Saturday, March 31, 2012


Those that have watched the series up to FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD are probably no longer watching for quality and continuity but rather for neat death scenes, cool atmosphere, and of course lots of Jason Voorhees. Looking at the key ingredients for a good FRIDAY THE 13TH sequel, The New Blood delivers a tasty treat. Those looking for a substantial and well-thought horror thriller should probably skip The New Blood, as it is a re-hash of what has been done before, only with flying objects and a telepathic heroine.

The The New Blood presents a darker than the previous episode, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES. Whereas Jason Lives was unique for its comedic tone, The New Blood chooses to be a straight-up slasher movie that ignores any parody. Jason Lives tried to take the series in a different direction with its comedic edge, but The New Blood returns to the series darker roots with more sadistic kills, including the now infamous "sleeping bag death." The film's hardcore, badass soundtrack theme trades in Harry Manfredini's iconic high-string score for a deeper, more intimidating tune by Fred Moller. It's heavier, but it works with the movie.

While the entire series has always been known for its gory death sequences, the kills of The New Blood stand out as having some of the all-around best moments in the entire series. It's a shame that most of these scenes have been so heavily trimmed by the MPAA, as the film's impact would most definitely have been higher with more gore. The film takes a similar approach to the death scenes that Jason Lives did, zeroing on the gory creativity of a kill rather than the suspense leading up to it. The movie prides itself on being dark, gothic, and gruesome in the same manner as FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER; both these movies are known for being relentless and merciless.

The plot of The New Blood is paper-thin, veiled by it's teenage protagonist Tina Shepherd (Lar Park Lincoln), a telepathic societal outcast in the vein of Stephen King's CARRIE. Tina's powers accidentally release Jason from his imprisonment that Tommy Jarvis left him in at the end of Jason Lives. After that, the events carry out the same as any other Friday film.

Tina is a likable protagonist, and Lincoln does an excellent job portraying the confused and frightened teen with strange powers. She has a certain vulnerability that masks her strengths, and as the movie's only character with a complete character arc she definitely carries the film. Her fellow-hero is the hunky Nick (Kevin Blair), whom is a genuine guy and a good romantic interest for Tina. The two work well together, and stand out as being the only characters in the entire picture with any commonsense. Blair gives Nick a boy-next-door heroic edge, and even though he's no Tommy Jarvis, he's still a suitable hero.

The rest of the characters are expendable and forgettable, save the two antagonists: Dr. Crews (Terry Kiser) and Melissa (Susan Jennifer Sullivan). Dr. Crews is Tina's psychiatrist that claims to be helping her control her powers, when in reality he is building up evidence to exploit her. Melissa is the typical spoiled bitch that acts as Tina's romantic competition to win Nick. Both Dr. Crews and Melissa are hateful, horrible characters, and because of them The New Blood marks the first installment where Jason truly becomes an anti-hero of sorts. In a sense he's killing off other antagonists in the movie that stand in the way of Nick and Tina's own personal success.

Of course, the real start of the film is Jason Voorhees, played for the first time by Kane Hodder, who would secure the role of the hockey masked maniac until 2003. Hodder makes Jason mean and menacing, unlike the Jason of Jason Lives that was more of a mindless zombie killing machine than a killer with an agenda. The Jason that Hodder creates is not a guy you want to be messing around with - he's smart, quick, and purely evil, being the most reminiscent of Ted White's Jason from The Final Chapter. And the make-up effects of this Jason are great, having never looked better. Showing all his battle wounds and decay, the Jason of The New Blood is arguably the coolest looking in the entire franchise.

The movie starts with a cool opening montage that recaps the entire series by using clips from only FRIDAY THE 13TH PART II, The Final Chapter, and Jason Lives. Walt Gorney, who played Crazy Ralph in the original movie and Part II, narrates it. The montage works better than the one in The Final Chapter because it uses original dialogue that leads to a pretty cool (although campy) monologue.

The film's ending is what the entire movie and its marketing campaign lead up to. The point of the movie is to show Jason fighting his first supernatural foe, Tina, and the two wage a pretty epic battle. The ending has become famously chalked at for its numerous implausibilities, such as an exploding house (how does the house explode like that!?) and Tina's long deceased father (John Otrin) miraculously coming back to life to help his daughter (a twist that doesn't work as well as filmmakers probably had planned).

A funny trivia note is that originally this film was supposed to be FREDDY VS. JASON, but when Paramount (owner of the Friday the 13th films at the time) and New Line (owner of the A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchise) couldn't come to an agreement, the idea was scrapped and Jason instead was given a telepathic teen to do battle with while Freddy took on the his own extra-powerful foe in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER.

The story does the most with the telepathic arc, and while it's cheesy and corny it's also fun. By this point, the series had completely lost any sense of realism, and the decision to make a hero that is almost as supernaturally powerful as Jason gives the series a much needed edge. Out of all the "supernatural" Jason movies, Jason Lives and The New Blood stand out as the best of the bunch. The others deviate too far from the original movies (JASON GOES TO HELL, JASON X, and Freddy vs. Jason).

The New Blood is not a great movie but its hard to knock because for what the movie sets out to achieve, it accomplishes. There are many points in the film where the audience has to really suspend disbelief, and there are numerous cases where lazy storytelling is present. For instance, why is Jason's body still at the bottom of Crystal Lake? Police surely would have combed the lake for it after the events of Jason Lives. Also, if the Shepherd house is close enough to Camp Crystal Lake for Tina to resurrect Jason with her powers, how come this house was never seen earlier in the series?

For the most part the film is forgettable, having the same exact set-up as Jason Lives. Both films begin with a troubled youth (Tommy in Jason Lives, Tina in The New Blood) that accidentally resurrects Jason. Jason then kills a couple random campers and townsfolk in the woods to kill filler before the big finale. Meanwhile the troubled youth tries to convince any authority figures that Jason has returned. No one believes the troubled youth except for a love interest with a crush (Megan in Jason Lives, Nick in The New Blood). The troubled youth is an outcast from the "normal teens" and only connected to them through the love interest. Eventually Jason attacks and kills all the normal teens, all except the troubled youth and the love interest, who have to use their own knowledge and skills to finally defeat him and send him back to Crystal Lake's depths. At the end of The New Blood, the series is in the same exact place that it started.

Another interesting side-note is that in both Jason Lives and The New Blood, the adults refuse to accept the teens warnings that Jason has returned, hocking it up to some kind of insanity. This is an interesting flip from the original couple of movies, where the adults warned the teens about Crystal Lake's bloody curse and the teens chose to ignore them. Strange how things change over a few movies.

Is The New Blood a bad movie? Yes, it's a B-movie on all accounts. But the more important question is whether The New Blood is a bad horror movie? That answer is no, as The New Blood succeeds in its goals; lots of gory death scenes, a really cool and iconic villain, and a protagonist that kicks ass. The film is locked into late-80s cheese, but stands as one of the last true Friday the 13th movies (the series would become unrecognizable in the 90's when New Line took over). Once again, if you're a casual moviegoer you should probably skip The New Blood. But if you like horror movies and especially enjoyed the first six Friday the 13th flicks, than The New Blood is probably a safe bet.

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