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Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (Three and a Half Stars)
on June 4, 2005
This review refers to the Paramount DVD edition of the film.
THE WHO'S WHO: Starring Melanie Kinnaman, John Shepherd, Shavar Ross, Richard Young, Marco St. John, Juliette Cummins, Carol Locatell, Vernon Washington, John Robert Dixon, Jerry Pavlon, Caskey Swaim, Mark Venturini, Anthony Barrile, Dominick Brascia, Tiffany Helm, Richard Lineback, Corey Feldman, Miguel A. Nunez Jr. Score Composed By Harry Manfredini. Screenplay Co-Written and Directed By Danny Steinmann. (R) For Violence, Gore, Profanity, Drug Use, Nudity and Suggested Sex; 92m.; 1985.
WHAT'S GOING ON IN HERE?: Another film has come and gone with the absence of any camp counselors. That's not necessarily a bad thing. By putting the Jason Voorhees character in minute variations of his slaughtering ground, the filmmakers have kept the films interesting. This time, the central focus is a group of mentally and emotionally challenged teens staying at the Pinehurst Youth Development Center run by Matthew Letter (Richard Young) and his assistant Pam (Melanie Kinnaman). However, there's more on their minds than learning how to readjust to society when Jason starts carving his way through them. Once again, the directorial reins of the series have been handed over, on this occasion to lightweight upstart Danny Steinmann who shows an amazingly adept skill considering he hasn't directed anything since. One problem that has plagued this series since its inception lies in the character development. However, like most of the other entries, this is a prime example of generic characters being filled by skillful actors who take their roles to a higher level than they should deservedly reach. There's sexually charged couple Eddie (John Robert Dixon) and Tina (Debisue Voorhees), sweet orphan Joey (Dominick Brascia), violently repressed Victor (Mark Venturini), prototypical punk rock fan Violet (Tiffany Helm), shy stutterer Jake (Jerry Pavlon) and innocently cute Robin (Juliette Cummins). John Shepherd is the best of this new bunch, replacing Corey Feldman as Tommy Jarvis. Another welcome addition to the cast is Miguel A. Nunez Jr. who plays Reggie's (Shavar Ross) brother Demon. Nunez would be the only cast member to move on to bigger and better projects, turning in standout supporting roles for films such as "Return of the Living Dead", "Street Fighter" and "Scooby-Doo". Outside of the characters, the script is elevated by a strong second half. The filmmakers tried to emulate the spectacular finale of "Part 2" by including their own twenty minute chase and showdown sequence. While it lacks some of the eminent suspense featured in that prior "Friday" finale, it still grips the viewer and refuses to let go. When all is said and done, there's an intriguing epilogue to the film which promised a new direction to the long running series (hinted at in the title of the movie) that was regrettably never followed up on. Trivia buffs take note: this is the first "Friday" film to actually feature a Voorhees (Debisue as Tina) in its cast. This film also proves that small town mayors, in this case Mayor Cobb (Ric Mancini), aren't always the most well informed people. In his meeting with Sheriff Tucker (Marco St. John), Mayor Cobb says that Jason Voorhees was cremated. Obviously that would prove false in "Friday the 13th Part VI" when Jason's grave would be exhumed. Overall, this film delivers a solid show and ranks right alongside "Part 3" of the franchise. Some of the death scenes seem a bit friable, but there's an absorbing cast, a great score by series veteran Harry Manfredini and some staunch, tense edginess that fills the festivities, placing this a cut above other mid-eighties horror movies.
THEY SAY THEY'RE SPECIAL BUT...: The 1.85:1 widescreen transfer for this film is a good one. Colors seem a little dark from time to time, but there's very little grain or distortion when compared to its four predecessors. Although I do have a question for the other "Friday V" viewers out there. When using a high definition monitor (such as a computer), does anybody else see that annoying vertical blue line running down the right hand side of the screen? The accompanying 2.0 mono is a drastic step up from the disappointing "Final Chapter". Dialogue is even and realistic while sound effects blend nicely into the presentation. The lightning storms are particularly strong for a mono audio track. A French mono track is also available for the film as well as English subtitles which are an easy to read yellow color and have been placed within the frame of the film. I'm particularly torn by the front cover of this DVD release. For the first time since Paramount started releasing this series on DVD, they've changed the cover. The original video release cover wasn't that hot, but it's still the version most people were accustomed to. However, this new front cover isn't entirely without merit. Having the hockey mask lying on the ground with red-hued trees rising above it is a fairly ingenious design. The back cover also marks the first time Paramount has created a strikingly proficient backing for one of the "Friday" films. The one sheet insert for "A New Beginning" also fits the grand scheme of the case and displays the fourteen chapter stops for this ninety minute movie. The disc itself is painted, another first for the "Friday" DVD series, with a hockey mask lying in the dirt. Sadly, this reasonable packaging doesn't carry over to the special features section as the only extra, yet again, is the original theatrical trailer (1:57). The trailer is a 1.85:1 widescreen affair and it's a little too revealing towards the end. It's also not as significant as past trailers.
THE YOLK'S ON YOU: Paramount has never been known for plying their releases with additional footage, let alone hiding anything on the disc. You're more likely to make it out of a trailer park bathroom stall alive (sorry, couldn't resist) than you are of finding hidden easter eggs on this one.
THE LEWD AND NUDE ALERT: Scurrilous viewers get to see a brief glimpse of the gorgeous Lana's (Rebecca Wood-Sharkey) bountiful breasts as she changes out of her waitress uniform. Tina (Debisue Voorhees) shows off almost every inch of her lovesome body after a romp in the woods with her boyfriend Eddie (John Robert Dixon). Later in the film, libertine viewers have a great opportunity to see Robin's (Juliette Cummins) tiny but succulent breasts as she gets ready for bed. Some viewers may be upset (and rightfully so) by the fact that Violet (Tiffany Helm) is the only female Pinehurst resident to stay clothed throughout the film. Even Pinehurst assistant Pam (Melanie Kinnaman) gets an honorable mention as she spends much of the finale running around in an almost see-through, rain-soaked white shirt.
THE GORE REPORT: Bloodhounds who follow Hollywood's sticky red trail will find a few satisfying moments in this fourth sequel, beginning when one of Pinehurst's members is hacked up in the early scenes of the film. While the viewer isn't treated to the actual slicing and dicing of the segment, the aftermath is displayed in all its gory glory when one of the medics lifts the sheet to see the carnage beneath. One unlucky lady has an exorbitant display of gore after having her eyeballs gouged out by a pair of hedge clippers. There's also a very bloody close-up of one victim with a gash across the length of his face.
SAY AGAIN: "And the forecast is cloudy in the mountains, sunny in the valleys, and snow flurries up your nose." - Billy (Bob De Simone) just before beginning his "party".
THE FINAL SAY: Yes, I recommend buying this DVD. Some hardcore fans doubtlessly will feel cheated by the revelation made in this movie, but true "Friday" devotees understand the necessity of this transitional piece. This is not the seminal magnum opus the original was, or even as transcendent as the initial sequel, but it has enough good qualities to sustain repeated viewings and give Voorhees fans the killer carnage they've been craving.
PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM: "His Eyes" Performed By Pseudo Echo. "His Eyes" Can Be Found on Pseudo Echo's Self-Titled Debut Available on EMI America Records.