Saturday, May 5, 2007

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

Director: John Carl Buechler

Critics of this film affectionately refer to it as “Jason vs. Carrie” -- a not entirely inaccurate moniker. You see, the main character is a psychic-powered teenage girl, who battles Jason. This actually gives us someone that can match Jason in power; it’s just too bad it’s a character completely stolen from another film. They seem to have surgically removed all of the self-effacing humor that the last film offered, and resorted back to a more straightforward, if not incomprehensible, style. Some fans may find it an interesting departure from the standard "Jason story," but others might view this intriguing attempt as nothing more than a missed opportunity.

Our heroine in this film will be Tina (played by Lar Park Lincoln). It begins with a young Tina witnessing her parents fight. They apparently live on Camp Crystal Lake, and Tina runs off to a boat and paddles out to the middle of the lake. Her dad chases after her, and she uses her psychic powers to collapse the dock her father stands on. Years later we catch up with Tina, who is still dealing with the guilt of killing her father. She and her mom arrive at their cabin on Crystal Lake. Just ignore the fact that Camp Crystal Lake was renamed Forrest Green in the previous film. That name didn’t catch on, and residents voted to name it Camp Crystal Lake; not realizing that’s what it originally was. Tina and her mom are joined by a creepy doctor named Dr. Crews (played by Terry Kiser). Dr. Crews plans on secretly exploiting Tina’s powers for fame and money, or something like that. He pretends to want to help her, but he gives enough creepy looks into the camera to tell us otherwise. The musical score also beats us over the head to drive each point home. When Tina arrives, she meets her love interest, Nick (played by Kevin Blair). Ironically, he’s the least interesting person in the film. He’s basically there to occasionally shout something along the lines of, “What’s going on?” so someone can then spew exposition at us. The rest of the victims are Nick’s friends residing in a cabin next door, preparing for a surprise birthday party. There’s the nerdy girl, the black guy, the black girl, the slutty girl, etc. They're pretty average in every way. Their deaths are even forgettable and monotonous. Tina ventures to the lakeside, and attempts to bring her father back from the dead. I just have two questions: Why would he still be down there? And why would she want to raise him anyway? He may not look quite the same way she remembered him. Anyway, she raises Jason instead. He proceeds on his normal rampage. It’s not long before Dr. Crews’ true intentions are revealed, and the teens at the party are in a hurry to engage in the usual sex and drugs that fans will recognize and appreciate. One girl gets a party noisemaker through the eye, a skinny dipping girl is drowned, one girl gets thrown out a window, one guy gets stabbed in the gut while raiding the fridge, decapitations a-plenty, etc. The deaths are less than inspired, and lazy to say the least. At one point, Jason is carrying a large weapon that resembles a weed-whacker. I guess he stopped off at Home Depot. Dr. Crews gets a slice to the gut, and Jason ditches the weapon. I guess he was just trying out new material on the road, and that one wasn’t working for him.

The final battle is a twist on the usual. This time Jason actually has a foe that matches him in power. Tina uses her psychic powers to throw a potted plant (complete with the head of one of the victims) at Jason, strangle him with an electrical wire, and knock him into the basement of the house on two separate occasions. She even mentally rips his mask off. Finally, Jason is lit on fire and Tina and Nick escape the house before it blows up. I guess the house was also used to store TNT and nitro-glycerin. Now out on the pier, Jason pops up again. Well, Tina’s had it. She uses all her abilities to conjure up her dead dad who’s still at the bottom of Crystal Lake. Dad flies out of the water and gets Jason in a headlock. Eventually, they both fall back into the lake, and Nick remarks that, “It’s over.” Clearly he hasn’t seen the previous films. Jason’s been burned, chopped to ribbons, electrocuted and drowned, but somehow middle-aged Dad will able to defeat him once and for all… yeah, right. The two love birds are carted away in an ambulance as the credits roll.

This film is probably one of my least favorites in the series. Quite honestly, I forgot most of it right after I watched it. Not a good sign. The battle between Tina and Jason could’ve been a lot better. The victims’ deaths are boring, but it doesn’t matter, because the characters are forgettable. Somehow they each find a way to wander out in the woods for no good reason. Give us something that we haven’t seen before, please! The nudity is scarce, which is good, since the cast is not the kind that should be walking around naked. For every one hot girl, you get about eight frighteningly odd characters. They need to work on that ratio. The hairdos and clothes in this movie make it look older than the previous film. It’s like they just found this movie in a time capsule, and decided to release it. It's not that this is a terrible film, it’s merely by-the-numbers. It’s very predictable, and not surprising by any means. I like the fact that they were inventive enough to use a psychic character that could actually go toe-to-toe with Jason, instead of Jason being overcome by a random teenager at the end. But the final battle is less than what it should've been. Classic Jason fans will feel shortchanged by this odd and half-hearted entry in the series, but if you're open to it, you may find its climax redeeming enough to overlook its weak spots.

Best Death: Jason beats a chick in a sleeping bag against a tree.

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