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

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Essentially Jason vs. Carrie, Friday the 13th Part VII is an important entry into the series for a few reasons. First off, the filmmakers needed to juice up the formula in order to compete with rival franchise A Nightmare on Elm Street. Simple stalk and slash sequences were no match for the elaborate and surreal dream fantasias which backdropped Freddy’s kill count. Their solution was to feature a telekinetic girl as the hero. The transition into this more heightened territory is surprisingly smooth and while the logic is a tad shaky, it all leads to an explosive climax which features some of the best special effects the Friday series ever had. It recalls both Carrie and The Furyin its mind-bending battle imagery and is therefore the closest we’ll get to seeing Brian De Palma direct a Jason movie.

Secondly, The New Blood also marks the first outing for Kane Hodder as Jason. Hodder is now regarded as the quintessential Voorhees and his passion for and commitment to the character is evident in any interview you read with him. Whereas Jason was previously brought to life by anonymous stuntmen to various degrees of success, Hodder was the first actor to really instill his own personality into the character. I really dig the design of Jason in this one too. The exposed spine and bone work is a great touch and makes Jason even more savage and primal than before.

The cast of teens are forgettable but final girl Tina (Lar Park Lincoln) is a series high point. It’s a shame they never carried her over into any other sequels as it feels like there’s plenty of playing ground left to cover between her and Jason. There’s an interesting subplot here involving a crazy psychiatrist meaning Jason sort of shares the title of villain for the first time. The filmmakers were clearly trying to flesh the series out into something more cerebral and complex with The New Blood and its concerns are far more mature and serious than in previous entries. It kind of works and kind of doesn’t. I’m not sure how the timeline works out either. The prologue suggests that Tina was only a little girl while Jason was sunk into Crystal Lake in Jason Lives meaning this one jumps ahead at least ten years but that is never mentioned or picked up on. Weird. Surely it would have made more sense for Jason to have been submerged between Tina’s dad’s drowning and the start of this film? Who knows.

I was never really fond of this one in the past but from watching the entire series again it actually holds up extremely well. The special effects are effective and there is more imagination in the storytelling to notch it up from many other Fridays. It’s no Freddy film and never reaches the entertaining heights of Jason Lives but hats off to the filmmakers for at least trying to stay relevant seven chapters deep.

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