Friday the 13th: Part 5: A New Beginning (US - DVD R1)
Gabe swims against the Friday grain, and gives praise to the most hated entry
Sometimes fandom, in its infinite wisdom, is infinitely ignorant. Fans can be a great asset to filmdom, especially horror fans, who go out of their way to full-heartedly support the most obscure genre entries. On the flip side of the fandom coin is a wilful and steadfast grasp to the status quo. This closed-minded side sets up series sequels for historical failure. The prime example of this problem is Halloween 3: Season of the Witch, which is hated by the series fans for being the only entry without the killer Michael Myers. Oddly enough Halloween 3 might be the only worthwhile sequel in the increasingly boring series (save maybe the second film, which is a pretty solid slasher effort). After decades of hatred, and a new generation of fans, that particular film has found its audience, or is at least in the process of overcoming its past Myers-less stigma. The same cannot be said for the equally hated Friday the 13th V: A New Beginning, which is similar to Season of the Witch in that it’s also the only film in the series lacking its lead villain.
Don’t get me wrong now, A New Beginning isn’t a great film (neither is Season of the Witch for that matter), but it’s a damn site better than parts seven and eight, and it doesn’t replay the same tired thread that was frankly wearing thin before the second film was released. It also features the series’ biggest body count, which, of course, has been a constant thorn in the side of first generation fans. The kills are pretty good too, though they were way over-cut to get the R-rating (leaving the actual bloodshed pretty tame by modern standards). Fans also take issue with the film’s overall tone, which is a bit silly, and extremely dated (previous costumes aside, Part 5 is easily the most ‘80s of the series). The tone is occasionally flagrantly stupid, but I still welcome the change from the first four films, which clearly peaked with the literal and figurative darkness of the fourth film.
My favourite wacky horror series continuity really goes off the rails with its fifth entry too, in the name of developing a further mythology. According to the timeline something like seven to eight years pass between The Final Chapter and A New Beginning, which places the events in the year 1991 or 1992. The movie was released in 1985 (which, again, is very clear), which means it was taking place in the future, which is just about the weirdest thing ever (even weirder than an unkillable Mongoloid murderer, frankly). The only opposing option is that Tommy Jarvis aged eight years in one year, which is just as science fiction. Other than the time lapse A New Beginning does its best to keep the films in a reasonably realistic universe. The supernatural elements start creeping in with the sixth film, and never go away. It’s probably the route they should’ve taken in the first place, but I still call A New Beginning was a valiant enough swing.
A New Beginning is one of the series most brightly lit entries, so it doesn’t suffer quite the same degree of low-light noise that the other DVDs do. Again, I don’t see any real difference between this release and the ‘Crystal Lake to Manhattan’ release, but there isn’t a lot to get worked up about either. Details are pretty good considering the film’s age (I’m thinking this one will be a Blu-ray standout, come that time), and colours are pretty naturally represented. There is some minor compression noise and edge enhancement throughout, but blacks are deep and well set against the highlights. The transfer shines with the occasional use of bright reds and pinks, which show hardly any blocking.
This apparently new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix continues the re-release trend of presenting the cleanest mix possible, with a remixed musical track that actually encompasses the surround channels. Once again the music is definitively cleaner than the rest of the soundtrack, but not horribly so (though there’s a lot more icky period music in this particular film, so the word ‘horribly’ is relative here). There isn’t much more to report, except that this particular mix is a little muddier than the parts one and three mixes, but it’s such a slight difference it’s almost not worth mentioning. Things are pretty even and consistent, and based on these facts I’m expecting that the eventual Blu-ray Dolby TrueHD track will be a bit warmer and smoother.
Yeah, I did copy and paste most of this from my Final Chapter review. And I’m probably gonna do it again.
This commentary track features director Danny Steinmann, actors John Shepherd and Shavar Ross, and fan/DVD extra maker Michael Felsher. Steinmann’s sarcasm gets a little old, but he’s a pretty fun guy, and he runs the commentary effectively enough. Shepherd and Ross feed off his energy, and give a little more insight in to the production, while Felsher (via telephone) mostly watches along. The descriptions of the gore the MPAA made the filmmakers cut for their R-rating make one long for an uncut version.
Unfortunately, A New Beginning doesn’t feature any deleted gore footage, unlike the recent releases of films four and six. ‘The Crystal Lake Massacres Part II’ (10:10) continues the amusing mockumentary that started on the Final Chapter disc, covering the events of the fifth film as if they actually occurred (though this would really be better as a single short rather than several parts over several discs). ‘New Beginnings: The Making of Friday the 13th Part V’ (11:00) is another effective, but short, slice of behind the scenes information on the series, with a focus on the actors, and the bad reception among fans. Still no sign of the deleted footage (even the sex scene), but keep your eye out for a very funny Tom Savani cameo.
Finishing things off is the fifth in the Lost Tales from Camp Blood (7:10) series (which picks off where the last one left off), and the original theatrical trailer.
Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning doesn’t deserve its bad rap. I’d rather watch it than half the entries in the series, and genuinely respect the producers for trying to find an organic way to continue the series without ‘cheating’. On its own this is one film in the re-release series (along with Part 2) that doesn’t feature quite memorable enough extras to ensure a re-purchase for anyone but the most excitable fans. I suggest waiting for the Blu-ray on this one if you have the capabilities. Next up is Jason’s triumphant return, and the series’ second best entry.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 16th June 2009
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby 2.0 Mono English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, and Spanish
Extras: Director Commentary, Lost Tales from Camp Blood Part 5, The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited Part II, New Beginnings, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Danny Steinmann
Cast: Anthony Barrile, Suzanne Bateman, Todd Bryant, Curtis Conaway, Juliette Cummins
Length: 92 minutes
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