Friday the 13th part V is a problematic entry in the franchise for many fans. Coming barely a year after the much hyped “Final Chapter”, and featuring a swerve which alienated and angered many long time aficionados, as a film it has taken a bit of a battering over the years. But is it really as bad as some would have you belive? Read on Fiends & Fiendettes, to see what I think…
So, synopsis time: Tommy Jarvis has spent the last few years of his life in a mental institution after his violent slaughter of the serial killer Jason Voorhees. He rarely speaks, and is being transferred to a halfway house located near to Crystal Lake in the hopes that the more relaxed surroundings will help bring him out of his self imposed isolation and into the adult world. The halfway house is the scene of a tragedy, however as one of the more innocent inhabitants is brutally hacked to death by another. This leads to a spate of killings which bear all the hallmarks of Jason Voorhees. But Jason is dead. Or is he as Tommy keeps seeing him, and the bodies continue to pile up…
Now, lets get this out of the way early on. The swerve in the story is that the killer isn’t Jason. Or even Tommy Jarvis (despite the film hinting at it heavily throughout). It is Roy, a paramedic seen is one brief scene near the films beginning. This is what upset fans so much. They would have accepted Tommy Jarvis as the killer. Hell, the final shot of Tommy at the end of the Final Chapter intimated as much. Indeed, the plan to make Tommy the killer is still there, with this films oft debated final scene setting him up even more obviously (although by the time we reach Jason Lives! Tommy is not a killer, and seems relatively well adjusted). But the reveal that it was a minor character whom we had no reason to suspect? Meh, it was a bit… off.
Anyway, this film is often held up as being the sleaziest of the franchise, with an almost “porno” approach to its filming. This isn’t strictly fair. Yes, the film is much darker and harsher than the previous entries, and the token sex scene is certainly the most explicit in the series, but to liken it to a porno is harsh. I suspect that this link was made because of the directors prior form in the porn industry (not that he was the first director to move from pornography to “legitimate” cinema). Certainly, the direction is somewhat workmanlike, but there are occasional flashes of interest.
Now, all that being said, I find it to be a fairly enjoyable entry into the series. Yes, it is one of the series lesser films, but frankly, it is still a goodly step ahead of the vast majority of the slasher films being turned out by this stage of the 1980s. And it does have some inventive kills (head being crushed by a belt used as a tourniquet, anyone?).
(As a bonus, this film also features 2 Return of The Living Dead alumni: Mark Venturini and Miguel A. Nunez Jr. Oh, and it features an actress actually called Voorhees).
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