“Roy was a real loner.” – Sheriff Tucker
Every long running film series has an entry that is loathed by general fans, but liked by hardcore fans, like ‘Halloween 3.’ But unlike ‘Halloween 3,’ I am not the biggest fan of ‘Friday the 13th: A New Beginning.’ When I marathon the series, I usually skip this installment. It’s not wholly unwatchable, there’s just not enough good to make me watch it that often, however in preparation for this article…I’ve watched it 4 times as I was not as familiar with this one. It just doesn’t resonate with me like the others, but without this film, ‘Jason Lives’ wouldn’t exist. Sometimes you’ve got to go through hell before you get to Forest Green.
5 years later…’A New Beginning’
Tommy Jarvis (John Shephard/Corey Feldman), now 17 yrs old, awakens from a nightmare about Jason rising from his grave and coming after him, but he is paralyzed by fear and unable to get away. Tommy is in the back of a van from the Unger Institute of Mental Health on its way to the Pinehurst Youth Development Center, a facility for free-range mental patients and delinquents. Since the events of ‘The Final Chapter,’ Tommy’s been in and out of institutions trying to cope with what happened when he was 12, fighting to keep his sanity.
It’s never explained what happened to Trish, which is unfortunate as she was a good character, and as close as the Jarvis’ were, I don’t believe that Trish would just dump Tommy off at a mental institution, so something must have happened to her. Either she killed herself, or maybe Tommy did in a delusional fit. With as traumatized as he acts in ‘A New Beginning,’ it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that he killed his own sister by accident thinking she was Jason. Just saying…
Anyways…Tommy has arrived at the camp and we are introduced to Matt (Richard Young. A bit of trivia: he is the guy that gave Indiana Jones his hat at the beginning of ‘The Last Crusade’), and the beautifully big-breasted Pam (Melanie Kinnaman). They give the quiet Tommy a run down of what goes on at the camp and send him up to his room to get settled in. While up there, Tommy meets the precocious Reggie “The Reckless” (Shavar Ross). There are some sirens outside, and Reggie leaves Tommy to get settled.
Out walks Joey (Dominick Brascia), a chubby, lovable oaf, munching on candy bars, looking to help with chores. He approaches Robin (Juliette Cummins) and Violet (Tiffany Helm) to help with the laundry, but he gets chocolate all over the sheets, at which point he is dismissed. Then he goes over to help the overly intense Vic (Mark Venturini). Joey is talking like they are friends, but Vic hates everything and everyone, especially Joey. He offers Vic a candy bar, but he chops it with the axe. Joey tells him he is out of line and walks away. As soon as his back is turned, Vic hacks him up with the axe in front of everyone. Tommy watches, horrified from his room.
An aside about Joey: He is like an older Ralph Wiggum. He might be one of the most hated character in all of Friday the 13th, but personally, he is one of the most well acted and misunderstood. Dominick Brascia took advantage of what little screen time he had giving a born-to-be-fodder character some depth. Being an orphan shuffled around the system all his life, it’s not surprising Joey was a little slow and childlike, which makes his brutal death all the more tragic and sad. Aside from Tommy and Roy and maybe Reggie, Joey is the only other character worth remembering.
Throughout the film, Tommy is haunted by visions of Jason standing over him, and seeing Joey get hacked up does not help matters. He awakens the next morning hearing the echoes of himself screaming as he killed Jason, then runs over to his dresser to take some pills. It also appears in the last 5 years, Tommy has learned martial arts because, after Eddie (John Robert Dixon), scares Tommy with a mask, he just freaks out, body slamming Eddie through a table WWF style and pummels him. It’s safe to say, Tommy has some anger management issues.
‘A New Beginning’ exhibits plenty of deaths, but a lot of them seemed muted for a R rating. We see a lot of aftermaths, like Matt nailed to a tree with a big spike through his head. Tina (Debisue Vorhees, no relation), gets her eyes and noes clipped with hedge clippers, but you only see her empty eye sockets with a nasty continuous gash from eye to eye. Eddie’s death would’ve been cool if they would’ve shown it with the leather strap crushing his head against the tree. You only even see Joey get hit once in the back with the axe, then see him all chopped up once the sheet is lifted. Pete (Corey Parker) gets a zoom in as his throat is cut. Jake (Jerry Pavlon) has a slash across his face, etc. Only a few kills were shown in “graphic” detail, like the flare in Vinnie’s mouth, the axe in Billy’s head, and Roy’s demise.
The biggest insult to the viewer is that the one guy who actually deserved to die, Vic, doesn’t because he is in police custody. What a jip.
After Jason dispatches the campers, the 2 rednecks, the 2 greasers, the coke-loving couple, and 1 paramedic, he turns his attention on Reggie and Pam chasing them around the camp. Reggie runs away and leaves Pam to face Jason, but then he emerges on the tractor running in to Jason, and knocking him back, bloodied, but in true Jason fashion, he gets back up and pursues them into the barn. Just then, Tommy shows up to face Jason once and for all, only to get slashed with the machete.
Jason climbs the latter to the hay loft to finish off Pam and Reggie, only to get knocked out of the opening by Reggie. Little did they know, Jason was only hanging off of the side and comes up for one last grab. Tommy, still alive, limps over with the machete and chops of Jason’s hand and he falls to his death on some spikes(!) below, where it was revealed that Jason was just Roy the paramedic in a hockey mask getting revenge for the death of his son Joey. (A Pamela/Jason parallel, if you will.)
At the hospital, Tommy has a dream about killing Pam, who reacts very nonchalant about being stabbed in the gut. Then Tommy wakes up and sees Jason standing at the foot of his bed. They have a stare down until Jason fades away.
Pam is walking towards Tommy’s room when she hears a window break. She rushes in to Tommy’s room and finds him missing. The door shuts behind her to reveal Tommy wearing Roy’s mask with a butcher knife raised, his sanity now only a memory.
Tune in next time for the exciting, palette cleansing, conclusion of The Ballad of Tommy Jarvis!