"Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood" (1988)
"Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood" (1988)
Directed by John Carl Buechler
Starring: Lar Park Lincoln, Terry Kiser, Kane Hodder, Susan Blu
Budget: $2.8 million / Box Office: $19.1 million
I stayed up late last night and dusted off an oldie but goodie from the DVD shelf: 1988's Friday the 13th, Part VII: The New Blood. This has always been one of my favorite films in the F13 franchise, though I'm not exactly sure why -- I honestly don't think it's really much better or worse than most of the series. Perhaps I simply enjoy this seventh installment more because I haven't seen it a million times over, like I have many of the early F13 chapters. so "New Blood" still feels somewhat fresh to me.
(I still view the original F13 from time to time, but I am completely burned out on parts II, III, and Final Chapter so I don't feel any particular need to sit through them ever again!)
The Friday the 13th saga's formula was obviously well established by this point in the franchise - take a secluded woodland location, add horny teenagers and a wacko with farm implements; mix well and bake at 350 for about 90 minutes. Therefore it was nice to see the writers of Part VII shake up this stale template by finally introducing a character who was strong enough to go toe-to-toe with the psychotic Jason: a teenage girl with telekinetic powers (ala Stephen King's "Carrie") which make her uniquely qualified to battle the hockey-masked maniac. This newly added supernatural element was brought in after a proposed crossover with the Nightmare on Elm Street saga failed to get off the ground, (Of course, Jason and Freddy Krueger did finally face off many years later in 2003's Freddy vs. Jason.)
Tina Shepherd is a troubled girl who can move objects with her mind. When she was a little girl, her powers accidentally caused her father's death at the family's summer cabin at Crystal Lake. Now a teenager, Tina is returning to Crystal Lake for the first time since the tragedy with her Mom and psychiatrist (played by Terry Kiser of "Weekend At Bernie's" fame!) in tow, for a dose of "face your fears" style shock treatment.
Of course, in true F13 fashion, the cabin next door to Tina's is well stocked with the usual assortment of potential teenage victims, each representing a time-honored slasher film stereotype -- the rich bitch, the nerd, the stoner, the yuppies, the tough but sensitive nice guy, etc. All of them are ripe for the picking when Tina has a fight with her doctor and stomps off to the lake on an emotional burn. Her powers accidentally awaken Jason Voorhees, who you might remember has been slumbering at the bottom of Crystal Lake since the end of "Part VI." Our boy Jason naturally gets right back to work, grabbing the nearest handy sharp objects and begins knocking off the occupants of the "party animal" cabin one by one, until sure enough, the lone survivors of the carnage are Tina and the hunky Nick (aka the "sensitive nice guy"). When Jason and Tina meet face-to-hockey mask, she uses her mental powers to put him through the wringer!.
The last fifteen or twenty minutes of New Blood are some of my favorite moments of mayhem in the entire "F13" series. It's a ton of fun to watch Tina using her powers of mental manipulation to electrocute Jason, strangle him with vines, set him on fire, drop a roof on his head, and so on. Stuntman Kane Hodder, who was playing Jason for the first time here (and who "owned" the role for several films afterwards) deserves special mention because he does a very good job conveying how pissed off Jason must be that a mere girl is getting the upper hand on him! My favorite bit is when Tina hurls a jar full of nails into Jason's face and chest. Jason has lost his trademark hockey mask by this time, and when he rips one of the nails out from between his eyes, Hodder/Jason gives Tina a hilarious cross-eyed look as if to say, "Pffft. Is that the best you got?!")
Summing it up
A major complaint most fans have about F13 VII is the lack of gore, which is fairly ironic since the movie's subtitle is The New Blood. Director John Carl Buechler's original cut of the film was much splashier, but the movie was subject to massive re-editing prior to its release, due either to tighter MPAA rating restrictions or general squeamishness on the part of Paramount Pictures. Thus, the gore factor in "New Blood"' is not very high, aside from one absolutely brutal axe-to-the-face kill that still cracks me up to this day. Otherwise, most of the death scenes cut away at the very last second so you don't get to see much red stuff. This makes Kiser's death-by-power saw scene in particular rather disappointing.The deleted versions of the flick's kill scenes are available on YouTube, and they are indeed much nastier than what ended up in the final film. Dare we hope for a "Director's Cut" special edition DVD someday with those bits restored?
In addition to cutting back on the gore, the ending of Part VII is one of the lamest in the entire F13 series, topped only by the utterly WTF cop-out non-ending of Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan .Even with those points taken off, though, F13 Part VII was still action packed enough to make me smile as I remembered my teenage horror-nerd days. Back in the '80s my friends and I had a standing tradition of seeing each new "Friday" movie on opening night, and this one in particular still brings back fun memories for me. 30 years (!) after it was first released, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood holds up as one of the better chapters in the seemingly never-ending saga of Jason Voorhees.
Deleted Death Scenes from "Friday VII"
© 2018 Keith Abt