Sunday, March 22, 2015

Newsploitation: Jason...er, Roy the Paramedic turns 30!

Today’s box office birthday is a big one as it involves not only one of horror-doms biggest franchises, but also one of the most controversial entries in series. Indeed, today marks the 30th anniversary of the release of FRIDAY THE 13th PART V.  Less than a year after THE FINAL CHAPTER promised the end of Jason in April 1984, fans got A NEW BEGINNING with Jason coming back from the dead…or did he?  Yes, the fifth entry is the infamous one with the faux Jason.

Trying to explain the bitterness around this sequel to kids who weren’t around at the time it came out is akin to a Vietnam vet giving that thousand yard stare and quipping, “You just weren’t there.”  And you can’t create a contemporary equivalent by saying something like, “Imagine a SAW sequel that didn’t have Jigsaw in it” because you’d hear in reply, “Oh, you mean like in SAW XXI: SAW IS THE LAW?”  To quote ‘80s musical poet Oran “Juice” Jones, a FRIDAY sequel without Jason Voorhees is like “cornflakes without the milk!”  Looking at it now with “adult” eyes, it is hard to see past the blatant cynicism of the filmmakers.  Not only was it the quickest turnaround for a sequel, but it was after promising fans the series was over.  Adding insult to injury, the twist ending literally could be in a Scooby Doo episode, pushing the limits of “fans will watch anything with this name” almost to the breaking point.  Banks must have been filled with guffaws from Frank Mancuso, Jr. and Paramount execs.

The filmmakers obviously knew their cash-grab would be called out – especially so soon after delivering a “final chapter” – so they made sure to keep everything about the production a secret.  Fangoria wasn’t notified until the last possible moment and the production company put out no notices of a new FRIDAY THE 13th sequel in Variety or The Hollywood Reporter.  To show you just how damn cynical these filmmakers were, they held auditions for the film under the title REPETITION. Today they like to claim it is a reference to David Bowie’s song “Repetition” off his 1979 Lodger album, but you can’t fool me.  Calling it REPETITION is like calling it SAME OLD SHIT while winking at Mancuso, Jr. as he counts stacks of cash.  (To be fair, they filmed part VI as ALADDIN SANE, also a Bowie album.)  The production was so damn secretive that the only mention of the film in Variety was a listing of actor Richard Young scoring a role in REPETITION by Terror Inc. Productions on October 26, 1984. Filming under new series director Danny Steinmann obviously took place in the fall of 1984 and early 1985 before the obligatory multiple visits to the ratings board in February 1985.  Legend has it the filmmakers went back-and-forth nine times before securing the R-rating.  Much to the chagrin of FRIDAY fans, the uncut footage has never surfaced.

The film opened in first place the weekend of March 22, 1985 with a haul of $8,032,883 – beating out other new arrivals PORKY’S REVENGE, THE LAST DRAGON, and BABY: SECRET OF THE LOST LEGEND.  Not the heights of parts III and IV, but a decent opening with an end haul of $21,930,418 in the United States.  It was Paramount’s highest grossing horror film that year and the third highest grossing horror film in total (behind A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2 and FRIGHT NIGHT).  Now remember this is almost pure profit as the film only cost around $2 million and probably had a small P&A budget.  As mentioned earlier, it would become easily the most divisive entry of the series.  I’ve grown to appreciate it more as I’ve grown older and you have to admire Steinmann’s no nonsense body count (it held the series highest tally of 21 kills until JASON GOES TO HELL).  It should also get credit for introducing the grown up Tommy Jarvis plotline, a pivotal story/character that would be mastered by Thom Mathews in the superior JASON LIVES the following year.  So if you’re feeling so inclined, throw on your Jason hockey mask and give ol’ Roy the killer paramedic 92 minutes of your time today.

Moments of Clarity:

1 Reactions:

  1. Cool that you posted the ad from the Montreal Gazette. I live in Montreal, Quebec and the two cinemas are long gone. As you can see, the ratings system is different from the US. No one makes a fuss when a movie is rated 18 years, many films have been rated 18 years, Hollywood movies and all porno films. Unlike the US, where NC-17 means it must be like an X film. The US should follow Quebec's rating example, 18 years means it is just for adults, and it does not mean explicit sex. In 1995, "Seven" was rated 18 years, but the dirty "Showgirls" was rated 16 years! More films should be given the NC-17 rating, rather than cut to pieces to get an R. And to say that the movie is not a porno! My two cents.

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