Sunday, January 29, 2017

Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985) Review:

It's one thing when a franchise becomes successful because of a formula. It's another to repeat that formula into submission and bring nothing new into the equation. The original Friday the 13th (1980) was not spectacular storytelling but it did captivate its audience with a character's mysterious past. Sure it was ripping off John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) but it was a flattering gesture towards it. Friday the 13th Part II (1981) although not exactly keeping its continuity together, managed to continue the story of Jason Voorhees to some degree. Friday the 13th Part III (1982) lazily rehashed the concept again. The only thing making it pop out was literally all of its 3D gags it had to offer. Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter (1984) attempted to bring fresh blood to the table but ultimately did nothing new at all. What exactly was this series trying to accomplish? There has been no story development on Jason Voorhees since the second sequel. Apparently nobody saw the downhill slope this franchise traveled because it happened again.

"Ohh no....not again..."
Picking up several years after the last entry, Tommy who killed Jason Voorhees is now grown up (John Shepherd) but still scarred from his encounter with the masked assailant. After being relocated to a more liberal asylum that allows its patients outdoors owned by Pam (Melanie Kinnaman), people begin dying off again and Shepherd thinks Jason has returned. While this occurs the local sheriff (Marco St. John) thinks Jason is around as well although there are several other suspects that could be doing the killing, including a crazy neighbor named Ethel (Carol Locatell). As much as this could be interesting because almost all the characters are mental patients, nothing is ever done with them. The screenplay was written by Martin Kitrosser, David Cohen and Danny Steinmann, who also directed. One would think someone would know what to do with these characters, especially Martin Kitrosser who wrote for Friday the 13th Part III (1982) and Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter (1984). Not one character gets the attention they deserve.

Corey Feldman who played Tommy from the first film is credit as appearing. He's only in one scene and that's it. This doesn't develop the current state Tommy is in. All audiences will get is that Voorhees haunts him. Why? No reason is given. John Shepherd as the older Tommy barely says anything and at one point vanishes for a good portion too. Assisting Pam attend to the patients is another boy named Reggie "the Reckless" played by Shavar Ross who doesn't add much either. He's probably the most likable of the cast but he's not given much to work with. Melanie Kinnaman as Pam is another waste of time. All she does is show up for the finale pretty much. There are a bunch of other cast members to the list but none of them stand out because they are by the numbers fodder for the killer. None of the dialog is witty, clever or memorable at any level. If Danny Steinmann wrote for Savage Streets (1984) and Martin Kitrosser was the script supervisor for big budget productions that belong to Quentin Tarantino like Pulp Fiction (1994), why isn't that quality here?

Even for gore hounds this film is a disappointment. Understandably the first submission to the MPAA was bound have cuts but this entry barely shows a thing. All other films before it had some level of explicitness to it. Here, much of the kills are off screen hardly showing a thing. It's not that entertaining when characters are so poorly written and all a viewer is betting on is how good the violence will be and it's not even shown. There's a nice scene where Jason Voorhees gets attacked briefly but in the end it doesn't make a whole lot of sense either. Playing Jason was stunt man Tom Morga. This was Morga's only time playing Jason and for how he portrayed the character it was okay but nothing distinguishable. Many times its just Morga holding his machete up in the air for dramatic effect. Morga is better known for doing stunts in numerous films such as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Ghostbusters (1984), Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985), The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2 (1986), and Spider-Man (2002).

Shavar Ross
The cinematography by Stephen L. Posey is possibly the only real credible aspect to this picture. Not a whole lot works here but Posey manages to at least keep the picture looking somewhat decent. When the shots are during the daytime, the picture is clear. Even the shots during the night hours have decent lighting so the viewer can see what is going on. Posey has done work on other horror films like Bloody Birthday (1981) and Slumber Party Massacre (1982). Shockingly not even returning composer Harry Manfredini's film score could save this entry. Although the full scores did not receive different treatments in themes, fans could always rely on Manfredini bringing back the iconic sound of the original film. Oddly enough Manfredini did not do that. The main theme sounds in the same vein as the original but sounds very sloppy this time around and it's a bit off putting. The assumption could be that because the title had "a new beginning" in it, Manfredini needed to make a slightly new theme? Why bother though, if a sequel is this bad, keep the good stuff.

Camerawork is adequate for the entry but nothing else is here. The actors and their performances are as forgettable as they come. The music is bizarrely different from past film scores despite it being the same composer. The story doesn't make sense and the gore almost is non existent.

Points Earned --> 2:10

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