*Once again, I’m not going to pretend this is any sort of authentic “live-blog”. You caught me. Think of it, rather, as the written transcript of one of those audio commentaries you sometimes see inexplicably pop up on blu-rays from self-proclaimed “superfans”. “What the hell gives that no-name the right to talk about this movie?” you justifiably wonder aloud. That’s just it. There’s no answer. It’s just fun to do. And now it exists in the world. Enjoy!
Friday, October 13, 2017, Columbus, Ohio, and community jewel Gateway Film Center has devised the perfect way to celebrate the reason for the season – showcasing seminal Slashers Friday the 13th, Friday the 13th Part 2, Friday the 13th Part 3 In 3-D (in actual 3-D!), and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter back-to-back-to-two-more-backs in a 6+ hour marathon of bloody, and bloody fun, mayhem – and I am predictably second row aisle for the whole thing. The experience of seeing arguably four of the ten best known and most influential Slasher movies of the eighties, or, indeed, any era, on the big screen in a single sitting was irresistible and, aside from a technical gripe or two, also fairly spectacular, assuming you happen to be someone who, like me, unreasonably loves such unsavory confections. It was a blast I thoroughly documented in a series of “live blog” posts, one spotlighting and nitpicking apart each film. That was way fun too. Jump cut to Friday, October 23, 2020, Columbus, Ohio – The advent and rise of COVID-19 has imposed an unprecedented number of changes on normal life, even for those fortunate enough to get through it relatively unscathed. As of press time, I haven’t set foot in my place of business in eight months. The last movie I saw in the theater was Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island in late February. The last concert I saw was Norm McDonald at a casino that very weekend, bringing my final tally for the year to a pitiful three. No traveling, no dating, infrequent happy hours held exclusively outdoors (that’ll be great in another month or so). I’ve spent a lot of time instead reacquainting myself with my ample and ever-expanding blu-ray collection, and queueing up horror movies whenever I can regardless of format or streaming service. Nowadays, I figure the most dependable movie marathons are curated at home.
And so, in a desperate effort to inject some pure frivolity into a singularly craptastic year, the GFC’s 13th marathon continues in spirit, live on tape delay from my fortified bunker in North Columbus. My “live-blog” dispatches – which I recognize are now stretching that concept to its breaking point – resume where I left them off as well, with, interestingly, the two movies that, for my money, constitute the worst and the best the “pure” (i.e. non-gimmick) half of the Friday the 13th saga had to offer. Join me, won’t you? Grab a seat and a melting chocolate bar, and get ready for Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning, the cheap, sleazy, yet somehow strangely loveable grindhouse cash-in that ironically almost buried the series for reals in the process of resurrecting it. The Crystal Lake Home for At-Risk Teens (ahem, “Pinehurst Youth Development Center”) is just up ahead here on the left. Enjoy!
9:00 PM – So the pandemic has officially succeeded in scrambling my brain. Never before in my career as a fan of Friday the 13th have I wanted to watch A New Beginning so much. I’m sure it won’t last.
9:01 PM – We fade-in on young Corey Feldman’s spacious SoCal backyard in the grips of a manufactured thunderstorm. Through the maelstrom trudges a slight figure in a bright yellow rain slicker and matching hat. We are intended to believe this hyperventilating, rain-soaked moppet, rendered thankfully mute due to sheer terror, is young Tommy Jarvis, presumably at some point after the junior SFX prodigy shaved his head and hacked notorious serial killer Jason Voorhees into sushi, then made meaningful eye contact with the camera at the end of Final Chapter. Something seems incongruous here, though, since it’s pretty clear this is, in fact, Corey Feldman – then in demand but not yet quite a star – rather than Tommy Jarvis, in an appearance that always smacked of contractual obligation for the future Goonie/Frog brother. Believe me, if there was any way they could’ve conned Feldman into a full appearance, they would’ve. New Beginning would’ve been at least 15% better, and all those superfans wouldn’t have given themselves aneurysms accounting for Tommy when trying to chart out the series timeline.
9:01:30 PM – Wait just a minute. Wooden headstone? Childish, painted scrawl? They buried Jason Voorhees in a pet sematary! He was bound to come back to life.
9:02 PM – These drunken yokels are certainly turning the dirt with extra vigor. Do graverobbers typically make this much noise as they work? These guys belong in the crowd at a wet T-shirt contest. It’s like “Art Mann Presents: Crystal Lake Spring Break”, shot during a rain delay.
9:02:30 PM – The Scream Factory blu-ray edition subtitles helpfully differentiate between the two graverobbers, calling one “Les” and the other “Neil”. Somewhere in Middle America, a pair of otherwise obscure career underachievers are beaming with knowing pride. In reality, Les was the key grip who was also in charge of buying two tupperware containers worth of nightcrawlers from the local gas station and pouring them onto exhumed Jason’s face.
9:04 PM – They buried Jason not just wearing his hockey mask but dual-wielding his trusty machete and ice pick, because of course they did. It’s the eighties equivalent of burying Evel Knievel in his jumpsuit, or Bela Lugosi in his Dracula cape.
9:05 PM – Poor, gasping, Corey/not Tommy, frozen in the storm as Jason advances deliberately toward him. Explaining this sequence away as a dream won’t be the last shortcut this movie takes, though it’s probably as high as the drama will get. The machete rises, poised to deliver the death blow, and, boom, teenaged Tommy – stubbled, with tousled hair and wire-rimmed glasses, and now played by John Shepherd – awakens in a budget Econoline van bound for a halfway house located in what I think we can agree is the most challenging housing market in New Jersey. And thus, the last vestiges of Friday the 13th’s innocence ebb away. Fare thee well, Corey. I’ve given you more than your share of crap over the years, but your Tommy was never hard to relate to or root for. Your cameo here was a nice touch of relative class in an enterprise that will conspicuously lack it otherwise.
9:07 PM – Normally the height of reliability, even series secret weapon Harry Manfredini’s main title score is an over-caffeinated blur. It’s like he spliced the titles from the first two movies together and played the tape back at triple speed. His music throughout is crucial to maintaining the illusion that you’re watching an authentic Friday the 13th film and not just some not particularly elaborate con, and boy does he work his butt off. The three-man screenplay credit flashes by – it was once listed as five on iMDb, which seems more plausible. I envision a clown car pulling up outside a desolate motel room in the California desert, horn blowing a concerto, a typewriter chained to its back bumper.
9:07:30 PM – Seeing Danny Steinmann’s directing credit here fills me with mixed emotions. I don’t like to speak ill of the dead if I don’t have to. The authoritative documentary Crystal Lake Memories cast Steinmann as the main creative force behind New Beginning – much more than the other writers, or apparent absentee producer Frank Mancuso Jr. – and therefore de facto scapegoat for the movie’s many, many shortcomings. His Scream Factory commentary track is good-natured and sarcastic (if understandably a little defensive), so I’ll try to follow its lead. Some blame is more than fair, as New Beginning is pretty far removed from the preceding quartet in terms of tone and temperament, noticeably amping up its body count (both naked and clothed) while lowering production values to a level more consistent with the Canadian quickie ripoffs it inspired than to Friday the 13th itself. It’s a fairly scuzzy enterprise on the whole. Once it gets going, you’re unlikely to pass five clean minutes without seeing a pair of breasts, a carving knife splitting open a pillowcase filled with fake blood, or both. Neither element is necessarily a demerit in and of itself, of course, but New Beginning seems to use them as crutches far too often. It’s the series’ redheaded stepchild for a reason.
9:08 PM – Despite Tommy’s prevailing disposition, which can be best described as “permanent mid-brood”, Shepherd has a decided “Val Kilmer circa Real Genius” vibe going on here. I doubt that’s coincidental.
9:08:30 PM – Teenaged hoodlum Vic Faden, who will have quite the part to play in getting our festivities underway, is introduced at the wheel of Chekhov’s Tractor and glaring at the camera as Tommy rides by. He seems nice, and uncomplicated.
9:09 PM – Pinehurst Director Pam, gamely played by the much-maligned Melanie Kinneman, is introduced, alongside a balding, lascivious orderly, trying to coax Tommy, who only dabbles in catatonia, out of the van. Soon he’ll meet “The Doctor”, a bleeding heart Barry Bostwick (Rocky Horror, freaking Megaforce) impersonator who is, disappointingly, not also an interdimensional Time Lord, and the resident introductions, such as they are, will commence fast and furious. Approximately 92% of these people will be dead inside the hour.
9:11 PM – Pinehurst’s controversial “no guards” policy is a real double-edged machete. Dramatically convenient, it no doubt makes traveling the grounds that much easier for enterprising spree killers, though it can’t help but also cut into their final death tally.
9:12 PM – Tommy, settling into his room, pulls out a picture of his late mother, his sister Trish, and faithful dog Gordon, though he’s not allowed to linger on it. Everything in New Beginning moves so fast that it’s easy to forget the filmmakers do sometimes try to add emotional beats more heartfelt and resonant than just an unspoken, “big knife” or “nice rack”. The film’s pacing is its most obvious difference from the original Friday the 13th, which, for all its fetishizing of violence, knew enough to take the time to at least try to scare its audience.
9:13 PM – The introduction of Tommy’s first visitor (and Pinehurst mascot), “Reggie the Reckless”, who surprises him with a large rubber spider before harping on his own apparently legendary fearlessness, provides a good callback character beat, when Tommy, who you’ll remember was something of a budding Savini before Jason fatefully crashed into his life, produces one of his DIY Halloween masks, this one of an alien, and gives the good-natured little punk a proper scare. Reggie’s trademark red sweatsuit is pretty on point though.
9:15 PM – Not the greatest real time indicator of a movie’s chances at a PG-13 rating when its designated “conjugal couple” (think Jack & Marcie in Part 1, Sandra & Jeff in Part 2, 3-D’s Debbie & Andy, et al) is introduced being loaded out of the back of a police car because they were caught canoodling on private property.
9:16 PM – And here’s the property owner now! Nobody lights up a room and leaves quite like Ethel Hubbard, Beelze-bertha of the backwoods, seen here pulling up riding pillion on her dim bulb son’s motorcycle to, one assumes, renew ongoing hostilities with the Pinehurst crew. Some choice curses and a decorative bird later, she’s gone but never forgotten. “I got a bomb on me! I swear it!” That’s right, Ethel. Always leave them wanting more.
9:19 PM – Joey, pudgy and overbearing, yet good natured, has a chocolate bar. He looks like a domesticated circus bear. Vic, curt and close-cropped and intently focused at all times on…something, has an axe. He looks like someone whose Google history consists of 42 separate searches containing the word “militia”. I won’t linger on their conversation to come, except to predict that it will turn out just swell.
9:21 PM – Shows what I know. As you were.
9:22 PM – You can sense something with paramedic Roy’s reaction to seeing Joey’s body is “off” in much the way you can tell the classic meme/gif “surprised chipmunk” was not originally taken from the BBC prestige nature series Planet Earth. Roy’s bug-eyed flop sweats would be conspicuous if they occurred under observation in a padded room. Perhaps this anonymous first responder will have a part to play in the carnage to come? In Steinmann-Land, this qualifies as subtle foreshadowing.
9:23 PM – And with that somber fade to black, as with Hamlet before it, Act I draws to a close. From this point forward, New Beginning will operate with all the efficiency and gravitas of a runaway lawnmower. It’s a little numbing, but rarely boring.
9:24 PM – Though it’s not mentioned in the script, armchair sociologists have long opined that Pete and Vinnie, the leather-jacketed initial victims of the copycat killer I’m going to refer to for the rest of this blog as “Blue Jason”, constitute the first gay couple of note in the Slasher genre. If so, this is the sort of portrayal about which GLAAD should be notified. In a movie filled with shrill, unlikeable people getting killed, it’s a little telling that Pete and Vinnie nevertheless stand out for the wrong reasons. Assuming the theory is true, the approximately three total minutes it takes Steinmann to introduce them and Blue Jason to kill them (Pete with a lit road flare shoved down his gullet; the, um, irrepressible Vinnie with a slit throat that, thankfully, at least shuts him up) set gay rights back at least a decade.
9:27 PM – I don’t doubt his dance with death left Tommy seriously post-traumatic, even so many years later, and Shepherd really commits to the physicality the role requires while making his Tommy retreat inward all the way as a last ditch coping mechanism. Of course, the end of Final Chapter implied that Jason’s evil had perhaps infected him. Now he’s waking up in muted hysterics and hallucinating that he sees our favorite disgruntled goalie lurking around every corner, which doesn’t seem the straightest or surest path to mental health.
9:29 PM – With an easily recognizable look that splits the difference between Bauhaus fan girl (I dated one in college) and the then-white hot popularity of Like a Virgin-era Madonna, Violet is one of New Beginning’s best caricatures. I hesitate to call them “characters”, as, with Vic and Joey out of the way, everyone else is basically assigned a single characteristic (busty sexpot, stuttering nebbish, good girl) that will serve as minimal differentiation until their allotted time expires. Not an elegant system, but the most the movie has time for. Anyway, the sexpot points out to Violet that she set two too many places at Pinehurst’s communal breakfast table, which, yeah, is kind of embarrassing and heartbreaking all at once.
9:31 PM – Doesn’t anybody at Pinehurst know how to just say hello? If some flannel-wearing choad tried to scare me by jumping out at me wearing a Halloween mask I made, then just stood there, guffawing and punching me in the shoulder while asking why I couldn’t take a joke, yeah, I’d want to judo throw him into a ground-and-pound session too. Tommy is showing unexpected dimensions here.
9:32 PM – We now return to “Ethel’s F#$%ing Kitchen” on the Food Network as the Tin Chef herself whispers sweet nothings to a plucked chicken in the process of beheading it, then pauses to proclaim herself maker of the “best !@#$%^&* stew in the whole world”. Junior, shoveling down a bowl of gruel at the kitchen table, heartily agrees. Ethel is New Beginning’s true breakout star, more memorable in a walk than all of Pinehurst put together, or Tommy for that matter, or even Blue Jason. The stranger skulking around her chicken coop is damned lucky her trigger finger isn’t as loose as her tongue is.
9:33 PM – Inadvertently hilarious scene as Roy puts in a conspicuous “non-acting” cameo as one of the paramedics cleaning up Pete and Vinnie’s roadside massacre while the local sheriff muses aloud over what’s just happened and who could possibly be responsible. This is indeed a powerful mystery, worthy of Poirot, since a blind person could probably pick Roy out of a police lineup of prospective Blue Jasons, based on nothing more than his line delivery and heavy breathing.
9:33:30 PM – Blue Jason, not yet seen in his full regalia, is absolutely paramedic Roy, by the way. Sorry for burying the lede here, but I thought it was fairly self-evident. If this news rocks your world, or even qualifies as a spoiler, please drive to the county courthouse immediately, have your driver’s license revoked, right to vote rescinded, and car crushed into a bouillon cube, then Uber home.
9:36 PM – I sit in stunned amazement upon this rewatch that the first pair of breasts (Pete and Vinny only qualify as boobs) isn’t seen until the 35-minute mark. Aforementioned lascivious orderly Billy takes a hatchet directly to his prodigious bald spot just after doing a line of cocaine sitting in his flabby muscle car (“the forecast is cloudy in the mountains, sunny in the valleys, and snow flurries up your nose…”), while his girlfriend Lana flashes the bathroom mirror as she gets ready to leave work to meet him. She ends up catching an axe to the midriff of her pretty pink party dress, but only after first surviving a patented “tossed cat jump scare” of the sort that softened Alice up for her fateful ice pick at the climax of Part 2’s pre-title sequence. Steinmann shows the tits and plays the hits. Catchy, eh?
9:39 PM – Tommy hallucinates seeing actual Jason standing in the grove outside his bedroom window, very much akin to how Laurie saw Michael Myers haunting the hanging laundry in her neighbor’s backyard in Halloween ‘78, except for the whole “being nuts” thing.
9:40 PM – For the few of you holdout voters who had a revived Jason Voorhees in your office pool, the mayor puts a neat little end to that fantasy with the shocking news, delivered mid-”your ass is on the line here, Sheriff” tirade, that Jason is not only deceased but his body was cremated. I picture a can of Folger’s coffee with a hockey mask drawn on it bludgeoning nubile teens to death, and struggle to see how that would be any less effective or entertaining than the movie we received.
9:43 PM – Those of you who bet that Eddie wouldn’t produce a condom before his fateful wooded clearing trist with Tina (folks may be expendable in Steinmann-Land, but they’re not anonymous) are just creeps. These are wholesome kids, whose combined twenty-five words of foreplay constitute by far the most natural dialogue in the movie. And if her afterglow happens to be interrupted by getting stabbed in the face with a pair of bolt cutters while his orbital bones are crushed by applied pressure from a leather strap, so what, really? Even safe sex has its risks.
9:44 PM – Ethel’s drifter gets a much deserved knife to his gut while playing Peeping Tom during all this, marking the latest in an undistinguished and lengthening line of folks perfunctorily introduced just so they can be killed later. At least his death throws into sharp relief how original Eddie and Tina’s aforementioned kills will be a scant minute from now, both compared to his and to every single other in New Beginning.
9:47 PM – Back at Pinehurst proper, dusk is falling. The Doctor and Pam discuss Eddie and Tina’s disappearance and at least seem suitably distressed. Pam, Tommy, and Reggie, apparently needed for the finale, adhere to established series protocol by manufacturing a reason to leave Camp long enough for Blue Jason to disinfect it. In this case, Pam drives Reggie into “town” to see his brother, Demon, and brings along Tommy as a third wheel. Reggie’s kindly grandfather looks on worriedly in the background.
9:48 PM – Demon, played by the great Miguel Nunez, Jr. of Return of the Living Dead fame, lives just down the road at “Trailer Park”. Seriously, that’s its name. “Trailer Park”. There’s a blinking neon sign and everything.
9:52 PM – Two pressing questions, as Tommy, after being accosted once again, beats the hell out of a whimpering, overmatched Junior: One – Why can’t people try leaving Tommy Jarvis alone for a change instead of always lunging directly at the large button on his forehead marked, “Do Not Press”? Two – Where did he learn to fight, and was he available for lessons before I entered high school? Didn’t he used to be a goofy little bespectacled dork? Why does he now pummel every local idjit and a-hole that darkens his path like he was trained in advanced Krav Maga by the Israeli Army?
9:55 PM – Skewered in the Port-O-San – “Them damned enchiladas!” may be the single greatest line in the movie – Demon’s demise would hardly mark Friday the 13th’s first overt foray into bloody bathroom politics (Part 1’s Marcie caught her axe to the face in the expansive Crystal Lake ladies room, remember; Part 3’s stoner Chuck at first thought his shaking outhouse was a side effect of some particularly potent pot), but it’s certainly the most memorable, for better or worse. At least we learned first that his girlfriend Anita was a keeper, as the two sang an adorable impromptu duet together just before checking out.
9:57 PM – Because Steinmann is a maverick, and Blue Jason a rank amateur, Pam returns to Pinehurst way ahead of schedule to find the deck slightly shuffled but no official deaths reported. Tommy, of course, ran off into the woods after tenderizing Junior Hubbard’s face. The Doctor is off looking for Eddie and Tina, who are still M.I.A., and, as I feared, Reggie’s grandfather is basically just missing. Pam and her ubiquitous pink sweater pile back into her pickup truck to start the search for Tommy (among the most polarizing original Star Trek sequels), while Reggie and crew resume crash positions at home awaiting Blue Jason’s now overdue arrival.
9:58 PM – As the top of the hour approaches, we are treated to the dramatic surprise cancellation of Ethel’s Kitchen in real time, as first Junior, his tantrum over being beaten up by Tommy manifesting as an endless series of screaming burnouts until he is decapitated by an exquisitely timed meat cleaver shot, and then his dulcid, doating momma, who takes the same cleaver to the face (and is left floating in her legendary stew), are dispatched. If Ethel’s street smarts and people skills couldn’t keep her alive – especially in a movie that often invents people tangential to or even wholly removed from the action just to kill them 90 seconds later – what chance could the rest of the cast have? At this rate, the mayor, the sheriff, and his deputy may be the only people in the area code left alive at the end.
10:01 PM – We finally learn the Christian names of our aforementioned stutterer (Jake) and good girl (Robin) as the former attempts to make a romantic move from the couch while they halfheartedly watch the kind of black-and-white 1940s melodrama that I’m sure eighties girls just naturally ate up. The Friday the 13th series is replete with scenes where subjective losers steel up their courage to confess their feelings to unapproachable, unrequited loves, and that dynamic never gets more comfortable through repetition. Robin’s reflexive laughter was a special kind of rejection though, like test driving an exotic new murder weapon that salts the wound thoroughly in the process of creating it. Luckily, Jake doesn’t have too much time remaining in which to ponder his uselessness. There’s a disembodied arm holding a cleaver aloft with his name on it. Lazy, lazy, lazy, especially given the clumsy attempt at legit pathos.
10:05 PM – With the movie over downstairs, Reggie tucked in, and Jake curiously nowhere in sight, a melancholy Robin retreats to her bedroom to ponder the actions she’s taken over the last four minutes. It’s terribly important that she should be almost nude as she chides her reflection in the mirror for their shared insensitivities, before crawling into the top bunk and trying to go to sleep. Lightning awakens her in time to just notice Jake’s corpse lying in bed beside her before she is stabbed upward, through the bed, with a machete. The stabbing kill from below is a hallmark of the early Friday the 13th movies, but the distance from Kevin Bacon’s arrow gusher in Part 1 to Debbie’s hammock hunting knife combo in Part 3 to this uninspired and unimpressive discount homage is measurable in light years not miles.
10:08 PM – Tiffany Helm, who plays Violet, is utterly spectacular at doing “The Robot”. Cute girl, natural presence. She deserved a far better demise, or at the very least one worth describing here. No love. God, this movie is bargain basement.
10:09 PM – Reggie the Reckless, up past his bedtime and up for shenanigans, knocks on a door looking for Tommy but instead finds the corpses of Violet, Robin, and Jake stacked on Tommy’s bed. This is a clever screenwriting gambit indeed, as Tommy remains nowhere to be found, even as this carnage all but screams out his culpability. I, for one, don’t know who to trust anymore, or, more to the point, who is left alive to trust. That clown car I mentioned is straight motoring, son.
10:10 PM – Wow. So long had it been since my last dedicated viewing of New Beginning, and so clearly did I believe I could visualize its ridiculous body count, that I completely spaced on the fact that Blue Jason is not actually seen in full until the 70-minute mark. Wholly flarging schnitt. Pam notices that Tommy’s bedroom has been recently redecorated, grabs Reggie by the arm and attempts to flee down the stairs. Reggie there succumbs to an ancient horror trope I call the “Law of Female Imbalance”, and, lying in a heap nursing a sprained ankle, he and Pam are shocked – shocked, I tell you – by the dramatic entrance (via exploding door) of Blue Jason. Blue Jason, as the name suggests, is a veritable vision in blue, having ditched the iconic gray and khaki work clothes for a dark blue mechanic’s jumpsuit. His mask is entirely new and is adorned with blue diamonds just below the eyes. He carries a machete and is apparently hopped up on PCP, because how else could a schlubby, late-forties paramedic named Roy bust his way through a closed wooden residential door with the force of cannon fire? Anyway, Blue Jason is clearly one to be reckoned with. The cat-and-mouse finale is often the best part of a Friday the 13th movie. Let’s see how this one measures up.
10:11 PM – Pam and Reggie the Reckless run out into the torrential rain and through a progression of cuts that sometimes feature her running with a pink sweater tied about her shoulders and, sometimes, inexplicably do not. Oh wait, this is a cheap, attention-addled, shortcut-riddled film. Yeah, there’s your explanation. Anyway, after more time spent running through continuity hell, they encounter Roy’s Ghostbusters ambulance idling on the roadside and, within it, his late partner, who has been murdered off screen. “Tommy” has been busy!
10:11:30 PM – Reggie’s scream can cut diamonds. That is all. It must be heard to be believed.
10:12 PM – I swear, once you are made aware of the various physical states that Pam’s preppy pink sweater takes as it appears (or not) from cut to cut, that knowledge will consume you and preclude you from paying anything resembling proper attention to New Beginning’s endgame. Oh look, there’s The Doctor, nailed to a tree by a tent spike through his forehead.
10:13 PM – Pam’s back inside the main house now, pink sweater lost in the wash, and I find myself distracted by another piece of if not established horror law then at least Friday film grammar: Any time a large window is completely visible in the frame at night, a body will inevitably be hurled through it. This time it’s Reggie’s grandfather, eyeless. Poor guy. Now I’m forced to wonder why a Voorheesian copycat so obsessed with killing people quickly and economically for the length of this movie is now suddenly sparing no amount of effort, exertion, or complicated logistics to terrorize the remaining two survivors. Is he riding between locations on an ATV towing a flatbed trailer stacked with bodies?
10:14 PM – Back out in the rain, the pink sweater would appear to be a permanent thing of the past. Possibly just as important, the Law of Female Imbalance seems poised to claim its latest victim as a hysterical Pam, having fallen in her haste, scoots and bounds through the mud without ever quite being able to regain her feet, Blue Jason walking with purpose and advancing on her. Suddenly, as the machete rises high (Blue Jason seriously only has one move), the faint sound of an engine starting, and then Reggie the Reckless bursts out of the nearby barn piloting Chekhov’s Tractor. Blue Jason meets the business end of its blade and is knocked for a loop. They run through the Tractor-shaped hole into the barn, and Blue Jason groggily follows.
10:17 PM – Surprise! Here comes Pam with a chainsaw! And so they duel for a pitched minute or so, saw vs. machete, with Reggie cheering from the rafters. Pam gains the upper hand and inflicts a flesh wound that I don’t think can be simply Bactined away before falling victim to another lesser known but equally immutable law of horror physics: Any chainsaw wielded by someone other than the killer will inevitably stop running at an inopportune time.
10:18 PM – Hey it’s Tommy! Standing in the Tractor-sized hole in the barn, rain beating down, a Jason-like copycat killer menacing his friends. That must mean he’s officially not Blue Jason after all! Damn you, Steinmann. I can only tip my hat to your cunning and beautifully constructed ruse. Anyway, back to Tommy, who has apparently done some soul searching in the torrential rain and now stands across the barn from his nemesis, or at least a reasonable facsimile. You can see incredulity painting his face. I’m reminded of the great line by Matt Damon from the movie Rounders, as a poker prodigy returning for even higher stakes to the scene of his most epic and traumatic loss: “I felt like Buckner walking back into Shea…”
10:19 PM – That’s right, with Tommy injured but also having briefly incapacitated Blue Jason with a knife to the thigh, and acre upon acre of adjacent, available woodlands into which he might plausibly escape and hide, he absolutely should climb up into a hayloft just because Pam yelled at him to come. Sound strategy there. Unimpeachable.
10:22 PM – Pam and Reggie are plucky ducks to the end. Pam doesn’t seem to be happy unless she’s swinging something wildly at Blue Jason, in this case an axe handle. Reggie similarly goes for broke and jumps on the dude’s back, riding him toward not just the wide open hayloft door but the bed of spikes that awaits on the ground below. Farm life! Because you can’t introduce the spikes and not have Blue Jason there meet his demise, everything works out in the end. Even Tommy gets a good whack in sufficient to loosen ol’ Roy’s grip.
10:23 PM – The dramatic reveal! So committed to the part of Blue Jason was Roy that he wore a separate latex facial appliance beneath the offensive hockey mask – not to mention the neat trick of being noticeably taller and thinner whenever in character.
10:24 PM – My attention wanes as the sheriff consoles Pam at the hospital. Every time I am confronted anew with some long-winded explanation by a horror movie authority figure to a ragged survivor of who the killer was and why he did what he did, I can’t help but think of the ineffectual psychiatrist at the end of Psycho, and how his soliloquy could’ve ended a paragraph earlier. At least in that case, there was a fairly fascinating (and novel, especially in 1960) psychosis to unravel…not that a conspicuous bit player indiscriminately wiped out an entire zip code after his secret son was hacked to death over a candy bar.
10:27 PM – The standard-issue “go home” scare that marked the series from its beginning was kind of retired after New Beginning, and with good reason. The trope had seriously worn out its welcome by this point. The fact that this one – thought up by Shepherd himself on the set and shoehorned in – is nonsensical doesn’t stop it from being about the most effective thing in the movie. A convalescing Tommy stabs Pam in a dream, laughing like an authentic loon, makes his peace with real Jason upon awakening, and apparently breaks out of his hospital room to begin a killing spree of his own, only to appear, masked and wielding a knife, behind the closing door when Pam comes to check on him. I dunno. It kinda works. Definitely as interesting or more than anything that came before it. Some bars are just artificially low.
10:32 PM – Speaking of bars. Seriously, Vic could’ve just taken the candy bar when offered. He didn’t have to be gracious. That spares us the entire ordeal. Remember that choices have consequences, kiddies.