Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning wasn't supposed to exist. The prior film, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, was supposed to be the grand finale to the series, ending with Jason Voorhees having his head split open by young Tommy Jarvis (played by Corey Feldman). Jason was dead.
But the franchise made money, so they had to make another film. However, much like Halloween: Season of the Witch, the negative fan backlash to Friday the 13th Part 5 changed the entire path of the franchise because of one important creative decision: Jason Voorhees isn't the hockey-masked killer of this film. But how did that derided decision change everything?
Friday the 13th Part 5 Introduced A New Killer
The film focuses on an older Tommy Jarvis (played by John Shepard), left traumatized by the events of the final film. He has dreams and nightmares about Jason returning and going on a new murder rampage. When a new hockey mask killer emerges on the scene and starts killing teens, it appears as if Jason Voorhees has returned from the grave.
Except it isn't Jason. In the finale of the film, the killer falls from a window onto a bunch of spikes, revealing that, in actuality, he was someone else entirely.
Earlier in the film, a childs victim is randomly murdered with an ax by a guy with serious anger issues. It is a scene so bizarre and out-of-left field that one would be forgiven for expecting THAT guy to be the killer. But no, the killer turns out to be this boy's father, Roy Burns, who is out for revenge against the people he blames for his son's death. And he does this by cosplaying an infamous serial killer.
It is almost a perfect cosplay, too, if not for two critical differences: the red triangle on Jason's mask is replaced by two blue triangles and the hockey mask is missing the ax-wound from Part III.
Haunted by Jason Voorhees
To be fair, it makes sense. The series, despite stretching the limits of reality, never incorporated any supernatural elements. So of course Jason wouldn't come back as a zombie. Not yet, anyway.
The idea of this film was that the shadow of Jason lingered like a ghost. Tommy is haunted by the memory of Jason, which leads to a final shot of Tommy wearing the Jason mask, implying that he, like Roy, would become the new hockey-masked killer in the sequel.
While the filmmakers probably intended to create a metaphorical haunting, some fans have theorized there is a more literal one going on here. In Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, the ninth film in the series, Jason is finally obliterated, but returns as a slug-like monster who enters into people's bodies to possess them. The film establishes a whole lot of supernatural lore surrounding Jason, elevating him to an immortal entity who cannot be slain.
While Part 5's filmmakers had no idea where the franchise would go, fans have concluded, potentially, that Part 5 is the first introduction of Jason as a supernatural entity, traveling silently from body to body, and that, after taking over Roy, Jason ends the film taking over Tommy. The only flaw in this series? Tommy appears in Part 6, and is certainly not possessed by Jason.
The Fallout of Friday The 13th Part 5
Friday the 13th Part 5 did not get a warm welcome from fans. They wanted more Jason and felt cheated out of their favorite killer. So in Part 6, they got exactly that. Jason returned. But to pretend that Jason faked being dead -- again -- for several years wouldn't make sense. No. Jason died. He had been dead for a whole film after that.
The only way to restore him was to bring him back to life, thanks to Tommy Jarvis's paranoia about Jason. In Part 6, Tommy (played by Thom Mathews) goes to Jason's grave, afraid Jason isn't really dead. So he just starts stabbing the dead body with a metal spike, which gets shocked by lightning, bringing Jason back to life.
The franchise never attempted to put another killer in the hockey mask again. Even in Jason Goes to Hell, Jason is still the killer. He's just possessing people until he can restore his original form after it gets blown to pieces in the opening scene.
This also lead to Kane Hodder playing Jason. Hodder is arguably the most beloved actor to play the role. He incredibly seriously, often campaigning in favor of the fans. It's thanks to him that Freddy vs Jason didn't completely disappear into Development Hell, which makes it all the more depressing that he didn't play Jason in that film.
In order to bring back Jason, however, supernatural elements had to be introduced. In many ways, Friday the 13th Part 5 is the last grounded of the Friday the 13th films. After this, all bets are off. Zombies? Psychics? Space? The Necronomicon from The Evil Dead? Freddy Krueger? All bets are off.
It's telling that one of the selling points of the Platinum Dunes remake was that it would return to the style of Parts 1-4, telling a grounded story about a realistic Jason killing teens, rather than featuring Jason in space.
Friday the 13th Part 5 isn't a well-remembered Friday the 13th film. Unlike Halloween: Season of the Witch, fans haven't warmed up to it over the years. However, it's undeniably one of the most important films in the franchise.