Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood

With my month-long focus on horror movies, I was faced with an important decision.  Should I finish up my coverage of my favorite slasher series, Friday the 13th, or should I focus on classics and films unknown to me?   Last year, I reviewed the first four Fridays for my month of horror and then randomly reviewed the fifth, saving Part VI for this year's actual Friday the 13th.  There was something poetic about that last review that warmed the cockles of my heart.  Since 2012 has three (!) Friday the 13ths on the way, I figure that if I review Part VII this month, I will be able to warm those same cockles three times next year and finish up my coverage of the series.  With a solid plan in mind, I rented Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood --- the Friday I have watched the least.

The New Blood starts out, like so many other Fridays, with a recap.  In case you are tuning in without having seen and taken scrupulous notes on the previous six films, here's the gist: Jason Voorhies either drowned in Crystal Lake or he didn't as a child; his mom went crazy years later and killed some camp councilors; but then Jason turned out to be alive, just a super-strong killer hobo; he was eventually killed by Corey Feldman; then there was a movie where he actually stayed dead; he was later brought back to life by lightning; and he was left chained to a rock at the bottom of Crystal Lake at the end of Part VI.  Now you're probably more caught up on the series than the screenwriter for The New Blood.  This chapter begins with a family that happens to live on Crystal Lake.  Why would you live in an area notorious for its mass murdering?  Well, it is a nice lake.  The dad is drunk and abusive to his wife and kid, so his daughter, Tina, decides to run away...in the middle of the night...on a boat.  Tina's not the brightest bulb.  Luckily, she has abilities that make up for her deficiency in the brains department; Tina has psychokinetic powers.  When her dad comes down to the pier to coax her back home, Tina "accidentally" crushes the pier with her mind, killing her father.
Which is why all children should have choke collars
Fast-forward ten years, and Tina (Lar Park-Lincoln) still feels shitty about using her mind bullets (that's telekinesis, Kyle) to murder her father.  Since psychokinetic abilities are not an ordinary fact, it is assumed by Tina's mother, Amanda (prolific voice actress Susan Blu), that she is just a little crazy.  Enter Doctor Crews (Terry Kiser, better known as the Bernie you spend your weekends with).  The doc is fascinated by Tina's abilities and desperately wants to document them and profit from exploiting her; he decides that the best way to tap into her powers is to bring her back to the home where she killed her father, on Crystal Lake.
Pictured above: Bernie, sans mustache, and a blonde helmet
I wonder what happens next?  Actually...yeah, you should wonder.  Jason Voorhies has apparently been dead and under water for about a decade (which means that this 1988 movie is supposed to happen in 2002, by my math): what could possibly bring him back?  Well, Tina gets stressed out in one of her sessions with the doctor and runs out to the pier where it all happened.  She reaches out with her mind, where she finds...something...and does...something...with her mind --- and promptly passes out.  Tina thought she was resurrecting her father (more on that later), but she accidentally reanimated Jason and somehow broke the chains that bound him.  What will this soggy Super Zombie Jason do with his new lease on life?
Hint, hint
Oh, yeah...I forgot to mention the dozen teens next door participating in drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex.  It's time for Jason to make his right-wing political views known!  JV in 2012!

It shouldn't be a surprise that the actors in Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood are not of the highest caliber.  Aside from the adults in the cast, the only teens that would go on to star in anything noteworthy are Larry Cox (who had bit parts in a couple of real movies) and Jeff Bennett (the voice of Johnny Bravo).  That's not exactly a stellar cast, especially when you consider that Terry Kiser is most famous for playing a dead man.  On the bright side, this is the first time Kane Hodder, the only man to play Jason multiple times, donned the mask.  Does Hodder make a big difference?  That's debatable.  Still, as the actor who embodied Super Zombie Jason for more than a decade, I think his debut is worth noting.
Is this really what they thought the 2000s would look like?

On the subject of Jason, I must admit that this might be the film with the best-looking Jason.  The goalie mask had been around for a while, and Jason's basic ensemble (a dirty jumpsuit) had been in place for a few movies, but The New Blood's costume and makeup team really did a great job with the character this time.  In no other film does Jason look quite so menacing.  That may be due to the fact that you his mask is damaged and you can catch glimpses of his lip-less teeth, or it may be because his body looks gross and water-logged, with his ribs and knuckles poking past the skin, visible through his tattered clothing.  Whatever the specifics, this is the first time Jason really looks like an unstoppable killing machine.  Either that, or he's bulimic.
"Thin is pretty!"

As for the rest of the movie, it's all pretty silly. As much as I like looking at this Jason, this is definitely one of the worst entries in the series.  While there are a pretty good number of kills (fourteen), most of them are heavily edited; apparently, the filmmakers had to do some creative editing to avoid an "X" rating.  That means that there are many shots of Jason striking and then there is a cut to the dead body after the attack.  The most infamous example of this is with the sleeping bag kill; in theaters, Jason slammed a sleeping bag (with a person in it, of course) into a tree six times, but the VHS and subsequent DVD releases only feature one hit.
Aside from that scene, the editing prevents there from being any other interesting kills.  The New Blood also features the welcome return of Friday the 13th nudity, where nubile young women get naked because they want to be murdered.
If you moon Jason, kiss your ass goodbye

Director John Carl Buechler is better known for his work as a premier special effects and makeup man than for his direction, and it shows.  As I mentioned earlier, Jason Voorhies looks fantastic and scary.  This movie also features the best facemask-less Jason-face.
Although it's not pretty
Tina's psychokinetic abilities require moving things without the audience seeing how.  Buechler delivers in those areas.  Unfortunately, working with actors appears to be a mystery to him.  There are a lot of characters in this film, and all of them are underdeveloped.  Most of the characters are thoroughly unlikable and all of them make idiotic choices.  I'm fine with that, since it's a given that Jason will murder them in turn.  What bugs me is that the editing in this film made the story stupider than it needed to be:
  • A guy and a girl are having sex in a van outside the cabin.  The guy wonders aloud why they are doing it in the van, instead of in the cabin.  It is his uncle's cabin, after all.  No answer is provided.  No answer is implied --- the cabin sure doesn't look crowded.  And the next time we see the van, a different couple is sexing it up in the same sleeping bag.  Eww.
  • Tina tells her love interest that she's crazy, and she acts like it.  The guy, who is merely an acquaintance, keeps pursuing her, even though another girl is constantly hitting on him.  I'm going to make a generalization about men: if a woman says she's crazy, the guy generally says "Good luck with that" and moves on.
  • A bitchy girl tells her love interest --- who keeps rejecting her --- that all is fair in love and war.  He responds that he doesn't even like her.  Her reply: "'Like' has nothing to do with it."  So...all is fair in the quest for physical pleasure, then?
  • The requisite nerd girl has a crush on the druggie rebel.  Her friend decides to start drinking and doing drugs to make him like her; it works and they start screwing.  Nerd girl decides to fight fire with fire by giving herself an 80s makeover and then leaves her room --- in the cabin, mind you, clearly just upstairs from the party below --- and the next thing you know, she is outside, looking for druggie rebel in the woods.  Huh?  Shouldn't she be calling out druggie boy's name and entering his bedroom, where Jason will kill her?  Did she take the fire exit or something?  And why would he be in the woods?  But wait!  In the woods, she loses an earring.  Oh, no!  Jason's going to kill her while she tries to find it, right?  Actually, no.  Nerd girl finds her earring A) without her glasses B) in the dark C) in the woods.  What the hell kind of scene is this supposed to be?  I'm so confused.
  • A couple in having sexy time in the van, when someone (hint: it rhymes with "Mason") bumps into the vehicle.  The pair assumes that it is one of their friends, arriving late to the party.  The guy decides to stop having sex, gets dressed, and leaves the van to greet his buddy.  After waiting a few moments, the girl does the same thing.  That just boggles my mind.  First off, who decides to interrupt their sex for some idle chitchat?  Secondly, isn't it a little awkward to greet a friend when you have an erection?   I just love that both the guy and girl were so bored with their sexual progress that they quit with such a weak excuse.
  • Why does Tina's mother look like Bruce McCulloch in drag?  It has nothing to do with the direction or editing, but it is still weird.
Mommy Dearest

And you'll notice that my list of stupid doesn't even mention the fact that the heroine has psychic abilities.  Or the fact that SPOILER ALERT: she somehow resurrects her dead father to kill Jason.  Because her father was still in the lake.  Because the police wouldn't drag a lake to find a drowning victim.  Whatever, it's so stupid.  He doesn't even look like he died that day, much less been at the bottom of a lake for a decade!  Okay, I'm done now.  These scenes would be stupid enough normally, but many of them seemed like they were going in one direction, only to completely change, mid-scene, and ignore what came before.  That's just inept.  Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood isn't very good.  It has all the stupidity of Part V, but without the humor and without the cool gore of the better entries in the series.  While I want to cut the filmmakers some slack, since this movie was obviously butchered in post-production, they didn't do a good enough job of making this entertaining.  I will argue that, despite the cool makeup for Jason, that this is one of the worst entries in a series that isn't very demanding.

1 comment:

  1. So, did you vote for Jason for President? If my state had a write-in, I would have.

    The part where she first moves an object with her mind in the cabin always reminds me of Trumpy. "Tina, you can do stupid things!"