The one thing that could be considered missing in the Friday the 13th franchise is a credible antagonist for Jason to fight, especially once he reached the stage where he was an undead supernatural monster, and this was something they intended to fix with the seventh installment in the franchise, a movie that would pit Jason Voorhees against a girl with telekinetic powers, in short, Jason vs Carrie.
After a brief recap, showing some highlights of the previous films, we jump into a prologue where we see a young Tina Shepard (Jennifer Banko) fleeing her house and her abusive father within, she climbs into a boat and pushes herself out onto Crystal Lake only to have to confront her father who has followed her out onto the dock. It’s at this point we learn that Tina has telekinetic abilities and in her heightened emotional state, she collapses the dock thus killing her father. Flash forward a few years and we find a now teenage Tina (Lar Park-Lincoln) struggling with the remorse surrounding her father’s death and returning to Crystal Lake under the care of her psychiatrist Doctor Crews (Terry Kiser) and her beleaguered mother (Susan Blu), but this is where we learn that Jason Voorhees isn’t the only villain in this picture as the doctor has ulterior motives that have nothing to do with helping Tina.
As with most of the Friday the 13th movies we have a large cast of characters assembled so Jason has some good fodder to mutilate and murder, we wouldn’t want Jason getting flabby, and in the case of The New Blood we have some teens showing up at the neighbouring house for a birthday party – the guest of honour never arrives due to an untimely meeting with Jason – and it’s here that we are also introduced to the film’s love interest, Nick (Kevin Spirtas), who if was anymore bland or one dimensional he’d be invisible. Now, it’s true that strong and intelligent male characters are fairly rare to this series but the fact that this dude actually survives to the end credits is an insult to all those that came before. Lucky for us Tina’s growing telekinetic powers accidentally release Jason from his watery grave, where he’d been weighted down at the bottom of Crystal Lake in the previous film, and we are spared too much time with Rick, the dry white toast that walks like a man.
The incarnation of Jason in this movie is easily one of the better versions and the amazing undead make-up given to Kane Hodder worked perfectly towards giving us a truly menacing looking monster, but we also get the addition of a little more character than we were used to seeing when it comes to our favourite hockey mask-wearing killer – I especially loved how Jason looked confused when being faced with Tina’s telekinetic ability – and when his mask is eventually removed the horrifying visage was everything one could hope for when it comes to a serial killer fresh from a watery grave.
• In the previous film the county changed the name from Crystal Lake to Forest Green, in the hopes that people would forget about all the killings associated with the area, but in this movie, it’s back to being called Crystal Lake. Did the residents suddenly decide that the notoriety of their town could bring in extra tourist bucks?
• The sleeping bag kill, where Jason bashes a girl against a tree, is one of the more brutal, yet not all that bloody, kills in the series. This is one case where the MPAA’s complaints improved a scene.
• A naked swimmer being attacked from below is a clear lift from Steven Spielberg’s Jaws.
• I’d really love to know how Jason sets up those time-release body drops.
• Jason also continues with elaborate corpse placement, which makes me wonder “Is there a Happy Homemaker magazine for serial killers?”
• Aside from possibly teleporting ability Jason also has the power to conjure up a variety of weapons at a moment’s notice, as if he has some kind of magical bag of holding.
• Jason leaves muddy boot prints all over people’s clean floors, not only is he a brutal killer but he’s also a very inconsiderate guest.
With Friday the 13th Part IV: The New Blood not only is an additional supernatural element introduced but we also get nudity returning to the franchise, with the last entry being rather chaste in that regard, but the violence still remains at the fairly PG13 level – the MPAA being particularly brutal with their rating – and it’s the final battle between Tina and Jason that is the only thing that raises the stakes at all. Director John Carl Buechler managed to pull together a fun installment with this “Jason vs Carrie” idea and he does litter the film with a nice collection of kills for the fans to cheer over, but the rather bland cast of characters prevents this film from reaching the heights it otherwise could have. Even the character of Tina has a hard time making a viewer care about because for the most part she just whimpers and complains throughout the film and it’s only when she goes full-on “Carrie White” that she becomes even vaguely interesting.
Having Jason going up against a protagonist with supernatural powers of her own was a pretty genius idea as unarmed campers are not all that challenging, so it was nice to see Jason having to really work for a change, sadly, the film has a bizarre this Deus ex Machina ending where Tina’s dead dad leaps out of the lake to drag Jason back into the lake. So, we spend an entire film building up Tina as this credible threat to Jason and then you steal her thunder by having her abusive parent back from the dead to save the day, what sense does that make?
Question: Was her dad’s body never recovered at the time of his death, was it just left at the bottom of the lake or did Tina somehow conjure his corpse out of the ether?
Overall, I’d say that though this entry has its flaws it more than makes up for them by pitting Jason against a truly worthy opponent, albeit in the form of a cool Carrie knock-off, as well as in giving us one of the better-looking versions of zombie Jason. The film may stumble occasionally, much as Jason’s victims are want to do, but the end product was still a rather fun horror story with one of the most iconic film monsters in one of his most engaging fights. Friday the 13th Part IV: The New Blood may not be the best in the series but it still managed to keep an audience engaged despite the standard kills and clichés.
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
Movie Rank - 6/10
Who could possibly hate the idea of Jason vs Carrie, and it’s that concept alone that does most the heavy lifting in this entry, that and the wonderful Terry Kiser as the scummy doctor.