4.19.2008

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

Director – John Carl Buechler

Starring -
Lar Park Lincoln - Tina Shepard
Kane Hodder - Jason Voorhees
Kevin Blair - Nick
Terry Kiser - Dr Crews
Susan Blu - Mrs Shepard
Susan Jennifer Sullivan - Melissa
Jeff Barnett - Eddie
Elizabeth Kaitan - Robyn

Year - 1988

Score - 2 Howls Outta 4

 
There's an expression we commonly use that states, "What goes up, must come down." That quote could be no more truer if applied to the latter sequels to Friday The 13th. After the commercial and decently critical success of 1986's Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Paramount had a dilemma on their hands: How do we improve on the great Jason Lives for our next Jason flick? After much thinking, they figured it out: Why not pair up with New Line Cinema and do a movie where Jason Voorhees fights Freddy Kruger of the Nightmare On Elm St. franchise? It's every horror fan's wet dream. It would create huge buzz, leading to massive profits for both franchises. It would be the peak of the horror industry as we know it. 

And yes, back in 1987, Freddy vs. Jason would have done TREMENDOUS business. Unfortunately, when money's involved, all deals tends to fall on the wayside. Paramount and New Line couldn't agree on the direction of the F v J film, so it was cancelled [though once New Line bought the rights of Jason, the film would come out in 2003 to great success]. With that great idea no longer a possibly, Paramount had to come up with something quick for a sequel. Tommy Jarvis had run his course, so they couldn't head into that direction. So they went, "Hey, we already ripped off the end of Carrie for the ending of the original film, so why not rip off her powers as well? Yeah, we can have a blonde lead chick have telekenetic powers and use them to fend off Jason. It's genius!" Genius...yeah sure. Anyway, with that logic, the next sequel to the F13 franchise was created: Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood.

PLOT
One year has passed since Tommy Jarvis chained Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder in his first of four appearances as Jason) underwater in Crystal Lake. The Shepard family visits the area every once in a while, where one night, a 13-year-old Tina Shepard is upset about her father abusing her mother. She runs to a boat and begins to sail out further into the lake. Her father rushes out to stop her and apologize, but young Tina wishes for his death. Suddenly, the lake begins to bubble and the wooden plank her father stands on collapses under him. A piece of wood hits him, knocking him unconscious, leading to his drowning. Tina had killed her father, with the use of telekenetic powers.

Four years pass, where a now 17 Tina (Lar Park Lincoln) and her mother (Susan Blu) return to Crystal Lake with Tina's opportunist psychiatrist, Dr. Crews (Terry Kiser). He tells the Shepards that returning would help Tina heal from the trauma of her father's death, where in reality he only wants to exploit Tina and her powers. While they're there, they happen to be next door to a group of partying and stereotypical teens, who pretty much our story's cannon fodder. Tina becomes friends with one, Nick (Kevin "Blair" Spirtas), who seems to understand Tina as well as her mom. While Tina's there, old feelings surface and she starts feeling guilty over killing her father. She decides to bring him back from under Crystal Lake, sensing someone down there, and uses her powers to make it happen. Unfortunately, instead of waking up her dad, she wakes up the one and only hockey-masked killer, Jason. Jason goes on his usual rampage, with Tina now having visions of people getting killed by him. Dr. Crews says that she's seeing things, not wanting anything to jeopardize his exploitation of her. Nobody believes Tina, even though Nick tries while at the same time not understanding what's going on with her. As for Jason, he kills off these pointless characters one by one the way he knows how. Tina's powers are her only hope for survival to stop Jason's massacre to save the people around her.

REVIEW
This was actually the first Friday The 13th movie I saw in the theaters (I was 7) and remember really loving this movie. I saw it when I was like 15 again and I liked it a second time. So I watch it again tonight and...I just can't believe that I actually liked this movie. It's not a bad film, but it's not a great one either. It just seems so rushed and put together. This is the kind of film I want to like, but there are so many flaws that it softens the experience for me. There are good things in this film though.

POSITIVES
1) Make-Up and FX - Definitely the most expensive F13 film at this point. The use of Tina's telekenesis looks simple but it's done really well. It's like watching the effects used in the original Carrie film but much sleeker and less gimmicky. When things move or float, it seems natural and doesn't look like someone is pulling on a string. Then there's Jason's zombie deformed face. Boy, ain't he a handsome son of a bitch? I loved the decayed look, as well as continuity, since I still see the axe marks unleashed on his face in the previous Fridays. Plus you can now see his spinal cord, heart, and rib cage through his upper body...he really does look like a corpse now. Plus we get some houses collapsing and a huge explosion...good times.

2) Lead Actors - If it weren't for Lar Park Lincoln and Kevin Spirtas, this movie would have fell to shit. While not an accomplished actress at this point, Lincoln possesses this innocent, girl-next-door type of presence that's not only appealing, but natural on screen. We really understand who Tina is through her use of emotion and facial expressions. We feel bad for her when she kills her dad, and when people make fun of her because she has issues. You also feel bad when you know she's being exploited for something she has no control over. Lincoln had me since the beginning and while her character wasn't overly developed, it was developed enough where I could sympathesize with her. She's a person, and I like that. Spirtas as Nick has even less to do but really look charming and handsome, but he was really the best actor in the entire cast [though that's not really saying much in this film]. He was also very likable and down to earth, instead of being cocky and a know it all. He had great chemistry with Lincoln too, which helped make their relationship a bit more believable than it should've been [their relationship happened pretty quick]. He's no Tommy Jarvis, but he was one of the better male leads in these films, so he gets my thumbs up for survival. And then there's Kane Hodder as Jason himself. He makes Jason pretty intimidating here, with his heavy breathing, march, and all around huge physique. This is one Jason to shy away from, because you don't want to fuck with him. Hodder would pretty much own the Jason persona, as he did three more movies after this. Like everyone one, Kane Hodder is Jason hands down.

I also must say that Terry Kiser did a good job as Dr. Crews. What an asshole he was, and Kiser didn't shy away from the performance. He not only exploited Tina, but he used her mother as a shield for Jason and actually pushed her into Jason to be killed instead of him. Everytime he was on screen, I wanted his ass kicked. Same goes to Susan Jennifer Sullivan as rich snob, Melissa. What a bitch...I wanted Tina to use her powers to make Melissa explode from inside-out. She made fun of Tina, tried to make Nick jealous by seducing the weird guy, then she dumped the weird guy because he wasn't worth making Nick jealous over. Ugh, I hate girls like that. Yeah, she was a stereotype, but she played it to a tee and you just wanted to slap her until she came back down to earth. Jason had an axe to grind with her too, if you know what I mean. Both actors did good playing bad. I was definitely convinced.

3) Effort - While it wasn't a runaway success, I must applaud Paramount for trying to FINALLY do something different with the franchise other than just slicing-and-dicing [though there's alot of that here]. While the whole Jason vs. a telekenetic girl is pretty cheesy, it worked in favor for the film, giving it a slightly different feel than the other sequels. I mean, where else will you see Jason get his ass kicked by a girl's mind? It gives the film a certain 'umph' that had been lacking in the previous installments. Plus there seemed to be an actual story trying to be told here as well, and I appreciated that. Too bad it wasn't explained in enough detail for it to really matter. But I was entertained by the movie somewhat, so it wasn't a total loss.

NEGATIVES
1) Direction - Didn't like it. First time director John Carl Buechler does an okay job with the film, but he doesn't leave much to the imagination. Instead of building tension and giving us something to imagine and think about, Buechler just gives it to us right away. If Jason's gonna kill someone, he shows Jason. Death scenes don't mean much because they're done in a quick matter of seconds without any build up. It's like watching an action film instead of a horror film, and that's not what I came to see. It was shot like a music video, and if I wanted to see a music video, I'd go to YouTube and download one. I know this franchise lost it's fear factor six films ago, but at least try and scare us.

2) Cliches, Cliches, Cliches - God, where do I begin here? How many times am I gonna see the exact same chase scenes in these movies? Different film, same shit. And these supporting "characters"...yawn. These people are so stereotypical that it hurts. We get the token black couple, the weird guy no one appreciates, the nerdy girl who looks beautiful once she takes off her glasses, the girl who wants to fit in, and the rebel [dork was more like it]. I don't even know their names, which shows how much they really appealed to me. I actually wanted Jason to kill them, rooting him on when he did nasty things to them. I mean, c'mon! It's ridiculous! The group is at the damn cabin because of Nick's cousin, Michael's, birthday and yet Michael, who we meet for like five minutes, is killed off in the beginning before we even know who or what he's about. When Nick finds him dead, am I supposed to feel bad for Nick? Or Michael? Or any of these people? Now I understand that slasher films are supposed to have mindless characters waiting to be slaughtered, but at least give me characters I can somewhat understand and care about before you kill them. If you want to keep my attention, give me characters with a drop of substance. Is that too much to ask? This lack of personality leads to the next problem:

3) Jason - I love Jason, I really do. But I'm no longer scared of the dude anymore. As a matter of fact, I'm ROOTING for his dead ass now to kill these useless characters. He's the star and hero of the film. The zombie doesn't talk and he has a larger than life personality that none of these stereotypes have. Doesn't anyone see a problem with this?

4) Kills & Gore - Jason killed over 10 people in this film. Do I get to see any blood or gore in any of them? Noooooo. Where's the fuckin' crimson? That cringing feeling when an axe slams down into someone's skull? It's not in this film. Sure, we get the best F13 kill in franchise history - the hilarious sleeping bag into a tree kill [that slut inside that bag deserved to die for thinking hiding inside would save her ass...she wins the Stupid Bitch Award for this movie] - and a toy horn through that black girl's eye, but we don't see much else. The MPAA really cut alot of shit from this film, and I feel cheated. I want an uncut version of this film pronto.

5) The Ending - As usual, this F13 had a great end fight scene with Tina & Nick vs. Jason. But it's ruined by the very end of the film when Tina somehow brings her DEAD FATHER from under Crystal Lake with her powers. Mr. Shepard wraps the chain around Jason's neck and drags Jason down back into the water with him. Then, Tina and Nick are taken away in an ambulance. The end. WTF!? WHAT KIND OF SHIT IS THAT!? How the fuck is Tina's dad still alive anyway? Does Crystal Lake possess the power of Lazarus? I'm serious. Anyone in that water never seems to stay dead! And then it just ends with Tina and Nick, not even showing Jason under the water or anything that would lead to a suitable conclusion. It just goes straight into the credits. That pisses me off. Second worst ending to a Friday The 13th movie EVER [Jason Takes Manhattan beats it]. Even the dreadful Part V had a more interesting end and I hate that fuckin' film.

THE FINAL HOWLI know alot of people like this film, but after watching the brilliant Jason Lives, it's such a disappointment to come after it. I'll admit, I did like some aspects of the movie and the film had a story to it that seemed unfinished. But there was so much potential here to be so much better and it didn't even come close. It's a decent/average sequel but The New Blood begins the downhill trend the series would go through until, in my opinion, Jason X. If you love a mindless slasher film with some trace of supernatural aspect to it, this is the film for you. But if you're looking for a Jason Lives type of slasher where the characters are actually sympathetic and the story's logical, you won't find it here. Still, it's better and a lot more entertaining than watching A New Beginning and Jason Takes Manhattan [too bad I'll have to watch it next to review it]. Sigh...

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