FRIDAY THE 13TH VII THE NEW BLOOD, 1988
Director: John Carl Buechler
Stars: Jennifer Banko, John Otrin, Susan Blu
Review by Mark Engberg
Years after Tommy Jarvis chained him underwater at Camp Crystal Lake, the hulking killer Jason Voorhees returns to the camp grounds when he is released accidentally by a teenager with psychic powers.
What can be said about Friday the 13th that hasn't been said before?
That is most likely what Frank Mancuso and the other studio heads at Paramount were asking their writers every summer of the 1980's. In 1981, they said, "Let's unleash that crazy mother's even crazier son so he can run around and kill a bunch of teenagers." The following year, they said, "That was great. Let's do that again, but this time in 3-D." In the space of a few short years, Jason has been killed, replaced, and resurrected. Now that he was an indestructible zombie, Paramount had to discover more impressive scenarios and premises to entertain the masses. Naturally, they tried to get Freddy Kreuger.
But that showdown would have to wait another fifteen years. The studio execs at Paramount and New Line Cinema could not agree on a crossover plot that could satisfy both companies. So, screenwriters tried the next best thing. They went after Carrie.
"I wanted to have an opportunity to do some really striking, over-the top situations with regard to the story," said John Carl Buechler, the film's director. "We settled on him meeting a match that would really challenge him."
And as far as Friday sequels go, this seventh entry makes a fairly respectable attempt at forming a compelling storyline . . . during the first half anyway. Tina Shepard (Lar Park-Lincoln, who was 26 at the time) is Carrie for the 80's, equipped with telekinetic powers and bad jeans. Like Sissy Spacek's character, she also has parental issues stemming from an abusive parent, her father. Whilst trying to channel his soul in the lake where she drowned him ten years ago, Tina accidentally resurrects Jason Voorhees, who's still chained to the bottom after getting his head smashed in with a motorboat.
Jason is still irritated about people coming to Camp Crystal Lake to have fun, so he goes on yet another death rampage with the intent of using as many different weapons as possible. Tina's backstory about her own intimidation towards her powers and the sleazy psychiatrist seeking to exploit her comes to a typical halt once Jason goes on the hunt.
Tina's powers turn out to be a significant disappointment in the movie. Jason is such a bulldozer of sheer, violent force that her telekinetic powers seem more like a clever gimmick than a developing plot device. Whenever she gets that constipated look and inflicts her invisible magic on the undead serial killer, he simply lies still for a moment and gets back up as if nothing happened. During their struggles together in the second half, Tina electrocutes, strangles, burns, and drops a roof on top of him.
The final resolution towards stopping his killing spree in The New Blood is the most ludicrous and cheesy prospect of the entire series, and that's saying something.
It ought to be mentioned that Buechler has been credited for creating "the definitive Jason" look. He may not have been the director to decide upon the hockey mask, but he did opt to give him more of a superhuman appearance than he had before.
"My intention was to redesign the look of Jason specifically to reflect all the damage that had been done to him in the previous movies and the fact that he had been chained to the bottom of the lake for ten years gave me a starting point," he said. "I just got tired of seeing a guy in a gray costume wearing gloves with a hockey mask walking around and there was nothing wrong with him. So, I made a lot wrong with him."
Part of Buechler's method of turning Jason into such a sizable enemy was hiring stuntman Kane Hodder to play the part. Hodder would go on to reprise the role in three more sequels and established a definite ownership of the character, oftentimes arguing with the director and writers about the methods and madness behind Jason's motivation. He's been known to look straight at the director from behind his mask and proclaim, "Jason wouldn't do that." Who knew that Jason had standards? Where were they when the producers handed him this script?