John Carl Buechler’s “Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood” (1988) has a title with the nerve to suggest you see the first six entries in the series to understand it.
There’s a pre-title introduction, consisting of flashbacks, that is so well edited, it not only serves as a perfect refresher but plays like an ideal trailer.
Lar Park Lincoln stars as Tina, a young teen who demonstrated a strong ability with telekinesis as a child. In fact, her talent at moving objects with her mind is what resulted in the death of her father.
A decade or so later, Tina goes to Camp Crystal Lake to undergo testing and counseling by the rotten Dr. Crews (Terry Kiser, a year away from playing the title role in “Weekend At Bernie’s”), who is aiming for fame as Tina’s mentor.
Once Jason emerges again from the bottom of Crystal Lake (this time via Tina’s psychic prodding), he goes through a dozen teens and unfortunate adults like Kleenex before facing Tina, who is more than his match.
Yes, it’s Jason Versus Carrie, and this is the installment where Jason kills someone by picking up a teen hiding in a sleeping bag and slamming them into a tree.
The scenes between Park Lincoln and Kiser work far better than they should because the two are constantly better than the material. Park Lincoln, who previously played opposite Bill Maher in “House II: The Second Story” (1987) and Kiser (who not only played the title role in “Weekend At Bernie’s” but was a Carol Burnett collaborator) make the Dr. Crews ongoing game of gaslighting Tina oddly compelling.
The suggestion that Lisa’s telekinesis is a result of the guilt from accidentally killing her father is a good dramatic touch, though visualizing it is a problem. The late reveal of Lisa’s father, rising out of his watery grave to assist Lisa’s climactic battle with Jason, is unintentionally hilarious.
So is the shot of Lisa making a TV float and fly across the room – you can see the TV clearly wobbling. Sometimes the special effects aren’t so special.
FAST FACT: Park Lincoln now helps aspiring actors reach their dreams as an acting coach via the Dallas-based Americas Audition Studios.
I miss the atmosphere and dread of Sean Cunningham’s 1980 original, where Camp Crystal Lake felt like a real, lived-in place (the latter sequels simply position another Crystal Lake 10 Miles sign onto the set and expect that to provide the geography).
On the other hand, “The New Blood” avoids the cheeky humor of “Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives” (1986) and the appreciatively campy “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan” (1989). While the unintended laughs do arrive frequently, at least “The New Blood” aims for intensity.
It all comes down to the grand finale, a rumble in the woods where Jason’s brute strength is no match for Lisa’s now-practiced ability to manipulate objects with her mind. It comes late but the Jason versus faux Carrie angle really delivers.
Buechler’s direction works when he’s dealing with action and violent gags, not when he’s servicing the lousy dialog and some amateurish acting from the supporting ranks. While the ’80s tropes and expectedly campy touches are there (this series was always dumb fun and never in the ranks with Freddy or Michael) the showmanship of the final battle is impressive enough to put this above most of the sequels.
If you only see one movie where Jason kills a dumb teen with a sleeping bag and a tree, make it this one.