Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

*. There’s not much point hating on a late entry in a lousy franchise that was by this time far removed from its not-so-lofty peak. I’ve always tried to find some good in these Friday the 13th films, and I remember being somewhat amused by them as a young man. But The New Blood is a weak entry with little to recommend it.
*. The only new wrinkle this time out is that the last girl figure, Tina (Lar Park Lincoln), has psychokinetic powers. Director John Carl Buechler frankly describes her as “a clone of Carrie.” This actually makes for a fun battle between her and Jason in the final act as she goes all Carrie on him and he is (as always) indestructible. If this sounds a bit like a trial run for Freddy vs. Jason (2003) that shouldn’t be surprising because they were planning at the time on having the two franchise heavyweights face off against each other in a crossover film but the studios couldn’t come to an agreement.
*. Up until the final fifteen minutes, however, this is dull stuff. I can’t think of a Friday the 13th movie where the kills are more perfunctory. As had become usual by this time a lot of the gore had to be taken out to placate censors, but even so most of the kills are just the usual slashings and skewerings. There was a nice bit with a sleeping bag that made me think of the classic scene in Prophecy, and a scene that had to be cut of Jason crushing Ben’s head with his bare hands, but aside from that there’s nothing to get excited about. The circular saw is often cited by fans, but I think it just looks silly.
*. Just as perfunctory are the characters. They are the usual types — the nerd, the preppie, the pothead, the black couple, the slutty rich bitch — but even being this crudely drawn I found them nearly indistinguishable. Usually these people are only so much fresh meat (or “new blood”) anyway, but this movie took my disengagement to a new level.

*. Jason, however, played by Kane Hodder in his first turn under the mask, has never looked better. He’s apparently been rotting at the bottom of Crystal Lake for about ten years, so despite his burly physique he’s also showing signs of zombie-like decomposition, with a visible rib cage front and back. His clothes are covered in a layer of muck and he’s also got a chain wrapped around his neck. When his mask comes off he looks even more zombie-ish, and I mean that in a complimentary way. For the most part he’s just doing the usual Jason things — crashing through windows, throwing other people through windows — but he’s looking good doing it.
*. The script is crap but it does manage to hit with one great line when the nerd, who is an aspiring author, is rejected by the rich bitch. “Rejection? Fine. I can take it. I’ve been rejected by some of the finest science fiction magazines in the continental United States!”
*. So up until the fight between Jason and Tina I would rate The New Blood below average for the franchise. The ending, however, does a lot to redeem it. This was something new for a slasher film. To be sure there’d been feisty and resourceful last girls before, usually in the first part of a franchise (Nancy Thompson in the original Nightmare on Elm Street comes to mind), but I don’t think there’d been anything like Tina going toe-to-toe with one of these superhuman killing machines. Note how, after she discovers that Jason has killed her mother, Tina immediately goes chasing after him!
*. On the commentary Lincoln mentions how she thinks Jason probably enjoys the challenge of fighting someone who is his equal, and I think she has a point. It’s fun seeing these two go at it, and I’d also add that, while nothing spectacular, the psychokinesis effects are pretty good. This is never a scary movie — it’s too formulaic to either care about or be surprised by — but it turns into a decent little action thriller in the end.

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