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I’ve written about my love for all things Friday the 13th many times. Many times. But I’ve barely scratched the surface. Today I want to turn my attention from the series as a whole to focus on one episode in particular, Friday the 13th Part VII – The New Blood.
In my Top 10 Friday the 13th Movies article, I rated Friday the 13th Part VII as #4, saying, “I really thought this one was stupid for a LONG time. I still do, but Kane Hodder’s first appearance as Jason just makes up for a lot of the stupidity inherent in a Jason vs. Carrie story. There are a lot of great, memorable kills in this one, too. The sleeping bag kill, the weed whacker, and the party horn are just a few. Fans are STILL waiting for an uncut version of this to be released on DVD (fucking Paramount).”
In Top 100 Horror Flicks #10-6, I rated the Friday the 13th series as the #6 scariest of all-time, saying about Part VII, “Friday the 13th Part VII – The New Blood is an odd entry in that the heroine, Tina, has telekinetic powers. No one else in the Friday universe has powers other than Jason, who seems to be immortal and super strong. Tina is able to move objects with her mind and hands Jason the biggest ass-kicking he receives in the entire series. Part VII ends with Jason being improbably returned to the bottom of Crystal Lake. “
I stand by both of those statements, but I want to dig a little deeper into analyzing this film and make an argument for it being the best entry of the series and, to some degree, a defense of the slasher film as a genre. It’s an uphill battle and my credibility is on the line, but that’s why I get paid what I do (a fine beverage of my choice: Tang or Kool-Aid).
I’m assuming a general familiarity with at least the first eight movies of the series. You know Jason’s mother was the killer in the first one. You know he wore a sack over his head in the second one. You know he got the hockey mask from Shelly in the third one. You know Crispin Glover did a weird dance in the fourth one. You know the paramedic was the killer in the fifth one. You know they changed the name of Crystal Lake to Forest Green in the sixth one. You know Kane Hodder debuted as Jason in the seventh one (I mean, cripes, you just read it a couple paragraphs up). And you know every lyric to the song “Darkest Side of Night“.
Okay. With that established, we can move on to my defense of Part VII. You can’t judge a Friday the 13th movie like you’d judge, say, Citizen Kane. There’s an entirely different set of criteria. I’ll go through the checklist and see how Part VII measures up in terms of characters, scares, kills, music, and other genre-related criteria.
1. The Prologue
The prologue is the part of every Friday the 13th movie where they recap what’s come before. The best example is probably Part IV, but this is right up there. My only real criticism is that it leans heavily on clips from Part VI, which I suppose is to be expected, given that it was the previous movie and basically rebooted the franchise. The voice-over is good and it sets just the right mood (ie. creepy).
2. The End Girl
Lar Park Lincoln is pretty hot and a pretty good actress. She’s really perfect for the role of Tina Shepard and does a great job. The only real drawback is the horribly unflattering 80s clothes that they made her wear.
Tina’s unlike most of the Friday the 13th End Girls because she has telekinetic powers. Years earlier she lost control of her powers and accidentally caused the pier to fall on her father, killing him and trapping him (I guess) in Crystal Lake. Now somewhere around 17, she’s returned to the family cabin at Crystal Lake with her mother and her psychiatrist, Dr. Crews, who’d rather exploit Tina’s powers than help her get over the death of her father. So Tina has issues.
3. The Victims
As with every Friday the 13th, there are characters you dislike and those you hate. Taken as a whole, the victims in Part VII are better than average, but the bad ones are really bad. The gang in happier times.
Nick is at the lake for his cousin, Michael’s, surprise birthday party. Unfortunately, Michael’s car breaks down, and he and his girlfriend, Jane, become Jason’s first victims. Fortunately, Michael had a racially and demographically diverse group of friends for Jason to pick off one by one.
Of course, Nick hits it off with Tina. He tells her, “I grew up in Pittsburgh. I used to hang out with a real bad crowd.” Nobody believes that. The worst crowd this guy probably hung out with was the tap dance class. But Tina is mentally disturbed, so she either doesn’t notice that Nick is incredibly gay or just doesn’t care.
According to Crystal Lake Memories, this was an incredibly gay set. Pretty much all of the men in the film were gay. And this is nowhere more apparent than in the leading man, Nick. His introduction is one of the gayest moments in modern cinema.
Girls being girls, who are all inexplicably attracted to gay men (just like in real life), Melissa also wants Nick, and isn’t above pushing Tina over the edge (mentally) to get him. She has Eddie put his coat on backwards and taunts Tina about her stint in the looney bin. When that fails, Melissa seduces Eddie in an attempt to make Nick jealous, which, of course, doesn’t work.
Not that any of that matters, because night is falling and by the time the sun comes up, most of them will have died horrible deaths.
But before all that, let’s get to know the latest round of victims, shall we?
First up, we have the aforementioned Jane and Michael. We don’t really get to know them, as they’re the first people killed. We can assume that Michael wasn’t too choosy about his friends and Jane really loves wearing blue jean jackets with blue jeans. Jane and Michael
Russell and Sandra are sort of the preppy couple, who make the mistake of going for a moonlit skinny dip in Crystal Lake on a Friday the 13th. Sandra’s distinguishing characteristic seems to be gold-digging, such as when she tells Russell that she’s basically only attracted to the size of his . . . wallet. Seriously. She says that to him, and he doesn’t seem to give two shits. Of course, his character stereotype is the uptight preppy/nerd asshole, so his dating pool is probably limited. Russell and Sandra
You’ve also got the obligatory stoner, David. David does things like shotgun a beer, if by “shotgun a beer” I meant dumping a beer down the front of his shirt in a poor attempt to make it look like he’s actually shotgunning it. He’s so unlike every other one of Michael’s friends, the only logical assumption is that he’s Michael’s drug dealer. Michael must really not have all that many friends if he invites his drug dealer to his birthday weekend. David
Ben and Kate are Michael’s “black friends”. Every horror movie features them. They’re usually the first to die and horrible stereotypes of “ghetto” black people. Ben and Kate are a step above this. To start with, they don’t die first. But more importantly, they’re probably the best “characters” in the movie (aside from the leads, the adults, and Jason). They seem to almost be like real people with real people problems. They’re likable, which isn’t something you can say about 90% of horror movie characters. Ben and Kate
The two best friends, Robin and Maddy, don’t really seem like the type of girls to be best friends. Maddy is a nerdy, kind of trollish girl. Robin is something of a sexpot. The only way these girls are best friends is if they’ve been friends since first grade and are resisting the natural tendency to grow apart, given their obvious social class differences. At any rate, they both like the same guy (David). Tension ensues. Tension so thick you could cut with a knife.
Sorry. Robin and Maddy
Next comes the stereotype we’ve come to be pretty indifferent about: the nerd/geek. Friday the 13th has a long history of geek victims. The drama nerd, Shelly, “gave” Jason his iconic hockey mask in Part III and Crispin Glover was the awkward geek who did that crazy dance in Part IV. Eddie tries to fill those shoes, but his feet aren’t quite up to snuff (if you know what I mean). He’s an aspiring sci-fi screenwriter with some of the worst ideas you’re likely to hear this side of a Glenn Beck rally. I hate him. Eddie
Rounding out Michael’s friends is the rich bitch, Melissa. She’s one of my favorite characters. She’s got real personality (bitchy) and makes a good secondary villain to Jason. You can also believe that she and Michael are friends, though there’s no way Jane would let him invite Melissa to his party.
To reiterate: I find the sci-fi geek to be one of the most-annoying characters in Friday the 13th history. He’s just a terribly written character. Terrible. He’s the kind of guy who, at one point, hauls out some hand-held sci-fi noisemaker and pretends to destroy Michael’s presents and then smirks this self-satisfied smirk that just makes you want to punch him. You didn’t actually destroy the presents, Eddie. You’re just a douchebag loser idiot. Just looking at this picture pisses me off.
Aside from the nubile young knife cushions (like pin cushions, only for knives), there are usually one or two token adults in a Friday the 13th movie, be they Crazy Ralph from Parts 1 and 2 or Mrs. Jarvis from Part IV. Part VII sort of redefines the adult roles, making one of them a secondary villain, perhaps more despicable than Jason (if you find unethical greed more despicable than mass murder). Jason is more a force of nature, whereas Dr. Crews is just a shitty human being. He knows that Tina’s powers are triggered by strong emotions, so he brings her to where she accidentally killed her father to bring her emotions to their peak. Paraphrasing Mrs. Shepard, he really is a terrible doctor. Terry Kiser is great as Crews. He’s so slimy, and elevates the film by giving you somebody to really root against. Dr. Crews
Amanda Shepard, Tina’s mother, is the other adult character. In the pre-credit flashback, we meet “Young” Amanda Shepherd. It’s the same actress, supposedly 10 years earlier, but she looks identical to the old mom that could well be Vanna White without the botox and make-up. The only thing that they did to de-age her was dress her up in a pair of mom shorts and keep her in the shadows. It didn’t work.
There are a couple additional victims, but we’ll meet them a bit later. It’s time to discuss the Big Man himself.
Jason. Director John Carl Buechler came from a background in effects and really got Jason right here, in a way most directors of the series don’t. Jason isn’t exactly human any more, after being killed in Part IV and resurrected in Part VI, and Buechler paid special attention to making sure all the injuries Jason sustained over the first four films was represented in his look. Kane Hodder gives Jason more personality than previously seen, and definitely deserved to play the character three more times (or more, really), becoming the only actor to play Jason more than once.
But Hodder doesn’t just bring a playful personality to the role of Jason. Hodder’s Jason is an angry, unstoppable killing machine. He also seems to have some self-awareness this time out. Take, for instance, the scene at the end of the movie where Tina is using her telekinetic powers to drench Jason in gasoline and then to open the furnace.
Right before the fire leaps out and engulfs Jason, he gives Tina this look that says, “Oh, come on. Are you shitting me?”
There are some classic kills in this seventh installment. You kind of got the picture from the character introductions, but there are a couple more that stand out.
Right after Jason kills Michael and Jane, he runs into two unfortunate campers. He quickly dispatches of the male, Dan. But then things get good as Judy is left alone in the tent, unaware than Jason is right outside. She hears a noise and thinks it’s Dan playing tricks on her, but then . . .
Jane tries to hide in her sleeping bag, but that’s not a problem for Jason. He just grabs the sleeping bag and finds the nearest tree.
Another highlight is Dr. Crews’ weed whacker death. I’m not sure where Jason gets all his gardening equipment. Maybe Crystal Lake has a Home Depot.
This shot, perhaps my favorite shot in the entire series, occurs after the body of one of Maddy’s friends falls out of a tree right in front of her. She screams, and Buechler cuts to this shot. It’s not like Jason was stalking Maddy. He was just putting his recent kills in a tree to fall out later in the movie and scare Tina, but when Maddy screams, she’s got Jason’s ful attention. With this shot, you know that Maddy is dead. There’s no escape. Jason WILL kill her, it’s just a matter of when and how.
Maddy sees Jason and runs into the tool shed (probably not the best idea), where he stalks her and outsmarts her. Buechler shows the audience just enough to make the sequence suspenseful and terrifying. This gif can’t possibly do it justice, but you can sort of glean the essence of what I’m talking about from it.
Another couple of highlight kills are Crews and Amanda Shepard. They make a terrible team. Crews knows that something is wrong. He’s seen Michael’s corpse and he has newspaper clippings about Jason. He knows Jason is out in those woods. So when Mrs. Shepard runs into the woods screaming her head off looking for Tina, he tries desperately to calm her down and shut her up. He could just turn are run the other way at this point, but he seems to genuinely care if Mrs. Shepard gets killed. When the crazy lady just doesn’t stop with the shouting, Jason attacks. Crews’ survival instinct takes over and he forgets any concern he might have once had for Amanda, instead using the old bag as a human shield, placing her between himself and Jason, granting himself an extremely temporary reprieve. It’s a dick move and makes Crews’ death at the end of a giant weed whacker all the sweeter. Amanda “Mom” Shepard gets the point.
Kate’s death is another classic. As previously stated, it’s Michael’s birthday, so there are plenty of noisemakers. You know, the kind you blow into and they make a sound, sometimes unfurling a paper stream and sometimes just making an annoying noise. Ben and Kate are having sex in Ben’s (?) van when the van is shaken by somebody outside. Ben thinks it’s Michael goofing around, but the audience isn’t exactly surprised when it turns out to be Jason.
Jason quickly dispatches Ben and grabs the party horn. When Kate sticks her head out the van window to find out why neither Michael nor Ben is answering her, Jason grabs her head and, with his free hand, shoves the horn into Kate’s eye. And yes, it makes noise as it goes in.
This isn’t a kill per se, but after all of the party guests are eliminated, Tina and Jason face off. Tina runs back to the house the kids are staying at and starts using her telekinesis to battle Jason. At first it’s just simple things like slamming the door on him and throwing a sofa at him, but then things get real.
Apparently after Jason knifes David in the gut, he decapitates him and puts his head in a potted plant. Tina mentally throws the potted plant at Jason and the result is, quite simply, magic.
The last of my favorite kills is the rich bitch, Melissa. Her reaction when she opens the door is perfect, and Jason’s movements from the axe hit to the head to throwing her against the wall are violent and angry.
Do you notice anything about the pictures of the kills that I’ve peppered this article with? Anything missing? Like blood and gore? That isn’t me looking out for your delicate sensibilities. The MPAA just eviscerated this movie. Paramount was forced to submit the film nine times to get an R rating. There is almost no blood in any of the kills. Cuts are quick and you don’t really see ANYTHING. In some cases, it can be argued that this works better than explicitly showing the kill shots, but I’m firmly in the camp that thinks the censorship robs the kills of any sort of punch.
Friday the 13th movies aren’t exactly known for their complex story-lines. The story is basically: kids go to remote cabin in woods, kids get killed by Jason, Jason gets killed by End Girl. The end. Sure, Part VII follows that formula pretty closely. The initial concept was to basically just remake Part IV. Adding elements like telekinesis and Dr. Crews elevates the material somewhat, at least offering something somewhat new to a fairly tired formula.
Part VII more or less avoids the major horror movie cliches. The characters are a bit better defined and a little smarter than is typical. Sex doesn’t necessarily equal death (everybody dies, not just those having sex). But there’s an elephant in the room. Right before Robin’s death, a black cat literally jumps out of a closet. Why? What’s a cat doing locked in a linen closet? I mean, do you see the size of that closet? How long has it been there? Robin thinks the cat is David’s. Why does David keep his cat locked in a closet? What’s wrong with him?
One thing that differentiates Part VII from the previous Friday the 13th films is that Jason behaves, well, more like Michael Myers in the original Halloween. He doesn’t just leap out of nowhere and kill some clueless teenager (well, not EVERY time, anyway). He stalks them, waits for his opportunity, and then picks them off one by one. Like Carpenter did in Halloween, Buechler puts Jason in the background in many shots. The audience gets glimpses of him before he strikes.
In the sequence where David gets knifed in the kitchen, I didn’t notice Jason shrouded in the darkness until I was doing research for this article.
Fortunately, it’s (of course) stormy out, so lightning is flashing.
See? Barely noticeable. Subtlety isn’t really something that the Friday the 13th franchise is known for, but Part VII is littered with cool shots like this. It really ratchets up the suspense and raises the film just a little a bit above the usual slasher fare.
Tina’s a pretty formidable foe for Jason. Usually, by the time you see Jason, it’s too late to do anything about it. In Part VII, Tina actually follows Jason through the woods after spotting him after a kill. For some reason I like how Jason is oblivious to Tina as she tracks him through the woods leading up to their first confrontation.
Tina vs. Jason just works. Sure, Jason should probably step out of the way when Tina drops the roof on him, but he’s a moron. He’s not exactly known for his wits. Their stand-off in the basement of Tina’s house is some of Jason’s best character development and a tribute to Hodder.
There are a lot of bad endings in horror movies. For every Carrie or Paranormal Activity, there’s a High Tension or Friday the 13th Part VII. I can see what they were going for, tying the ending to the beginning, with Tina’s father resurrected to save his daughter from Jason, giving her the closure she’s been looking for. As originally conceived, Tina’s dad was supposed to emerge from the lake looking like he’d spent the last decade underwater. Rotting flesh, missing eyes, the whole thing.
But that was deemed “too scary” by the nitwits-that-be and what we get instead of Tina’s dad looking like he’s spent the last ten years at a posh resort/spa, fresh out of a mud bath. It’s asinine and completely robs the movie of any sort of punch. Worst of all, it’s laughable.
Friday the 13th movies are sort of known for their codas, or “chair-jumpers”. The first one has one of the best chair-jumpers of all-time. But that sort of stopped happening after Part V.
- The next day.
This one wraps up with Tina and Nick on an ambulance in the aftermath of the killing spree the night before. Cops, fire crews, and paramedics are swarming the place. They haul Tina to the ambulance where Nick is already resting comfortably. Nick says, alarmed, “Jason. Where’s Jason?” Tina responds: “We took care of it.” Ambulance drives off. Fade to black. It’s like they forgot to tack on the chair-jumper. (If you click on that Youtube video above, you can see the chair-jumper that was originally intended to end the movie, along with all of the unedited kills).
What the fuck? How? Is Tina’s dad holding Jason underwater forever? What just happened? Not that Part VIII gives us any clue. From what they show, they completely ignore Part VII and just pick up where Part VI left off, with Jason chained to a rock in the middle of the lake.
Music has always been a huge part of Friday the 13th‘s success. Harry Manfredini did the iconic Friday the 13th music from Part I through Part VI. You know, the “ch-ch-ch, ha-ha-ha” thing? That’s Manfredini’s.
For Part VII, they brought Manfredini back, but it was such a rush job that he couldn’t do it by himself, so they also brought on the composer for Friday the 13th: The Series, Fred Mollin.
I liked Mollin’s work on The Series, but don’t think he’s the right man for the job with the films. Sure, he gave us the opening song from Part VIII, but his stuff just isn’t as primal and frightening as Manfredini’s. The main title theme here is just a series of non-melodic crashes. It creates a mood, sure. That mood is annoyance. It just doesn’t approach what Manfredini did in the first six films.
Fortunately, there is still plenty of Manfredini goodness to be found. The music cue at 54 minutes, lasting through the stoner’s death is CLASSIC Friday the 13th. I just love it.
John Carl Buechler does a great job with Part VII. I’ve touched on many of the little things that he incorporated into the formula to make his Friday different than the others. I think his main contribution is making Jason scary again with cool shots and a degree of subtlety missing from many of the entries.
One mis-step is the premature unmasking of Jason. Jason’s face doesn’t disappoint (like Part VIII), but the unmasking comes too early in the movie. He spends the last nine minutes of the movie without the hockey mask. His face is grotesque and all, but nothing is as scary as that mask.
Buechler also ratchets up the stunts, making this the most action-packed entries in the series. The Jason on fire stunt was the longest man-on-fire stunt at the time. It gives us something we haven’t seen before and just looks really cool.
Another great action set-piece immediately follows Jason catching fire. Due to the fire, the house explodes. You can tell that was one helluva massive explosion from the way it was shot. Buechler films the explosion from roughly five different angles and it really is an impressive blast.
One little nitpick is that this is definitely not Crystal Lake. At least not the Crystal Lake we know and love. The woods are totally different. Which isn’t surprising, considering that it was filmed in Alabama (Crystal Lake is supposed to be in Connecticut or New Jersey).
All said, the good definitely outweighs the bad making for one of the most-stylishly directed Friday the 13ths.
Friday the 13th Part VII – The New Blood, despite it’s kind of stupid title, is one of the scariest and most-satisfying Friday the 13ths committed to film. It succeeds not only in making Jason terrifying again, but also gives him a worthy adversary in the personage of Tina.
You can say a lot of bad things about slasher movies. They’re exploitative, they’re cheap, cynical cash-grabs, they’re too violent, and the acting, direction, and writing are usually the bare minimum of passable. But these movies aren’t about changing the world or tapping into real emotions. They’re about scaring the hell out of you. In that sense, Part VII more than succeeds.
I leave you with a collection of some of the awesome Jason shots from Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood.
Summer means one and only one thing: soda. The soda companies go absolutely crazy filling the shelves with new sodas, old sodas in new packaging, and limited edition sodas will be gone as soon as Fall rolls around. It’s become something of a ColuMn™ tradition to review some of the wackier sodas that drop as soon as the weather warms up and this summer is no exception.
A while back I briefly mentioned Big Blue back in May, 2010 in one of Sparks’ Sandbox entries. I stated, “Other than the color, it IS Big Red.” One reader took an issue with that assessment, writing, “It’s kinda funny. I recently did a review on Big Blue. It does not taste like Big Red, Big Red tastes like bubblegum, while Big Blue really tastes like a creme soda.” The challenge was on.
But then I couldn’t find any Big Blue. The local convenience store no longer stocked it. I considered paying way too much on ebay, but my pals at the convenience store came through, and not too long ago I was able to pick up one more bottle of Big Blue.
It was important for me to get the sodas in the same type of bottle. It can be tough to find big red in a 20-ounce plastic bottle, but I stuck to my guns and finally dug one up. I was all set.
The first step was to determine how I’d go about reviewing the two sodas. I chose the blind taste test to start with, pouring a shot of each, closing my eyes, mixing them up, and then drinking each in turn.
The results were somewhat surprising.
Tasting just a shot, I thought that the Big Red tasted more like cream soda. But then I took the second shot and honestly couldn’t tell the difference. Forced to guess, I guessed that the Big Red was Big Blue and vice versa. I was wrong.
Next I decided to just take swigs from the bottles, not blindfolded. This time I was able to detect a slight difference between the two. The Big Red clearly had more of a bubble gum taste, while the Big Blue was definitely cream soda. They both taste an awful lot like cream soda, but there is a very subtle additional flavor profile of bubble gum.
So, I guess Jason Voorhees was right. The two really are almost identical, but there is a very subtle difference.
Big Red is still my favorite, which is good since I haven’t seen a bottle of Big Blue outside of my refrigerator in months. I like cream soda okay, but it’s really never something I buy. I’ve got a history with Big Red, though, so it’s a pretty good bet that I’ll buy it again at some point.
So this is probably my last Big Red-related article, unless they come out with Big Green at some point. Though if they come out with Big Brown, I might skip that one.
When’s the last time you thought about Chromies? Have you ever thought about Chromies? Do you even know what Chromies are?
Chromies (if you can’t tell from the above photo) are chrome-plated valve stems. Basically, you replace the black things sticking out of the wheels on your car with these shiny jewels.
Back in the early ’80s, when I was but a lad, I used to routinely steal these from neighborhood cars. I think they were bigger back in the 80s, because I rarely see them now. Or maybe it’s because I’m not obsessively looking like I did back then. I do still look, though.
My life of chromie crime was cut short one afternoon. I could always count on this one guy to always replace his chromies almost immediately after I’d stolen them. It must have driven him absolutely nuts. I’m not sure if he baited his trap and then waited for me to make my move, or just by chance stumbled on me twisting a chromie off of the valve stem, but however it happened, he was at the right place at the right time. I never stole another chromie after that.
At one point, I must have had dozens of chromies. Way more than I could ever use. When I was a kid I had an orange Huffy with a sparkly purple banana seat. It was fucking awesome. I don’t know whatever happened to that bike. I moved out of my parents house and left it behind. Sometime between now and then, the bike was discarded. Whatever happened to it, you can be damned sure of one thing: it had chromies on its valve stems.
I’ve had a long succession of cars over the years, but it didn’t occur to me to put chromies on my valve stems until I bought my current ride back in 2009. The very first thing I did driving home form the car lot was to stop off at the local automotive shop and pick up a pack of chromies. I bought two sets because I was certain that I’d be dealing with chromie thieves with some frequency.
Well, the chromies are still there. All four of them. What’s wrong with kids today? In doing research (ie. Googling) for this article, I came up with one post of some guy mad about kids stealing his chromies. That post was written in 2003. So nobody has taken to the internet to bitch about chromie thieves since 2003? Kids of today, that’s just simply inexcusable. Don’t force me to come out of retirement to show you punks how it’s done. Something tells me the consequences would be a bit harsher than they were when I was ten.
The three chromies features in the photos in this article are all from those golden days of yesteryear, when kids stole chromies and adults, in turn, gave no thought to drunk driving. It was a more innocent time, when the shiny flash of a chrome-plated valve stem cover on the wheels of a Trans Am was an invitation to a little petty crime and not the last thing a kid saw before being pulled into a van. Though chromies would probably work for that, too, I guess.
These are just three of the infinite variations of chromie. Each chromie is special and beautiful and, like snowflakes, no two are exactly the same (well, they are, but come on. You know that snowflake thing is bullshit).
In the words of a wise man:
Fiery precious metal
Dance, the gods of air