked marauder stalking a seemingly random selection of waitresses and trailer park clientele. Of course, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially when it gives us the joys of seeing the likes of two leather boys (seemingly taking a break from recreating Kenneth Anger’s SCORPIO RISING) being slice ‘n’ diced – especially after the monumentally dumb bit where one of them gets spooked by a tiny bunny whilst going for a shit (eliciting a “You little fuck!” outburst). PART V is probably the most scatological film in a series almost obsessed with people going to the toilet – and the, ahem, ‘piss’-de-resistance must be the scene where the Michael Jackson clone serenades his girlfriend (“Ooh baby … Ooooh, baby!”) whilst squeezing one out on the crapper. Oooooooh classy! … And, of course, it comes as a blessed relief when the two country bumpkins neighbours to Pinehurst are satisfyingly bumped off (decapitation and meat cleaver to the face respectively) – they are either comedy gold or the equivalent to scraping a machete down a blackboard (I’m plumping for the latter).
Admittedly, PART V has a monster body count, but after the relative leniency from MPAA on THE FINAL CHAPTER (who must have been royally pissed to find there was going to be another chapter after all) the scissors were out for this installment. What gore there is is almost lost during the quick cuts forced upon the film. The kills may be up, but quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality.
PART V has its fans, and I can see why: it’s perhaps the trashiest of all the FRIDAY films, and there is certainly a cheesy, bad movie charm to it. Paradoxically, although it seemingly ticks all of boxes it’s not a very good horror movie: the previous films managed to at least a few chills (even the ultra cheesy PART 3 (1982) had a few spooky moments) but Steinmann’s film fails to generate many frissons. It’s too broad in its comedy, dramatically unfocussed, and lazily episodic. And, let’s face it, it’s the pits compared to the rip-roaring FINAL CHAPTER. Even the chainsaw-wielding finalé, whilst briefly rousing, is a case of too little too late.
SPOILERS: again, FRIDAY V is a film of paradoxes. After the foghorn LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! finger-pointing at the boss-eyed paramedic, Roy, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that he has, somehow, been imbued with the spirit of Jason – after seeing his long, lost son, Joey, chopped to pieces on the lawn. Sick of a career in saving lives he’s now taking them by decimating the local populace: seemingly randomly killing everyone bar the person who actually killed his son! So, some kudos for making this installment a whodunit, but unfortunately the whydunit makes little to no sense at all. Plus, let’s face it, a flabby health worker was never going was never going replace the ultimate bad boy of slasherdom.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for an unbridled cheesefest then PART
V may be your cup of brie, but there are many more effective FRIDAY
movies. A case in point is the far more successful FRIDAY THE 13TH PART
VI: JASON LIVES (1986) that actually resurrected the real McCoy and
did something far wittier with the formula.
BODYCOUNT 22 female:7 / male:15
1) Male killed with a machete
2) Male gets ice pick to the neck
3) Male hacked to pieces with an axe
4) Male has a flare shoved down his throat
5) Male has throat slit with machete
6) Male gets an axe in his head
7) Female axed in the chest
8) Male knifed
9) Female stabbed in the eyes with garden shears
10) Male has face crushed with strap
11) Female has throat slit
12) Male speared
13) Male decapitated
14) Female gets cleaver to the face
15) Male gets cleaver to the face
16) Female killed with machete
17) Female gets a machete to her stomach
18) Male hacked to death
19) Male found with spike in his head
20) Male blinded and thrown to his death
21) Male impaled on spikes
22) Female stabbed