For the next four days until Friday, April 13th, I’ll be watching and reviewing the movies in the Friday the 13th franchise from the very first through Jason X (I’m up in the air about including Freddy vs Jason).
I’ll be counting kills, observing the bad behavior that gets teenagers
killed at Camp Crystal Lake, chronicling the ways Jason and the other
killers in the series bite it at the end, and awarding my favorite kill
of the movie. Needless to say this is going to be heavy on the
spoilers, so if you’re some kind of movie virgin who hasn’t yet bathed
in the spring of Jason Voorhees et al, be wary.
Special thanks to Litmus Configuration for the amazing image above!
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
16 (one patricide via TK-assisted drowning, two tent spikings, one impaling on a zombie arm followed by a neck snap, one smacked to death against a tree, two axes to the face, one drowning, one reaping what Jason hath sowed with a scythe, one head smooshing, one festive party horn in the eye, one knifing followed by a head loss, one throat slicing, one defenestration, one death by hooking and by crooking, one weed wacker to the belly.)
Best Kill: Jason attacks a tree with a sleeping bag full of girl.
Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll: Doping and drinking among the doomed. No shoes, no shirt, no survival. Getting slutted up for a boy is frowned upon in a big way.
The Comeuppance: Survivor Girl’s zombie dad jumps out of Crystal Lake and pulls Jason down. It’s stupider than it sounds.
The Movie: It’s tempting to be forgiving of Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood because the movie suffered so badly at the hands of the MPAA. The rating board forced director/make-up artist John Carl Buechler to cut almost every drop of blood out of a film with that word in the title; almost every kill is truncated to the point of senselessness. The DVD box set of the Paramount F13 films gives you a peek at the uncut kills, and they are impressive, especially the latest take on the old Jason standby, the head smoosh. With the kills included as Buechler intended, A New Blood would have been the goriest Friday yet.
But it still would have sucked. The movie is just stupid, not even a throwback to the older films in the series but to other shitty slasher movies that ripped off the Friday and Halloween films. The movie is filled with the most generic and ridiculous bunch of teens yet, all portrayed by actors who make porn stars look like Lawrence Olivier. And then there’s the main plot of the movie, an overwrought, ridiculous story about a psychic girl that makes you realize why so many films in this genre just dispense with plots altogether. All of this comes on the heels of the best entry in the Friday series, making it all look that much shoddier (also making it look shoddy: shitty production values).
Part VII is another one of the Friday films that take place in the future. As we’ve seen, Part II, released in 1981, took place in 1984. By the time The Final Chapter was released, the movies had caught up to the timeline, but they made another big leap of four or five years for Part V, and then another for who knows how long for Part VI. By my math it’s possible that the opening scenes of Part VII, with Survivor Psychic Tina as a young girl, actually take place in 1988, the year the movie opened – but the film soon flashes forward maybe nine years, setting the rest of the movie not only in the Clinton administration but also post-grunge. All of a sudden the pink sweater around the shoulders look that one of the victims sports seems a little more suspect.
The movie opens with Tina as a young girl who accidentally kills her dad… with her burgeoning psychic abilities. She sends him to the bottom of Crystal Lake, where he drowns (and where nobody bothers to look for his fucking corpse, but I’ll bitch about that later). I can accept this – hell, I’m accepting that there’s the zombie of a retarded serial killer floating in that same lake at that same moment. But then we fast forward to a teenaged Tina, who is returning to the house on Crystal Lake with her mother and her therapist. Seems Tina has been having a hard time dealing with the fact that she sent her father to his watery grave (his UNFINDABLE watery grave) and has been in major therapy for years. Returning to the house is part of the treatment, and the doctor wants her to face the place where her dad died. It’s worth noting that when you have an actual plot in your movie (ie, beyond ‘teens go to the woods and get killed’) and that plot could, with almost no retooling at all, be the plot of a porno movie, you probably have a shitty plot.
Tina’s first night back is pretty stressful, and when she gets upset her psychic powers manifest. She runs out to the lake and tries to will her daddy back to the surface from his cleverly hidden liquid tomb but makes a mistake – ooops, she’s raised Jason! This scene is so bad and so cheesy that it’s rollicking. The water boils and boom! – Jason jumps out. Tina passes out and Jason, obviously suffering from an annoying case of water in the ear, leaves her alone and wanders into the woods.
Now we have three different storylines, all of which suck. The house next to Tina’s is, of course, rented out by rowdy, horny teens. One of them, a bohunk so bland that your eyes will begin sliding off the TV screen, takes a liking to Tina, which causes some tension with what passes for one of the other characters. Meanwhile, Tina’s doctor seems to be less and less on the level, and Tina’s mom discovers that he’s actually trying to keep Tina freaked out so her TK will manifest. And while all this is going on, Jason is off on a walkabout. Two ‘characters’ have a car breakdown near a sign that quite plainly states they are five miles from Crystal Lake (hey, by the way, wasn’t this place called Forest Green just one movie ago? Then again, that’s a minor continuity issue compared to Jason’s new hockey mask – A New Blood opens with the usual recap of the last film, including footage of the climactic Jason/Jarvis battle and we see the mask take some hits from a propeller, as well as acquiring a bullet hole. None of this is visible on the mask in this movie), yet they soon run into Jason Voorhees. What the fuck is he doing five miles from where he started? Where’s he going? This makes even less sense as, once he dispatches these kids, he turns around and starts back to the lake and the two houses. Would he have just kept walking if he hadn’t run into those kids? Maybe Jason could have taken Manhattan a movie earlier.
A New Blood is shameless in how dopey it is. The first two kids killed were coming to the party cabin for the boy half of the couple’s birthday. They never show up and the party goes on. The next day they still haven’t shown up and no one cares. There’s another night and the kids just start partying all by themselves. Finally Bland Bohunk makes a phone call to someone to see where the birthday boy could be and decides to go look for him in the woods. It’s worth noting that filing a missing persons report at this point would make sense, or at the very least calling the local constabulary. How useful is one guy wandering in the woods going to be? Quite useful, it turns out – the psychiatrist goes for a stroll in the woods and finds the corpse and then doesn’t mention it to anybody.
Meanwhile the psychiatrist is trying to grow a mustache so he can twirl it. He’s doing everything to freak Tina out short of poking his finger almost in her eye and saying, ‘I’m not touching you! I’m not touching you!’, and it works – Tina levitates a TV at him. You can almost hear the grip grunting as he pulls the wire to make it float ‘eerily’ across the screen. Flipping out, Tina drives off in the car but then – well, I forgot to mention this because it’s so stupid, but Tina doesn’t just have telekinesis, she also has some kind of precog abilities. She sees an image of Jason killing her mom right in the middle of the road, swerves and gets into an accident. Stumbling home she runs into Bland Bohunk, and they become the second and third people to find that one corpse in this vast forest.
By this point in the movie the viewer is in excruciating pain. Buechler may be a talented FX man, but he has no understanding of things like pacing or editing or simply setting up a shot. Some of the interiors look to have been filmed on a high school stage, and the flat and dull lighting of the exteriors at night give every moment the sheen of a particular kind of direct to video movie, the kind that even Casper Van Dien wouldn’t star in. Low budgets are a curse of the genre, but that doesn’t mean that everything has to look cheap. Even Crystal Lake looks cheap this time, like someone left a hose running in the back yard over night. And it doesn’t cost that much more to write decent dialogue for your characters, not to mention that it would be nice to actually hire one person who can act… or at least one person who isn’t playing the fucking zombified slasher. This is Kane Hodder’s first time in the Jason suit; the guy would play Jason four times in total and so self-identified with the role that he tattooed ‘KILL’ inside his lip. So his teeth could read it. Anyway, he actually brings some range to Jason, but that’s even wasted what with him being a fucking zombie. I don’t know why Hodder insists on making Jason breathe heavily all the time; his shoulders are always going as if an unstoppable maniac who had been brought back from the dead as a rotting corpse and then been left at the bottom of a lake for a couple of years would get winded.
The bloodless kills rob the movie of any level of enjoyment it should have (if Paramount had released this film in an uncut version that would be the one I would be reviewing; I’ll be reviewing the uncut Jason Goes to Hell once I’ve worked up the fortitude to sit through it) and so the stalking scenes become a succession of teases without climaxes, much like many of my dates in high school. Finally all of the teens, who look like parodies of teens from teen movies from six years before this movie was made, are killed and the showdown between Tina (aka Carrie) and Jason happens.
It’s obvious that this was the whole point of the movie. Tina bats Jason around a little bit with items thrown at him from offscreen, and then she makes him fall through the floor like a Looney Tunes character. Finally she lights him on fire, but that isn’t enough to stop Jason. The final solution, and lord do I wish I was kidding, is to have Tina’s dead father rise out of Crystal Lake and drag Jason back down.
I’m going to be charitable and ignore the fact that Tina’s dad looks exactly the same as a waterlogged zombie as he did the day she put him down, albeit damper, because Buechler was forced into that by the studio. But I will not be able to ignore the fact that a man drowned in Crystal Lake years before and no one tried to find his body. And it isn’t even like he went down in the middle of the lake – he was on the pier in front of the house, so he was maybe ten, fifteen feet from shore. Also, (and I could be wrong about the geography here because Buechler’s a shitty director who never really even bothers to establish simple things like where these two houses are in relation to each other), I think that daddy jumps out of the water THROUGH a new pier constructed at the site where the old one was, and thus right over where his corpse has been laying. And none of this should take our attention away from the fact that this is the stupidest comeuppance of all time, simply because in a zombie vs zombie underwater grudge match I KNOW Voorhees takes down Tina’s soggy dad. The reanimation of daddy also indicates that Tina’s initial bringing back of Jason was no fluke – she not only has TK and the ability to see the future but SHE CAN RAISE THE DEAD. Somebody bring this bitch a leper, some loaves and a fish and see what happens.
Tina’s probably the worst Survivor Girl of the series (by the way, both her status as worst Survivor Girl and A New Blood’s honor or worst comeuppance will be destroyed by the sheer asshattery of Jason Takes Manhattan). She’s played by the nearly talent-free Lar Park Lincoln, who is so white and lifeless that she resembles nothing so much as a piece of pork in a white sweater. I would swear you could get trichinosis from eating her pussy. Anyway, she’s playing a character who never has more than two scenes where she’s anything but ‘flipped out psychic girl,’ and that shit gets old fast. I was not only rooting for Jason to cleave her, I was rooting for the evil psychiatrist to institutionalize her. Anything to get her crisped bangs off my TV screen.
The previous Friday films had been mostly fun, if stupid. The older ones have aged nicely – they’re sort of campier than intended, and the fashions and hairstyles are worth a laugh in and of themselves. By Part VII the films no longer reflected reality but some kind of John Hughes on the brown acid view of teens, and so the fashions and hairdos just feel phony. Also, there’s nothing funny about the late 80s, and this is a medical fact.
But as tough as Part VII was, it was nothing compared to Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, one of the best examples of why we should all join the Taliban and renounce motion pictures.
Friday the 13th Part VII: A New Blood scores:
Next: One of the worst movies I have ever seen. Lots of shots of Vancouver. A final fate for Jason so ridiculous that they actually just ignored it in the next film.