a Primal Root review
The New Blood was, coincidentally, the very first Friday the 13th movie I ever saw. As a child I was completely forbidden from watching these kinds of films. Sure, I could be traumatized by Speilberg’s JAWS and Hooper’s Poltergeist, but the insanely fun Friday the 13th series was OFF LIMITS. I think it’s because my Mom didn’t want me seeing bare female breasts. Now look what kind of complex that’s created.
Anyhoo, my first recollection of Friday the 13th part VII was building up the courage to walk into the theater as a child and just catch a glimpse of what all my friends on the playground were talking about. I don’t recall what I was at the local Winter Haven, Florida movie theater seeing but I had gotten up to go use the boy’s room and it was on this unchaperoned venture I summoned up the courage to walk into the theater for my first ever taste of Friday the 13th.
And oh man, did it deliver. It was that moments towards the end of the film when there are hardly any teens left. Just our telekentic star Tina, love interest Nick and uber bitch, Melissa. I walked into that darkened theater to see Melissa open the door to leave Tina’s cabin only to have Jason firmly plant an axe right in her face and chuck her across the living room over a TV and into a wall.
My blood ran cold and my little first grade self finally knew what everyone was talking about. I was frozen in place, eyes wide, jaw on the floor. I felt terrified but excited simultaneously. My mind spun, my pulse raced as soon as my heart began beating again. Jason had the two remaining kids trapped in this house and I couldn’t bear anymore so I bolted back to my correct theater to sit next to the safety of my Mom and watch the rest of Who Framed Roger Rabbit or something.
I was fascinated with a hockey masked, undead, monster from hell.
It wasn’t until Friday the 13th Part VII was shown on USA when I was in 6th grade that I finally saw it in it’s entirety and was my favorite in the series for years. The kills are brutal even if they were equally brutalized by the MPAA. Jason looked scarier than ever in this incarnation. His decomposing body allowing for cracked ribs and a rotted spinal column to protrude. This look has become my favorite incarnation of Jason, hands down. And for the first time in the series, Jason is pitted against another super natural force that gives him a run for his money in the form of Tina, a troubled and traumatized teenage girl returning to Crystal Lake to confront the demons of her past.
What is it about The New Blood that I love so much? It’s not my favorite in the series anymore and it does have a good amount of sentimental value, but why is this one so high on the list?
One of my favorite sequences in the whole film is the excellent opening montage which had become a bit of a staple in the franchise to keep the audience up to speed with what happened in previous installements. The Final Chapter had a pretty sweet opening montage but The New Blood’s is by far and away the best of the series. Walt Gorney, Crazy Ralph himself, lends his considerable voice talents to retell the legend of Jason Voorhees as footage from previous films are viewed. Some with audio, others are eerily silent. It’s the perfect opening to the film that gets me pumped every time.
Much like one of the most heralded entries in the saga, The Final Chapter, The New Blood focuses on the drama going on in two separate households. There’s Tine, the hysterical and overly dramatic teenage heroine who hates her given telekinetic gifts. Her screeching, hardcore mullet sporting mother, Amanda. And pure evil psycho therapist, Dr. Cruz who is looking to exploit Tina’s powers. This trio has taken up residents in their old lake side abode where Tina killed her Father with her untamed mind bullets about a decade earlier. Yeah, this ought to prove incredibly soothing and therapeutic to the already on edge Tina. Especially after she brings Jason back to life after mistaking him as her Father. Was her Dad into hockey?
The lake house next door has been rented out by a group of teen cliches in order to throw a surprise birthday party for their friend Michael. There’s the geeky guy, the stoner guy, the fun slut, the bitch, the token black couple, everyone is accounted for and then some. Needless to say, I was surprised to see even one of these faceless meat sacks make it to the end credits.
And there’s the little matter of the man behind the mask. Professional stunt man, Kane Hodder, steps up to bat for the first time as the legendary Jason Voorhees and he knocks the ball out of the park and embeds it in the cranium of some poor schmuck 5 miles away. Kane Hodder uses his body to emote whatever is going through Jason’s maggot riddled mind and he does it masterfully and like none other. He uses his shoulders, his breathing, his head movements to reveal levels of Jason never previously seen. Sure, these layers are primarily pissed off and blood thursty but Kane does it with gusto.
There’s also this fantastic sequence in a shed where Jason is looking for his potential victim and spots her through the slates in a wooden wall. It’s a frightning moment seen from the perspective of the victim, Maddy. Jason is fucking pissed and frustrated throughout the duration of his screen time with a kind of , “Well, it’s a dirty job but someone;s gotta do it.” swagger that immediately endears him to the fans. I still say this is of Kane Hodder’s best of his four Jason performances. He makes the character his own and has always given 100% to the character.
And the kills are fantastic in concept even if they are cut down tremendously by the ratings board. A party horn shoved into a young woman’s eye! Two axes to the face! Jason crushing a guys head to the size of a walnut with his bare hands! Weed whacker to the gut! And, of course, the now iconic sleeping bag death that the mere mention of makes Friday fans all warm and fuzzy inside.
Friday the 13th part VIII is an exercise in excess. There’s just so much bloody, supernatural, horrific fun to be had it’s kind of mind blowing. Levitating severed heads, full on underwater female crotch shots, Maddy’s EXTREME makeover, kittens hidden in closets, bloody psychic visions, “I got a date with a soap on a rope.” I could go on all day with the little things I love about The New Blood.
It a crass-tastic slice of late 80’s trashy slasher cinema fun.
-The Primal Root