Danny Stienmann (Savage Streets) directed this fiercely divisive entry in the infamous series. Taking place a few years after the events of Friday the 13th 4: The Final Chapter, A New Beginning sets out to do just that for a now 20 something Tommy Jarvis (John Shepherd, taking over for Corey Feldman). After dealing the deathblow to Jason in the previous entry, Mr. Jarvis is now a traumatized mask making mute who is sent to a mental facility for rehabilitation. A fake Jason appears and starts slaughtering the people at the institution as well as anyone in the local vicinity. Teaming with Reggie the Reckless (Shevar Ross, Magnum P.I., Diff’rent Strokes), can Tommy find his voice and put an end to this evil, once and for all?
For my money, this is the best entry in the series. Back in the day, our local Rite Aid had a movie rental section and when it was discontinued the store sold their old tapes very cheaply. I was able to save my allowance and purchase A New Beginning, as well as Gremlins, Mausoleum, and few others (I believe Hell of the Living Dead was among them). I spent many afternoons watching this film with my best friends from the neighborhood and it’s very special to me. I must admit, I’ve never been the biggest fan of the series and this may influence my bias. A New Beginning is endearing to me because it is different from the rest of the series; very downbeat, mean-spirited, and sleazy (Danny Steinmann was a skeevy dude, RIP), A New Beginning encapsulates what was right and wrong about 80’s horror cinema. It’s almost a grindhouse movie in a lot of aspects, especially with it’s depiction of the mentally ill, and their little rehab center being a really crappy summer camp where they are allowed to use ax’s and go off in the woods to have sex when they aren’t being harassed by the town loon Ethel (the amazing Carol Locatell, Coffy, Sharky’s Machine) and her autistic dirt-bike driving son.
The earlier entries in the series, while “classic” in their own right, have serious pacing issues and quite a lot of filler with characters who are unengaging. A New Beginning blows them out of the water by upping the boob and body count, thus keeping the film from having very few dull moments. Every few minutes you’ll see a murder or some boobs and that’s what makes this series work. A New Beginning makes it pretty excessive with twenty kills, one of the highest in the entire series! There is a big sex scene in the woods between Tina (former Playboy Bunny Debi Sue Vorhees) and her boyfriend that Stienmann would have liked to have drawn out, but unfortunately was cut. He did make it up to us however. The camera work doesn’t Tina’s boobs and turn away, it lingers on them for a long amount of time in the most gratuitous shot of the entire series (R.I.P Danny Stienmann).
People get upset that the film has no Jason in it, and they are silly for having such a complaint. All you need is a guy in a hockey mask killing people. It’s not like Jason is such an incredible, and charismatic character (to be fair Hodder does his best to imbue a sense of life into him in the latter sequels). Also, we have an impromptu musical number between Miguel Nuinez (Juwanna Mann) and his girlfriend/Rick James dancer Jere Fields while he’s on the crapper after eating some bad enchiladas in a jaw droppingly goofball scene that is hard to believe is actually happening. If this film was a one off and unrelated to the series, it would be much more well regarded than it is. I love this film and you should too.