When your franchise is primarily obsessed with introducing pointy, stabby death to anyone in the vicinity under the age of 25, it’s inevitable that audience enthusiasm will eventually become thin on the ground. After all, heading into his seventh movie, dead-eyed machete enthusiast Jason Voorhees was seeing a clear decline in his box office (despite still being profitable) and it was evident that some “new blood” had to be pumped into the series before damage was done that the hulking mass murderer couldn’t walk away from – which ironic considering the movies are far more used to taking copious amounts of blood OUT of things…
Thus, this search for new blood yielded The New Blood, the apt subtitle to what would be the most out there Friday The 13th yet and would give it’s hockey masked leading man his gravest challenge yet. After all, he’s survived drowning, stabbing and having his head split like a melon – but can he survive. telekinesis? Wait… what?
Years after she accidently used her powers to kill her abusive father, Tina has returned to Crystal Lake to undergo therapy/research for her rather special talent unaware that her doctor is using her for a shot at fame. Winding her up until she’s ready to snap she senses a body in the lake and uses her abilities to bring it to the surface under the mistaken belief it may be her father. Unfortunately it proves to be hard working mass murderer Jason Vorhees still chained to that rock at the end of Part VI who instantly kicks a new rampage into high gear before you can wonder exactly how many bodies can there possibly be just floating around in Crystal Lake like turds in a toilet – I mean didn’t the police dredge it or ANYTHING?
Luckily for Jason and unluckily for anything in the area with a pulse, a bunch of teens has moved in next door to Tina for a surprise birthday party unaware the suprise is on them because the birthday boy is deader than cold shit, and so Voorhees gets to work as violent and animalistic as he can, battering one camper to death against a tree while they’re still in their sleeping bag and stabbing another in the eye with a party horn. Only Tina, with the power to move shit with her over taxed, teenaged brain has any chance against an undead killer who barely misses a step even when electrocuted with power lines or flattened by a collapsing porch, and so a literal battle of mind against matter ensues between the two but who will be left standing when the smoke clears…?
It becomes pretty evident fairly early on that The New Blood contains nothing of the kind and for most part is derivative as hell but there’s a few things about this seventh installment that has endeared it to me over the years despite it’s many glaring faults, so in an attempt to end things on a plus note let’s tackle the negative aspects first.
Bland characters may be somewhat of regular pitfall of a series that usually portrays it’s players as one dimentional walking sacks of meat but this movie features THE most insipid group of teens the franchise has ever seen. As irritating as a fresh back, sack and crack wax literally dusted with itching powder, these chattering non entities zombie walk through the film with only a single character trait a piece to separate them from the furniture, be it a wannabe science fiction writer, a blonde bitch or a douchebag stoner. This wouldn’t be so bad if the methods used to dispose of these oxygen wasting dish rags were suitably nasty and the set ups whisper sweet promises of spectacular carnage but the dreaded censors unfortunately scissored all the guts (both literally and physically) from the film. Scenes hinting at eviseration by bandsaw or a guy having his face split in two with an axe are frustratingly sanitised and make the main bulk of the movie all as pointless as a blunt kitchen knife.
So why such a high rating? What about a virtually bloodless Friday The 13th film possibly be so good to counteract something that is as useful as an asbestos asthma inhaler?
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Kane Hodder, the greatest man to ever wear the mask and the only actor to portray Jason more than once (four times overall). Wrapped in truly astounding prosthetics (John Carl Buechler was a special effects guy by trade before settling into the directors chair) which not only bares every wound Mr. Voorhees has ever suffered but features an exposed spine and ribcage from his time chilling in Crystal Lake, Hodder infuses Jason with a sense of power lightyears ahead of any other actor who’s ever played character. His barrel chest heaving with barely suppressed rage and a distinct sense of purpose behind every move or gesture, the stuntman somehow takes this faceless slasher and gives him far more gravity than any of the other characters in the film and thankfully, after a fairly bland bulk of runtime, his showdown with Tina and her freaky powers gives him something to get a grip on.
Probably the most outlandish final act of any slasher movie of the 80’s and an impressive last minute save in terms of quality, the climatic tussle between Jason and what’s essentially Stephen King’s Carrie includes such treats as the most violent house explosion I’ve ever seen and Jason’s greatest unmasking sequence ever (hint: Tina tightens the straps vice like until it snaps) and finally adds some life into a sluggish movie.
It may seem irresponsible to give three stars to a movie that, for the most part, really doesn’t deserve it but an outlandish telekinesis plot, a climax stuffed with impressive collateral damage and a magnificent physical performance from a stunning looking villian (still his best look after all these years) yank the movie up by it’s bootstraps into an experience that’s memorable… just.
Way too much filler, just enough killer.