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

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

On Friday the 13th, Jason will meet his match.

Tina, a teenager with psychic powers, is taken back to her family home by her psychiatrist to try and help her recover from her father’s death many years earlier. However, Tina accidentally releases Jason Voorhees from his watery grave and he makes an immediate beeline to a group of vacationing teenagers staying in a house by the lake. But has Jason reckoned with the psychic abilities of Tina?

 

Dubbed Jason Vs Carrie in some quarters, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood is another of the divisive entries into the series that fans either love or hate. I love this sequel. It’s got almost everything that the perfect dumb slasher film should have. There are no hidden pretences here – just Jason smashing his way through an entire army of frisky teenagers. The censors haven’t been kind to it but in its purest form, it’s simply a body count flick and after five previous entries with Jason as the killer, the focus of the film is squarely on the undead zombie-like killer with a penchant for sharp objects and a deep-rooted hatred of frisky stereotypes.

The obvious positive here is the high body count which is coupled with some imaginative death scenes. Jason gets down and dirty here and uses anything he lays his hands on. From scythes to tent poles, Jason really ploughs through the teenagers – he uses a huge tree-trimming saw at one point and, when he can’t find anything sharp, he just smashes a girl in a sleeping bag against a tree until you hear her bones crunching. There is some gore in the film but the censors have been hard at work making sure that the Friday the 13th fans are robbed yet again. You just know that scenes such as the aforementioned tree-trimmer were shot with a lot more gore – the studio just bottled it and cut it. Cut footage has appeared in bonus features in the DVDs and blu-rays but this begs the question of why Paramount can’t just re-add it back into the film if the quality is the same. After all, is this footage anything worse than we’ve seen in recent cinematic shockers like the Saw series?

This sequel is noteworthy for being the instalment in which fan favourite Kane Hodder makes his debut as Jason. His physical presence is amazing and using only body language, he gives Jason a more terrifying than he has ever done before. Breathing heavily, hulking his body up and tilting his head – Hodder gives Jason an immense personality, further underlying the ascension of the character into anti-hero mode. The splendid make-up and prosthetics take the character into even further rotting corpse mode, with bones exposed through torn clothing.

However with this being the seventh instalment of the series, you know what to expect so don’t think you’re going to get anything radically different or anything remotely resembling scary. The series was sticking to a tried and tested formula by this point and this runs like clockwork. There is no real structure to the film, other than a never-ending series of set pieces involving the various teenagers separating off and then Jason hunting them down and killing them. The feeble attempt to be creative with Tina and her psychic abilities is merely a gimmick which isn’t used very well and leads to laughable telekinetic special effects at the finale. Lar Park Lincoln is alright as Tina, certainly one of the more memorable final girls of the series. But the rest of the cast are terrible fulfilling their stereotypical roles with minimum fuss – Kevin Spiritas, in particular, is downright terrible as Nick, the goody two-shoes hero.

For me, the later Friday the 13th films are more entertaining than the earlier ones because they’re not meant to be anything other than throwaway slasher films. The earlier ones attempted to be too serious and in a market as over-saturated and as stale as the 80s slasher, there’s just too much stuffiness to really enjoy them. They attempt scares, they attempt atmosphere and they attempt to stand out but they’re just generic. The later films realised what the core strengths of the series were and played to them, turning Jason into more of an anti-hero by upping the creative kills and the body count. That’s why I like Parts 6-8 more than the first four. They know what they want to be and set out to be them, with varying degrees of success.

 

If only the censors had left it alone, we’d be looking at one of the best slasher films of the 80s by far. As it stands, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood is arguably one the best sequels of the series by a long way. Not the scariest – just the most fun and satisfying. One of the best examples of a fun 80s slasher that you can find.

 

 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

 

 

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