Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood

A fun directional pivot for the series, and the first appearance of Kane Hodder as the man behind the mask, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, is truth in title and a fun double entendre. New (or fresh) blood: new members admitted to a group, typically as an invigorating force.

There aren’t many ways to go with a stalk-and-slash premise that boils down to “masked guy going on a rampage in the woods.” But here, director John Carl Buechler adds some supernatural / telekinesis elements that bring a fun, Cronenberg-lite touch to the Camp Crystal Lake series in the form of researcher, Dr. Crews.

Jason is rotting on the bed of a lagoon, and this Crystal Lake looks more like a Louisiana bog. Crews is studying young Tina Shepard, a girl with the power to move things with her mind, who’s inadvertently caused the death of her father, as well as reanimated Mr. Voorhees from the lake bottom. He’s an institute-appointment psychiatrist who’s more interested in self-aggrandizement than helping poor Tina assuage her feelings of guilt. And she’s a bit like Charlene in Stephen King’s Firestarter (or Carrie, to acknowledge an oft-cited debt).

The rest of Friday is, of course, Jason getting down to the business of killing once he is broken free from his chains and emerges from his sub-aqueous ecosystem.

Dr. Crews is weed-wacked, and Kane Hodder is a kind of Lucio Fulzi Zombie of a Jason, complete with rotting maggot/worm visage and a hulking physicality.

The second unit director and Buechler shot test footage of the allegedly “too small” Hodder (we should all be that small at 6’2″)  in a mock-up mask and suit and sent it to Paramount. And the rest…is history, at least as far as Hodder in the lead role is concerned (Hodder would go on to play Jason five times).

How does this fare in terms of fitting into the Friday canon?

It’s not the best, but The New Blood is far from the worst: that (arguably) came a year later in Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.

*** (out of 5)

 

Witchboard

Another fashion crime vomited up by the 80s, Witchboard is the brainchild of Kevin S. Tenney, who went on to do the similarly wacky, though better-crafted, Night of the Demons.

We begin at a party,and we get some horror right off the bat: the hair, the fringe jackets, and the dancing.

Then there’s a drunken argument in the corner about the origins of the universe, but neither Dr. Lawrence Krauss nor Dr. William Lane Craig can be found.

And you know where these seemingly intractable debates lead…fistfight? Search for common ground? No. A Ouija board. Like all psychics, we didn’t see that one coming!

One of the interlocutors (and self-described atheist) is Brandon, a pompous blowhard lawyer who drives a Beamer. He explains the etymology of the Ouija, apparently a portmanteau of French and German words for “yes.” If that were the case though, it would be pronounced “Wee-Ya.” No matter. He pulls out a board and claims he’s been communicating with the long-dead spirit of a boy, David. Partygoer Jim (Brandon’s nemesis, and a construction worker) calls bullshit.

Everything grinds to a halt at the party, because nothing is more exciting than Ouija. Linda (80s video vixen Tawny Kitaen) indulges Brandon and puts her hands on the planchette as they attempt to communicate with the Great Beyond.

Linda borrows the board and starts to become obsessed with it, and in her spare time talking to young David (who it turns out, after some fastidious research by Jim and Brandon, died in some kind of fire).

KD Lang, spirit medium

As is often the case, the spirit world is an angry place and the real world starts being affected by the otherworldly disaffection. One of Jim’s colleagues is killed by falling sheet-rock after an axe telekinetically lops off the safety supports. Petrified, they call in a psychic, who’s subsequently killed  (she didn’t see that one coming, another zing!)

Then it’s up to Brandon and Jim, once rivals for the heart of Linda, to save her from possession, or “progressive entrapment” as it’s called here, allusions to which were in The Exorcist.

Spirited stuff if you will, with unintended hilarity, crappy performances and a cool plot.

*** (out of 5)

[Check out our Really Awful Movies Podcast discussion of Witchboard]