Friday the 13th, Part VII: The New Blood
directed by John Carl Buechler
(Paramount, 1988)

There's just no two ways about it -- Kane Hodder was born to play Jason, and he is flat-out awesome in Friday the 13th, Part VII: The New Blood. Thank goodness for that because the story itself is pieced together with spit and gum, the ending is a little north of over the top, and virtually every death scene was mercilessly cut to satisfy the infernal blowhards at the MPAA. I can understand the necessity for this cinematic butchery in terms of the theatrical release, as an X rating would have seriously cut into box office returns -- I don't like it one bit, but I can understand it.

What I don't understand is why an unrated version of this film in all of its gory unrated glory has never been released on DVD. What really sticks in my craw, though, is the fact that the VHS and DVD versions of the film have been cut even more than the theatrical release. What Jason fan doesn't love the infamous sleeping bag kill (lovingly recreated in Jason X? In the theatrical release, Jason whacked his victim six times against a tree; on the DVD, though, we only see one whack. That's even more ridiculous than all of the heavy editing that had to be done to begin with. You can go up to the very point of pornography on television now, yet all our fragile little minds supposedly can't handle watching a fictitious killer slam a body (encased in a sleeping bag, no less) six times against a tree. What a total crock. We really ought to be organizing protests against this type of nanny government censorship tyranny.

Fortunately, we can finally see some of these deleted scenes (including the complete sleeping bag kill), with commentary, on the bonus features disk that comes with the Friday the 13th box set, but all we get are the raw cuts sans music, post-editing, etc. (and that's a long way away from the real thing).

As I'm sure everyone remembers, Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives ended with Jason weighted down in the depths of Crystal Lake. An indeterminate amount of time has passed since then (director John Carl Buechler has stated elsewhere that it was 10 years) -- enough for a little girl who sort of accidentally on purpose killed her abusive father there at the lake to mature into a fairly attractive yet messed-up-in-the-head teenager and for the town to dump Green Forest and revert back to the name Crystal Lake. Jason is remarkably well-preserved -- sure his clothes are pretty ragged and he does have several areas of exposed ribs and spine -- but he's still in one piece. After all this time, though, nothing's going to bring him back to life short of a troubled teenager with telekinetic powers who does it accidentally -- and, amazingly enough, that's just what happens.

Enter Tina Shepard (Lar Park-Lincoln), whose doctor has brought her back to the site in an effort to release her of the pent-up guilt she has been dealing with ever since her father's death (which pretty much was her fault). Dr. Crews (Terry Kiser) apparently took the Hypocritical Oath rather than the Hippocratic Oath, however, as he is more interested in exploiting her for her powers than in helping her -- she can move things with her mind in moments of extreme stress.

So, basically, Jason is freed from his watery grave and quickly sets out killing everyone in sight, with a houseful of partying teenagers making for particular good pickings. Nothing new, and certainly nothing extraordinary there -- except this time it's Kane Hodder behind the mask, taking Jason to new heights of amoral evil. The final scenes of this movie move dangerously close to being just plain silly -- but at least they do demonstrate Hodder's Jason's "never say die" attitude. His quest for blood now knows no bounds, and he really puts his heart into all the carnage like never before. The old Jason killed because that is what he was put on this Earth to do; Hodder's Jason kills because he freakin' gets off on it. Once he got his hands on a machete, the old Jason would start using it immediately. When the new Jason lays hold of a machete, he chooses to kill his next victim with his bare hands -- and when he decides to throw someone through a window, he forever more hurls them through it, and he does it with just one hand. That is dedication, my friends. That's the hands-on kind of personal responsibility that made this country great.

This is the Jason that might -- might, I say -- give Michael Meyers a good fight (although my money's still on Michael) -- and that's why this is probably my second favorite Friday the 13th film.

review by
Daniel Jolley

16 October 2010

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