To me, there is no greater cinematic guilty pleasure than a Slasher Flick- poorly written, poorly acted; rife with nudity and over the top low budgetspecial effects- all of which revolves around the true star of the film-the killer. The killer, usually referred to as a “Slasher” is one of the great cinematic inventions of the 20th century, a cold, unfeeling psychopath with little or no motive or character development, that is tactically brilliant, innovative and typically a physical powerhouse-even if not in stature.
While there have been many great movie killers such as Norman Bates – the true Slasher style killer didn’t come into fruition until Black Christmas in 1974 with ‘Billy’, a strange, jaundiced maniac who stabs the ever-loving hell out of Margot Kidder. Two Slashers that are more notable came onto the movie scene later- ‘Leatherface’ of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the original breakout killer- ‘Michael Myers’ of the Halloween franchise. Myers is essentially the standard archetype of the Slasher genre, and in 1980, director Sean S. Cunningham used the fantastic characterization of Myers – as pretty much a MacGuffin for the original Friday the 13th wherein the killer turned out to be the mother of a drowned boy.
The Friday the 13th franchise- actually just the initial eight under Paramount (the subsequent New Line Cinema installments – Jason Goes to Hell and so forth try to hard and miss the point) are the zenith of the Slasher genre. Jason was rad. He killed all sorts of folks that probably didn’t need a killin’, but it was a fun ride and people ate it up for most of the 80’s.
I chose to review “Friday the 13th part VII: The New Blood” (Henceforth referred to as F7, because that title is way too goddamn long) because it’s the pinnacle of the franchise, it’s absurdity and whole embrace of what it is makes it stand out above the rest. F7 is also a notable installment due to Kane Hodder playing the role of Jason for the first time. Hodder is most famous for, well playing Jason Voorhees over the span of four films and is considered to be the definitive Jason- this is no joke either, Hodder is essentially the Tom Baker of guys who behead skinny dippers.
F7 is also the first film after the ‘Tommy Jarvis trilogy’ – AKA, The One with Cory Feldman, The One where Jason isn’t the killer, and The one with No Nudity. Where the film loses one protagonist with Jarvis, it gains one with Tina.
-Warning, I have the memory of a goldfish and some details of this movie are a bit fuzzy even though I seriously watched it right before I wrote this, so don’t gripe if my recollection has some continuity gaffs.-
A few years after the end of number six, we are introduced to Tina inadvertently killing her father with her telekinetic powers after he gets drunk and beats his wife-who looks a hell of a lot like Marcy from Married with Children (and Fright Night), so I’ll refer to her as Marcy. Look, these characters aren’t that special, so their names don’t matter.
It turns out using mind powers to kill your dad is psychologically scarring, so Tina was placed in a nut house – until ‘Dr. Bad News Cruise’ decides he wants to assist Tina by bringing her to the lake where she killed her dad. Also, it’s interesting to note that technically – this movie takes place in the year 2000, but an awesome alternate 2000 where everyone still has teased out awesome helmet hair and still uses bulky multi unit VHS camcorders.
Tina arrives at her cabin and we meet the kooky cast in the cabin next door, – Stuck up Rich girl, Bad Sci-Fi Writer Guy, Rich Kid who is the nephew of the cabin owner, gold digging blonde who is banging rich kid, slutty redhead & glasses wearing plain Jane (I named them Daphne & Thelma), Handsome stoner bad-boy type, the black couple and the nice guy who doesn’t die: I hope I don’t spoil the surprise that Jason kills the rest of them. Nice guy and the rest are at the cabin for Nice guy’s cousin’s surprise birthday party- who is arriving later with his girlfriend so they can get killed early.
Dr. Cruise does a bunch of tests on Tina that basically stress her out so she can move shit with her mind, plus she has some visions of the future. Well, one test upsets Tina and she runs out to the lake where she killed her dad and uses her powers to try to bring him back- to which I guess that they just left his dead ass in the lake or something, which also makes a little sense considering there’s an undead psycho killer (I forgot to mention that Jason has been killed- a lot) at the bottom of the lake, so I’m sure the local Sherriff put the kybosh on underwater recovery. Anyhow, Tina’s crazy ass lifts a body out of the water, but guess what- it’s not dad, it’s Mr. Voorhees, and thus the killin’s gets a started!
The murders are intertwined with some boring shit that attempts to further the plot, but it sucks so no one cares. I’ll just give you the clif notes- no one believes Tina about a dude coming out of a lake in an area that is known for having an undead murderer in said lake, the stuck up rich girl makes fun of Tina for being crazy, Tina and nice guy have romantic possibilities, Daphne and Thelma vie for stoner guy’s affections, Stuck up rich girl pretends to hook up with bad writer to get nice guy jealous and Dr. Cruise wants to make Tina crazier to write a book or something retarded – back to Jason.
Remember that cousin? Well his car broke down, so he and his girlfriend decide to hoof it to the cabin, of course the cousin has to take piss and while he’s draining the lizard, his girlfriend gets stabbed in the chest. The cousin zips up his fly and turns around to see his gal pal getting stuck; and when he tries to run away – Jason thinks to himself “I don’t need to chase this dumbass” and throws a knife into his back. We then cut back to more stupid non-Jason bullshit- no one gets naked.
Afterwards, we meet a camping couple out in the woods- the guy in said couple says some cheesy dialogue trying to get his girlfriend in the sack, she tells him to get more firewood and then they’ll do the dirty. While the dude is out getting firewood, Jason creeps up on the guy, punches a hole IN HIS FRICKING SPINE and then snaps his neck just because he can.
Now this leaves the young lady in the tent nestled in a sleeping bag by her lonesome, Jason rectifies that situation by tearing through the tent, grabbing the sleeping back and HOLY SHIT HE SLAMMED IT INTO A TREE!!!! This is honestly the greatest horror movie kill ever, it’s so over the top absurd it’s an immediate classic- just about every list of best movie kills places the sleeping bag slam at number one- the rest don’t know what they are talking about. Shit, I chose to write about this movie on account of how much I love that scene, see for yourself:
I remember being thirteen and watching that for the first time with some of mine and my brother’s friends and rewinding it over and over, and I was thirteen. I didn’t even stop for the nudity as much, and this was before my part of the world had the internet outside of the library. I guess that the initial theatrical release had Jason whack the bag against the tree a bunch of times- but I tell you, that one solid strike is more than enough, any more and it would lose its wow factor. I’ll be straight with you, you might as well go see what Scoot or Sanchez are writing about at this point, because the article goes a downhill from here- hell, Slasher films in general go downhill from here.
After some other boring stuff, Rich kid and gold digger go out for a walk at night, rich kid asks what gold digger sees in him and she comments on liking his “Big, Fat . . . Wallet.” but it’s cool, because she wants to go Skinny Dipping! Nothing wrong ever happens to naked women in Crystal Lake! While Gold Digger strips down and jumps in the lake, rich kid begins to get undressed when, Bam! Jason his face cut off with a machete; Jason proceeds to pull gold digger under water and drown her.
At this time, Dr. Cruise finds the cousin’s dead body in the woods and doesn’t alert the authorities – asshole. Back at the cabin-Thelma tries to doll herself up to get Stoner guy, but when she walks outside to find him or something, Jason tosses the rich kid’s corpse at her feet and she runs into a tool shed-where people keep sharp objects. Thelma believes that she successfully hid from Jason, but he just ignores her and picks out his next maiming implement – he then busts through the wall behind her like a boss to slit her throat with a sickle.
Jason proceeds to the cabin where seemingly everyone inside is banging-save for stuck up blonde, she’s leading bad writer guy on so nice guy might walk in and then want to have sex with her instead or something. It’s her plan, not mine. Somewhere at this point Tina runs off in a car and her mom and Dr. Cruise head out to find her. However, she crashes in a ditch and runs back to the cabin, through the woods, thus not running into her mom and Cruise.
Jason finds the black couple doing it inside a van, he lures the dude outside so he can crush his skull like a soda can and then proceeds to stab the black girl in the eye with a party favor noise maker thingy. There’s a reason I didn’t bother to remember these character’s names. Of course, after fulfilling the common trope of African-Americans in the Slasher genre, Jason cuts the power off to the cabin.
With the lights out, Daphne and stoner guy are done screwing, and he proceeds to go downstairs to get a snack, while she waits for him and provides the second bit of gratuitous nudity. And while in the kitchen, stoner guy gets stabbed in the gut.
Over at Tina’s Cabin, Tina and nice guy find several newspaper articles in Dr. Cruise’s desk in regards to Jason Voorhees – both of them both respond as though this whole notion of murders at Crystal Lake has never been addressed, really? This is the seventh movie. I know that you can play a little dumb about instances that happened when you were young, but even when I was a wee lad I knew about Jeffery Dahlmer and Charles Manson- not specifics, but I knew they happened, I’m pretty sure Jason would be such a phenomenon in this world that everyone would have at least heard SOMETHING.
Back at the cabin, Jason hacks the bad writer guy in the throat and Daphne starts walking around the cabin out of boredom. When she enters another bedroom, the music gets really tense and something jumps out of the closet! But don’t worry, it’s just a cat, that said Jason throws her out a window, and even though it’s just a two-story drop, she dies.
Back in the Woods, Jason finds mom and Cruise, Voorhees makes a lunge for Cruise, but he uses mom as a shield and gets her killed instead, he then tries to run off, but Jason catches up to him with what appears to be a weed whacker, but with a metal circular blade, an guts the poor bastard.
Tina heads into the woods to find her mom and get out, but since it’s too late, the audience is treated to the obligatory parade of dead bodies, including said mother.
This puts Tina over the edge and when she meets Jason, she uses her psychic abilities to bind him with tree roots and then electrify him with a power line. Jason has been defeated, so Tina goes back to the Cabin to tell nice guy the good news – but it turns out, Jason was just playin’ Opossum! Tina runs to the Rich kid’s cabin to find nice guy, Jason then proceeds to jump through the window like a bad ass and kill Tina, but she drops an awning on him when he heads outside. Of course, she forgets that the several thousand watts of electricity didn’t kill the guy, but a hundred pounds of plywood must do the trick. Tina heads back to her cabin to find nice guy and stuck up rich girl, the latter of which thinks the whole story is bullshit and heads out the door, only to have Jason there waiting to hit her with an axe to the dome.
Realizing the situation they are in, Tina and nice guy run up the stairs of the cabin, instead of out the back door. Now since they are obviously cornered, Tina uses her powers to break Jason’s mask, revealing his disfigured mug and then proceeds to hang him with a wire and throw him through the staircase.
Once our heroes are down the stairs, Jason busts through the crawl space, somehow the floorboards break, and Jason and Tina end up in the basement. Luckily, Tina gives Jason a psychic golden shower of gasoline and lights his ass on fire just as she and nice guy escape – blowing up that damn cabin. Of course they think it has to be over at this point, but Nope! Jason is on fire and hell bent on killing Tina, who runs to the same dock where she murdered her dad, and heads into a canoe, Jason won’t give up and it looks like Tina might have to stamp her ticket. However, it’s Deus Ex Machina time! Tina’s dead dad jumps through the docks- not decomposed in the slightest, and drags Jason’s ass back into the lake, YAY! CLOSURE!
The next morning, the local emergency crews are cleaning up the scene, and they take the word of the mental patient who said the zombie goalie was thrown into the lake by her father’s ghost, but since it’s Crystal Lake, the cops have to buy it. I give this film five out of five Great Pumpkins for being so absurd it’s great, as well as a bonus Linus in honor of the great sleeping bag kill.
Guest Writer: Toni Smith