On March 22, 2020, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning turned 35 years old. I’m pleased to be able to write about it today, as it has always been my fave of the series.
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning is the 5th installment of the now essential Friday the 13th slasher series. I personally find it to be the campiest and most interesting, probably due to its patchwork of troubled personalities setting. The film was directed by Danny Steinmann who also gave us revenge flicks like Savage Streets in 1984, and horror flick The Unseen in 1980. The film stars John Sheppard (The Hunt For Red October 1990) as an older Tommy Jarvis, Shavar Ross (Diff’rent Strokes TV series) as young Reggie, and one of my fave scream queens, Tiffany Helm (Red Letter Day 2019 – read our review here, In The Tall Grass 2019 – read our review here) and many more.
The film was a box office hit at the height of the franchise, bringing in $22,000,000 worldwide from a budget of merely $2,000,000. The movie delivers in gore, dark humor, soundtrack (especially the song “His Eyes” by Pseudo Echo), story, and pure entertainment the whole way through.
The setting for Friday the 13th: The New Beginning is a halfway house that is run by the very sweet Pam (Kinnaman) and Dr. Matthew Letter (Richard Young: Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade 1989). A traumatized, teenaged Tommy Jarvis is sent to live there after surviving his horrific past with Jason at Camp Crystal Lake and losing his sister and mother to the killer. It’s obvious that Tommy, while quite artistic and crafty, is dealing with some serious anger issues. The other kids in the house have their fair share of problems as well, and they’re all forced to deal with one another’s tumultuous personalities day to day, all while being harassed by the local cops. They also endure some quirky neighbors!
Things start to get bloody when resident Vinnie (Anthony Barrile: Girlfriend from Hell 1989) murders another boy, Joey (Dominick Braskia: Evil Laugh 1986), after an incident involving a chocolate bar. A series of grizzly and unexplained killings follow, and the situations in which they occur (enchiladas anyone?) provide a campy and gory backdrop to this classic 1980s slasher.
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning opens with one of our favorite serial slashers being dug up by a couple of local rabble rousers, who in turn are murdered by the suddenly reanimated killer. All this is witnessed by a young Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman). Is it real or just in his dreams? We will soon find out.
What follows is a wild, sex-crazed and drug-fueled 92 minutes of blood-splattering chills and terror as the cast is picked off one by one by a homicidal masked maniac. The movie comes complete with a twist ending… I assume we’ve all seen it, but if not…
It turns out that he killer is not Jason at all but a copycat killer paramedic. Scorned over the loss of his son – the innocent and troubled chocolate-fiend, Joey, from the first kill – Roy Burns (Dick Wieand: The In-Laws 1979) takes his bloody revenge on the halfway house teens.
This franchise has always been for the outcasts, especially those rejected in some way by society, and I feel we can identify with this particular breed of rebel teenagers as they try to make their way through life.
We are all stuck inside at the moment, so why not delve into your horror den and have a little fright fest? Friday the 13th: A New Beginning offers up the delicious 1980s snack which just might be the campy, gory slasher that we all may need at the moment. In honor of the film’s 35th anniversary, I’d recommend revisiting what is ultimately a quintessential part of 1980s horror culture and pop in the VHS for old times’ sake. Or stream it on Amazon from where you sit.