Friday, December 13, 2013

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

On the 13th of each month, I write about a movie whose title contains the number 13.

After the surprisingly entertaining campiness of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, the series' seventh installment returns to the standard killing spree of the earlier sequels. The New Blood was originally intended to be Freddy vs. Jason (which didn't end up coming to fruition until 2003), and when Freddy Krueger became unavailable, the producers substituted another much less compelling supernatural antagonist for Jason. The New Blood initially picks up right where Jason Lives left off, with Jason chained to a rock at the bottom of Crystal Lake, presumably drowned after he was defeated by Tommy Jarvis (who, after being played by three different actors in the last three movies, has now disappeared from the series altogether).

In keeping with Jason's now-supernatural existence, he's revived this time thanks to the telekinetic powers of Tina Shepard, who first witnesses her father drown in Crystal Lake and then years later as a teen (played by Lar Park Lincoln) attempts to revive him, ending up inadvertently resurrecting Jason instead. Tina is sort of a second-rate Carrie White or Charlie McGee from Firestarter, with dangerous telekinetic powers that manifest in times of stress or anger. After being accidentally responsible for Jason's return, she becomes his nemesis, attempting to stop him as he kills off the usual assortment of horny, clueless teens (conveniently staying in a house right next to Tina's).

Tina is a pretty poor substitute for Freddy Krueger, and the movie spends far more time than is worthwhile exploring her angst and the development of her powers at the hands of a sleazy doctor (played by Terry Kiser, aka Bernie of Weekend at Bernie's fame). Not that Jason is much more interesting -- he's such a powerful force that he can kill people pretty much instantaneously, and there's nothing in this movie about his back story or connection to Crystal Lake (aside from the return of the recap footage at the beginning of the movie, which offers highlights from the entire series but doesn't really tell very much).

The New Blood is also notable as the first appearance of Kane Hodder, the actor who would become most closely associated with Jason. The stuntmen/actors portraying Jason have been generally interchangeable so far, but Hodder's main contribution is playing Jason without his mask in the film's climax, demonstrating a snarling evil even under layers of prosthetics. The climax is otherwise pretty rote and underwhelming, with Jason seemingly killed multiple times before his actual, final defeat (at least until the next movie). For all her build-up as Jason's new nemesis, Tina was never heard from again.

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