Some of my best writing comes when I just dash it off, rather than overthinking and eventually getting an old, long, not-as-insightful-as-I'd-like review.
A great first movie for this effort is Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. They really dashed off that movie. With the exception of the make-up effects, which are really elaborate.
Buechler started out as a make-up artist, and it shows. You can see Jason's spine through the back of his coveralls. At one point in a deleted scene, Jason punches a guy in the back and his fist breaks through the guy’s torso.
(Deleted scenes never count unless a guy punches through another guy's torso.)
Not surprisingly, to minimize the violence, this particular F13 entry went through more cuts than usual from the MPAA. Watching Part VII again now, I both see and don’t see the fuss: the violence is bloody and detailed, yet so outrageous it can’t be taken seriously. In several scenes, the kills are so cut down that we don’t even see them. Why have Jason scrunch a head to the point of implosion, if you can't show the implosion?
I suspect the MPAA was really reacting against the prevalence of the blood and guts in comparison to other elements. There is no suspense or atmosphere worth holding onto in this movie. The gore of New Blood is the only thing on which to hang your hockey mask.
To be clear, if there is a movie series I would take a bullet for, it's Friday the 13th. These are my movies, one of the first aspirational choices I made at my local Mom & Pop video store. New Blood, though, is hard to love. Part VII disappoints not because it’s “bad"; there are “bad” elements to all slasher films, even the good ones; a flat performance here, a plot hole there. Horror films aren’t necessarily the realm of perfection, but of vision and potency, a straight shot of cinematic manipulation to make you look over your shoulder. Horror films reassure us we’re not alone, even if our solitude is banished by the boogeyman.
Part VII falls short due to a certain perfunctory air. Perfunctory, oddly, in spite of a big gimmick: telekinesis (The constant gimmickry of the F13 series is another blog post entirely). The lead, Tina, has a latent, uncontrollable ability to move things with her mind.
In the prologue, Tina-as-a-little-girl is responsible for destroying a dock with mind-bullets, and drowning her father, who was on said dock, in the chilly waters of Crystal Lake. In the present day, Tina's back up in the CL with her mother and Dr. Crews (Bernie from Weekend at Bernies!) to finally tackle her grief and her powers. Tina does both just in time to be a worthy adversary to Jason.
In theory anyway. In reality, the telekinesis is realized via a lot of objects awkwardly moved around on wires (this is actually the source of New Blood’s only good, if obvious and sweaty, bit; Tina tries to slow Jason down by telepathically throwing a huge potted plant at him, which contains the heads of one his earlier victims, who in life had smoke a lot of marijuana - A POTHEAD DO YOU GET IT).
As if poor FX weren't distracting enough, Jason is everywhere. Not in the "evil is ubiquitous" sense, but in the “fuck it Jason was in the exploding house AND right behind you 200 yards away a minute later, okay?” sense. Part VII keeps breaking the pact with the audience like that.
Slashers gain their power from their resourcefulness, finding new weapons for each new victim. But the Jason of A New Blood is *too* resourceful, seemingly materializing the weapons of his trade out of thin air. I’d expect that in a parody of a slasher movie, not an actual slasher movie.
[Jason does brandish some doozies in Part VII, though. There’s a long-handled, short-bladed machete-type deal (for cutting high branches?) and a weed whacker (for whacking weeds?)]
I want Jason to keep using increasingly involved landscaping tools, but it’s not unreasonable for the movies to offer a little context: Someone left the shed unlocked. Loews had such great Black Friday deals, Jason would be a fool not to pick up a new hay bail hook. Something.
There’s no real place to put this but I just want to point out that this is the one where Jason kills someone in a sleeping bag by bashing the sleeping bag by beating the sleeping bag against a tree (though per the MPAA situation, it’s not that many times and the victim doesn’t look that bad off when it’s done.)
All of this cynicism is perhaps due most of all to the rushed nature of the production. According to Buechler’s blu-ray commentary, they had to find a house by a lake that could be blown up, and they had to meet a May release date, so they were forced to shoot in Alabama in January/February. Thus the coldness and the fake-looking exteriors/improbably vast interiors (and I swear they run through the same patch of trees 70 times in the 83-minute-minus-end-credits run time). Low-budget filmmaking can be a harsh mistress, but who would go up to a lake cabin on a weekend like this?
Another thing: Kane Hodder. His portrayal of Jason is characterized by a lot of business. He turned his head before he moves his body, stalks through the woods with a certain rageful authority, but so what? 4.5 previous movies show that Jason needs only to be big and persistent. Hodder looks like a linebacker; Jason doesn’t work out. He lives in the woods and eats rabbits. Another other thing: Unmasked Jason in this movie looks like the Crypt Keeper on HGH. I miss the sad, deformed overgrown boy of earlier entries.
I don’t regret watching Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood again, but I do miss the sincere simplicity of a good slasher flick. I had planned to write about Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan along with this one, but after such a close look at VII I’m as chill and drab as the Alabama woods.