When “Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood” premiered in May of 1988, what was presented to movie audiences and what was originally planned were two different films. The movie was supposed to feature the first onscreen battle between Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger. Paramount Pictures which owned the rights to Jason, and New Line Cinema which controlled Freddy, couldn’t agree on terms, so the project was put on hold. Horror fans would have to wait until the release of the Ronny Yu (Warriors of Virtue) directed “Freddy vs. Jason” on August 15, 2003 to watch two of the genres biggest icons clash. (As an aside: The original title of the film was going to be Friday the 13th Part VII: Jason’s Destroyer).
The film begins with the following narration:
“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.”
The narrator of the piece which is intercut with footage from previous films is Walter Gorney. Fans of the Friday the 13th series might know Gorney as the character of Crazy Ralph from the first two movies in the franchise. The film takes place a decade after the ending of “Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives,” where it was believed that Jason was sent to a watery grave thanks to the character of Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews). Part VII begins with a flashback. A young girl, Tina Shepard (Jennifer Banko), and her parents are staying in their summer house at Crystal Lake. Tina is upset that her parents are fighting. She runs out of the house and is chased by her father (John Otrin). Tina wants her father to leave her alone and inadvertently uses powers that cause him to drown.
Fast forward a number of years later and a teenage Tina portrayed, during the rest of the film, by Lar Park Lincoln (Knots Landing), is returning to Crystal Lake. She will be staying there for a few days with her mother played by Emmy nominee Susan Blu (Jem) and her psychiatrist, Dr. Crews, a role acted by Terry Kiser (Weekend at Bernie’s). As it turns out, a group of teenagers and young 20 somethings are staying in the house next door. They are there to celebrate their friend Nick’s (Kevin Spirtas) surprise birthday party. Nick is on the way with his girlfriend, Jane (Stacie Greason). (As an aside Days of Our Lives fans might recognize Kevin Spirtas who played Dr. Craig Wesley, as well as Staci Greason who portrayed Isabella Black on the Soap Opera).
Tina has the power of telekinesis. Dr. Crews has brought her to the camp under false pretenses. He wants to push the boundaries of her powers to see what she can do. The consequences of his actions, as you probably guessed, lead to Jason (Kane Hodder) being brought back to life. He proceeds to cause murder and mayhem, and usually, once he starts, no one is safe. Can Tina defeat Jason, at least temporarily, and save lives in the process? (As an aside; Kane Hodder has played the role of Jason Voorhees five times in four films and a Friday the 13th video game).
Trivia buffs take note: The film had to be submitted nine times to the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) in order to receive an “R” rating. Part VII marks the longest amount of time that Jason has appeared onscreen without a mask in any of the Friday the 13th films. The film was the last to use footage from other films in the series. The film was subtitled “The New Blood” with the intention of Tina becoming a recurring character in sequel films.
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood” was directed by John Carl Buechler (Troll), and written for the screen by Daryl Haney (Mockingbird Don’t Sing) and Manuel Fidello (Michael Vs. Jason). Parts horror and thriller the movie has a runtime of 88 minutes.
I’ve seen all the films in the series. I imagine most people who consider themselves fans of the horror genre have. What interested me about rewatching this particular entry, was that up until this point in the series, no one ever really stood a chance against Jason. Tina was the first character that was able to meet Jason on equal footing because she has supernatural abilities. Unfortunately thanks to editing cuts in order to get the previously mentioned “R” rating, as well as the tinkering of studio executives, the film never was able to become the film, in my opinion, that it could have been. This was still a Friday the 13th film with all that goes with that type of movie, but the story was a fresh approach to a franchise that already had six films in the series. The filmmakers throughout the years have stated that what was released and what their vision for the film was, were two different movies. Overall, a clever approach to what could’ve been just another formulaic movie.