Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood

I guess I really love this franchise more than I thought, because I am ready to discuss the remaining canon of films up until the end of them (including the reboot).  As I'd said, the first four films are the best of the lot, still staying entertaining throughout the rest of the films, even as it ventured on from Paramount Studios to New Line Cinema.  So, take a seat, put on your nostalgia hat, and let's go back to 1988 for a movie where Jason Voorhees returns to form.and then some.

After the debacle that part five was and the mediocre part six, 1988's Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, directed by John Carl Buechler, had kind of gotten the franchise back on track.  Not so much in terms of being near the magic that parts one through four had, but more in terms of going back to a serious and scary film, rather than feature too much comedy.

You see, in my opinion, horror films should show a level of humor in some parts of the film so that it's not entirely a vile story.  We need the occasional lightheartedness to show us how to identify with the characters, whether it's the villains or the heroes.  On the other hand, if you show a bombardment of jokes and breaking of the fourth wall (see part six), it becomes too surreal and the movie doesn't seem earnest, making us perceive the people in the film as cartoon characters.

In most films, we imagine ourselves in the position the characters are in, whether it's doing everyday normal things, interacting with other characters, or fighting off the villain.  If we see these characters act in such a way, saying or doing things that normally wouldn't be said or done in real life situations, it shuts off our brain to it and we see what's behind the curtain.  Though Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood is a little more grounded in tone, it still has its problems.

The story takes place years after Tommy Jarvis sank Jason to the bottom of Crystal Lake as his final resting place.  We're now introduced to a young Tina Shepard, running out of the family cabin as her parents are having a violent argument.  It's obvious that her father (John Otrin) was the aggressor as he goes after Tina to apologize.  Tina runs to the lake's pier and hops onto a rowboat, rowing away from her dad.  Suddenly,
because of a power that she possesses and comes out due to her anger at her father, the pier collapses and Tina's father goes down with it, killing him.  Years later, Tina (Lar Park-Lincoln) returns with her mother, Amanda (Susan Blu), and the family's psychiatrist, Dr. Crews (Terry Kiser), to come to terms with everything.  One night, remembering what had happened so long ago and realizing her powers once again, Tina senses someone down in the lake and, thinking it's her father, tries to use her powers to bring him up, fainting as she does.  But what she doesn't realize is that she awakened Jason and inadvertently raised him from his dormancy.  He breaks the chain that held him down and rises to the surface as he walks from the shore towards the Shepard family cabin as well as the cabin next door with a group of kids celebrating a friend's birthday.  But has Jason met his match as he goes up against Tina and her telekinetic powers?

Above all else, this marks the first time Kane Hodder plays the role of Jason, making this the first of four films, and he definitely makes the role his own.  I remember the first time I had seen this flick, seeing the way Hodder used a lot of body language, and it was more than I had ever seen in the previous performances of the other actors who'd donned the hockey mask.  The one thing that struck me the most was the way he heaved his chest in and out, as if he was constantly in a rage and ready to kill.  You can probably call that a signature tick he gave Jason in this one and throughout the next three films.  Hodder's performance definitely gives the character some tension we, as Friday the 13th fans, have not seen since part four.

As for Jason's prey in this chapter, you would be lying if you say that you cared about any of them-except, of course, for the characters of Nick (Kevin Spirtas, née Blair) and Tina.  All the rest of the teens in the cabin are so one-dimensional that you see right away how expendable they are to the story.  Starting with the
character of Dr. Crews.you can't help but think of Bernie from Weekend at Bernies, not to mention his character here is such a pompous and cowardice dick.you definitely cheer for Jason to kill him in this one.  I don't want to name every single character within the teenagers' cabin, but they're so lacking in depth, it's actually kind of boring to see them get picked off one-by-one.  It's almost as if they were working with a spec sheet as to what types of characters they wanted in the cabin:  a good looking hero type, a nerdy sci-fi enthusiast, a bad boy that the girls like, a token black couple, a bitch.almost all of them are so simplistic and to the point with their characteristics, you really don't give a rat's ass what happens to them.

Really, the crux of this whole film is the final battle between Tina and Jason.  Most people call this "Jason vs. Carrie" because of how Tina shares similarities with the main character of the Stephen King story-namely, her extrasensory powers.  It's definitely something that helps the film, giving Jason a worthy adversary to go up against.  But one problem I have with the film, when the powers are supposedly manifesting from the character of Tina, Lar Park-Lincoln doesn't represent that sense of control too well.  It's as if she doesn't know what she's doing, rather than having the poise Sissy Spacek had in Carrie.

As for the special effects in this film, really all we see is the aftermath of Jason's kills.  The practical effects of Tom Savini are sadly missing here, and have been since part four.  A lot of the kills are quick cuts or done off screen, showing us the quick moments of his massacre.  I guess this film was scrutinized carefully by the MPAA and was very strict on what the film could, or could not, show when released to theaters-at the time, it really seemed that way since part five.  As a result, especially when watching the film today, the film has a TV movie feel to it.

Though the previous film didn't feature a Jason unmasking, this one does, but was a little disappointing-it wasn't a very realistic looking face and, unfortunately, what it looked like was a cheap mask.  However, the rest of Jason was magnificently reinvented, going away from the tucked-in and gloved Jason from part six, to this disheveled and decomposing monster in this one.  I especially love the exposed bony spine when we first see Jason, as he walks out of the lake.

So, what's my final "bit" on Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood?

I can't say much more about this flick except that it is quite a bit better than the last two entries of the series.  It was a great idea, but the casting of a too well-known actor (Kiser) and the direction they give the rest of the cast makes this outing slightly above mediocre when comparing it to the rest of the films.  If you're planning to watch a marathon of the series, you'll definitely breathe a sigh of relief when you see this one after the last two.  The movie is still fun and entertaining, plus you get to see the beginning of Kane Hodder's rise to fame as the beloved Jason Voorhees.

As a side "bit," the original concept of this film was supposed to be Jason taking on Freddy Krueger.  I know it eventually happened, but it would take another fifteen years after this film was released.  I guess the rights couldn't be worked out to get those two movie villain giants in the same flick, so they had to go with plan B...which, in the end, wasn't so bad.

Well, that's it.thanks for reading.and I welcome any comments!

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