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Friday the 13th: Part 7




Reviewer: Rhett
Review Date: September 28, 2002
Released by: Paramount
Release date: 9/3/2002
MSRP: $24.99
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes



From 1980-1984 Jason Voorhees (and his mother) were dynamite at the box office. The first four films, no matter how repetitious, brought in countless amounts of cash for Paramount and cemented themselves forever in pop-culture. But as more and more of the Friday the 13th films came out, each subsequent one after The Final Chapter made less money than its predecessor until Paramount finally jumped ship (literally in Jason Takes Manhattan). Despite Friday the 13th, Part VII: The New Blood's moderate failure at the box office, many Friday fans hold the film in rather high regard. It introduced the series to fan-favorite, Kane Hodder, as Jason, and his portrayal is denoted as one of the most menacing of the series. So in hindsight, was the film's box office underperformance because the film was that much worse than the others in the series, or was The New Blood simply a victim of audience's falling interest in the slasher film? Read on to find out.

The Story

inline Image After Tommy Jarvis' heroic battle with Jason at the end of Jason Lives, Jason was chained and constrained to the bottom of the lake, where he was bound to be exiled forever (why the police never apprehended him after that is another story). Although Jason is now out of the picture, there is still tragedy to be had at Camp Crystal Lake, when a husband and father of one drowns in the lake only months after Jason's unofficial burial. His death was brought upon by the telekinetic abilities of his daughter, Tina, after she witnessed his father slapping around the Mrs.. The unexpected act has haunted Tina all her life, rendering her in a mental institution.

inline Image Approximately 15 year later (which would technically be around 2003), Tina (Lar Park-Lincoln), under the guidance of her mother and the devious Dr. Crews (Terry Kiser, of Weekend at Bernie's fame), returns to Crystal Lake to try and rid herself of the guilt and mental anguish surrounding the death of her father. While Tina's trip to Crystal Lake is about therapeutics, Nick (Kevin Blair) and his buddies are up at camp for a little bit of drugs, alcohol and sex. Sex wouldn't be the same without Jason on the prowl, so he is unsheathed from his watery grave accidentally by Tina in her attempts to resurrect her father.

inline Image Now free to engage in his trademark voyeurism and murder, Jason is out to crash Nick's party and do away with all the horny teenagers surrounding it. He first offs Michael (coincidence?), whom Nick's party was originally for, and then proceeds to the party. Tina can see these deaths happening, but no one, not even Dr. Crews or her new beau, Nick, will believe her. Despite Tina's warnings, everyone sticks around long enough for a date with a piece of Jason's weaponry, in the end leaving only Tina in a battle with everyone's favorite hockey mask wearing anti-hero. So if you ever wondered who would win in a fight, Carrie or a relentless zombie, watch the film's climax and all shall be revealed.

inline Image When dissecting the Friday the 13th films, there is really only one surefire formula that guarantees their success. That formula is simply having Jason prowling around the woods of Crystal Lake killing horny teens, period. When the films deviated from this simple formula, they suffered (no Jason in A New Beginning and Jason Goes To Hell, and no Crystal Lake in Jason X or Jason Takes Manhattan). For an equation so straightforward, you would figure the filmmakers would get it right every time, but alas, the later films deviated too far from the plot that made the original films so successful. The New Blood although not all that inspired and somewhat gimmicky, remains a good film in the series because it delivers all the clichés that the fans expect and enjoy.

inline Image The stock characters are all here: the troubled heroine, the sensitive bad boy, the pot head, the sci-fi geek, the ugly duckling, the bitch, the slut, the party animal and the token African-American, and they are all at Jason's disposal. Jason's weaponry is perhaps most pronounced this time out, as he decapitates his victims with objects as diverse as a hedge trimmer and a tent spike (is there a shed nearby or what?!). There is also the inevitable women-in-peril during the film's climax, which itself is quite good.

inline Image Where the film falters somewhat is its deviation from the formula by including the whole supernatural element. The idea of Tina being kinetic screams "gimmick!" and the surprise ending is a real stretch and more implausible than all the previous films combined. Lar Park-Lincoln (despite her horrible name) and the always-watchable Terry Kiser give strong performances (by Friday the 13th's standards), and help the viewer forget the uninspired plot.

inline ImageAlthough the telekinesis angle did not do much for the film, the focus on Jason as an anti-hero does make the film rather interesting. Several of the characters he murders are foul, and in a grotesque way he can be seen as a redeemer. Dr. Crews, not Jason, is portrayed here as the true antagonist of the film, which is a first for the Friday series, and it is Jason that disposes of the cowardly and conniving doctor. So for the first (and not the last) time in the series, Jason is seen here not entirely as the villain, but more as a morbid anti-hero who does partially aid the protagonist in their actions. Kane Hodder also adds to Jason's newfound personality by giving him a mean and unremitting confidence. This is also the film where Jason is unmasked the longest, which just goes to prove how over the years he had evolved from a vile murderer into a humanistic anti-hero.

inline ImageAnother virtue of the film, although the harsh editing inflicted by the MPAA nearly makes it a vice, are the creative death sequences this time around. Jason has a little fun with his victims this time, as he did in Jason Lives, literally, in one scene, proving himself to be quiet the 'party blower'. The film also includes the now-infamous "sleeping bag" scene, which was homaged in Jason X. Jason is truly able to let his creative murdering juices flow throughout the film, and not even the MPAA can stop him. Granted, this would have been a much greater film if the ratings board hadn't made Director John Carl Buechler frantically edit and tone down his gore, but what it shown is still satisfying in a minimalist kind of way.

When all is said and done, The New Blood is a serviceable entry in the Voorhees series, with effective performances by Lincoln, Kiser and Hodder, innovative murder sequences, and cheese galore! There are some immensely satisfying cheesy moments throughout, my favorite being Tina's line to Nick, "you know, with my luck you'll probably turn out to be another delusion." While it is nowhere near the best in the series, it is also far from the worst, and will undoubtedly please those fans loyal enough to enjoy the first 6 entries into the never-ending series.

Image Quality

inline Image The New Blood is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen for the first time since its theatrical run in 1988, and it looks very good. There were only three white specs that were noticeable, otherwise this was a very clean and wholly sharp transfer. The color saturation is for the most part good, but is at times moderately pale. The print is very sharp and full of depth, and even the dark scenes look good, as they did in Jason Lives. There were a few night scenes that appeared a bit flat and grainy, with poor black levels and shadow depth, but considering that almost the entire film is very dark, this is an overlookable few instances. The transfer is not quite as eye opening as the one in Jason Lives, but make no mistake, this is the best that The New Blood will ever look.

Sound

Finally Jason Voorhees makes the leap to 5.1, but unfortunately, the track is not nearly as good as one would expect. While there is some good stereo movement up front, and the track sounds crisp and clear, there is hardly any activity in the rear speakers. There are some decent water, fire and ambient effects pushed into the rears sporadically, but otherwise faint traces of Manfredini and Mollin's score are the only other noises you will hear in the back speakers. Considering the strength of Jason Lives' surround track, I was expecting much better, but this will do just fine for those raised on the distorted quality of The New Blood's VHS incarnations.

Supplemental Material

inline Image Nada. Not even a trailer this time, which is a real slap in the face to Friday fans. The trailer used to be readily available on the Internet Movie Database before Paramount took it down, so there is absolutely NO reason why it should not be included on this DVD. What makes the lack of extras all the more disturbing though, is the fact that John Carl Buechler had readily approached Paramount with intent on helping them with a special edition of the film. He has tons of deleted scenes, and even created an uncut print for the film, which is regarded by those who have seen it as the holy grail for Friday the 13th fans. But alas, Paramount turned him down and denied fans the SE they deserve. Paramount also changed the cover of the DVD from the original theatrical and videocassette art, making this one of their biggest supplemental follies yet. A real shame.

Final Thoughts

The New Blood, despite the title, doesn't really bring anything all that 'new' to the series, but it does do good with what it provides, which is a fun, by-the-numbers slash-fest. Jason is given more of a personality this time around, and seems to have struck a chord regarding his creative murders. The DVD boasts solid audio and video transfers, but the lack of any supplements is a real turn off. Fans of the film should have no regret in picking this film up, but all others may want to hold out and see if Paramount has any special edition plans for this film in the future.

Rating

Movie - B
Image Quality - A-
Sound - B+
Supplements - N/A

Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Runnint time - 1 hour 28 minutes
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • English Stereo
  • French Mono
Supplements
  • N/A

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