Friday the 13th, Part V: A New Beginning: Deluxe Edition
Iíve been reviewing for the site seven years now. Tough to believe, but when I started Jason X was still in theaters, and my inaugural DVD review was the recently released Jason Lives. Seven years later, I now finally come full circle reviewing A New Beginning, the only film in the ten film series Iíd yet to review on the site. Fitting that I review A New Beginning when Jason himself is experiencing a new beginning with the Friday the 13th remake. Somewhere, Mufasa would echo along the horizons that thatís the circle of life. Okay, but back to Friday. Forget going to space, hell or Manhattan, producers took the biggest risk in the series with A New Beginning, daring to deliver a film completely devoid of Jason. Of course he lingers on in every frame, but behind the mask he ainít. Although history seems to indicate fans were very put off by the prospect, the box office suggests otherwise, with A New Beginning taking in a haul higher than all the sequels that followed, and if you can believe it, even the second film (in absolute dollars, anyway).
Itís tough to know what to make of A New Beginning all these twenty odd years later. There are some cats out there that applaud its divergence from the traditional Friday formula, while there are even more who abide by the ďNo Jason, No SaleĒ dictum. Paramountís impartial, though, and they are doing like saints with these new DVDs in giving them the special editions fans have been asking for on this site and beyond for ten years now. Light up the road flares, letís see just what Tommy Jarvis is up to these daysÖ
Little Tommy Jarvis (again played by Corey Feldman) grew his hair back, but still little time has passed since he hacked Jason away to his resting place at an empty cemetery in Crystal Lake. The film begins on a dark and stormy night (what other?) where Tommy ventures out by himself to visit Jasonís grave one last time for closure. A couple hooligans will have nothing of it, though, as they immediately decide to dig Jason out of the dirt. Will they ever learn? Jasonís still alive, and thankfully the coroner left Jasonís mask and machete with him when they put him six feet under. Two stabs and Jasonís back on the prowl to even the score with Tommy, but before he can get the final stab, awake comes Tommy. Now all grown up (and played by John Shepherd), itís clear that Tommy hasnít been able to shake the trauma of those past events. So clear, in fact, that Tommyís been checked into Pinehurst Youth Development Center for mental health treatment.
Just how big is Crystal Lake, anyway? Like, how are they able to have a mental hospital and a twenty something client list in a supposed camp community. The place I went to every year as a kid hardly even had a grocery store. Anyway, Tommyís in and ready to recuperate, but things certainly donít start well for the guy. He keeps seeing Jason behind every shadow, and to top it off he sees one of his colleagues hacked to pieces by another patient retaliating for being offered a chocolate bar. Seriously. The murders donít stop there, though. Shortly after a couple greasers get offed on the side of the road via a road flare to the mouth. With that kind of creativity, the killer can only be one man. Jason. Or is it?
The bodies keep piling up, and the Crystal Lake police department are struggling for answers. Jasonís still supposedly sleeping with the worms, so could it be Tommy during his schizophrenic episodes? What about those crazy hillbillies who live across the way, you know, the ones who vowed to kill any of the mental patients who stepped on their property (ďI want this loony bin closed down. These kids ainít nothiní but trouble!Ē)? Somebodyís doing it, and as we soon discover, s/he's wearing one big, white hockey mask.
A New Beginning it certainly is, as this fifth entry certainly takes the franchise in new directions in both story and tone. Gone are those earnest teenagers just trying to setup camp or have a good time. Everyone here is grossly caricatured Ė sex maniacs, cokeheads, retards, hillbillies, Uncle Toms or psychos, you name it, theyíre on display in this freakshow of a movie. Director Danny Steinmann, god bless his heart, is certainly not the most subtle of directors. He started out in porn and keeps that mentality towards excess on display throughout A New Beginning. This film has the most nudity (even the policeman read pornography), the highest bodycount, the most conflict and the greatest incidence of foul language of any of the films. The Friday the 13th films were never subtle, but for this fifth outing itís one excess after another. As the earnest eighties were starting to turn into a time of ripped jeans, hairspray and coliseum rock, this 1985 entry no doubt signals the changing of the times.
The other way this sequel diverges from the pack is that there is a genuine whodunit at the center. Sure, the first film was technically a whodunit too, but considering Mrs. Voorhees was never even introduced until she made it clear she was the killer, that doesnít really count now does it? A New Beginning, though, has a little fun in playing with the fact that Jason is technically dead and buried. Thereís actually a mystery to exploit, and even if there are one too many shots of the actual killer, itís still a pretty ballsy direction to take with a fanbase conditioned through four films on the Voorhees troop. Whether it ends up being Jason or not, Steinmann doesnít stray too far from the Friday formula Ė ultimately it still is a man behind a hockey mask. Jason Goes to Hell proved that if you remove the man behind the mask completely, the foundation for the franchise comes crashing down. A New Beginning, though, keeps the perfect balance between freshness and familiarity.
Like Steinmannís trash classic follow-up, Savage Streets, this is a picture that knows how to entertain. Even a throw away scene, like that scene on the crapper with the Michael Jackson wannabe, ends up totally fun when he and his girlfriend suddenly settle into a little doo wop before getting speared by Jason. The movie is totally over the top, but Steinmann, the kind of cigar-chomping ďmore, more, more!Ē director that producers should have loved, never hides his intentions. He embraces them. Steinmann loves the excess, indeed heís proud of it, and while the film certainly wonít win much critical appraisal (although Iím telling you, man, this franchise is all about father figures!) itís certainly one hell of a ride.
My only major gripe with the film is that despite the high bodycount, so many of the kills are all the same. Again, as a porn director, Steinmann is more interested in the money shot than he is in the buildup. Rather than setting up a kill with someone lurking in the shadows or a big chase, Steinmann instead cuts right to the weapon right before itís about to strike. Again and again and again. While the road flare death is a goodíun, the vast majority of the others are just weapons swung in close-up at the camera and little more. We can blame the MPAA a little for this, since itís clear that some reveals are much more abridged than they should be Ė it must be their way for getting revenge on all that Tom Savini was able to get away with for The Final Chapter. Unfortunately, as weíll see in the sequels to come, the cutting gets even worse.
Tom McLoughlin would inject a sophisticated Hollywood charm into the follow-up, Jason Lives, but Steinmannís film has that cheap, trashy, low budget quality that hearkened back to that seventies style where nothing was off limits (the Final Girl even takes a chainsaw to the killer!). A New Beginning is nothing but fun, and even if it isnít masterfully made, it runs at such a quick clip that youíll hardly have a beat to criticize. It might not be Jason behind the mask (or is it?) but again, thereís a fresh whodunit, a high bodycount, and a story that while different still respects the previous films by bringing over significant character Tommy Jarvis for a second outing. For a fifth film they did everything right, and while this may not have the initial charm and skill of the second or fourth entries, it still stands as one of the finer Friday sequels. Thatís not something I can say for Jasonís most recent new beginning.
By this point, you know the drill. Warmer, more vivid color retention. Noticeably sharper picture. Increased detail in the darker areas. And, like The Final Chapter, there is much more picture information on all sides of the frame. Itís another wonderful restoration by Paramount, improving the visuals in all aspects. The images should speak for themselves, itís a marked improvement.
All of Paramountís Dolby Digital 5.1 remixes havenít been as stellar an upgrade as the images, but of the bunch, this one is definitely the best. Thereís finally a sizable amount of bass, with this remix really coming through with depth and oomph. When cars start up, axes hit or bodies get impaled, the sound really registers on the low end. Dialogue is exceptionally clear and crisp, without any hiss whatsoever. Iíve always been a fan of Manfrediniís work on A New Beginning Ė the mysterious sort of shimmering and those questioning woodwind riffs really expanded the soundspace of the franchise, which had sort of been on autopilot for the previous three films. Itís captured wonderfully here, and like with the other mixes, itís basically the only thing that gets pushed around to the rear speakers. It provides a nice envelopment for those harrowing chase scenes at the end, even if directionality is still pretty much non-existent. This is a 5.1 mix that you can really feel Ė hopefully the future films, which were all shot in stereo from Jason Lives on, will keep it up and add a little direction, too.
Paramount is determined to make us forget about the lack of commentaries on the Deluxe Editions of Parts 2 & 3. Once again, we get a commentary, and this one affably combines Director Danny Steinmann, Tommy Jarvis himself, John Shepherd, little red jumpsuit Reggie, Shavar Ross, and Steinmannís previous commentary partner in crime, Red Shirt Picturesí head guy, Michael Felsher. Itís a light track, with the group all having fun joking about whatís happening on screen. The participants try and ask Steinmann for some facts, but more or less he responds with jovial banter. John Shepherd provides a lot of pertinent ďwhere are they nowĒ information for most of the actors to make sure itís not just all fun and games. Itís a good trackÖlite, but good.
ďNew Beginnings: The Making of Friday the 13th, Part VĒ (11:00) continues in the tradition of all the other retrospectives on the Deluxe DVDs. In other words, itís really good. This one brings together more cast than any of the previous ones, with Tiffany Helm (the chick who did the awesome Pseudo Echo robot dance), Shavar Ross, Dick Wieand (ambulance driver Roy) and Tom Morga (the man behind the mask) back to talk about it all. I would have really liked to have seen and heard olí Debisue Voorhees, but hey, four principals ainít bad. They talk about some good stuff, like how the film was titled ďRepetitionĒ to avoid spilling any of the plot elements. Danny Steinmann also comes out to talk about his involvement and the hoops he had to jump through for Paramount and the MPAA. Red Shirt Pictures founder, Michael Felsher (who found Steinmann for the Savage Streets extras), is also here to help defend this fine diversion from all the bad press. Harry Manfredini is also aboard to talk about the challenge of scoring a film so different in tone. If this sounds scatterbrained, itís because so much is crammed into this little piece that itís tough to do it justice in a mere paragraph. Oh, and Violet even recreates her robot dance todayÖyes!
The wonderful faux-documentary from The Final Chapter continues once more with ďThe Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited Part IIĒ (10:02). This one predictably details the events of the 5th film only, so right off the bat it isnít as meaty as the previous doc that covered the first four films. Like the tone of A New Beginning, this one is much more over-the-top, with Reggieís rap artist brothers, Violetís pole dancing sister and some more psychobabble. This one tries for jokes more than it does deconstructing the history, which is a weak tradeoff, but in the end itís still enjoyable. The central argument continues to be that if the events in 5 were all copycat murders, then why canít the previous massacres also be one and the same?
The ďLost Tales from Camp BloodĒ (7:09) series gets spiced up a bit with the serial approach of Part 5, continuing on the hospital patient from the previous entry. This time he wanders in the woods (thatís more like it!) and stumbles upon a couple sexless campers. We still donít get any mask, but this time Jasonís got his machete, so itís close. The effects are pretty poor for this entry, but still itís a bit of an improvement over the previous.
Not as beefy as the disc for The Final Chapter, this disc is rounded off with the similar theatrical trailer, preview for The Uninvited and another nice lenticular slipcase cover.
Letís get this out of the way first Ė A New Beginning is nothing like the previous films, so throw away any preconceptions and enjoy all the unique delights that this one offers over the other films. The highest body count, the most nudity, the best whodunit plot, and tons of bizarre, campy excess. Danny Steinmannís never been one for subtlety, but he knows how to make an entertaining movie, and this remains the most unfairly maligned entry in the series. Paramount has treated it like a champ, though, with another notable visual upgrade, the usual 5.1 remix, and a nice assortment of extras. Compared to the stellar disc for The Final Chapter this might seem a bit sparse, but considering the neglect this title has received in the past, this is a milestone to finally getting the film the respect it deserves. Pseudo Echo liedÖeven at Part 5, thereís still life in these eyes.
Perfect nipple placement!
I never knew they had freckles on them! Great new transfer, imagine the blu-ray!!!!
I'm going to my favorite late night video store (the only one) 50 minutes out of town at 12:00 AM Tuesday to get these 5 new Friday releases! I'm getting old, it takes a lot to get me there at that kind of time...woohoo!!
AHHHHH - WHERE'S THE BLU!!!!!
Seriosuly, these Deluxe DVD's are friggin' sweet. I can't wait to see how choice the Blu's are. Makin' me wait... I'M TELLIN' YA!!!
not surprised part V has the least amount of extras since paramount threw em out it's just too bad they didn't include any of the scenes as scene in version 2
Yeah, I'm waiting on the blu's too. But I'm hoping a box set by next year will be ready.
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