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Monday, December 13, 2010

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood

(quick note: technology sucks! My laptop kept overheating, despite trying out 2 different cooling fans. So, after having to keep restarting the thing, and taking over a week to watch a 90-minute film, I surrendered and bought myself a new laptop, from Alienware. Should arrive this week! *crosses fingers* Anyway, here's the thing I wrote while I watched Friday the 13th 7 for over a week of 20-minute spurts...enjoy!)

Well here it is, the day I've been dreading: the era of the "Jason vs. Gimmicks" movies in the Friday the 13th franchise began with today's movie, Friday the 13th VII: The New Blood. Or, to put it more accurately, Friday the 13th: Jason vs. Carrie. That's it, that's your premise in a nutshell: a pouty, whiny blond girl with telekinesis goes up against Jason. Who loses? The audience, mostly. As always, ahead thar be SPOILERS!!!

The film begins on a promising note, with a narrator telling us the "legend of Jason", which amounts to a sort of "Cliff's Notes"-ish highlight reel featuring some of Jason's best kills. Most of the clips come from Parts 4-6, the Tommy Jarvis trilogy: Corey Feldman getting grabbed through the window; the wheelchair guy's corpse getting pushed down all of those stairs; Tommy's sister hitting Jason in the head as he goes after Tommy; the lightning bolt reviving him in the previous film; the deaths of most of the 1-scene characters from that same movie; Tommy describing Jason's motivation, followed by his plan to trap him at the bottom of Crystal lake...those are the highlights.

As the narrator winds up his spiel, the screen goes dark. Then a bright, white light shows through all of the holes in the iconic hockey mask, and it splits apart to reveal the title. The famous theme music is gone, replaced by Foreboding Metronome Muzak instead. According to the credits, the damsel this time is named Lar Park Lincoln. Jason is played by Kane Hodder, the actor most-credited with the role. Other familiar faces include Terry Kiser(BERNIE!!!) one else I recognize. Da-amn, movie.

Anyway, the film begins at some point presumably not long after the events in 6: Jason's "sleeping" at the bottom of the lake, still chained to the rock Tommy attached him to, and he's completely dormant. I guess stabbing fish just doesn't have the same thrill as stabbing humans does. Although later scenes contradict this, his clothes are still intact and no weapons are seen in either hand. In fact, there are many more contradictions in this scene: Jason's wearing a different set of newer-looking clothes, that are NOT the same color; the sign at the lake now says Crystal Lake again, though it was changed to Forest Green previously; and Jason's facial deformity(as we see later) has changed yet again. Weird.

We meet our protagonist, Tina Shepard, as a little girl. It's weird, but the young Tina is almost a dead ringer for the little girl from the 3 Poltergeist movies(I checked's not her.). Anyway, she's standing outside her family's summer cabin listening as her parents have a fight over custody of her. A real Hallmark moment...

Tina decides to run away from home, after hearing Daddy hit Mommy. She gets to the edge of the lake just as the argument ends, and climbs into a rowboat before her father can catch up to her. He begs her to bring the boat back, but she refuses, even after her father apologizes for hurting her mother. As Tina is screaming at her father, the dock begins to shake and the water around the boat churns. Oh, and Tina makes a face that looks like she just farted. Classic.

As the dock starts to collapse, Tina feels some remorse, but is too late to stop the accident. Her father falls into the lake, and the debris comes crashing down on top of him. She screams for him a few times, then--

Oh. Dream sequence. Tina's now a budding teen with a pretty nice physique, and her mom has a head of hair any lion would envy. It's probably about 10 years since her father died, which brings up some pretty big questions: If her father did die in the lake, why didn't they recover the body(you'll see what I mean...)? And, if they had made ANY attempt to fish his corpse out, wouldn't anyone have noticed the hulking brute down there too, chained to a rock and wearing a hockey mask???

Eh, whatever. On with the show. So, Tina and her mom are heading back to Crystal Lake to meet up with Tina's shrink, Dr. Crews, on the pretense that he thinks bringing her back to the place where he died might be a therapeutic breakthrough for the troubled teen. In reality, though, he simply wants to put Tina under as much stress as possible, so that he can exploit her telekinesis and become famous. Oh, and the shrink is played by Terry Kiser, who was in the Weekend at Bernie's films, as previously mentioned. If he smirks and gets a hat stapled to his head, this movie will rock.

Meanwhile, we also have neighbors to deal with here, a house full of attractive young rich kids staging a surprise party for a friend. They're a pretty damn generic group...there's Nick, the resident hunk who serves as Tina's love interest; Michael, the birthday boy; Jane, his moody girlfriend; Eddie, a wanna-be writer and sci-fi geek; Russ, a guy who decided to let Eraserhead style his 'do; Melissa, a hot blond who somehow manages to be both snobby AND slutty; Maddy, the boy-crazy bookworm; Ben and Kate, the required black couple who never survive these things; Dave, a pothead; and a cute, yet generic, girl named Robin.

Anyway, Tina and the doctor get started on their "treatment" right away. He sets up a video camera, and puts a book of matches on the table in front of her. Right off the bat, I'm drawn right out of the movie by the stupidity on display...hasn't this guy ever seen a horror film? Everyone under the sun can pretty much predict that if you put a matchbook in front of someone with "powers", there will be a fire that starts spontaneously!

Surprise! The matchbook moves....then ignites. Wow. Shocking. The movie switches to a brief quickie in a van involving a couple who are not yet named, then we get more of Tina making a sad face. We get a lot of that in this movie. When she frowns, she resembles Kermit the Frog. Anyway, KermiTina runs out of the lake house after getting upset yet AGAIN, and stands at the edge of the lake, reliving the whole trauma of making her dad drown.

Suddenly, she gets an idea! She thinks she can sense her dad's soul nearby(nope, it's Jason), so she wonders if her "POWERS!!!" can bring him back. Uh, Tina, you DO know what ten years of decomposing underwater is going to do to a body, right? I mean, I loved my grandmother, but that doesn't mean I want to hang out with her zombie for any period of time, while she bakes cookies and eats brains.

Well, science doesn't matter to our heroine. She focuses all of her mental ability on reviving her dad...and wakes up Jason instead. D'oh! His clothes are still as bright blue as they were in the opening scene, but now they're ripped in places. I guess color doesn't fade in lake water. *rolls eyes*

So yeah, Jason wakes up. Yay. Tina loosens his chains(with her POWERS!!!!!), and he bursts up out of the lake right in front of her. When their eyes meet, Tina faints. As he walks toward dry land, Jason inexplicably does nothing to harm Tina.

When she wakes up, Tina sees her mother and Dr. Crews standing over her. Jason, of course, is nowhere to be seen. They help her to her feet, get her in the house, and Crews starts dismissing her story as nothing more than some kind of hallucination. As they argue, Tina's stress level causes her to crack a picture frame with her POWERS!!! Nick shows up and invites Tina to the surprise party, and her mother lets her go...which irritates the hell out of Crews.

In the next scene, we meet Jane and Michael, who are stranded when their car overheats. Jane is forced to tell Michael that the whole reason they drove out to Crystal Lake in the first place, was to throw him a party. Uh, if the house was a family summer house in the first place, wouldn't he have figured this stuff out? Was the script written by a roomful of chimps with A.D.D.?

Michael leaves Jane alone, so he can take a leak. Jason grabs her from behind, covers her mouth, and kills her quickly, pinning her to a tree by her throat. When Michael returns and sees her, Jason starts pursuing him through the woods. As Michael starts putting some distance between himself and the killer, Jason throws his knife(where did he get a new knife???), and plants it right in Michael's back. Michael tries to crawl away, but Jason picks him up and flings his body off of the knife like a pesky fly.

Back at the lake, Nick and Tina enter the house, where everything for the party is being set up. Tina meets almost everyone, then has a VISION due to her POWERS!!! Yeesh. Anyway, she spills a drink and runs out of the house like the Road Runner being chased by Wiley Coyote. Meep-meep!

On the way in, Tina finds a long shard of metal stuck in the door frame. She gets frightened, and decides to tell Crews and her mother about everything she's been seeing. When she gets to the part about the spike, Crews offers to go check it out, but he claims not to see it. Sure enough, when Tina and her mom go out to look, it's gone. Hmmm.....

Meanwhile, in the forest we meet another couple, Dan and Ann Nonymous. Oddly enough, Dan is the spitting image of "MacGruber"('MACGRUBER!!! We Made A Fucking Movie! MACGRUBER!!!', go see it, you'll get the reference...), which just cracks me the hell up endlessly. Anyway, when Dan goes out of their tent for firewood, Jason plunges his fist through the guy's back, and out through his chest.

The Chick With No Name doesn't fare much better. She gets picked up in her sleeping bag, then flung against the side of a tree. Damn, I always thought that scene in Jason X was original. Oh well. (according to Wikipedia, the female's name is Judy, but I have no idea where this is ever mentioned by anyone in the film. Anyone?)

Anyway, Nick and Tina meet up again outside, and play 20 Questions. Nick reveals that he came from a broken home, but made something of himself, while Tina reveals only that her dad died at the lake when she was a child, but leaves out the telekinesis. Nearby, Melissa decides to eavesdrop. Melissa sneaks back inside without being discovered, and Nick and Tina also go in.

Everyone's busy making food. Maddy tries flirting with Eddie, but Robin steals the limelight by cozying up to Dave, leaving her nerdy friend in her wake. While Tina loses track of Nick, Melissa recruits Eddie into making a tasteless joke about Tina's mental health issues, which is a VERY bad idea. Tina uses her POWERS!!! to make Melissa's pearl necklace strangle her until the string snaps, sending pearls flying everywhere. Tina runs back home, just as Nick returns.

That evening, Tina begs her mother and Crews to let her leave. When Crews refuses, Tina throws a hissy fit, and uses her POWERS!!! to fling a television toward the conniving doctor. You can practically see the strings lifting the TV, the effect is terrible. As she storms out of the house again, Tina runs into Nick and tells him about her visions and premonitions. Her mother interrupts the conversation to tell her that they'll leave in the morning.

Sandra(who the heck is SHE???) and Russ hook up, and decide to go skinny-dipping. YAY, NUDITY!!! Jason kills Russ before he gets as far as taking his socks off, by decapitating him with a machete that he found. Sandra comes up for air, sees Russ missing his head, and screams as Jason emerges from the water right behind her. HUH? How the heck did he pull that one off without her noticing him in the water with her? Jason grabs her ankle, pulls her quite-lovely form underwater, and she drowns.

Back at the surprise party that never happened, Nick tries calling Michael to find out why he never showed up, but gets no response. Melissa tries to seduce Nick, and settles for Eddie when Nick rejects her. Maddy decides to use Melissa's beauty supplies to give herself a makeover, and Ben and Kate hook up. Jason walks right up to a window and watches them all, and no one takes notice of a hulk wearing tattered clothes, in a hockey mask, and brandishing a weapon right outside.

Back in the Shepard cabin, Crews reveals that the spike Tina saw outside the house was put there by him. He's been using the local legends about Jason to terrify Tina, hoping to get enough filmed evidence of her POWERS!!! to make himself famous. Crews takes a walk in the woods, finds one of Jason's victims next to a spike similar to the one he used to scare Tina, and he assumes that she's had a psychotic episode. Tina's mother discovers his scheme when she sees his notes and the spike in the desk drawer, they argue, and Crews is threatened with the exposure of his scheme. But before their argument gets to that point, Tina overhears a small portion of the fight. When she hears Crews mention keeping her locked up as a mental patient indefinitely, she takes one of the car's keys and makes a hasty escape. Her mother hears the car, and she and Crews use the other car to try to find her.

Tina gets herself into a highly emotional state and has a vision of Jason murdering her mother. She rams the car into a tree, then panics when it won't restart. She picks a random direction and jogs into the woods. Maybe the Blair Witch can draw her a map.

Maddy transforms herself into Tammy Fay Bakker. Pleased with her trans-whore-mation, she goes out to bag the first man she sees. She finds a corpse in a tree instead, and Jason chases her. Maddy ducks into a tool shed the size of a condo, and hides behind a wall where she can see Jason enter. He hears her moving around, and waits for her to back up against a wall, so he can punch through the wall on either side of her and stab Maddy with a sickle. For once, the virgin dies! Wow.

Nick finds Tina in the woods, at the same time that her mom and the doctor find the wrecked car. Crews watches as Mrs. Shepard runs off to find her daughter, and both make enough noise to alert Jason, Freddy and Leatherface combined. Smart thinking.

Back at the un-surprise, un-birthday house, 3 couples are having sex. First we get Ben and Kate having sex out in the van. They hear Jason moving around, and assume it's Michael, the birthday boy, finally arriving. Jason kills Ben first, by crushing his skull. Then he murders Kate by jamming a party horn into her face. I wish I could be more specific, but the kill happens so fast, it's hard to tell WHAT he does with the noisemaker. Supposedly there's a DVD with all of the gore extended, but this ain't it!

The next couple having serious snuggle-time are Eddie and Melissa. Melissa tells Eddie that she was only using him to make Nick jealous, and he leaves. Robin and Dave finish having sex, just before Jason cuts the power. Left in the dark, they still keep going at it. Those two are real troopers, I tell ya.

On their way back to the summer houses, Tina and Nick discover Michael's body in a tree. Nick has no time to mourn his cousin's death, though: the others have to saved! Yeah, good luck with that plan. Half of them are dead, why not just call it a day? No? Okay, I tried to help....

Robin and Dave got stoned and ended up screwing like bunnies too. He gets the munchies, and leaves her naked in bed while he goes to make himself a snack. Dumbass. She might be a generic character, but she is also fairly damn cute. For being stupid, Dave gets a butcher knife in the gut.

Tina and Nick return, and Tina finds the spike Crews used to scare her. She also finds her dad's old pistol, and gives it to Nick. After all, why would a girl with POWERS!!! need a gun? Oh, and she also finds a series of old newspaper clippings about Jason, providing a hugely unnecessary info-dump for the audience. Tina FINALLY realizes that it wasn't her father that she brought back from the dead, and her POWERS!!! go bonkers.

Melissa sneaks outside while Eddie decides to start opening Michael's gifts. In one of the few funny bits in the movie, he unwraps a package labelled as a "Penis Enlarger", and finds a magnifying glass in the box. Mean, but funny. I'll bet it was from Melissa. Seems bitchy enough for her. Jason slices through his neck less than a minute later.

Tina gets a psychic vibe telling her that her mother is in the woods, and Nick decides to try to find his (remaining) friends while she attempts to try to rescue her mom. Robin gets dressed(damn...) and starts knocking on doors, but finds no one. When she enters one of the bedrooms, she gets a generic cat scare(who the hell had a cat in this movie???), followed by Jason throwing her through a window. Hilariously, Tina and Nick never hear a thing.

Nick urges Tina to escape with him, but her concern for her mother makes her stay. Nick still leaves, but promises to bring back help. He gets to his cousin's cabin, and heads up the stairs. Nothing happens...yet.

Crews finds Mrs. Shepard and tries to coax her back to the lake, but she refuses. The shrink sees Jason coming up behind her, so he uses her body as a human shield, which Jason promptly stabs. What an asshole this guy Crews is.

Nick discovers Eddie's body, and bags the plan to warn his friends. When he re-enters Tina's house, he finds Melissa there instead. He tells her about discovering Eddie, but she doubts him. I almost feel bad for her...almost.

Crews and Tina bump into each other in the woods, and Crews tries to convince her that her mom is waiting back at the house. When she notices the blood on his shirt, Tina assumes that the doctor killed her mother. She runs in one direction, while Crews runs the opposite way. When Crews leans against a tree to catch his breath, Jason mutilates the doc's face with a circular saw. Good!

Tina wanders around some more, until she finds her mother's body. She gets upset, sees Jason nearby, and begins following him. Instead of having a face-to-mask confrontation with Jason, Tina discovers Kate in a tree, the party favor still jammed into her eye socket. She backs away from the corpse, only to stumble into several more. Seems that Jason's been building a little shrine dedicated to his hobby.

This all leads up to Tina's first big battle with Jason. She finds him waiting for her at the edge of the woods, and starts using her POWERS!!! She levitates some fallen tree branches and wraps them tightly around his legs, yanking him into a large puddle. Then she ripa a power line loose from a nearby pole, and sends it directly into the water. Little cartoony blue bolts of electricity course through Jason, and he drops face-first into the puddle like an anchor.

Being a completely inept nimrod, Tina approaches him. To my complete non-shock and un-surprise, Jason gets up. Tina runs away, and Jason just watches her, looking somewhat baffled. Then he starts to follow her. She enters the house where most of her new BFF'S were just slaughtered, and Jason leaps through a window like Spider-Man. Tina screams, and Jason just calmly keeps walking toward her, as they have a staring contest.

Tina slams a door shut between them, then psychically shoves a table in front of the door as a makeshift barricade. Jason just pushes everything aside, so she throws a small sofa or loveseat at him, which he also swats away. She floats a potted plant with a severed head in it at Jason, then runs back outside, before stopping to turn around and wait for him to catch up. When Jason finally emerges, Tina brings the porch down around him, collapsing the floorboards so that he'll be buried under all of the debris. Can you imagine explaining the property damage on your insurance claims???

Tina goes back to her family's house, where Nick and Melissa hear the commotion. Tina tells Nick that she defeated Jason, just before we see him punch through the porch roof he was just buried under. Melissa refuses to buy the Jason story, but when she attempts to make her dramatic exit out of the house, Jason meets her at the threshold. He plants an axe in her head, then tosses her body across the room.

Nick attempts to shield Tina with his body, and they make it up the stairs. Inexplicably, Tina then decides to wander back to see how fast Jason's following. (Hint: he's fast.) As he gets to the top, she sends a light fixture crashing into Jason's face, which knocks him back. He falls through the stairs, creating a huge hole. Being imbeciles, they decide to go back down, slowly creeping past the edge of the gap in the staircase.

Just before they can get out of the front door again, Jason crashes through a wall under the staircase. He grabs Nick, throws him across the room, then decides to stomp him through the spine, but Tina uses her kooky, spooky POWERS!!! again, squezzing Jason's mask so hard it makes pus run out past the edges of the mask. He turns to stop her, and Tina makes the hockey mask explode in half.

Here's where we run into continuity issues again. Gone is the deformed eye, replaced by a piglike, flat nose, and a mouth that is crooked. Why do his deformities change so many times after the first couple of sequels? Didn't any of the FX crew WATCH any of the previous movies, to at least get an idea of what Jason looked like? The face looks kinda cool and all, but it doesn't look anything at all like the previous faces of Jason.

Anyway, while he snarls at her, Tina wraps an electrical cord around his neck, which lifts him into the air. While he flails around, Tina creates a crater in the floor, then sends Jason plummeting through it.

She approaches Nick's body, quickly checking the hole to verify that Jason hasn't moved. The nanosecond she looks back at Nick, Jason opens an eye. While she tries to revive Nick, Jason pulls Tina into the basement with him.

Their second battle starts. Jason gnashes his teeth and glares at Tina, and she sends a jar of nails flying at him, hitting him in the shoulders mostly, with a single nail planting itself in his forehead. Grinning and shrugging it off, Jason plucks out the nail.

Next, Tina tries using fire to defeat him. She makes a can of gasoline spray him, as well as splashing newspapers and several other flammable, dry materials lying around. When he's soaked with gas, she causes the furnace door to fly open, then lights him like a birthday candle. The room gets engulfed in flames.

Fortunately, this is exactly when Nick decides to wake up. He joins Tina in watching Jason collapse in a flaming heap, then they rush outside. They get to the dock just before the house explodes, knocking them both down. As Tina and Nick embrace, Jason somehow manages to get behind them, and throws Tina like a frisbee. Nicks fires the pistol he found earlier at Jason, with little or no effect. Jason shrugs his shoulders a bit, gnashes his teeth, then throws Nick into a boat before turning back to Tina.

She sees him coming, and makes one last-ditch effort to use her POWERS!!! to raise her father from the dead. Here's where we get another plothole so huge you could pilot a jumbo jet through it: Her dad rises up through the wooden dock, and grabs Jason. But the thing is, apart from from moss on his cheeks, he hasn't decayed at all. In fact, he blinks and screams at Jason, indicating that he is very much alive now. Even his hair looks the same. Since he died when Tina was a little girl, shouldn't he have decomposed at least A LITTLE?

This never gets explained. Tina's dad wraps a chain around Jason's neck, then drags him back to the bottom of the lake. Tina calls out for her father, then faints. When she wakes up again, we see firemen extinguishing the exploded house, and one firefighter finds and picks up Jason's mask, which had split in half. Tina gets taken by stretcher into an ambulance, and is told that Nick is fine.

In the ambulance, they reunite. Tina tells a stunned-looking Nick that she took care of Jason. The ambulance takes off. THE END

WTF??? The end? What about Tina's dad mysteriously coming back to life? What happens to her now that her mother's dead? Who gets blamed for all of the killings this time around? "The End", my ass!

I've always hated this one, and seeing it this week reminded me exactly why I did. The kills are way too similar, Jason's face and costume is altered, the iconic music's gone, Tommy Jarvis is only mentioned in clips, the kills happen too fast...the movie's a mess. Sadly, it's still not the low-point of the series,as Jason still has to get to New York, Outer Space, and Elm Street. 2 killer trees, for at least the production values, make-up gore, and humorous touches.

No clue what the next slasher flick in my queue is. I actually may start on Part 8 of the franchise, as the later ones are all currently on the Netflix Instant menu. But hopefully, I can get a break with a holiday-themed slasher flick first. These later sequels are horrible, some much worse than I remembered them being. See you next week?