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Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Paramount Home Entertainment
DVDs Released: 6/16/2009
All Ratings out of
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/10/2009
With the Friday the 13th remake poised to hit home video, Paramount is once again bombarding us with a selection of Friday the 13th titles on DVD. This time, we get Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, and Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. For years, Paramount released the Friday the 13th movies with little fanfare. Sure, they raked in the money, but there were never critic screenings and the studio had little to say about the films. So, it's a little surprising to see each one getting the semi-deluxe treatment on DVD.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter opens immediately following the events of Friday the 13th Part 3. Jason (played this time by Ted White) is dead and his body is removed from the crime scene and taken to the local hospital morgue. But, of course, Jason isn't dead (otherwise there wouldn't be a movie...oh, I forgot about Part V) and he soon awakens in the morgue and begins to kill again. Meanwhile, back at Crystal Lake, we are introduced to Trish (Kimberly Beck), her brother Tommy (Corey Feldman), and their Mom (Joan Freeman), who live in a house in the woods (although, we're never told why). A group of twentysomethings (including Crispin Glover) rent the house next door and begin to party. Sensing debauchery in his woods, Jason arrives and begins to kill the revelers. Can Trish and Tommy find a way to survive?
When it was initially released in 1984, I can remember there being a lot of buzz about Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter and, at the time, I thought of it as being the best of the series, as it was action-packed. Seeing it again today, I'm not sure what I was thinking. Sure, the film contains the requisite number of killings, but most of these take place in the final reel (as opposed to the original Friday the 13th, where most of the cast is gone 3/4 of the way in). The first 2/3 of the movie is excruciatingly boring at times, as we forced to watch the vacationers goofing around and coupling. It's during this time that we realize that, even for a Friday the 13th movie, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter has no story whatsoever. This is simply a vehicle to watch Jason kill. Even Sara (Barbara Howard), who is initially presented as the smart girl in the group who can avoid Jason, seems to be more of a prude than the smart girl. There is very little attempt to give anyone a backstory or a reason for being there...other than as victims. This movie also has the distinction of having one of the most pointless murders in the entire series with the death of the hitchhiker. And we won't even begin with the logic questions, like "How did Jason get from the hospital back to the forest?" Yes, the last 10 minutes of the film are very interesting and they change the course of the series, but they can't erase the banality which came before.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter wonders exactly what happened to the dog on DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a mild amount of grain and no defects from the source material. The most notable thing about this transfer is how dark it is. The action was almost hidden in some of the nighttime scenes, and the daytime scenes all look overcast. On the bright side, the colors are pretty good and artifacting is kept to a minimum. The DVD features a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This DVD features a "new 5.1 surround mix" according to the box, but apparently no one told the DVD, as all of the audio comes from the front and rear channels. There are no surround sound or subwoofer effects.
The Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter DVD contains several extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMNENTARY Director Joe Zito, Screenwriter Barney Cohen and Editor Joel Goodman. There is also a "Fan Commentary" with horror directors Adam Green and Joe Lynch. "Lost Tales from Camp Blood - Part 4" (6 minutes) continues this odd little series. "Slashed Scenes" (15 minutes) are extended, uncut takes of the various murders from the film. These have no audio, so Zito provides narration. Several show how the effects were done. "Jason's Unlucky Day: 25 Years After Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter" (11 minutes) is a making-of featurette which offers comments from Zito, Cohen, Tom Savini, Kimberly Beck, and Ted White amongst others. They talk about the prodction and most specifically, the kills in the movie. "The Lost Ending" (3 minutes) shows a deleted extended ending which actually has a creepy moment. "The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited Part 1" (18 minutes) is a fake "Unsolved Mysteries"-like show which explores the murders which have taken place at Crystal Lake. Pretty cheesy, if you're not rolling your eyes at the acting, then you will at the not so subtle horror movie references. "Jimmy's Dead Fuck Dance Moves" (2 minutes) offer raw footage of Crispin Glover dancing. The final extra is the film's THEATRICAL TRAILER.
Nothing succeeds like success and with the profits brought in by Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, it wasn't a surprise when that title turned out to be a lie. The story in Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning somewhere between 6-10 years after the events of the previous film. (We are never told for sure.) Tommy Jarvis (John Shepherd) is now a young man, but the events of the night when he attacked Jason have left him scarred and he's been transferred from one treatment facility to another. As the film opens, Tommy is brought to a rural group home which is run by Matthew (Richard Young) and Pam (Melanie Kinnaman). The home contains a group of young people with various (yet very, very vague) problems. Tommy is very private and doesn't talk much. This probably has something to do with the fact that he keeps seeing Jason everywhere. Not long after Tommy arrives, one of the residents is killed by a fellow housemate. This sparks a series of murders and soon everyone around Tommy is disappearing. Is Jason back from the dead?
Every movie series has its black sheep and Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning may be the blackest ever. As we sat down to watch the movie, I told my wife that it was the worst in the series and she replied, "There's a worst movie in the series." Yes, the Friday the 13th universe isn't full of great movies and picking the worst one should seem like a challenge, but Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning wins hands-down. In the off-chance that there's someone reading this review who has not seen the movie, I don't want to spoil anything for you, but let's just say that Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning has a lot in common with Halloween III. (Although, I personally like Halloween III and hate that it has such a bad reputation.) The movie almost goes back to being a murder-mystery ala Friday the 13th, although we're never really sure what it's doing. Director Danny Steinmann simply presents a series of scenes and asks us to make sense of them. Granted, the makers of Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning shouldn't be chastised for trying something different in the series, but they are responsible for making such a shoddy movie. Overall, the movie just has a "cheap" feel and it presents what may be the most unlikable group of characters that we've seen in the series. So, in theory, we should get a sadistic thrill from watching these characters get killed, but the slipshod look and feel of the film robs it of any excitement.
Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning presents some of the oddest dancing ever seen on film courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, and notably more grainy than the last film. There are no defects from the source material. The colors look pretty good, but the image is dark at times. Overall, the picture is flat and maintains the "cheap" look of the movie. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Again, we are treated to very lackluster sound which is housed in the front and center. Even the thunderstorm effects don't make it to the rear speakers and that's just unheard of.
The Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning DVD contains a few extras. We get an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director/Co-screenwriter Danny Steinman, actors John Shepherd and Shavar Ross and fan Michael Felsher, who joins the others by phone. The DVD contains another entry of "Lost Tales from Camp Blood - Part 5" (7 minutes), as well as the fauxumentary "The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited Part II" (10 minutes). "New Beginnings: The Making of Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning" (11 minutes) contains comments from Steinman and several cast members. To their credit, they take all of it very seriously. It takes guts to not only admit that you were involved with this movie, but to praise it. The final extra is the THEATRICAL TRAILER for the movie.
We can accuse the powers that be behind the Friday the 13th films of many things, but it's clear that they can learn from some of their mistakes. After the odd debacle which was Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, things went back to normal (somewhat) with Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. (It should be noted that Part V made money, but there was a backlash from the fans.) Part VI continues the adventures of Tommy Jarvis (now played by Thom Matthews). As the film opens, Tommy, accompanied for some reason by Ron Palilo -- TV's Horshak -- visits the grave where Jason is buried. He feels that he must exhume the body to convince himself that Jason is truly dead. This leads to a freak accident which brings Jason back to life. Now a zombie, Jason is ready to wreak havoc once again. Tommy rushes to the nearby town of Forest Green (the name Crystal Lake was changed to try and make people forget about the tragedies which occurred there) to warn Sheriff Garris (David Kagen). But, Garris sees Tommy as the boy who cried wolf and ignores him. Garris' daughter, Megan (Jennifer Cooke), however, finds Tommy intriguing. She and her friends are counselors at Camp Forest Green. Little do they know that zombie Jason still holds a grudge against camp counselors and that he's now back from the dead to continue his mother's work.
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives is an interesting movie, and that's saying a lot for a Friday the 13th film. Writer/Director Tom McLoughlin decided that the series needed some tweaking, so he decided to inject some (intentional) humor into the movie, while keeping the violence and gore intact. What we get is something which McLoughlin claims influenced Kevin Williamson, the creator of Scream. The movie contains the requisite dumb teenagers and creative deaths by Jason, but there is a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor and one moment where a character addresses the camera. The movie makes nods to genre conventions and the characters are somewhat smarter than they've been in the other films. McLoughlin attempts to inject some gothic creepiness into the film and he's done a great job in shooting the movie. Part VI is the most accessible entry since the original film and it's relatively large budget ($3 million) really shows on-screen.
Despite all of this effort, this is still a Friday the 13th movie. We get some new characters, and Tommy's quest to stop Jason, but at the end of the day, this is still about watching Jason kill people. And now that Jason's a zombie, he truly is unstoppable. This one stands above some of the others, but only slightly.
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives gets a sinking feeling on DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. This transfer looks markedly better than the last two, as the image is crisp, showing good colors and never being too dark or bright. The DVD holds a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Make it 3-for-3 in the disappointing sound department, as this "mix" shows no signs of surround or subwoofer effects.
The Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives DVD contains the standard extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Tom McLoughlin, Editor Bruce Greene, and actor Vinnie Guastaferro. There are more entries of "Lost Tales from Camp Blood - Part 6" (7 minutes) and "The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited Part III" (10 minutes). "Jason Lives: The Making of Friday the 13th: Part VI" (13 minutes) focuses primarily on McLoughlin and his views on the film. He talks about his decision to spoof the series while still trying to make Jason scary. We also get a look at the speial effects. "Meeting Mr. Voorhees" (3 minutes) has McLoughlin discussing his original idea for the ending along with some comic-book like art to portray the story. "Slashed Scenes" (6 minutes) offers 10 extended scenes from the movie, most of which show uncut gore footage. The problem is that they are 1.33:1 and very dark. The final extra is the THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long