"I'll just get my gear."

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning

“This is a small town, and small towns are supposed to be safe!”


FRIDAY THE 13TH PART IV: THE FINAL CHAPTER made almost as much as its predecessor so – Ah, hell, who are we fooling? Let’s make another one so immediately that it can be released in less than a year!

To restart the series they went to director Danny Steinmann, whose horror experience was THE UNSEEN (1980), and who’d just done SAVAGE STREETS starring Linda Blair. Steinmann gets a writing credit alongside part III co-writer Martin Kitrosser – because they used his early attempt at the part III script that would’ve been about Part II’s Ginny in a mental institution – and newcomer David Cohen, who rewrote that script (and would go on to write and direct HOLLYWOOD ZAP [1986], about “two friends, one searching for his father, the other searching for the ultimate sexual video game competition.”)

FRIDAY THE 13TH: A NEW BEGINNING cold opens with the type of storm the original FRIDAY THE 13TH had to build to. Part IV’s pre-teen Jason-killer Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman) is visiting a cemetery (not the same “old cemetery” from the last installment) where there’s a makeshift grave for Jason (who buried him?). Tommy watches as two idiotic, cackling fuckos dig up Jason’s worm-covered, still-masked corpse just for laughs. And then, for some reason (or none at all – you know how these resurrections go) Jason sits up and kills them.

The good new: it’s only a dream. The bad news is maybe it was a dream of a memory that really happened. Or a dream that represents Tommy’s psychosis. And the other bad news is that Feldman was only available to shoot in his backyard on a day off from THE GOONIES, so they switch to grown up Tommy (John Shepherd, THUNDER RUN), who is locked up at the Unger Institute of Mental Health before being transferred to the Pinehurst Youth Development Center (please note that one of the guards taking him is reading a porno mag) where (two years before A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS) he will live among a variety of misfits each with some small gimmick or defining trait – one stutters, one eats, one fucks all the time, etc.

We have another good title sequence – in fact, possibly the best on a conceptual level. Okay, the font they chose for “A NEW BEGINNING” is a little generic, but otherwise the sequence is absolutely top shelf.

It starts with the original three-dimensional FRIDAY THE 13TH logo, and this time rather than some text it’s a picture of the hockey mask that flies in from the horizon, crashes into the logo and makes it explode. When the smoke and debris clears the mask remains and the subtitle fades in over it.

But after the text dissolves away is when it gets next level. That’s when the mask rotates around so that we glimpse the inside of the mask, and then we see through its eye holes. It sort of reminds me of the way MAGNUM FORCE‘s titles reverse the perspective of DIRTY HARRY’s “do you feel lucky, punk” scene so that we see it from the suspect’s point-of-view and realize how scary it is. In this case it’s telling us the movie will be about people beginning to see the world like Jason does.

Primarily, of course, we’re supposed to wonder if Tommy is struggling with his inner Jason as he tries and fails to fit in at Pinehurst. When he gets flipped a bunch of shit by Eddie (John Robert Dixon, ASSAULT OF THE KILLER BIMBOS) he doesn’t just take it, he lifts him above his head and flip-slams him through a table. It’s played more as scary and out-of-line than as giving a bully his comeuppance. There’s also a part where Tommy fights somebody pretty much Chuck Norris style. If only we weren’t busy wondering if he’s a killer he could go out and solve crimes while kickboxing and that would be a pretty good new beginning in my opinion. All bets are off for what this series is about now.

Unsurprisingly, Tommy seems confused about if he’s a psycho or not. He looks in the mirror and sees Jason’s mask. Speaking of masks, he still has the latex monster ones he made when he was a little boy. Keeps them in his luggage. That’s cool that they allow that. He also has a photo of his mom and sister that he looks at as if mourning, though his sister survived part IV.

Pinehurst has some absolutely awful neighbors, cartoonish hillbilly stereotypes Ethel (Carol Locatell, COFFY, SHARKY’S MACHINE) and her large adult son Junior (Ron Sloan, BANZAI RUNNER), who acts like he thinks he’s in a TEXAS CHAIN SAW movie. They refer to Pinehurst as “the looney bin” and try to get the sheriff (Marco St. John, CAT PEOPLE, HARD TARGET, MONSTER, THE PUNISHER) to shut it down because they caught Tina (Debi Sue Voorhees, AVENGING ANGEL) and Eddie “screwing their heads off” on their property again.

If they would’ve just waited a little bit there was a legitimate reason to be upset coming up: a punk guy named Vic (Mark Venturini, Suicide from RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD) is annoyed that the big guy (Dominick Brascia, IRON EAGLE, director of HARDROCK NIGHTMARE) with chocolate smeared on his face keeps bothering him while he’s trying to chop wood, so he ax-murders the poor guy. Vic gets arrested, but then other people start getting killed: Pete (Corey Parker, SCREAM FOR HELP) and Vinnie (Anthony Barrile, Escape at Dannemora), the c-word using greasers who say “Look, as far as I’m concerned all those loonies should be killed off one by one”; a waitress (Rebecca Wood, BARBARIAN QUEEN II: THE EMPRESS STRIKES BACK) and her horny cokehead nurse boyfriend (Bob DeSimone, “Porn Director,” ANGEL III: THE FINAL CHAPTER; Eddie and Tina (after outdoor sex). Eddie is an absolute class act because he does that hilarious prank where you sneak up behind your girlfriend the day after both of you saw one of your friends murder one of your other friends with an ax and you put your hand over her mouth to scare her. Just a total crack up!

Two important startling animal notes: One – the waitress, Lana, is inside her closed diner by herself and is frightened by a cat that flies at her as if tossed or catapulted. Where did that come from? Two – Pete is startled by a bunny in the woods. Bunnies, of course, protect us from Jason (see my part III review). So obviously Jason is not the killer in this one. Duh. But the sheriff is convinced he’s come back to life again and is killing everybody in this area that I don’t think is exactly Crystal Lake. Others suspect Tommy, having apparently seen that scary look on his face at the end of part IV.

At one point Steinmann and friends decide to introduce a red herring: the big, scary looking Raymond (Sonny Shields, a stuntman from THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN) who shows up out of nowhere to ask Ethel for work, and she hires him, but then he’s immediately killed. A very short-lived red herring. Eventually it seems that our main characters must be Pam (Melanie Kinnaman, “The Woman,” BEST OF THE BEST), who is the assistant to the doctor running the facility, and Reggie (Shavar Ross, voice of Buckwheat on the Little Rascals cartoon), a little boy whose grandpa (Vernon Washington, THE LAST STARFIGHTER) is the cook. Well, someone who appears to be Jason (Tom Morga, who was Leatherface in the bridge scene of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 and Michael Myers in the first half of HALLOWEEN 4) shows up and throws poor Gramps through the window, as Jason is apt to do. Reggie crashes a tractor through a wall to bump him, and Pam has a machete vs. chainsaw duel with him. Both respectable.

Finally Tommy shows up and fights Jason, confirming once and for all that Jason is not Tommy in disguise – I assume he had a dentist’s appointment or was washing his hair or something during all of the other killings. Luckily there’s a random bed of spikes on the ground, so Tommy impales Jason on it and Jason’s mask comes off Scooby-Doo style and it’s not just the hockey mask, it’s also latex makeup, and it’s covering…

OH MY GOD IT WAS ROY THE WHOLE TIME!

Wait – who’s Roy again?

Roy (Dick Wieand, PATERNITY) was a paramedic who reported to the scene when Vic killed Joey, and it turns out he was secretly Joey’s father, so the trauma of it caused him to put on cinema quality special FX makeup to impersonate Jason and murder like a dozen people. It could happen to any of us.

In the final scene Tommy, who had been so traumatized by killing Jason in part 4, is now so traumatized by killing Roy while impersonating Jason, that he finally does snap and puts on the hockey mask and is about to stab Pam.


A NEW BEGINNING has long had a reputation as one of the worst of the series. Although it opened at #1 above PORKY’S REVENGE, it made considerably less money than the two chapters before it, and obviously the one where the killer is not Jason or even Tommy but just a random dude dressed as Jason is not gonna be most fans’ favorite. But in recent years it has improved its reputation a little, gaining favor among some for being considerably meaner, sleazier, trashier and uglier than the rest.

I’m not one of those people. I respect the attempt to do something different with the story, but in my opinion this is the first total misfire in the series. The trouble is that it’s not really different in interesting ways – it’s just missing some of the elements (besides young people getting murdered after getting laid) that previously defined a FRIDAY THE 13TH movie. It lacks not only the lake and cabin atmosphere, but (thanks to the MPAA starting to resent the series) the great gore FX. It continues the too many jerks approach started in part IV, with a whole house full of featured shitbags and several tangents to introduce various pockets of secondary shitbags. And the biggest problem is that there’s no central character to root for – Tommy ties it to the previous chapter, but not only is he a different actor, but in order for us to believe he might be the killer he has to be withdrawn and creepy at all times, not to mention disappear without explanation during all the important scenes.

The closest thing to a favorite character for me is Violet (Tiffany Helm, one episode of Freddy’s Nightmares, daughter of Brooke Bundy from NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3-4). Not because she has a personality, but because she’s a New-Wave-looking girl with crimped hair who pouts and wants to be alone in her magazine-clipping-covered corner to practice popping and locking.

A good example of this movie’s scumminess is this left turn where Reggie (who says that he is known as “Reckless” in his neighborhood) begs to be allowed to visit his older brother, Demon. So far so good. He goes to meet Demon at a trailer park, and Demon turns out to be played by Miguel A. Nunez Jr., another guy from RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (where he had the equally cool name “Spider”). He dresses cool and seems cool and then the very next scene he has diarrhea from eating a burrito and he calls his girlfriend (Jere Fields, Rick James’ “Ebony Eyes” video) a bitch and threatens to beat her and then gets killed.

It should also be noted that by now we have moved completely into the territory of the stereotypical slasher movie where there are characters played by Playboy models who strip down to their underwear for no reason even in a halfway house with no locks on the bedroom doors, or have sex in the wide open outdoors during a mass murder spree. And though those things will definitely get you killed, by Roy’s rules you don’t have to have had sex, you could also just be an awkward guy who gets up the guts to tell his crush he “wants to make love” to her and she laughs at him and he goes upstairs to cry. Unfair.

In Crystal Lake Memories, many of the people involved in the film seem creeped out by Steinmann, some calling him a porn director. He did direct the 1973 hardcore film HIGH RISE under the pseudonym Danny Stone, but similar could be said of Wes Craven. After the publication of the book, a fan named Jeff Cramer tracked Steinmann down and did what I imagine is the most detailed interview the director (who died in 2012) ever gave about his life and career. He says he worked as an actor for a while, then got a job for a production company in Puerto Rico and started directing commercials. Then when he saw DEEP THROAT in Times Square and people were talking about the mainstreaming of porn, he figured out how to make one himself on 16mm film at the film studio where he worked, with the crew he’d used to make toy commercials. He said it was very profitable, but that he turned down offers to do more porn. He got a job working for Gene Roddenberry at Paramount, and was an associate producer on his 1977 TV movie SPECTRE. As mentioned earlier, he wrote and directed the 1980 horror film THE UNSEEN (but was unhappy with it and used another pseudonym) and 1984’s SAVAGE STREETS starring Linda Blair.

FRIDAY THE 13TH series producers Phil Scuderi and Steve Minasian saw in-progress footage of SAVAGE STREETS and turned it down, but signed Steinmann to direct A NEW BEGINNING as well as LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT PART II.

Scuderi assigned Steinmann not only a premise, but a graph telling when to kill people. Asked by Cramer who the two greaser characters were, Steinmann says, “They were two guys that needed to be killed. They had nothing to do with the story… In order to comply with Scuderi’s graph, you had to introduce some characters and kill them three or four minutes later.”

He says the production went smoothly, he got along well with the cast and was surprised that in Crystal Lake Memories they portrayed him as “a paranoid, tense, out of control sex pervert and cocaine addict; desperate, crude, incompetent and an asshole with no talent.”

After A NEW BEGINNING, Steinmann wrote the LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT sequel and scouted locations in Wisconsin before finding out the producers had not properly secured the sequel rights and couldn’t make it. Other subsequent projects collapsed, including a monster movie with Charles Band that ended when Empire Films went bankrupt. So it wasn’t really a new beginning for Steinmann – he never completed another movie. But the series would live on.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 12th, 2021 at 7:05 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

17 Responses to “Friday the 13th: A New Beginning”

  1. Many of the most brutal, unpleasant horror films ever made were directed by people who are kind, generous, and thoughtful in their private lives.

    Then there’s this one, which tells you in ever single frame and with every single directorial choice that there’s an almost 0% chance the guy who made it never sexually assaulted anybody. Somehow, SAVAGE STREETS, a no-holds-barred Sunset Strip teenage rape-revenge thriller, is less sleazy than this one. At least its sleaziness fits its topic and milieu. This one’s sleaziness feels shoehorned in at every turn because the director has no idea that his constant perviness is inappropriate. The whole movie has a vibe of a guy whipping his dick out at a child’s birthday party and wondering why nobody else thinks it’s funny.

  2. For me, this is where the F13 series begins being the kind of shitty movie most people assume all the movies are, kind of in the same way that FF8 marked the beginning of a Brian-less downward slide for that series. Each of the previous Fridays had something fun or interesting about them; after this they rally for 6 and that’s it.

  3. The important facts that I learned from this review:

    1. There is an actor named Voorhees in a F13th, but weirdly the only one without a Voorhees as a killer.
    2. There is a guy who played Leatherface, Michael, and sorta Jason kinda maybe.

  4. Yeah, I tried this one a couple of years ago, and here is one thing I noticed. The filmatic style is very similar to that of PSYCHO III. So, I think there’s a PSYCHO III influence angle that needs to be explored by someone with greater discipline than I have.

    The other thing I noticed, which was underscored by my recent review of PROWLER, which is trying to marry a slasher with a whodunit is a super-dicey proposition. In PSYCHO II (not III!), the whodunit actually works quite well. In PROWLER, it’s just bungled to the point where it would have been better if the PROWLER was just an undead zombie or we knew who it was all along (which we basically did anyway). Here in FRIDAY 5, the whodunit is a little better developed than PROWLER, and I get the “is this Jason or not?” angle that is unique to this film (like the “Is this Norman or not?” angle to PSYCHO II), but the juice is decidedly not worth the squeeze when the big pay-off is SPOILER:

    “Oh, i guess it’s not Jason. It’s that one guy. Who turned out to be that other guy’s dad. Um. Okay. Jason is still dead, I guess. Whatever. I want Jason back.”

  5. Wait, there’s an actress with the last name of Voorhees in this one and you just blew past it like it was nothing?

  6. “He says the production went smoothly, he got along well with the cast and was surprised that in Crystal Lake Memories they portrayed him as “a paranoid, tense, out of control sex pervert and cocaine addict; desperate, crude, incompetent and an asshole with no talent.””

    Oh man, that’s some paranoia fuel for you. I’m sure I’m not the only one here who tries to be polite, soft-spoken, and get along with people instead of causing a scene–imagine if instead you’re coming across as some maniac! Brrr… I’ll take Jason over that any day.

    (Hopefully the cocaine is to blame for the discrepancy and as long as I don’t snort any lines, I’ll be fine.)

  7. Just started reading your Friday series today! Excited to read the rest.

    I appreciate your critique of this one in particular because while I do feel like this movie is a misstep, a lot of the time the conversation just begins and ends with “Fake Jason? Lame.” And while the Roy twist is dumb (and almost insulting by how they halfass try to play a little fair with the mystery by awkwardly reintroducing him later in the movie), it’s not like Jason as a character is so sacrosanct that another killer who looks and acts exactly like him would be the instant disqualification fans make it out to be.

    Ethel and Junior really fall into the trap of characters so broad and irritating that I overshoot wanting to see them get killed and I just don’t even want them to be on the screen at all. Wouldn’t mind em surviving if it meant they didn’t have to re-enter the movie as often as they do!

  8. I do rather like this one. If I could try and rationalise it I could maybe say that, even though I lived in a pretty stable family household, from my experience of being a teenager I feel more kinship with these misfits dancing to synth pop in their rooms than with the cool kids fearlessly pursuing sex and drugs in the great outdoors in the earlier films. And there is something to how if you took the hockey mask out of it, this could pretty much pass for the kind of grimey low budget early 80s film you bought on a whim from a VHS pile and could only find two external reviews for on IMDB when you got home.

  9. I will somewhat defend the dismissive “fake jason, lame” critique of this film. If you’re going to do a fake Jason or a whodunit fake Jason, I think you have really deliver something cool, and you certainly have to do deliver something better than this film’s rando choice. Alternatively, you could try to reboot the franchise without Jason, like HALLOWEEN III or in the same way that FRIDAY 2 is a reboot that replaces Pamela as the killer. Just use the FRIDAY franchis umbrella to do other things (like how the tv series did). But I don’t really love that idea either, because why not just do that without the FRIDAY brand name then, or do that as a spin-off idea, like HOBBS AND SHAW. Point is, that’s a very bold move making this a Vorhees-less, Crystal Lake-less, fake-Jason FRIDAY, and in doing all the stuff to Tommy that Vern describes that they did.

    I love 6, 7, 10, and FVJ. MANHATTAN is much-reviled, but I think it has a lot of cool qualities and is under-appreciated. Part 9 I saw theatrically, and I think it takes some decidedly bigger and more amusing swings than FRIDAY 9 here, it, too, falls victim to the not-enough-real-Jason problem (plus the Jason look is terrible in Part 9).

    Finally, notwithstanding Majestyk’s comment about the FRIDAY 5 director surely being a monster, I would again present exhibit PSYCHO III, which reminds me of this movie a lot (or vice versa), and is horny and sleazy as hell, but I don’t know of Anthony Perkins having a reputation as a creeper. So, you can do a super weird-horny gross film and not necessarily be a super weird-horny gross person, I think.

    Also, are we not going to point out the elephant in the room, that Reckless if fucking Dudley from DIFFRENT STROKES? Dudley and Arnold didn’t have to watch kinky cartoons with Gordon Jump, and Dudley’s dad sure as hell didn’t have a lung removed from smoking only to have us forget about Dudley at this fraught moment in our nation’s history.

  10. To this day I think about this movie when using.a portajohn

  11. With the excessive sleaze, terrible dialog, and ridiculous stereotypes that suggest only a passing familiarity with American culture, this one feels like a weird European knock-off of a FRIDAY THE 13TH film. Which is maybe the only thing I like about it? If they put as much elbow grease into the kills as they did into creating opportunities for gratuitous nudity, I’d probably rank it higher.

    Why are leather-jacketed greasers always popping up in 80s films? Were they ever a thing at the time, or is it just middle-aged filmmakers getting revenge on bullies from their youth?

  12. Apparently I have gotten so many spam comments that my spam defense service has suspended me for the rest of the month (what the fuck?), so I’m just getting hundreds of gibberish ads for various drugs (including ivermectin!) all day and they’re sweeping the legit comments up with them. So don’t worry, your comments will post, it just may take a bit until I get to them to manually approve them. Sorry about that.

  13. Having a weird sort of Mandela effect where I think this was my first F13 seen on HBO. But I also saw 4 on hbo and they must have aired that first. Unless they aired it as a refresher. But I had 5 on tape and only watched 4 live with no recording.

    Anyway, soft spot for this one. Definitely the franchise’s best nudity, which sorry was part of its appeal. Some good kills like the sheers in the eyes and the belt on the tree. Jason Lives is obviously a huge step up but this one was a good gateway to the real Jason.

  14. I thought the “bed of spikes on the ground” was some farm equipment, like harrows or something, so it wasn’t completely random but had a semi-legitimate reason to be there. Not that it makes the film that much better anyway. To me it’s only the second worst in the series though. I still think overall it’s slightly better than JASON GOES TO HELL, even though it doesn’t have anything as good as part nine’s funny scene at the beginning.
    Do you think Roy went to the same guy who made Shelly’s bespoke hockey mask and the guy told him he wasn’t worthy of Jason’s red warpaint so he gave him baby blue markings? Or did he make the mask himself but he’s colorblind? Or did he mean to give a subtle hint that he wasn’t the real Jason so that his victimes would think he’s just a prankster?

  15. It seems like Deborah Voorhees, who had the most explicit nudity in the film if not the series, speaks well of the director and it seems like the actors have generally pushed back a little on the Crystal Lake Memories version of events.

    Crystal Lake Confessional: Friday The 13th - A New Beginning

    Actress Deborah Voorhees talks about her experience working on Friday The 13th: A New Beginning and why indie filmmakers should never take no for an answer.

    Who knows, maybe things aren’t what they seem?

  16. This is definitely my least-favorite Friday. Maybe I’m misremembering, but it just seems to be the least professional of the series– in script, cinematography, acting, etc. You could pull a good story out of this premise, but they didn’t.

    Has any horror franchise actually followed up on the “uh oh, our protagonist is the crazy murderer now!” cliffhanger? Friday the 13th walks it back (twice) and Halloween 5 sort of does too? It would be neat to see one of these series commit to letting the Final Girl/Boy be the killer in the next one.

  17. I guess what’s happening (until I get this straightened out) is that it’s not blocking any spam, and instead putting everything in moderation. So I just had a fun hour going through 25 pages of fake comments that came in since last night to approve the real ones. Thanks for your patience!

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