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Thoughts on Friday the 13th Day 7: A New Beginning?

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“Jason Voorhees is dead! His body was cremated. He’s nothing but a handful of ash. “ -Mayor Cobb (Friday the 13th Part V)

This is the chapter that bridges Book I and Book II.  For one thing, the chapter before it is subtitled:  “The Final Chapter” and this one is subtitled “A New Beginning.”  The writers were clearly sending a message that if they were going to resurrect Jason, it would now have a price.  Boy, did it.

From the first four films, audiences expected something a bit more formulaic, but formulaic in a good way.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Yeah, Jason was killed beyond all reason in the last one, but in horror movies, deaths are taken with lots and lots of salt.  No one would have cried foul if Jason had been reborn in some ridiculous way (as he would be in Chapter VI) and went on with his choppin’ ways.

Instead, we got ourselves a little murder mystery, with “someone” once again painting the forest red using Jason’s old MO.  The chapter opens with a nice bit of continuity, using the young Tommy from Chapter IV watching some would-be grave robbers exhuming Jason’s tombstone (which reads “Jason Voorhees,” written in what looks like Wite-Out).  Jason, of course, rises from the dead, dispatching the graverobbers with the machete he was conveniently buried with.  He moves to kill Tommy… and it’s a dream.  Tommy is now 18 or so, and is on his way to Unger Institute of Mental Health.

So Tommy’s crazy now, apparently haunted by his experience with Jason.  Never mentioned are his sister Trish, or really anything he has gone through in the last eight years.   But we know Tommy’s messed up through non-verbal cues such as: glaring, headaches, and the occasional hallucination of one Jason Voorhees.  The rest of the movie is pretty much in keeping with the rest of the series, except now the audience has to wade through red herrings to get to the real Jason imposter.  The worst red herrings in the history of storytelling, going all the way back to the Ancient Greeks.  The moment when the real killer makes his first appearance in the story telegraphs that he has “gone mad” so obviously, that they might as well have shown a hockey mask tucked into his back pocket.

And speaking of the ins and outs of becoming an imposter Jason, Roy the Ambulance Driver (for it is he who dons the mask) seems to have done his homework.  But he does make some rookie mistakes. Roy knows enough to go with the hockey mask, but gets ones with blue markings rather than red.  Also, would it have killed him to try to make a little cut in the mask’s forehead to acknowledge the blow that Jason took in Chapter III?  And while we are talking about it, a full mechanic jumpsuit is a bit too Michael Myers.

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But back to the hockey mask for a second.  Was the fact that Jason wore a hockey mask that well known?  How did Roy know to wear a mask?  Throughout this movie, there are newspaper clippings showing a fairly close shot of Jason wearing the mask, which begs another question:  Who took this picture?

Nevertheless, Roy not only knows to wear the hockey mask, but also to get a fairly elaborate bald cap to go with it.  In fact, Roy seems to go far beyond the resources of what a backwoods ambulance driver would have available to him.  Maybe he gleaned some of Tommy’s mask-making skills by osmosis.

The movie ends with the suggestion that Tommy will be the new killer.  We know this because we see him, wearing a hockey mask, sneaking up behind Pam (the heroine) with a big ol’ butcher knife.   Again, a few questions.  What hospital allows a mental patient with a history of violent conflict keep both the killer’s hockey mask and a butcher knife in his hospital room?  Wouldn’t these items be considered evidence?  Never mind- Chapter V ends with a black-out cliffhanger, tempting us with the possibility that Tommy has finally succumbed to Jason’s murderous impulses.  Which is… exactly how Chapter IV ended.

Why do fans hate this movie so much?  After all is said and done, the biggest crime perpetrated by Chapter V is that it just doesn’t really need to exist.  If the story had picked up with the adult Tommy of Chapter VI resurrecting Jason with the electricity, the audience would have gracefully accepted that OK, Jason has been dead for a while and now he’s a zombie.  Let’s move forward.

Instead, we get an entry that is half-assed in every way, even the cover of the video box.  I think the quality of this Chapter is best summarized visually:

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