Our review of Friday The 13th: The Ultimate Collection, published October 13th, 2011, is also available.
Jason is back, but this time someone's waiting!
You know you love him. If you're reading even the first line of this review, you know that you're a sucker for Jason Voorhees. The guy just oozes personality with a capitol "P." Well, maybe he doesn't really ooze personality, though it could be argued that he certainly oozes lots of pus and maggots. In 1988, Paramount continued the trend of releasing a Friday The 13th movie every year by unleashing Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. As most of you know, every Halloween Paramount has released two installments of the series on DVD. The final batch includes Paramount's last entry into the series (the wonderfully titled Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan) and Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood!
Facts of the Case
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood starts out with a recap of everything that's gone on in the past installments. Of course, this takes only a brief few minutes (it should tell you something when almost 10 hours of previous storyline can be crammed into about three minutes). As our story opens we find Tina Shepard (Lar Park-Lincoln, House and House II: The Second Story) heading up to Crystal Lake with her mother, Amanda (Susan Blu), and her shrink, Dr. Crews (Terry Kiser, Weekend at Bernie's II). It seems that Tina has telekinetic powers (think a more timid version of Carrie) and as a child, she "accidentally" killed her father at Crystal Lake by collapsing a dock on top of him after he smacked around her mom a bit. I guess this would screw up any kid, so part of Tina's therapy is heading back to Crystal Lake for some one-on-one time with Dr. Crews (who of course has ulterior motives behind helping Tina out). In the cabin next to Tina's is—surprise!—a group of rowdy, fornicating teenagers who enjoy the wonders of pot and alcohol. Hey kids, can you say the word "fodder"? I sure can, and so can the mega-maniacal Jason (Kane Hodder) after accidentally being released from his watery grave while Tina attempts to bring back her father from under the dock. As Jason makes his rounds to each nubile co-ed, Tina realizes that all that stands between her and Jason may be her powers from within! ^l The Evidence
Stephen King couldn't have written a better idea: Jason vs. Carrie. This was the working title among fans when Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood was released theatrically in 1988. The idea was to inject some freshness into the series (hence the subtitle "The New Blood"). Of course, attempting to inject freshness into a Friday the 13th flick is the equivalent of trying to stuff a watermelon up your nose: it just ain't gonna happen. Then again, the fans didn't really care about deviation from the norm—when you went to see a Friday the 13th movie you weren't going for creative genius. No, you wanted to see perky nipples and unbridled bloodshed.
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood was helmed by special effects artist John Carl Buecher. As fans already know, Buecher quarreled often with the Motion Picture Association of America, finally being forced to trim down the blood 'n' guts to snag a coveted R rating. While this may be a bit less horrific than its previous counterparts, I personally feel that Friday the 13th Part VII is one of the best in the series. First off, Jason just looks cooler in this film. The make-up is top notch, showing every protruding bone and spinal column rotting away on the guy's body. An even smaller yet excellent touch is the cracked hockey mask showing grinding teeth as Jason goes in for his kills. This was the first time Hodder played Jason, and while most people may think the part could be played by anyone, Hodder actually brings some nasty relish to the role. His deep breathing and hulking frame make for some in-depth characterization that…oh hell, you're right. Technically speaking, anyone could play this role and get away with it. At least we get to see the guy without his mask on. Ewwww. Talk about a face only a mother could love (and I've got 20 bucks down that says even she would beat him dead with a frying pan after only one look).
The movie follows the age-old formula of every other film in the series. Jason continues his character-defining hobby of decapitating young people while still looking fashionable in a jump suit. The teenagers are all interchangeable (I think I've used the word in every slasher movie review I've written, and yet it still applies nicely) except for Lar Park-Lincoln as heroine Tina Shepard. Talk about a whiney little snot! Even when Tina smiles she looks as if she's about to have a complete and utter mental meltdown. Park-Lincoln plays the role as if she's perpetually in a state of confusion. "I don't know what's going on!" is her battle cry throughout. Lar, we feel the same way about your acting skills. The only other actor worth mentioning is Terry Kiser as Dr. Crews. Kiser, the film's highest profile star (grain of salt), will always be the mustached dead man Bernie Lomac to this reviewer. Where's Andrew McCarthy when you need him?
By this point, the box office returns on these movies were starting to wane. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan would be the last in the series for almost five years (followed by the twice deceptive Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday). It goes without saying, but if you liked the first six films…
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. I was more than pleased with how nice this transfer ended up looking. The colors (predominant blues and blacks) and the black levels all appeared spot on while flesh tones were represented accurately. The main problems I came across were a few instances of edge enhancement and some dirt and grain popping up once in a while. Aside of those minor imperfections, this transfer is about as good as its going to get for Friday fans.
The soundtrack is presented in—*GASP*—Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English! What is THAT all about? It's as if Paramount decided to throw all the sequel names into a hat and pick only one which would include a 5.1 remix. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood is it, and the results are somewhat underwhelming. The biggest pluses about this mix are the clarity of the track and the music score by Fred Mollin and Harry Manfredini. Unfortunately, directional effects are sorely lacking save for a few instances of light ambient sounds. Otherwise, this is a well produced track that's at least distortion/hiss free. Also included on this disc are English subtitles, as well as Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround tracks in English and French.
What a cheat! On every other Friday the 13th disc we've received at least a theatrical trailer for the film. For the final two installments Paramount has decided to leave off even those, making both Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood and Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan completely bare bones discs! There have been rumblings in the past about Paramount dipping back and creating special editions of these films, though I don't see that as happening anytime real soon. Boo hiss to Paramount for such shoddy treatment!
If you've gotten this far in the review chances are you've already reserved your copy of this at Amazon.com. I think this is well worth the watch if only to see Jason get his hockey mask yanked off telepathically (it's also one of the only times where we get to see utter disbelief register on the big guy's face). Paramount's work on this title leaves much to be desired, especially in the realm of extra features.
I'd be a lousy judge if I locked up this movie! Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood is free to go spread its twisted love to horror fans everywhere!
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