Tagline: On Friday the 13th, Jason will meet his match.
Director: John Carl Buechler
Writers: Daryl Haney, Manuel Fidello
Starring: Lar Park-Lincoln, Terry Kiser, Kevin Spirtas, Kane Hodder, Jennifer Banko, John Otrin, Susan Blu
18 | 88 mins | Horror
Budget: $2,800,000 (estimated)
The New Blood is a mutilation of a movie. Not as a result of Jason himself, but because of the Motion Picture Association of America, who hacked away the majority of the gore and set out to castrate the franchise forever. So robbed of grue was this particular instalment that the censoring boards went as far as to scrap the zombified make-up of a long-dormant corpse, instead replacing him with a nicely manicured hair model. Because of this the movie is particularly bland. Forget the total lack of dramatic tension and technical ingenuity, more disconcerting is the complete lack of good honest gore. Because what is a slasher if not a tacky, senseless bloodbath? Well, it could be the original Halloween, but beyond that it is a movie full of one-dimensional characters just hanging around waiting for something to happen. And sadly, that pretty much sums up the audience experience.
Director John Carl Buechler has famously gone on record several times regarding his dealings with the MPAA during The New Blood‘s production, and who could blame him? In the end, nine different edits were submitted in order for the movie to avoid the dreaded X rating. Unlike the many Golden Age slashers which were later re-released in their full, uncut forms, we will sadly never get to see The New Blood the way it was originally intended since the said footage no longer exists. We can all thank Paramount for that, who were so ashamed of the series that they actively destroyed all the outtakes.
The New Blood followed the company’s first flirtation with a Freddy vs Jason crossover after a series of diminishing box office returns, but with the A Nightmare on Elm Street series reaching a new commercial zenith with the upcoming release of The Dream Master, Paramount and New Line Cinema were unable to reach a creative agreement. The idea that New Line would give one-time genre front runners Paramount a commercial leg-up was pure fantasy in the world of ruthless corporate marketing, and after several alternate ideas for a sixth sequel—including a serious instalment that associate producer Barbara Sachs had pegged for an Academy Award, with none other than Federico Fellini considered as director—they inevitably bottomed out, replacing Freddy vs Jason with a Carrie vs Jason showdown, and those savvy beggars at Paramount didn’t even have to pay for the rights.
By the time The New Blood came to fruition, Jason had been drowned, hacked, maimed, slashed, electrocuted, and had even had his neck snapped by a motorboat propeller. In spite of this, producers were unwilling to lay their money-spinning creation to rest, and by the end of the seventh instalment you’re beginning to wish that someone would put the poor fellow out of his misery. That being said, an uncut version of the movie may have turned out to be one of the better entries in the series had it not been so harshly decimated. For a start, The New Blood has one of the most interesting gimmicks of a gimmick-laden franchise, the movie’s heroine having the distinct advantage of possessing telekinetic powers, a gift that lands her in a psychiatric hospital after she accidentally drowns her father as a child.
Flash forward a decade and Tina (Park-Lincoln) has finally been released under the watchful eye of Dr Crews (Kiser), who feels that Camp Crystal Lake – the place where her father and so many girls her age have met their maker – is the most suitable place for her recovery, putting her through a series of gruelling tests designed to enable Tina to control her powers. Predictably, things don’t run so smoothly, and when an impromptu bout of telekinesis brings Jason back from the dead, yet another cast of vacuous teens are but a slaying away from franchise immortality. Plagued by psychic premonitions, Tina foretells the gang’s deaths, and when doctor Crews dismisses her forewarnings as products of her pent-up guilt she begins to suspect that Crews is more interested in advancing science and making a name for himself, a suspicion that convinces her to leave first in in the morning — although something tells you it will be too late by then.
After snooping around in the Doc’s office, Tina and by-the-numbers love interest Nick (Spirtas) discover the identity of the masked killer who has been haunting our heroine’s dreams. This is the same man who has been publicly slaying teenagers for close to a decade, and they are baffled to think who he might be, despite the fact that they are holidaying at the place where most of those murders were committed. As you can probably imagine, such vacuity does benefit one person (or zombie to be technical), and soon enough Jason is picking off a cast of largely forgettable characters with the explicitness of a daytime soap opera re-run — ironic, since this seventh instalment marks the debut of series icon Kane Hodder, who fans generally appreciate for the blunt and brutal manner he brings to proceedings. It’s just a shame he wasn’t let loose on the Golden Age.
For all the film’s drawbacks, Jason’s make-up design is a sight to behold. Fans of the series are generally divided between the more violent and campier instalments that represent the evolution of the character, and this one definitely falls into the latter category. Two years prior director Tom McLaughlin would turn to the old Universal monster movies as he gave us what some fans lovingly refer to as zombie Jason, and when unmasked the character is certainly worthy of such influences, even if the movie’s lack of onscreen violence goes against the character’s very essence. Sometimes you just have to embrace the silliness.
The New Blood was not the first ‘Friday’ instalment to be taken apart by the censors, but it was the first to make you think a line had been crossed that there was no coming back from. Not only are the kills largely implied, they are so visually absent that you sometimes wonder what just happened, and by the time you reach the third kill you realise that the producers at Paramount are wasting everybody’s time — adhering to political standards but still happy for you to part with your hard-earned cash.
All is not lost, however, as the movie’s saving grace comes in the form of a highly entertaining telekinetic showdown, one in which Jason is wrestled by trees, electrocuted, drowned in a puddle, struck with all manner of heavy furniture, headbutted by a decapitated victim, crushed by a porch, smashed through a staircase, hung from a ceiling, burnt alive, blown up and shot several times with a pistol. Is this enough to finally put Jason away for good?
You’d think so, wouldn’t you?
Sadly, none in the final edit are worthy of the title. For the best kill, check out the raw footage included in this review and decide for yourself. With a human kebab, a heart pulled out with a fist, a crushed skull and a woman splattered against a tree among other atrocities, we are really spoilt for choice.
Most Absurd Moment
The grand finale is about as absurd as it gets, and to cap it off nicely, it is left to Tina’s father to apply the finishing touches. After almost a decade decomposing, he magically emerges from Camp Crystal Lake looking more like a catalogue model than a corpse, dragging Jason under with him. Surely blowing him up would have taken more of a toll.
The New Blood is notable for marking the debut of Franchise mainstay Kane Hodder, who is most synonymous with Jason for having played him a record number of times. This was much to the disappointment of previous Jason C. J. Graham, who had designs on becoming synonymous with the character himself before ultimately being ousted.
Most Absurd Dialogue
This is technically a monologue.
Narrator: 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.
Perhaps someone should have mentioned that to his latest cast of victims.