By Frank Pittarese
The One with Telekinetic Tina
They killed Jason. They brought him back as a murder-zombie. Friday the 13th fans have seen it all, right? NOPE! This time, the high concept is “Jason vs. Carrie.” In an endless quest to keep the series fresh, this movie introduces a new nemesis for Jason — the telekinetic teen Tina Shepard. Where’s Tommy? Who knows. Let the makers of fan-films deal with him.
Starting at the site of what was once Camp Forest Green, we’re thrust into the life of young Tina. She lives in a nice home where the camp once stood, with her mom and drunken/abusive father. After a household ruckus, Tina flees from the house and jumps into a small boat, pursued by her apologetic dad. But Little Tina is pissed, so she telekinetically destroys the pier — and kills her dad — with a death stare. And so it begins.
Several years later, Tina and Mom return to the lake house, along with Tina’s shady shrink, Dr. Crews. Crews, aware of Tina’s psychic abilities, is secretly manipulating the now-teenage girl for his own greedy pursuits. The slimy doctor torments Tina into having one of her many freak-outs, causing her to run to the lake and wish for her dad’s return. But, oops! Instead of summoning Daddy Shepard, she psychically frees Jason from his underwater chains, where Tommy Jarvis left him years ago. Coincidentally? A bunch of teens have moved into the house across the road for a birthday celebration. I wonder what will happen next…?
Jason makes mincemeat of the teens is what happens next. Meanwhile, Tina has a continuous series of fits about one thing or another. Sometimes it’s predictive visions of death and/or Jason. Sometimes she’s just in a mood. Tina is a lot. Tina is EXTRA. But amidst her fits, she finds a potential boyfriend with a handsome boy from across the road, Nick (soap actor Kevin Spirtas), who actually has the patience for her shenanigans. Bless his heart. Together, they’re the last ones standing as Tina has an epic showdown with the hulking, zombified Jason, her telekinesis turned up full-blast against Jason in his relentless pursuit.
In the end, it isn’t Tina who defeats our favorite killer. Nope, nope. Tina somehow resurrects her dead father from Crystal Lake (who looks great, except for some smudges on his face). In a flash, Dead Dad re-chains Jason, dragging him into the depths yet again. All’s well that ends…in confusion.
While this isn’t the best executed entry, I do like what they were attempting here. We’re seven films deep and an actual effort is being made to keep things fresh. With Jason having been supernaturally returned to life, this “psychic powers” element feels like a natural progression. We’re no longer in the real world of Alice and Ginny. We’re in the land of the paranormal, and it works.
Aside from the kills, which are expected, of course, a couple of familiar notes are struck. Like Tommy before her, Tina just got out of a mental institution, guilty over killing her dad with her psychokinetic abilities. And similar to The Final Chapter, the house across the road is full of attractive young adults waiting to be slaughtered. Yet things still feel somewhat fresh.
Unfortunately, Tina (as played by Lar Park Lincoln) is a whiny, frumpy buzzkill of a lead character. It’s really hard to like this girl with all her gloomy crying. Still, Tina’s prolonged battle with Jason is a lot of fun (even if you do end up rooting for him a little bit). No one has ever been a physical challenge to Jason, so it’s nice to see him struggle for a change.
Most of the victims are bland and forgettable, with the exception of diva-bitch Melissa (Susan Jennifer Sullivan), who makes a fun impression with her catty, soap opera presence, and Eddie (Jeff Bennett), a sweet-but-awkward nerd. Thanks to the MPAA’s prissy interference, the majority of the kills are edited down to unimpressive slashings and stabbings. The remaining ones (like the infamous “sleeping bag” murder) only hint at what was originally shot. Did they think people were seeing these things for Oscar-level performances and insight into the human condition?
The WTF ending doesn’t do this movie any favors, when Tina apparently resurrects her dead father to drag Jason into the lake. It can’t be her dad’s actual corpse – the coroner would have taken him away years ago. He’s not even rotten. I think what we’re seeing is a visual representation of Tina’s mental baggage, as channeled through her powers. She’s likely tapping into Crystal Lake’s supernatural forces, creating a vision of her own, like the many we’ve seen before. Regardless, it’s dopey, and it feels sloppy and rushed. I don’t think anyone thought it through (until me, because I obsess about these damn movies). As for Jason, I reckon Tommy Jarvis didn’t tell the authorities about his body being chained in Crystal Lake for fear he’d be set free, so Jason’s emergence from that particular spot somewhat tracks. Nobody ever looked for him, so he was never found.
This is the first appearance of Kane Hodder as Jason. He’s hulking, intimidating, and powerful — the best of the bunch — and luckily, he sticks around for awhile. For some, myself included, Hodder is THE Jason, as much as Robert Englund is Freddy Krueger.
The New Blood has two healthy time-jumps. We left off in the vicinity of 1989, with Jason in chains at the bottom of the lake, just a few yards from Camp Forest Green. Tina is quite young when we first see her. Let’s say she’s 10. It’s hard to know when those homes went up, but if we split the difference and say it’s been five years since Tommy fought Jason, we’re starting off here with a 1994 flashback to Little Tina’s telekinetic tantrum. Assuming teenage Tina is about 16, the bulk of this film takes place in the year 2000!
Oh, and Crystal Lake? It’s back! No more of this “Forest Green” malarky. It’s never explained, but my take is that the murders have turned Crystal Lake into a tourist attraction. People want to visit the creepy Camp Blood and buy t-shirts and Jason masks. When they changed it to Forest Green, the tourists stopped coming and Wessex County lost money — so they changed the name again and Crystal Lake was reborn. Locals gotta make a buck…even if it’s tainted by five dozen dead teens. Want confirmation of this theory? Check out my Jason Takes Manhattan review.
The music by Fred Mollin is considerably less thrilling than what came before. He did the music for Friday the 13th: The Series, and that’s how this score sounds: dialed down and small, like it’s for TV. It bugs me. He’s back for the next movie, because that one doesn’t have enough problems already.
Favorite moment: Tina telekinetically destroys Jason’s hockey mask to reveal his nasty, rotten zombie face!
The Worst One
Part V had problems, but this one is a heaping pile of flaming poop. It’s the worst of the series, with a cheap, direct-to-video vibe and I have nothing but bad things to say about it.
We’re at the site of Jason’s “drowning by ghost” at the end of the last movie. Lo and behold, there’s been another time jump. The area has been completely overhauled with new buildings and signage, all very lovely. How much time would such an overhaul take? Five years? Let’s go with that. Welcome to 2005, kids! (This movie was released in 1989.)
Jason is still legendary. In fact, when he’s accidentally freed from his underwater trap, the first thing he does is snatch up a hockey mask that’s an exact replica of the one that he’s worn for years. It even has a crack in it from where Chris planted her axe in Part 3. Why would such a thing even exist? This goes back to my theory that the “Forest Green” name was kiboshed when the township realized that the Crystal Lake Murders had marquee value. Jason Voorhees is a moneymaker and Crystal Lake has become a legit, merchandised, tourist attraction. When Jason masks up this time, he doesn’t even know that he’s become a brand. (This merchandising theme is even touched on in the next sequel.)
Things get sloppy right away, when a close-up of undead Jason’s hand reveals very normal-looking, non-zombified fingers sticking out of his gloves. They get worse when a flashback of young, drowning Jason shows a completely average, NON-mutated little boy with dark hair.
We quickly meet our “heroine” Rennie Fartface — I might need to fact-check her surname — who is played by a cardboard standee with hair (Jensen Daggett, who I’m sure is a lovely person). Rennie is bland, boring, and listless. She’s the worst final girl in the series; a tube of toothpaste would have more presence. And Rennie has problems. She keeps having nonsensical visions of a very normal-looking young Jason (with a full head of hair), a half-mutated Jason (also with hair), and later, a bald and fully mutated Young Jason. By the time this movie was made, the original Friday the 13th was a classic — familiar to anyone with a pop culture pulse. VHS existed. Photography existed. Reference material was available. But they couldn’t be arsed to even try getting it right (or even getting things consistent from minute-to-minute in their own film).
The guts of the plot is that the graduating class of Lakeview High is taking a cruise to New York City (a cruise that departs…from a lake). Rennie is among them, but nobody really cares because she’s a friendless celery stick. Rennie’s asshole uncle is there, and he’s very unpleasant; a true garbage human. Jason stows away, killing everyone he sees on his first and only vacation. But once again, the kills are edited down to nothing and the victims are immediately forgettable, so the whole trip is pretty dreary. When the ship is damaged, a handful of surviving dullards board a lifeboat to my hometown, and Jason — who apparently has finally learned how to swim — follows them all the way to NYC. Maybe they’ll all get discount tickets to Cats.
The movie is an eternal 1 hour and 40 minutes long. They reach Manhattan just past the 1 hour mark. And when they get there, it’s Canada. Yep. Fucking Canada. I used a stopwatch and the actual Manhattan footage (most of which was shot in Times Square) is about six minutes in length (one minute of which runs under the closing credits).
Manhattan is portrayed as a disgusting trash fire. It’s practically post-apocalyptic, full of sleazy back alleys, abandoned buildings, rampant crime, and drug users. Five minutes after arriving in the Big Apple, Rennie is kidnapped and forcibly injected with heroin — just before Jason interrupts her attempted rape. And everyone acts like civilization is 100 miles away instead of, say, a two-minute walk to literally ANY avenue full of people, police officers, and civilized society. Honestly, this depiction of New York is offensive to me, and I don’t offend easily. Anyway, rather than taking in the sights, Jason stalks the remaining tourists relentlessly, and every death is a gift because these are the worst characters in the franchise.
Then a big reveal comes via flashback, when we learn that years earlier, Uncle Asshole pushed Little Rennie into Crystal Lake — after frightening her with the legend of Jason. As she struggled to stay afloat, a young, properly mutated Jason tried to drag her into the depths. This, however, is impossible. Jason drowned in 1957. When Rennie was a child, he was well into adulthood, if not zombie-hood. Whatever Rennie saw can’t have been real, so let’s chalk it up to the Crystal Lake spooks and/or one of Rennie’s weird Jason-visions, which she repeatedly has for no reason. Or maybe Rennie was already shooting up heroin when she was 10.
Anyway, with Jason running amok, our two surviving idiots, Rennie and the cute-but-vapid Sean (soap actor Scott Reeves), eventually flee to the sewers, where a random worker informs them that the Manhattan sewer tunnels flood with toxic waste(?!?), every night (?!?) at midnight (?!?). There are also barrels of this toxic waste laying about for easy access. Sure enough, Jason comes stomping along, the sewer floods, and a now-maskless (long story), panicked Jason cries out in a CHILD’S voice “Mommy! Don’t let me drown!” before vomiting up a flood of…lake water. I want to punch this lazy, stupid movie in the face. Literally nothing makes sense — and they’re not done yet!
The toxic waste — for reasons absolutely unknown — turns Jason into a very normal, shivering, human boy, naked but for a pair or swim trunks (or maybe boxer shorts). This is probably an illusion. Maybe. But then Rennie and Sean seem to react to the sight of him, so who knows. Anyway, even if he IS a human boy, they leave him for dead. They have no fucks to give about some dirty, shivering sewer-child. Let the Ninja Turtles deal with him.
Then the two dolts walk outside and cheerfully joke about visiting the Statue of Liberty — which is what you do when your friends and family members have just been murdered, when you just left a dying child in a toxic sewer, and when you’ve been shot up with a dirty heroin needle.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think Jason was literally transformed into a child. With the movie firmly establishing that Rennie has visions of Jason — visions which, from scene to scene, are incongruous and inconsistent — it’s easy to dismiss that ending. Jason was probably swept up in the toxic waste, Rennie had another off-kilter hallucination, and we move on.
If it helps, much like Part V, you can skip this one and it doesn’t impact a thing. In fact, Jason is inexplicably back at Crystal Lake when the next movie starts. Maybe he took a cab back from the city. They didn’t have Uber back then.
Favorite moment: Ejecting the disc from my Blu-ray player. Okay, okay. The boxing kill is funny, at least — and it happens on-camera, so they get credit for that. And Kane Hodder makes every Jason scene work; his name should go above the title of every Friday in which he appears.
Next time: The franchise shifts from Paramount to New Line and things really get crazy.