Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Friday the 13th, Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

Directed by:
John Carl Buechler

The popular, money-making slasher series continues with Lar Park Lincoln (possibly the best leading actress in all these films) as Tina Shepard, a troubled blonde with telekinetic abilities (she can move things with her mind a la CARRIE), who is trying to come to grips with her powers with help from her mother Amanda (Susan Blu) and psychiatrist Dr. Crews (Terry Kiser). As a young girl, Tina caused the death of her abusive father, so her shrink has suggested she come back to Crystal Lake in hopes that forcing her face her past will help her overcome the trauma. At least that what he claims. Instead, Tina accidentally uses her powers to release Jason (Kane Hodder) from his underwater grave. Thankfully Mr. Voorhees finds plenty to do as a large group of young people have just rented a nearby cabin to host a birthday party. Included in that group are hunky nice guy Nick (Kevin Blair), mega-bitch Melissa (Susan Jennifer Sullivan), nerdy Sci-fi writer David (Jon Renfield), sexy Robin (Elizabeth Kaitan) and her frumpy best friend Maddy (Diana Barrows) - who are both vying for the attention of annoying stoner Eddie (Jeff Bennett), snobby yuppie couple Sandra and Russell (Heidi Kozak and Larry Cox) and bickering black couple Kate and Ben (Diane Almeida and Craig Thomas).
So then, you want the scoop on the gore scenes? We have a decapitation, a hand thrust through a chest, a party horn stuck in an eyeball, an axe to the face (twice), a drowning, a body thrown out a window, a head crushed, a chest sawed open and, the best murder, well I won't ruin it by saying it involves a sleeping bag and a tree, but it's a hoot. The Jason design itself is excellent (this is probably the best that Jason has ever looked) and the gore FX are also very good, but unfortunately the majority of them ended up on the cutting room floor as the censors came down particularly hard on this entry. You can get a good idea of the exact damage done by checking out the extras portion on the DVD release, which shows that nearly every murder scene has been trimmed. In fact, Scream Queen Kaitan's entire murder scene had to be changed to reduce the carnage. Chances are, if these gore scenes had been passed as filmed, this entry would have a better reputation than it does. The show-down between Tina and Jason at the end is well done, though how she ultimately puts Jason down is pretty pathetic.

Aside from the telekinetic angle, this is still business as usual, though it does boast a decent and nice-looking cast. This was Hodder's first of four appearances as Jason and he would go on to become the only actor who played Jason to receive a little fame for this thankless role. Part 7 was also the number one box office draw at movie theaters the week it debuted. Director Buechler is best known as a special effects artist. Future writer and director William Butler has a small role as the unlucky birthday boy and Walter Gorney (Crazy Ralph from the first two in the series) narrates the opening recap.

Score: 4.5 out of 10

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