Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #356
Number of Views: Multiple
Release Date: May 13, 1988
Sub-Genre: Eighties Slasher
Country of Origin: United States
Box Office: $19,100,000
Running Time: 88 minutes
Director: John Carl Buechler
Producers: Frank Mancuso Jr., Iain Paterson, Barbara Sachs
Screenplay: Manuel Fidello, Daryl Haney
Special Effects: John Carl Buechler
Cinematography: Paul Elliott
Score: Harry Manfredini , Fred Mollin
Editing: Maureen O’Connell, Martin Jay Sadoff, Barry Zetlin
Studio: Friday Four Films Inc., Sean S. Cunningham Films
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Stars: Lar Park Lincoln, Kevin Blair, Susan Blu, Terry Kiser, Kane Hodder, Kevin Spirtas, Susan Jennifer Sullivan, Heidi Kozak, William Butler, Staci Greason, Larry Cox, Jeff Bennett, Diana Barrows, Elizabeth Kaitan, Jon Renfield, Michael Schroeder, Debora Kessler, Diane Almeida, Craig Thomas, Jennifer Banko, John Otrin
Narration: Walt Gorney
Suggested Audio Candy
Harry Manfredini “The New Blood”
Those meddling censors really do make my blood boil over. They rile me up to such extremities that my only desire is to hunt them each down in turn and excise their spleens through their rectums. What would be the point in venting my frustration is such a nefarious manner? After all the footage of their demise would invariably cause uproar and end up cut, at any rate. Alas, some things in life are simply out of our control. The seventh entry into the long-running Friday The 13th franchise from John Carl Buechler entitled The New Blood is one such victim of the MPAA’s stringent certification guidelines and had to be submitted an exasperating total of nine times in order to secure its R rating. This effectively neutered the kills entirely and the additional footage has long since been lost forever by Paramount, much to Buechler’s displeasure. I feel his pain.
The series had seen its fair share of peaks and troughs but was back on the resurgence thanks to Tom McLoughlin’s thoroughly entertaining sixth chapter, Jason Lives, which had repaired at least some of the damage left by the muddled A New Beginning. However, by 1988, the slasher buzz was beginning to subside after a significant drop in box office receipts and Friday The 13th was in clear and present danger of flat lining indefinitely. Paramount were forced to think on their feet and their primary outline involved the first screen pairing of Voorhees and the dream weaver himself Freddy Krueger. After failing to come to an agreement with New Line Cinema the idea was scrapped and the whole project started from scratch.
Amidst the usual pay disputes and clashes between the director and his associate producer over how much of Jason’s face should be revealed, came some decidedly upbeat news. Buechler had previously met Kane Hodder on the set of Renny Harlin’s superior chiller Prison and had been so moved by the big man’s display of survival skills after he consumed live worms on set that he championed him as the next Voorhees. Consequently, Hodder went on to become a mainstay of the series and the rest is cinematic history. It’s a shame he didn’t get there sooner as we may not have been in this sorry mess in the first place.
The New Blood was a truly bizarre little movie. On one hand it sunk to a fresh low with less characterization, suspense, or panache than any other entry to date and even more odious protagonists. It just felt undercooked; which was not helped by the fact that its setting was far removed from the lush greenery of Camp Crystal part and replaced with a veritable bijou. Where this ought to have lent a certain Southern Gothic charm to proceedings, the lack of artistic innovation or any characters we could relate to robbed it of much of the fun factor which had been a staple of the series up until now. While Hodder’s presence behind the mask was indisputable, he was hamstrung by Buechler’s lack of know-how with regards to setting up a scene. His real expertise was in special effects and he failed to encourage any real urgency to our pulses.
Because of this it became all about the gag and a sixteen-strong kill quota provided no end of opportunity to make up for such a sedate atmosphere elsewhere. That was until the MPAA came along and pissed on the bonfire. I won’t harp on now and instead shall bottle my vitriol for my end of appraisal Grue-Guzzlers epilogue. Instead there is another pesky fly in its ointment to take care of. Telekinesis anyone? Whichever bright spark had the idea to gift the otherwise investable Tina (an excellent Lar Park-Lincoln) with the ability to move objects with the power of her mind was clearly out of theirs. As much of a visual spectacle that the final act may be, it takes things to such an extreme that, again, the impact is markedly lessened.
Despite an ethereal air of disenchantment, in many ways this was the true Final Friday. After his epic skirmish with Tina, Jason was handed his eviction notice and shipped off to Manhattan while he awaited being shot off in a space capsule after possessing a few bystanders with his own mystical powers during the interim. The New Blood may have been flat and uninspired, the once green grass of home replaced with a mist-strewn quagmire, and the final girl fitted with a little too much of an upgrade; but it was honest and that still stands for much in Keeper’s opinion. It’s just a shame Jason didn’t get a better send-off.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 6/10
Grue Factor: 2/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers: Never before have I been so sickened to report that a film be relatively bloodless. The reason for this is that I know that when Jason crushed David’s head it shouldn’t simply have cut to the next scene. Instead, we should have been watching it compact like an empty soda can. That hapless camper Jason decimated against a tree in her sleeping bag was actually five whacks shy of the messy demise Buechler intended. The risible Dr. Crews was spared the indignity of being sheared wide open by Jason’s extended buzz saw when we really know the truth about how it played out. Virtually every kill was trimmed and this effectively robs an entire digit from The New Blood’s overall score. So what have you got to say about that Paramount?
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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