in The Vault

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

I’ve been watching Friday the 13th films for seven weeks now. Early on, I had been confused about the original film’s “call to action” if you will. “Was Jason dead? If not, why’d didn’t his mom look for him?” Once I was convinced by nerds on the internet that “Jason’s disappearance is explained in the official novelization to Part II *nerd slurp” I figured the series for the most part made sense. I was wrong. Not until this installment did I realize how confusing the timeline is in this franchise.

The first film is straightforward. It was filmed in 1979 (released in 1980) and set in 1979. The second installment is where it all goes to hell—not literally, that’s Part IX. I thought Part II took place two months after the first film. What I missed, either through dialogue or a text block was only the opening scene does. The rest is set in 1984, despite being released in 1981. “Why set it in the future?” Maybe Jason needed more time to hone his craft i.e. killing people. Part III is again in 1984, yet the film came out in 1982.

The Final Chapter catches up with the timeline and is actually set in the same year of its release, 1984. If you remember A New Beginning, this film features one of the main protagonists of the last film (Tommy Jarvis) as a teenager. Meaning the series has entered the 90s. Yet the film came out in 1985. Jason Lives, released in 1986, takes place a year after A New Beginning. Therefore, Jason Lives takes place in 1992. Today’s film screws up the timeline even more by beginning at the same time of Jason Lives only to jump TEN YEARS into the future. This means The New Blood (1988) takes place in 2002! That’s a disparity of 14 years. “I’m sure this was necessary to continue the story, right?”

Wrong. None of this ever needed to get this complicated. If the story involves jumping ahead so many years, then tell a different story. My problem is now we have a film set in 2002 that in no way feels like 2002. “Where are the flip phones? Where’s the internet?” If you’re saying those details don’t matter, then why should I care about anything? If there’s no respect for the film’s internal logic, I have no respect for the film. This isn’t science fiction—that’s Part X. Which is one of the reasons The New Blood is my least favorite Friday the 13th film thus far.

The film opens in a promising way. A shot of Jason’s grave is accompanied by grim narration that goes like this:

“There’s a legend around here. A killer buried, but NOT dead. A curse on Crystal Lake, a death curse. Jason Voorhees’ curse. They say he died as a boy, but he keeps coming back. Few have seen him and lived. Some have even tried to stop him. NO ONE can.”

The narration sets the mood and I love the reference to “Death Curse” which was Crazy Ralph’s (Walt Gorney) catch phrase in Part(s) I and II. “Who delivers the narration?” Walt Gorney of course. I love it. A montage of Jason’s greatest kills followed, which I could do without but at least it has a greater wealth of clips to choose from as opposed to when they were doing this gimmick in Part II and III.

After we are reminded we are watching a distant sequel in a long-lasting franchise the story begins with a little girl named Tina (Jennifer Banko) living near Crystal Lake. Tina’s parents are having a verbal altercation when Tina runs away and takes a boat out on Crystal Lake. Tina’s father tries to reason with her from the family boathouse when Tina says, “I Hate you! I wish you were dead.” Which in turn collapses the boat house and kills her dad. “How do they explain this?” Psychic powers.

If I’m being honest, I don’t have a problem with psychic powers. Jason Voorhees vs. Carrie? It’s not a bad concept. Jason is immortal anyways. “Why not include more superpowers?” They have fun with this in the film’s final battle as well. The problem is it feels like a lifetime before we get there.

Like I said earlier, most of the film takes place in 2002. This is because we pick up with Tina (Lar Park Lincoln) as a teenager. It’s weird that no main character in these films can be a child or an adult. You have to be a sexy teen to be the star. Anyways, Tina and her mother Amanda (Susan Blu) return to the family lakeside residence, so that her powers can be studied by a jerk psychiatrist, Dr. Crews (Terry Kiser aka Bernie of Weekend at Bernie’s fame.)

Dr. Crews engages Tina in a test of her psychic abilities (yelling at her), which in turn unleashes Tina’s psychic energy and resurrects Jason from the bottom of Crystal Lake. Nice one Bernie. I’m glad you died and those guys performed hilarious antics with your corpse.

Next door, a group of sexy teens celebrate a weekend birthday party. “What better place to throw a party than in a small town where hundreds of teens before us have been horribly murdered, right?” Naturally, the fragile Tina befriends a stupid, boring hunk and we meet a bunch of other assholes who don’t deserve the time of day. It’s disappointing. What happened to the goofy misfits of Part V? Or the self-referential humor of Part VI? Unlucky number VII sucks the big one.

I will take a moment to point out that this was the first Friday the 13th film to include the talents of Kane Hodder. Who despite playing Jason in some of the worst films of the franchise is arguably the best Jason there’s ever been. Not only does Hodder’s impressive 6’ 4’” frame give Jason an imposing figure, Hodder carries Jason with such strength and weight. There’s a reason Hodder was chosen to be the motion capture model for Jason in the upcoming Friday the 13th video game. Hodder IS Jason.

Back to the piece of crap film, I will give the final battle props. Finally seeing Tina use her psychic powers to send random tools and blunt objects at Jason was fun to watch. I also appreciate the makeup job they did for the unmasked version of Jason in this film. He’s kind of a beefy skeleton monster man. There’s an explosion too. I like explosions.

What’s weird is the final nail in Jason’s proverbial coffin is when Tina “summons the spirit of her father” to drag Jason back into the depths of Crystal Lake. Um, okay. I guess it’s not the weirdest thing to ever happen to this franchise… wait, is it? Well, not for long–wait for Part IX. As for next week, I’ll be talking about Jason trying to make it the best he can in a post 9/11 New York City. At least that’s what the timeline has led me to believe. TGIF everybody.