On May 13th, 1988, Paramount Pictures released the seventh film in the insanely popular FRIDAY THE 13th franchise. Subtitled “The New Blood”, it was an attempt to cash in on the big success of the previous year’s Part VI, which really revitalized the franchise by adding more gothic and fantastical elements to what was originally a very grounded slasher series. Now that Jason Voorhees (played for the first time by the legendary Kane Hodder) was an undead invincible killing machine, the writers and producers needed to up the ante by giving Jason a Final Girl who could push him to his limits.
Enter, Tina Shepard (Lar-Park Lincoln), a girl with a traumatic past and latent psychokinetic abilities who was able to throw everything but the kitchen sink at him. There’s a reason fans call this episode “Jason vs. Carrie”.
I felt very lucky to attend Shock Stock 2018 this year in London, Ontario, Canada, so that I could see their advertised panel entitled “Kane’s Greatest Rivals” which reunited Kane Hodder and Lar-Park Lincoln (as well as the hilarious Parry Shen from Kane’s “Hatchet” series). I was really excited to hear more about the behind-the-scenes happenings of one of my favorite Fridays.
The panel started out in auspicious fashion, as Kane Hodder jokingly complained about there being no need for microphones as the back wall of the packed panel room was only about 20 feet from the panelists’ table. To say Kane Hodder is charismatic would be an understatement. And for a man who just turned 63, he is still undoubtedly an imposing figure.
Lar-Park Lincoln on the other hand was every bit as sweet and funny as you would imagine. There’s obviously still a lot of affection between the two of them after all these years, and it became clear throughout the Q&A that they both are still very passionate about Part VII, despite the issues they faced in production.
I’ve always felt the elements that set The New Blood apart from the other Fridays were the incredible special effects and make-up, the amount of abuse Jason took from Tina, and the consistently hysterical emotional pitch that Lar-Park Lincoln was able to maintain throughout the film. I was very happy that all these things were addressed in the panel.
The heavy make-up and effects elements of the film were heavily reliant on the skill of director John Carl Buechler. Both Lincoln and Hodder had wonderful things to say about their director, who was a great choice to direct this film based on his effects and make-up experience on films like Ghoulies, From Beyond and Re-Animator. He’s also the man responsible for Kane being cast as Jason, as the two had previously worked together on Prison.
“No other film did anyone ever have that effect on Jason before.” Hodder said, referring to the telekinetic powers Tina unleashed in the film. “So as a stunt person, it was great for me because she made so many things happen to Jason. It was a lot more fun to film as a stunt person.”
He wasn’t kidding. This was probably the heaviest stunt load that any Jason actor had to undertake. I’m particularly fond of Jason getting knocked straight down through a staircase, or having a roof dropped on him. It’s also good to point out that Kane Hodder was willing to do a very intense burn stunt in this film, despite the horrible accident (and even more horrible medical care) that lead to his distinctive scarring. The man is truly afraid of nothing!
The only thing that takes away from the great effects of this film, is how many of them we never got to see. John Buechler has been quoted often as saying “the ratings board raped my movie.” You could tell that this was a huge frustration for Hodder and Lincoln as well.
“The timing of our movie was the absolute worst for trying to get something graphic on the screen.” Hodder explains, “For some reason, at that particular time, they were taking out everything. Every single kill I did in that movie was cut down to nothing”.
Kane specifically spoke about the death of Ben (Craig Thomas) where he was given a prosthetic head filled with fake blood and brains that he was able to crush down to about the size of a softball, with everything oozing out. That kill was cut down to about two seconds in the final version of the film. Another heavily cut death was the highly cathartic kill of the slimy Dr. Crews (Terry Kiser of Weekend at Bernie’s fame). Kane took a weed-whacker with a circular saw on the end of it to him in what was supposed to be a brilliantly bloody scene. The final version is disappointingly quick.
“It’s a real tribute to the film that it is still a lot of people’s favorite of the series, despite all those cuts” Kane said. “It’s amazing to think of how much more enjoyable it would have been had they left more of that in.”
When I got my chance to pose a question to the panel, I really wanted to ask Lar-Park Lincoln how she was able to maintain such a fever pitch of fear and hysteria throughout the film. Most Final Girls only have to really ramp up the fear and intensity during the third act of the film, but Tina Shepard enters the film as a trauma stricken young woman, and Lincoln was required to show many fine layers of emotion.
To her credit, Lincoln seems to have very fond memories of the experience, and really used it as an opportunity to grow as an actress.
“I didn’t use any artificial tears. I had to really script out the level of crying and hysteria, which level she was at at each point”. Lincoln said. She would break down every scene in her script and attach an emotional level to them, so that she would be able to remember exactly what headspace she would need to be in to make her emotional state flow from scene-to-scene, despite being shot out of sequence. This is a technique she now teaches at her very successful Actors Audition Studios in Dallas, Texas.
“Imagine the difficulty for her, going from a scene where’s she’s at one level of emotion, then going outside, for instance.” Kane noted, because they filmed interior scenes and exterior scenes a month apart in a different part of the country. “Now she has to remember how that was a month ago when she shot the interior part of that same shot.”
It was great getting to hear from two horror icons about their experiences with one of my favorite slasher films. Looking back 30 years, and seeing all the difficulties the cast and crew had to deal with in order to make this film, it only makes the end result more impressive.
I would like to end with a special thanks to the great folks at Shock Stock 2018 for putting on such a great convention. From the vendors, to the selection of films, to the special guests, it was a truly exciting weekend. The passion the organizers have for the horror genre was splattered over every surface in the building. I encourage everyone who can make the trip to give it a visit in 2019.