Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

Barring Freddy vs Jason, I've seen all the Friday the 13th films (including the attempted reboot from 2009).  It's an odd franchise: its iconic villain only arrives in the second film, adopts his trademark hockey mask in the third, and becomes a zombie in the sixth.  It's also a franchise which clearly charts the rise of the "slasher" genre - something it did a great deal to define - and the impact on the genre of the "moral panic" that subsequently set in.

Now, none of the films are really what you'd call "good movies", but some are definitely better than others.  Many horror fans point to Part IV as the best of the series, and I think if you want a movie that encapsulates what most people think of when they hear the term "slasher film" - lots of over-sexed teens getting naked and then gorily murdered - it's the place to go.

My favorite of the series, however - and the only one I currently own on DVD - is Part VII.  This film comes after the aforementioned "moral panic", and while it's not as bloodless or sexless as the immediately preceding film, it's relatively light on gory effects and even lighter on nudity.  Which may be while the typical (teenage, male) horror fan of the time tended to dismiss it as "Jason vs Carrie".

Carrie?  Oh yes indeed.  The people behind Part VII apparently decided that, since Jason had become undead in the previous film (finally giving an in-universe explanation for his astonishing toughness), they should give their final girl supernatural powers to compensate.

I'm really not spoiling anything by revealing which character is "the final girl", as the movie makes it transparently obvious from about five minutes in.  I will give the script this, though: while much of the cast is clearly there to be killed off, it does manage to create some uncertainty over the likely fate of the other significant characters.

Eventually though of course, the movie is going to come down to "Jason vs Carrie" (actually, her name is Tina), and for my money, this is where Part VII stands out from the rest of the series.  Tina's powers allow for a much more dynamic confrontation than is usual for this sort of film (which can usually be summed up as "final girl runs and hides until she is able to lure the killer into an impromptu trap of some kind").  The film has other merits as well: a likable lead character, a good soundtrack, and some fine make-up work.

I give Friday the 13th Part VII a qualified recommendation because I think that if you have any interest in horror movies - especially slashers - it is worth your time.  If horror movies aren't your thing though, it is not going to change your mind.

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