In 1988, slasher franchises were doing much of the genre’s heavy lifting. Freddy, Michael, Pinhead, and even Tarman all had their hand in the melting pot of the horror genre that year, and it was a goddamn glorious time to be alive and a horror fan. With the exception of 1983 and 1987, the Friday the 13th series had been a consistent force throughout the decade, releasing one film a year solidifying Jason as a top contender for King Slasher in the 80s; and with Jason Lives grossing $19 million off a $3 million budget in 1986, another sequel was bound to happen even with a neat and tidy closure to Voorhees leaving the franchises’ hero Tommy Jarvis victorious. Although the numbers were impressive enough to put them in the green, Crystal Lake still wasn’t doing Elm Street numbers as in 1987, The Dream Warriors raked in 44.8 million on a budget of over $4 million. So an idea was hatched to pin Freddy against our favorite mama’s boy in the spirit of classic monster-mash ups. Studio rights among other bullshit would prevent us from seeing the two square off until 2003 so instead of waiting around, let’s throw Carrie Jr into the ring with Jason and see what results from it!
Filmed under the mystery title Birthday Bash, around Bay Minette, Alabama, Troll director John Carl Buechler took the seat to helm Friday Part 7 which takes a vastly different approach to the franchise than the films before it.
The New Blood follows Tina Shepard (Lar Park Lincoln) who at a tender young age accidentally kills her drunk and abusive father after a nasty fight with her mother using her then uncontrolled telekinetic powers by drowning him in, you guessed it, Crystal Lake. Years later, Tina’s powers which also include Pyrokinesis remain uncontrolled as the trauma over what happened as a child has only fueled, for lack of a better term, fire of her own abilities. Enter
Bernie, I mean Terry Kiser as a dick psychologist, “bad news Crews”, who on the surface claims to want to help her, but really wants to put her trauma into crisis mode, so he can document her supernatural powers. How does he do that? Well, by taking her back to Crystal Lake, of course… where it all started.
And in doing so, Tina, whose guilt is immense at this point, unknowingly resurrects Jason who is still chained at the bottom of the same lake where her father met his demise.
Bad idea, Bernie.
The New Blood is so unique among its sister films for so many reasons. Friday movies usually follow the same simple formula where sex equals death, and beyond Tommy Jarvis, we never really get much of a backstory with our hero. This installment breaks the mold by not only giving us that narrative with Tina but takes us along for one hell of a chaotic journey navigating through her trauma. Part VII has a pretty deep social commentary running throughout touching on abuse and aforementioned PTSD. Tina is not only fighting Jason but everyone else around her; especially Dr. Crews (Kiser) who is just gaslighting the hell out of this poor girl. Bad News Crews, to me personally, is an even bigger monster than Jason himself. This piece of shit drags Tina and her loving mother out to the lake, forcing the traumatized teen to do things beyond her will to ignite her powers, all the while threatening to commit her. At the heart of it, this actually does Tina some good as she herself, towards the end, has a better grasp on her abilities which definitely come in handy with a foe like Jason. The abuse and unethical behavior from her doctor might have pushed her over into a forced confrontation within herself and her gifts.
Tina, even in her mental state of grief, confusion, and anger, can see right through that fucker. Although Tina wrestles with her emotions quite a bit, which results in a few things flying at people’s faces (rightfully deserved mind you), Tina holds her ground as one of the more level-headed people in this film ironically. In so many of these slasher films of the decade, we the viewers watching the heroine or final girl don’t get the option to navigate these complex emotions and trauma along with her. Tommy Jarvis had three movies in the series dedicated to him and his mental state, whereas before it was just a simple premise of slash, dash, and there’s a random final girl they’ve chosen out of the bunch. Jason Lives character of Megan (played by Jennifer Cooke) helped pave the way for Tina, but Tina delivered on all fronts in a way that hadn’t been seen since Nancy in A Nightmare on Elm Street. We got mad with Tina. We felt happy with Tina. And we goddamn rooted for Tina all the way.
Now that’s some true Final Girl Power.
Then, there’s Kane Hodder who is among a fan-favorite in the Friday films as Jason Voorhees. With The New Blood being Kane’s first take on Jason in the films, he made a grand enough impression for him to come back for Manhattan, Jason Goes To Hell and Jason X. Although he isn’t my personal favorite, (I know, le gasp) credit where it’s due as he certainly gave Voorhees a more personable approach with those deep, discerning breaths that spoke for him alone. I hadn’t seen that prior in any Friday films and this was a whole new Jason, folks. His walk was stern yet graceful like a demented zombie ballerina as you could actually feel the anger and rage with each step. When Jason is actually unmasked, the expressions Kane lent to the Crystal Lake killer are something we really have never seen before, either. In previous entries like III and IV, we had an almost stiff and expressionless face. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking that makeup, but Jason has way more depth here that would continue to the sewers of Manhattan where you could see the pain and fear in this monster’s face. That I applaud both Hodder and John Carl Buechler for, as it’s true movie monster art at its finest.
Kane also had the pleasure of dishing out some of the franchises’ most fucked up and brutal death scenes. Unfortunately, most of those scenes need up on the cutting room floor because at the time, the MMPA were absolute pricks about blood in films. And with Buechler, oh boy, there was a lot. Remember the amazing sleeping bag scene where Jason repeatedly beats the horny girl against a tree until bursts of blood visibly stains the bag itself? Or, how about when Dr. Crews is disemboweled? No? Well, those moments sadly only remain to be seen as grainy footage that never made it into the theatrical cut thanks to the Karens’ of the movie business who really hate slasher films, apparently. It wasn’t even the first time the censorial body bitches took aim at the Friday films as the first sequel, Part II was cut to shreds as well. Although, duly note that Part VII was more impressively gory. Sadly, while the grainy cut of death scenes exist in some form, as you can see below provided by The Friday the 13th Network, it’s not likely enough for a restoration of an uncut version to ever be released.
The New Blood was released 35 years ago on but of course, Friday the 13th, and falls in the middle of the pack of either loved or hated by franchise fans. Personally, I’m a huge fan of this one. I mean, clearly, I just wrote a goddamn essay about it. But perhaps also for nostalgia purposes. This was the first Friday film I had ever seen all the way through. Being born in 1982, I had snippets of the other films via family members, but when I was deemed old enough to make my own video rental choices and this being the newer one, well, there you have it. So let’s let’s pop in the old VHS, listen to Crazy Ralph narrate the opening, and relive that thrill of Carrie Jr beating the crap out of Jason.
Oh, and grab some Slice Cola while you’re at it. Can we just agree this is the greatest food spread in all the films? Just looks at that retro KFC box!