Wednesday, October 15, 2014

In short: Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)

Little Tommy Jarvis (in a cameo again played by Corey Feldman who already was to up-market for this, and grows up into John Shepherd) hasn’t coped too well with his horrible experiences fighting slasher Jason Voorhees in the last film, and has grown into his late teens in various institutions. Despite clear signs he’s still suffering heavily under his trauma, things must be going up for him, though, for right at the beginning of the film Tommy is transferred to a much more open (and frankly absolutely ridiculous) place where young people like him might even get a chance for a hopeful future.

The film follows Tommy’s experiences and his slow return to mental health in quite a moving way, and… Nope, just kidding. Soon enough a series of murders after the modus operandi of good old Jason starts in the vicinity, dropping dead bodies left and right. Has the dead Jason truly returned, is Tommy much less well than anyone thinks, or has the film decided to just use a killer imitating Jason to be able to kill a mostly random assortment of victims he has no beef with at all?

As history, a cruel mistress on her best days, teaches us, part four aka The Final Chapter wasn’t the final chapter of the venerable long-running slasher series for long, because there was just too much money streaming into Paramount’s cash registers, despite the quality – or rather lack of quality - of number four. Because nobody involved cared about making an actual movie as part of their dubious money making scheme (all those Fangoria readers were only ever screaming for gore and tits, after all), this one’s possibly even more dire and lacking in entertainment value than number four, if you can imagine that.

Sure, body and breast count rise again, but there’s a singular lack of creativity when it comes to the kills and their staging, suspense in any form is absent, and even in 1985, there were easier ways for desperate male and lesbian teens to see nude women. Am I repeating myself? Why, I’m just like these movies.

Even worse, director Danny Steinmann uses those scenes not involved with killing characters nobody cares about off in not very interesting ways mostly for heavy and painful winking at the audience, in a sort of irony attack that has the effect of at least making my least favourite slasher franchise, the Scream films, look as clever and funny as they think they are. It’s certainly an achievement.

Again, like the last one, the film does have some elements that could have provided the basis for a decent film, something of a US giallo that actually shows a bit of imagination when it comes to the nature of its killer, but for that either one of the film’s horde of writers or director Danny Steinmann would have had to put some effort into the movie they were making, actually construct the plot, kill off less people but in more interesting ways, and actually think about questions like “what will the life of the survivor of a slasher spree actually look like afterwards?”. Surely, nobody could have expected that from them?

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