Friday the 13th Part VII: Raising the Supernatural Stakes
“Adam raised a Kane! Adam raised a Kane!” Alright, so I owe Bruce Springsteen an apology for paraphrasing his song. Jason is back and Hodder than ever in Part VII: The New Blood. Kane Hodder, the man who would portray Jason not once, not twice, not even thrice but four times in a row makes his debut as the man behind the mask. Jason has returned from his watery grave thanks to Tina and her powers of telekinesis. Now Jason’s hellbent on killing as many people as he can and it’s up to Tina to use her powers to stop him before it’s too late. Can she do what no one else can? Or will she become just another victim?
I am a Kane Hodder fan through and through. I personally feel that he was the best Jason Voorhees ever. Kane brought a level of personality to the character that no one has been able to achieve since. I feel that this man is a very underrated actor.
As Tina, Lar Park-Lincoln brings a sensitivity to the role and yet underneath it all there is a strong will that does not give in easily. Don’t let the fact that she’s a woman fool you, this girl is the perfect foil for Jason.
Now for the kills. This film has the best kill of any of the Friday the 13th films. If you’ve seen this film then you know exactly which one I’m talking about. I’m talking about the one where Jason picks up this girl while she’s still in her sleeping bag and proceeds to slam her headfirst into a tree. Up until the face freeze in Jason X this one was the coolest kill of them all.
The seventh entry in the Friday the 13th horror franchise saw Jason Voorhees resurrected to slash his way through fresh victims, while also introducing a new supernatural wrinkle to the repetitive formula. Directed by John Carl Buechler, 1988’s Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood sought to inject some life into the series by pitting Jason against a teenager gifted with telekinetic powers.
Picking up an unspecified time after Jason was chained to the bottom of Crystal Lake, this installment centers on Tina, a troubled girl with Carrie-esque abilities summoned reluctantly. When her psyche is agitated by a callous therapist conducting experiments at her lakeside cabin, Tina unwittingly frees Jason from his watery tomb, allowing his murder spree to begin anew.
Once the hockey-masked killer is back on dry land, the carnage unfolds among a generic group of vacationing teens next door to Tina’s cabin. But the real twist comes as Tina is forced to harness her powers against Jason in the climax, leading to an explosive psychic vs. psychic showdown.
By introducing a heroine with actual superhuman abilities, The New Blood attempts to up the ante, veering the stale franchise into occult territory. And thanks to some inventive gore gags, Jason’s slayings feel fresh again, from sleeping bag bludgeonings to party horn eye impalings. Even behind the mask, Jason himself is reinvigorated by the intimidating presence of Kane Hodder, the first of four appearances he would make as the unstoppable horror icon.
Yet despite the welcome supernatural addition of Tina’s powers, the film still suffers from repetitive plotting – the teen victims remain largely indistinguishable monster fodder. But in a franchise grown redundant, The New Blood deserves credit for stirring some paranormal activity into the formula. The psychic-on-psychic showdown doesn’t quite realize its campy potential, but it offers a lively new wrinkle on the Voorhees legend.
The New Blood is an appropriate sub-title for this film. With Hodder coming on board as Jason, the freshness of the story and the rather imaginative kills breathe a new life into a series that was quickly running out of ideas.
Too bad the next film in the series isn’t able to maintain it.
John Carl Buechler was so impressed with Kane Hodder when he ate live worms on the set of Prison (1988), that he pushed for Paramount Pictures to let him cast Hodder in the role of Jason. If it had not been for Buechler’s persistence, the role of Jason Voorhees would have been reprised by C.J. Graham.
There were a number of filmed scenes that were edited out of the final cut in order for the movie to gain its R rating including: Maddy’s face getting stabbed in the wood shed, Dr. Crews’ body being cut in two in the woods, a longer death-in-sleeping bag scene, Russell‘s axe in the face by the lake, Jason holding David’s head, and an ending scene of Jason jumping out of the water and grabbing a fisherman.
Kane Hodder said he had difficulty with the scene where he kills the camper in the sleeping bag by bashing her into the tree because the dummy inside was heavier than he thought it would be. The scene required a number of retakes because he kept swinging as hard as he could but no matter how hard he swung the sleeping back he couldn’t get it to look right. By the final take, he was so fed up with the situation that after he dropped the bag he kicked it angrily. This is the shot that appears in the final film. In retrospect, Hodder said that was one of his favorite “kills” and he later recreates it in Jason X (2001).
Lar Park-Lincoln as Tina Shepherd
Kane Hodder as Jason Voorhees
Directed by John Carl Buechler
Written by Daryl Haney and Manuel Fidello (screenplay) and Victor Miller (characters)