AND YOU CALL YOURSELF A SCIENTIST!
Strikes Back /
The Reel World / It's A Disaster! / Etc., Etc., Etc.... / Immortal
Dialogue / Links
FRIDAY THE 13th PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD (1988)
“There’s a legend ’round here. A killer buried, but not dead. A curse on Crystal Lake. A death curse. Jason Voorhees’ curse….”
Director: John Carl Buechler
Starring: Lar Park Lincoln, Kane Hodder, Kevin Blair, Terry Kiser, Susan Blu, Susan Jennifer Sullivan, William Butler, Staci Greason, Larry Cox, Heidi Kozak, Jeff Bennett, Jon Renfield, Diana Barrows, Elizabeth Kaitan
Screenplay: Manuel Fidello and Daryl Haney
Synopsis: By Crystal Lake, a young girl listens in distress to a violent argument between her parents. When her father strikes her mother, the girl runs away towards the lake and climbs down into a boat, pushing away from the dock. Realising the situation, the girl’s father runs after her, telling her that he is sorry and begging her to come back to safety. The girl refuses, shrieking at her father that she hates him and wishes he were dead. Abruptly, the dock on which the girl’s father stands begins to shake violently. Terrified, the girl cries out that she is sorry, she didn’t mean it, but the dock collapses beneath her father, who is struck and dragged down to his death by the debris…. Dozing in a car, the grown Tina Shepard (Lar Park Lincoln) jerks awake from a dream about her childhood tragedy. She questions the necessity of a return to Crystal Lake, but her mother, Amanda (Susan Blu), while admitting how difficult the situation is, insists that it is Tina’s best chance of avoiding a return to the hospital. At their lake house, the Shepards find Dr Crews (Terry Kiser), Tina’s psychiatrist, towards whom she is openly hostile. The cabin next to the Shepards’ house is also occupied by a group of young adults. One of them, Nick (Kevin Blair), attracted by Tina, runs across to help when she drops her suitcase, but in her agitated frame of mind she brusquely rebuffs him. Inside, Dr Crews insists on an immediate therapy session. He places a matchbook on the table before Tina, instructing her to focus her feelings and to make it move. Nothing happens, and Crews angrily accuses Tina of not trying. She, too, grows angry – and the matchbook slides across the table. Crews tells Tina that her telekinesis is a projection of her guilt over her father’s death. Tina complains bitterly that Crews is only being interested in her ability, not in her. His denials make her angrier still, and the matchbook bursts into flames…. Later, Tina cries as she looks at a photograph of her father. Her mother tries to comfort her, but when she sees Crews watching them, Tina runs away to the dock, where she relives her father’s death. Sobbing, Tina whispers that she is so sorry, that she wishes she could bring him back…. Beneath the waters of Crystal Lake, a figure begins to stir – but it is not Tina’s father. The chain that has held Jason Voorhees so many years snaps, freeing him. As he breaks the surface of the water, Tina gasps in horror, then faints…. Later, inside, Tina tries to explain what happened, insisting that it had nothing to do with her father. Crews nevertheless asserts that Tina’s mind is manufacturing hallucinations as a response to her guilt. Tina denies this furiously – and the glass over her father’s photograph shatters…. Meanwhile, out on the road, a young man, Michael (William Butler), and his girlfriend, Jane (Staci Greason), trudge wearily away from their broken-down car. Michael’s insistence that they simply camp where they are forces Jane to reveal that his friends have all gathered at a cabin by the lake, as a surprise for his birthday. Back at the Shepards’, Nick returns a stray item of Tina’s clothing, and invites her to the party. Crews is disapproving, but Amanda insists that she needs a chance to just be normal. In the woods, Michael excuses himself to urinate. Suddenly, Jane is grabbed from behind and stabbed with a metal spike. When Michael returns, he finds her body hanging from a tree. The next instant, he is running for his life from a figure in a hockey-mask. As Michael flees, Jason rips the spike from Jane’s body and hurls it after him, impaling him…. At the cabin, Tina disrupts the party when she has a terrifying vision of a young man being bloodily killed by a figure in a hockey-mask….
Comments: Ah, dear me. Another year, another Friday The 13th film. As I was writing the notes for this, my traditional beginning-of-the-year visit with Jason Voorhees, it occurred to me that I’d really better get my butt into gear with these things. Not only do I still have VIII, IX and X to go after this, but then, presumably, I have to put the whole thing on hold while I deal with all – what? seven? – Nightmare On Elm Street films, before I can allow myself to take a look at Freddy Vs Jason.
In other words – Tina Shepard isn’t the only one around here suffering from horrifying visions.
The other thing that struck me while watching The New Blood was the increasingly freaky nature of the F13 time-line. The events of F13 itself, as you may recall, occurred in 1979. During F13:2 we hear that this was “five years ago”; hence we’re up to 1984. Parts 2, 3 and 4 are sequential, thus also 1984; but A New Beginning opens with a leap of about ten years, as Tommy Jarvis grows up before our eyes – taking us to about 1994. The period of Tommy’s residence in the nut-hatch between A New Beginning and Jason Lives is indeterminate, but even under a revolving-door psychiatric care policy we must be looking at a year or two – say, 1996. And now we have The New Blood. The childhood trauma sequence is preceded by a glimpse of The Laddie In The Lake, so we’re looking at yet another lurch forward of about ten years, which takes us toooo……
Hmm. Guess we’ll have to call The New Blood a….contemporary drama….although you sure wouldn’t know it from the clothing or hairstyles. Retro, thank God, has not yet delivered us all into that particular hell.
The New Blood opens on – surprise! – Friday the 13th, which happens to be the date on which Jason “died”. It may even be the same day, assuming that the Shepard family is simply too taken up with its own problems to notice all the screaming and bloody mayhem going on just on the other side of the lake. This is entirely possible, as from the Shepards’ cabin emanate the sweet sounds of alcohol abuse and wife-beating. Listening in distress, the young Tina runs off towards the lake, evading her pursuing and repentant father by pushing out onto the lake in a small boat. He tries to talk her in, but she responds only by shrieking that she hates him and wishes him dead. (A thumbs-up to Jennifer Banko, the actress playing the young Tina: she is really channelling Patty MacCormack here.) A strange ripple snakes through the water from Tina’s boat to the dock on which her father stands. It begins to lurch beneath him and eventually collapses, depositing him in the water under a shower of debris…. Flash forward to Tina and her mother driving towards Crystal Lake – let’s face it, that “Forest Green” thing was doomed from the outset – and remarks about doctors and hospitals let us know that all has not been well with Tina during the intervening years. The Shepards are meeting Tina’s own psychiatrist, Dr Crews, at the cabin; he believes that she will make better progress if directly confronted with the scene of her original trauma. (As Terry Kiser is most famous for a starring role as a corpse, our hopes for Tina’s recovery are not high.) As Tina and her mother arrive, we see that the house right next door is also occupied, by a group of young adults. Ah! I love the sweet, gamey scent of Spam In A Cabin, don’t you?
As Tina struggles with her suitcase, she catches the eye of Nick, one of her temporary (in more senses than one) neighbours, who evinces a fine sense of self-preservation by forming an immediate attachment for our obvious Final Girl. Inside, Crews insists on an immediate “session”, which consists of Tina trying to move a matchbook with her mind while Crews films her. Tina is resistant, and nothing happens until Crews deliberately angers her, upon which the matchbook first moves, then bursts into flames. Tina runs off in tears, and is later found by her mother staring miserably at a big smiling photograph of her father. (By the way, the cabin in which the Shepards have not set foot for ten years is both immaculate, and completely furnished with their own possessions.) Mother and daughter sob over how much they loved him and how much they miss him, suggesting that in her non-paranormal way, Amanda is just as mired in denial as her daughter. The appearance of Crews breaks this up, and Tina runs off to the dock, where she cries to her father about how sorry she is, and how she wishes she could bring him back. Suddenly, Tina senses a presence, and as per Crews’ instructions, she focuses her feelings and concentrates. Alas….it is not her father who responds. The water in the lake begins to churn, and from it emerges a rotting figure in a hockey-mask. Tina faints….
….only to awaken to the unenviable task of trying to convince her mother and Crews that her experience wasn’t simply an hallucination. Another angry scene with her doctor ends in the shattering of the glass over one of the many photographs of the late Mr Shepard.
Meanwhile--- Tell me, if you’d been chained to a rock at the bottom of a lake for the past ten years, what would be the first thing you’d do when you got out? Well, if you’re Jason Voorhees, it’s walk five miles through the woods on the off chance of encountering some complete strangers to slaughter. And Crystal Lake being the kind of place it is, he finds them. Michael and Jane are trudging along, having abandoned their broken-down car. Michael is for camping where they are, which forces Jane to tell him that they are actually on their way to a surprise birthday party in his honour, to which his friends and his cousin Nick have been invited. Consequently they continue on, until Michael walks an unnecessarily long distance away from Jane to answer a Call Of Nature, thus giving Jane the opportunity to answer the other great Call Of Nature by getting stabbed with a metal spike. Michael comes back to find her dangling from a tree and sprints away. Jason rips the spike out of Victim #1 and hurls it at Victim #2, impaling him.
Meanwhile, Nick has talked Tina into joining the – ahem – “party” next door, Amanda approving over Crews’ objections. We then meet the rest of the Dead Meat, and believe me, the writers of slasher films aren’t getting any better with character over time. They’re actually getting worse. This crowd is so generic, I’m not even going to bother putting names to them. (Besides, seven films in, we’re starting to double up.) So – we got The Bitch, The Rich Jerk, The Slutty Girlfriend, The Geek, The Pothead, The Attractive Girl Who Is Interested In Said Pothead and The Dowdy Friend Who Is Jealous. Oh, and The Token Black Couple, whose contribution is to quarrel for no reason at all, make up for no reason at all, have sex – and then die. As does every single other capitalised nonentity. Hope that doesn’t spoil anything for you. Anyway, Tina eventually livens up what is, even by the standards of this franchise, an exceedingly dull gathering by having a vision of Michael’s death. She drops her drink and runs home, only to find a metal spike embedded near the door of the cabin. Tina again has to explain herself, and to Crews’ insistence that she is suffering delusions, she retorts that this delusion left a metal spike stuck in the woodwork. Zing! Except that of course when Crews goes to check, there’s nothing there….
I suppose that, given that it is about ten years since Jason’s last rampage, we can forgive our next couple of victims for camping in the woods near Crystal Lake, and not embitter their gruesome deaths by laughing at them as we otherwise would. Victim #3 goes off to chop wood. With a machete. Oh, yeah. Jason first slams his arm through #3’s body, and then, being nothing if not thorough, breaks his neck. Having possessed himself of the machete – oh, yeah! – he attends to Victim #4, waiting hopefully in a sleeping bag for her lover’s return. Jason cuts his way into the tent, grabs victim and bag both, and pulverises her by slamming her against a tree.
A character [sic.] scene follows. I had to suffer through it, but I’ll spare you. Don’t say I never do anything for you.
Nick meets Tina by the lake, and wins her confidence by confessing his own rocky past. She tells him about her father, admits that she has spent much of her life in institutions, and warns him away. He responds by kissing her. The Bitch, who has a thing for Nick and has been spying on him and Tina from the nearby woods (complete with cheaty chh-chh-chh-es), is Not Exactly Impressed.
Character scene. Ugh.
Tina foolishly re-enters The Cabin Of Morons looking for Nick, and The Bitch reveals that she knows about Tina’s past. She soon regrets that move, as an invisible hand takes her by the throat and chokes her. With an effort, Tina pulls herself back and runs home, where another clash with Crews ends with him threatening permanent hospitalisation, and her mentally pitching a television across the room at him. Tina runs away again (she does that a lot, doesn’t she?) and encounters Nick. She tries to convince him that something is wrong, really wrong, and asks if his cousin Michael ever showed up. Nick admits that he did not and, at Tina’s urging, digs in his wallet for a photo of Michael. One glance confirms Tina’s fears, and she tells him that Michael is dead. Amanda then appears and drags Tina inside, leaving Nick understandably shaken.
And then the pruning of the Dead Wood begins in earnest. The Rich Jerk and The Slutty Girlfriend wander towards the lake, where TSG goes – surprise! – skinny-dipping. TRJ starts undressing as well, but – surprise! – is still partially dressed when Jason arrives, machete a-blazing. TSG surfaces, sees Jason’s handiwork, and starts screaming. Jason, meanwhile, has somehow managed to get from the killing spot to in the water right next to TSG without being seen by her. We get a couple of surprisingly explicit shots here – as in Zombie Lake explicit – as TSG kicks wildly in an effort to escape. (This bit is all the more unexpected considering how coyly they seemed to be avoiding frontal nudity in the stripping sequence. Gee, you don’t think that might be a body double in the water, do you?) Less surprisingly, her struggles are unavailing.
Character scene. Lengthy character scene. Gahhhhhh……
Dr Crews is – as people in these films tend to do – wandering around in the woods for no apparent reason, when he makes the unwelcome discovery that Tina isn’t quite so delusional as he imagined. He finds Michael’s body wedged in a tree fork, and the bloody metal spike lying nearby. Coincidentally, Amanda has also just found a metal spike: that “non-existent” one from the back door, in fact, in a drawer in Crews’ desk. It begins to dawn upon her that she may have made just a slight error when choosing a health-care professional for her daughter; an opinion confirmed when she finds a tape in which Crews helpfully confesses to deliberately keeping Tina in a state of high stress in order to exacerbate her psychokinetic reactions.
(Speaking of retro--- Dr Crews has a top-loading VCR!! Kids, ask your parents!)
Crews catches Amanda, and in the ensuing argument, Crews declares Tina a danger to herself and others, and announces that he intends committing her. An eavesdropping Tina overhears and – surprise! – runs away, this time taking the car. Her panicked flight – during which she passes Michael’s abandoned car, which faces away from the lake! – ends abruptly when she has a vision of her mother being killed by Jason, and drives off the road. The car won’t start again, naturally, so she staggers on on foot.
Meanwhile, The Dowdy Friend Who Is Jealous – [extended character scene deleted] – wandering around in the woods for no apparent reason in a very short skirt and very high heels. Officially she is looking for The Pothead who, naturally enough, she assumes is also wandering around in the woods for no apparent reason. Whether he is or not we never do learn – darn it! – because The Rich Jerk’s body suddenly drops at the feet of TDFWIJ.
In fairness, what follows is the only section of The New Blood that manages to generate a little genuine tension, as Jason and TDFWIJ play an extended game of cat-and-mouse in a large, multi-compartmentalised gardening shed. However, there’s only one way that this game can end, and it does so when Jason slams both his arms and a hand-scythe through the thin partition behind which TDFWIJ is cowering.
While running through the woods in a way that is almost motivated, Tina encounters Nick, who is wandering around in the woods for no apparent reason. She tells him that she has to find her mother, and – sigh – runs away. On the road, Amanda and Crews find Tina’s crashed car. Amanda then begins running through the woods in a way that, if not entirely without apparent reason, is still pretty stupid.
You know….I could be mistaken, but I think I’m beginning to detect a motif here….
Back at the cabin, The Token Black Couple are having sex; The Pothead and The Attractive Girl Who Is Interested In Said Pothead are having sex; and The Bitch and The Geek are not having sex as, being The Bitch, she is merely teasing him. The Token Black Couple being (for no apparent reason) outside in a van, Jason starts with them; and the female half gets the dubious distinction of perhaps the stupidest death in the entire franchise as she gets a party noisemaker rammed through her eye. The male half, in contrast, is awarded the comparative dignity of a crushed skull.
At some point Nick caught up with Tina, and they are running through the woods together when they come across Michael’s body, exactly where Jason, and then Crews, left it. These woods must be smaller than they look. Nick is shattered, but Tina convinces him that they have to keep going, so….they run off through the woods.
Jason, having cut the power, has finally entered the cabin. The Pothead leaves The Attractive Girl Who Is Interested In Said Pothead (just out of curiosity, am I the only one driven nuts by sex scenes that end with the guy getting out of bed with pants on?) and goes downstairs looking for food. Instead he gets a honking great butcher knife in the gut. Nick and Tina finally make it back to her cabin, only to find that the lights are on but no-one’s home. Tina, however, does discover evidence of Crews’ betrayal of her – and also a stash of clippings about Jason. (Whether these belonged to Crews or to Tina’s father is unclear.) The significance of these does not escape her, and she succumbs to a fit of mingled terror and rage that almost causes the room to implode. When she manages to get a grip on herself, Nick guides her downstairs, proposing, in his innocence, that they gather together “all the others” and get the hell out of Dodge. Tina, however, has another vision of her mother. “She’s in the woods, Nick! I know that’s where she is!” Uh, no offence, Tina, but I don’t really think you have to be psychic to know that.
Elsewhere, as The Bitch sneaks out unseen, the rejected Geek is amusing himself by appropriating Michael’s birthday presents. Jason then amuses himself by cutting The Geek’s throat, before heading upstairs…. This is the cue for TAGWIIISP to start creeping around in the dark, to have an encounter with a Spring-Loaded Cat, and to discover The Pothead’s severed head. (This is another nice bit, the preceding false scares notwithstanding. The spreading blood beneath the head, although not the head itself, is visible to us throughout this sequence, but it is always behind or to the side of the unsuspecting girl.) Jason appears, and pitches his next victim out the window. The selective deafness that afflicted the characters of The Final Chapter recurs here, as neither Nick nor Tina hears a thing next door. Oh, okay, okay – there’s thunder. Nick announces that he is going to get all the others, and leaves Tina with the stern injunction, “Don’t move!” The likelihood of one is about equal to the likelihood of the other, I imagine.
In the woods, Amanda and Crews, temporarily exhausted with all that running, have a violent verbal altercation, which ends when Jason appears carrying a manual branch lopper. Ooh-err! The two sprint off again, Jason walking in pursuit as per tradition, until Crews trips. He then grabs Amanda, holding her with a speech about how Tina tried to warn them; and when Jason catches up, he uses her as a human shield, so that it is she who gets, uh, lopped.
Nick, after calling to his friends in growing apprehension, discovers The Geek’s body. That’s quite enough for him, and he instantly beats it back to the Shepards' cabin where – surprise! – Tina has, in fact, moved. A footstep makes Nick swing around, the gun that belonged to Tina’s father in his sweaty grip, but it is only The Bitch, who listens incredulously to Nick’s tale of her friends [sic.] deaths. Tina, meanwhile, as I’m sure you’ll be astonished to learn, is….oh, man, I’m even sick of typing it!….where she runs into Crews. His evasiveness on the subject of her mother and the blood on his clothing tells the story, and she….well, you know. Crews tries to go after her, but soon runs out of puff – which, in a spectacular piece of bad timing, occurs just where and when Jason happens to be warming up a motorised branch-lopper. You know – the kind with a buzzsaw. Crews sprints off – for a very apparent reason – but stupidly stops just because he doesn’t hear the saw buzzing any more. Jason simply circles around behind him, starts the saw again, knocks Crews down, and gets to work. Exit Crews. Ring-barked.
Tina continues to do what she does best until she finds her mother’s body. Sobbing, she finally tears herself away – only to catch a glimpse of Jason, whom she carefully evades. Her stealth does her no good, however, as her propensity for corpse-stumbling leads her (in another effective scene) to a gruesome tableau consisting of the remains of three of the earlier victims. Tina shrieks and runs off, finding simultaneously the road, her abandoned car – and Jason.
As you might imagine, Tina is more than a little pissed right now. Unfortunately for Jason, she’s learnt to control it. A series of long thin roots rip themselves from the ground and wind about him, tipping him into a puddle of dirty water. Tina then zaps a nearby power pole: the electrical wires plunge down into the water, and Jason is fried. He collapses, lying motionless in the water; and Tina, being new at this, moves closer to check that he really is dead.
Tina sprints to the cabin next door, where Jason makes a spectacular entrance via a locked window. Tina slams doors and moves furniture, but this barely slows Jason down; so she tries hurling at him first a lounge, then a potted palm – a severed head stuck in the pot!! (I’m a bit confused here. I thought The Geek only got his throat cut? I guess Jason went back to amuse himself a little more.) These tactics stop him long enough for Tina to make it outside. Jason follows in his usual purposeful manner, and Tina brings the porch roof down smack on his head. Hey, worked on her old man, right? Tina then enters her own cabin in tears, telling Nick about her mother, but also insisting that she has killed Jason. So – a squillion volts didn’t stop him, but having a roof dropped on his head did? Yeah. Right. Sure enough, Jason breaks free of the rubble, and is soon seen acquiring an axe. Meanwhile, The Bitch is still insisting on taking the whole thing as an elaborate practical joke – or perhaps as evidence that Tina’s mental instability is catching. “Fuck you! No, fuck you both!” she huffs, and opens the front door to leave. And leave she does.
Tina and Nick manage to evade Jason and run upstairs, but all the doors are locked. As Nick throws himself against them unavailingly, Tina turns…. As Jason approaches, a large hanging light swings at him, shattering on his face and sending him plunging backwards through the staircase. Somewhat surprisingly, Nick and Tina make it safely over the hole, but as they rush to the front door Jason bursts from beneath the stairs. He grabs Nick, hurls him down, and is about to stomp him to death when Tina intervenes – drastically. The strap holding Jason’s mask on begins to tighten – and tighten – and tighten. Disgusting goo oozes from where the strap cuts flesh….and then the mask breaks and drops away, revealing the rotted, bestial face underneath. Tina then shatters another of the hanging lights. Its cord snakes down, wraps itself around Jason’s throat, and hauls him into the air. As he kicks and struggles (which rather implies that he breathes….interesting….), Tina rips up the floorboards beneath him, then sends him plunging into the basement. Tina hurries to the unconscious Nick, but as she kneels by him, two decomposed hands reach up to drag her down into the basement. She frees herself, and attacks again, sending nails flying through the air and spraying gasoline around….and opening the furnace door.
Nick comes to and helps Tina out of the basement. As the fire grows, the two of them flee to the dock, where they hit the ground as the entire house goes up in a massive explosion, which throws a great many things into the lake. A great many. Nick comforts Tina as she sobs that, “It’s gone! Everything’s gone!” And then a hand closes on her shoulder and tosses her down the dock. Nick leaps up and starts firing that idiotic gun. Jason is, it seems, only mildly annoyed by this, as he does nothing more extreme than knock Nick off the dock into a tethered boat. Then he turns to Tina, who closes her eyes and – concentrates.
Unnoticed by Jason, the water by the dock starts to churn. As Jason advances on Tina, the boards of the dock suddenly erupt. A figure emerges from the water, wraps chains about Jason’s throat, and drags him back down into the waters that contained him for the previous decade….
“Daddy?” whispers Tina – and passes out….
I’m telling you this: they’d better have meant that for a supernatural manifestation, not a second reanimation; ’cause I refuse to believe that the body collection squad that serviced Crystal Lake ten years ago wasn’t better than that.
Speaking of which, dawn breaks to find the local emergency services taking care of business. One of them finds the shattered remains of a hockey-mask. Tina and Nick are stretchered into an ambulance. Nick suddenly jerks to consciousness. “Jason!?” he exclaims.
“We took care of him,” whispers Tina.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.
I’ve been pretty hard on The New Blood. Nothing new in that, you might say; I’ve been hard to a greater or lesser extent on all of the F13 films. The difference is, this time I feel kind of bad about it.
Film reviewers, as I have had occasion to remark before, are a thoroughly unreasonable bunch. They demand things, and then when the film-makers try to comply, they whine, Aw, but that isn’t really what I wanted. Hence the entirely ungrateful reaction to the F13 franchise’s attempts to shake itself free of its own formula, first with a pseudo-Jason in Part V, and then with both a Final Boy and a sense of humour in Part VI.
Part VII stands somewhat apart from its predecessors. On a planning level, at least, the film is rather interesting, inasmuch as it exhibits simultaneously a real respect for the slasher formula and a clear recognition of that formula’s inherent problems. After all the tampering with the text of the previous two instalments, The New Blood gets back to basics: a cabin by the lake, a gathering of anonymous dead meat, and a Final Girl showdown. Its very opening sequence is a declaration of intent. The film in fact begins not with Tina’s childhood trauma, but with a potted history of Jason Voorhees featuring a number of his previous incarnations, resurrections and victims, which is narrated in the uncredited but unmistakable tones of Walt Gorney – aka Crazy Ralph. Then, too, there is the character of Jason – if that’s not a contradiction in terms. Although it isn’t something I can work up much enthusiasm over, I know that a lot of people get very excited about Kane Hodder’s incarnation of Jason, on the grounds that our masked psycho-killer actually has a personality. Assuming that Thoroughly Pissed Off counts as a “personality”, I guess that’s true; and while to my mind there is nothing in The New Blood that matches certain moments in F13:2, Hodder does have some very effective scenes, purely through his body language. Perhaps the highlight is when Tina first attacks him with the tree roots: Jason’s reaction here is, unmistakably, an incredulous, “What the fuck!?”
More important, I think, and still stronger evidence that the hearts behind The New Blood were all in the right place, is the physical manifestation of Jason, which is remarkable. (As evidence that for once, the people who made this film were actually paying attention to what came before, it is even more remarkable.) After ten years in Crystal Lake, Jason Voorhees is a decomposing hulk. The remains of his chains hang about his neck. His clothes are in tatters, and through them peep rotten flesh and bare bones; and when that hockey-mask comes off--- Ah, my friends, what do we find underneath but the record of every head injury suffered by Jason over four exceedingly violent outings? This Jason Voorhees is a fine piece of work, an indisputable labour of love.
So far, so good.
Yes, that’s right: I’m about to be thoroughly unreasonable.
The New Blood is best summed up by calling it a work of good intentions – and we all know where those lead, right? Believe me, I do respect those intentions – enough to tack on this serious consideration of the film, instead of just settling for the usual hooting and pointing and flinging of you-know-what – but when all is said and done, The New Blood just isn’t very good. The murders are bloodless, of course, cut to pointlessness, but that isn’t the problem; by now we almost take that for granted. Rather, they’re lazy, their execution completely perfunctory. As for the characters, even by slasher film standards - ! “Characters”, did I say? Calling them ciphers would be overly generous. And even the New Improved Jason isn’t handled as he should have been. For the most part, The New Blood shows far more interest in the story of its Final Girl, leaving Jason in danger of becoming a supporting player in his own franchise, like Chris Lee’s Dracula in his later outings. (Or, one might even say, like Chucky in the Child’s Play series, once Jennifer Tilly moved in.) And, honestly – just how many scenes of someone running through those damn woods is a person supposed to be able to take!?
Having taken the F13 series back to its roots, the makers of The New Blood allowed themselves one major new spin in the form of Tina Shepard, their psychic and telekinetic Final Girl – hence the film’s enduring nickname of Jason Meets Carrie. And it is ultimately because of Tina, I feel, that The New Blood fails. As has probably been evident throughout my love-hate relationship with the F13 films, in my opinion the only thing this franchise ever really had going for it was its Final Girl showdowns. Even something as fundamentally dreadful as F13:3 is at least partially redeemed by its climactic sequence; and conversely, both A New Beginning and Jason Lives suffer from the absence of this particular convention. By giving Tina Shepard telekinetic powers, the makers of Part VII make their showdown a battle between two paranormal individuals – in other words, a fair fight. But to me, the whole point about the Final Girl showdown is that it isn’t fair. On the contrary, it’s all about an ordinary individual finding extraordinary resolve in the face of an unimaginable horror. Now, I’m not saying that the confrontation between Tina and Jason at the end of The New Blood isn’t successful in and of itself. Far from it. As a matter of fact, there’s something remarkably satisfying about seeing Jason Voorhees on the receiving end of a thorough smackdown delivered entirely on his own terms. But in the end, a Final Girl able to stay at a safe distance from her supernatural adversary while lobbing lounge furniture at him across the room just doesn’t do it for me. Call me old-fashioned, but give me a Final Girl who, when push comes to shove, is willing to spit on her hands, pick up a machete, and get down and dirty.