And it was... for about eleven months.
And Fans couldn't be happier... for about eleven minutes.
Yes, folks, "Popular", this film isn't. In fact, since the original Friday the 13th became a surprise low budget hit, this may well be the most reviled in the film series for everything it is and everything it isn't.
Okay, I'll be nice!
Of course, these days the idea of Jason coming back and back and back after being apparently "Killed for Good" like some hockey masked Kenny McCormick is commonplace. At the time this film came out the producers (and ACCOUNTANTS) over at Paramount figured this one might come off as quite the surprise and shoot the franchise into a whole new direction (hence the title). To be fair, after this many films (and one lame remake) each one more familiar than the last, this one might actually still pack a surprising punch in hindsight... but that doesn't quite make it into a really good film, 20/20 or not.
Observe... We kick off this here second part of The Tommy Jarvis Trilogy with none other than (drumroll) Tommy Jarvis himself witnessing two clowns unearthing the unholy grave of one Jason Voorhees (played by Tom Morga). Yep, good old Tommy Jarvis is witnessing the resurrection of the Voor Whore... and it's really Tommy, too, again played by Corey Feldman in a "special appearance"... though I'm not sure just how special it was.
Luckily, these visions of 12 year old Tommy are just that... dreams. See, Tommy is really all grown up (well, relatively speaking) and he now looks for all the flawed world like John Shepherd! Unluckily for him, his recurring nightmares about the Jasonator aren't the worst of his problems. No, man, he's on his merry way to a mental institution called Pinehurst.
In truth, that's not so bad, really, because this place is decidedly minimum security. In fact the facility is housed in a series of cabins in the woods with lots of recreations and a couple of young counselors there to help all the kids out and some of the kids keep breaking away to have sex and use drugs. Does anybody see where we're going with this, man? Yeah, basically they sent the guy who killed Jason Voorhees and has been in psychiatric care ever since to a fucking Summer Camp!
Good job, folks! Send the kid with the Jason Fantasies to a "hospital" that's harder to tell apart from Camp Crystal Lake than I am from my sister... when I'm in Drag, of course.
Is it any wonder that a maniacal Serial Killer in a Hockey Mask shows up and starts fulfilling his Slasher fantasies? Well, I'll answer that for you... no, it's no wonder whatsoever, dudes and chicks!
Yep, it would certainly appear that Jason Lives, which belies the very idea that that last windshield smudge was really "The Final Chapter"! But would writers David Cohen, Martin Kitrosser and Danny Steinmann (who also directed this flop) really bring Jason back after Paramount's marketing department promised otherwise? Well, seeing as how we're looking at six more films in this series alone after this fifth one, I think we know the answer to that.
However, the mysteries do abound like a slightly gorier episode of Scooby Doo (with a lot more nudity). The real question is whether this is the real Jason or some copycat killer with his own agenda... or will the hints of the final scene from the last film come to fruition and is Tommy Jarvis becoming the next Jason?
This question might not be QUITE as baffling as why a waitress as hot as Lana (Rebecca Wood-Sharkey, whom we see topless) would ever go for an aging, balding, mustachioed goofball like Billy the Orderly (Bob DeSimone), but it does manage to baffle just about all of the townsfolk.
Upstanding townsfolk like Sheriff Cal Tucker (Marco St. John) and Ambulance Driver Roy (Dick Wieand), middle of the road hell-raisers like Demon (Miguel A. N˙˝ez Jr.) and Anita (JerÚ Fields) right on down to the loud mouth red neck podunk white trash weirdos like Ethel Hubbard (Carol Locatell) and her appropriately named son Junior (Ron Sloan).
That list doesn't even cover the Pinehurst Counselors like Dr. Matthew Letter (Richard Young) and Pam Roberts (Melanie Kinnaman) along with the Chef George (Vernon Washington) and his grandson (Demon's brother) Reggie (Shavar Ross) and those crazy inmates like Joey (Dominick Brascia), Robin (Juliette Cummins, whom we see topless) and Violet (Tiffany Helm)!
Why am I mentioning every single cast member short of "Third Extra from the Left"? Elementary, my dear Jason, because in this here "Mystery" version of a Friday The 13th flick, anyone and everyone is a suspect... that is unless Jason himself is REALLY back and, you know, "Only Mostly Dead". And if he is... where did he get that new mask?
Ironically, just about the only person in the whole flick who is most assuredly NOT a Jason Voorhees-esque suspect is Tina who is actually played by Debi Sue VOORHEES!!! Setting the name aside, we do see almost every inch of Debi Sue's naked body, so it's easy to doubt that she's Jason. By the way, sweet Debi... THANK YOU!
Therein lies one of the most major flaws of this fifth entry into the Friday Films. It falls into a lot of the same trappings as your standard sloppy mystery flick where anyone could be a suspect until the splintered end when the maniac is finally revealed. In defense of this film, however, I can say that upon repeated viewings the revelation of just how "The Man Behind the Mask" comes back does make some sense (even if it did disappoint a lot of fans). The hints are there, folks, though they aren't the most obvious things ever granted a Groovy Mystery fan. Speaking of which, when those Meddling Kids finally do unravel the secrets behind the slayings the final act does feel a lot like the end of any given episode of The New Scooby Doo Movies! Again, though... with a lot more nudity.
Speaking of which I'd like to take one more opportunity to re-thank Rebecca Wood, Juliette Cummins and even Melanie Kinnaman, but especially Debi Sue Voorhees! Say what you want about this film fans, but once again, Voorhees DOES take the cake here... it just might not be Jason!
So, once again we've got more of a parent/ child relationship with a Hockey Mask Killer stalking a familiar place that resembles Summer Camp Crystal Lake more than a lot, right on down to the Counselors (one of whose names is even PAMELA) and poor old Tommy Jarvis acting crazier than a Vegetarian Butcher. And given all of that, is it any wonder?
While it didn't manage to make every fan under the sun happy, this film isn't the cheat some have accused it of being. Shepherd is even a pretty decent Tommy Jarvis (for all of the 24 words he speaks). But let's not turn a cheesy horror sequel into some kind of classic mystery thriller that Poirot and Holmes would adore. No, this is still WorldsGreatestCritic.com, this is still Friday the 13th: A New Beginning and I still can't think of any good reason to give this film more than Two and One Half Stars out of Five! Maybe I should give it less. But every time I think of reducing the rating I just think how awesome Voorhees was in this.
No, not Jason. Debi Sue.
See you in the next reel.
Strap on your new mask,
Delve back into the Familiar
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