My word, I sure am getting a lot of mileage out of Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, a movie that always gets a bad rap (not least from me!). But it’s an entertaining entry in the slasher saga nonetheless—in an inept, groan-inducing sort of way.
What passes for a story is riddled with idiotic elements, including a grotesque backwoods mother and her semi-retarded son, an apathetic drifter who’s the most useless red herring ever committed to celluloid, and some seriously lackadaisical counselors. The major gripe for most fans, though, is undoubtedly the lack of Jason. After suffering the fabled “machete slide” at the end of part four, the real deal spends part five in his grave while an impersonator does the dirty work. (Actually, the misinformed mayor remarks that Jason was cremated, but six subsequent sequels would indicate that he’s a tad misinformed.) If you ask me, however, the fraudulent fruitcake is the least of part five’s problems.
Jason is an icon. His hockey mask is one of the most potent images in horror history. Even wet blankets who wouldn’t be caught dead actually watching a Friday flick, instantly recognize the mask. It’s narrative shorthand for death, carnage and epic fail camping trips. Add grubby coveralls and a bloody machete to the equation, and you’ve got an indelible presence to match that of Lugosi’s Dracula or Karloff’s Monster. Of course, only a moron would argue that Jason’s bloodbaths could ever hold a candle to the Universal classics, but there’s something to be said for his level of pop culture notoriety. When you consider that six men have so far played the masked, adult Jason, you begin to realize the potency of the imagery—with the right accoutrements and body language, any big guy can be Jason Voorhees, homicidal mama’s boy.
From People magazine, by way of Fangoria #69 (1987):
“When I put on Jason’s clothes, I felt strange, like I had lived other lives. How I got the part is beyond me, because I really did not belong in Jason’s shoes. I am absolutely not a scary person.
– Richard Wieand
See? Even the actor who played the phony, despite his reservations, could feel the power of the costume. So what if the real Jason was taking a dirt nap? SPOILER WARNING: Vengeful paramedic Roy dispatches his victims in the spirit of the genuine article, and that’s good enough for me. I even like the new, unscathed mask with the blue diamonds—as you may remember, Jason’s mask has red diamonds and a slit above the left temple.
Impostor Jason, I salute you!