We had our last horror club meet up of the 2011 season on Thursday and by way of celebrating the year past, we finished where we started by once more visiting the Friday the 13th saga. For the first time we had a double bill starting with Friday the 13th: A New Beginning and following up with Friday The 13th: Jason Lives. I'm going to keep my review pretty short this week for a couple of reasons: firstly, I figure if you are considering watching the fith and sixth instalment in this franchise you are probably a big fan already and therefore don't need a big review, and secondly the quality on show in Part V is seriously poor and probably doesn't warrant a proper review.
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
The fifth film in the Friday the 13th saga is undoutedly the worst film in the series, something which is not helped by coming after Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter - to my money, the best film in the entire series. This film is really really bad. It combines a poor story, poor acting, lame humour and a twist ending which until I watched Switchblade Romance was the worst I had ever seen. A New Beginning continues the story of Tommy Jarvis, Jason's main nemesis, to whom we were introduced in the fourth film. Tommy, due to his horrific experience as a child, is sent to what must be the worst psychiatric unit maybe ever and madness ensues.
In fairness to Danny Steinmenn, he does attempt to bring a new direction to the franchise. However, it ultimately fails. As a result of this change in direction the film makes little sense in relation to the rest of the saga and you would not be missing anything if you went straight from Part IV to Part VI.
Friday the 13th: Jason Lives
Just when you were starting to worry about the quality of the franchise, things get back on track in Part VI. Unlike Part V, Jason Lives is a strong addition to the franchise. Director Tom McLoughlin makes a wise decision to disregard all that happens in Part V and the film works because of this.
We start with our old friend Tommy Jarvis digging up the remains of Jason Vorhees in a graveyard, in the middle of the night, during a thunderstorm - an incredibly misjudged move. Jason is resurrected, in the best opening scene in any of the films, when his long-dead corpse is struck by lightning. As a result of this lightning strike, Jason's powers are taken to a new level and as a result some of the kills in this film are truly inventive, a plus point for any fan of the series. On top of the usual mahyem we are introduced to fast-cracking and ultimately noble Sheriff Michale Garris, a fine addition to the cast of characters that inhabit this particular horror universe.
Part VI ends with Jason chained to the bottom of Crystal Lake, but it doesn't take a genius to realise he won't be trapped for long. Neither of these films are going to win any awards, but buy into them (particularly Part VI) and you will enjoy the strange, endearing charm of this enduring horror frachise.