At my recent trip to Shock Stock 2018, guests Kane Hodder, Lar Park-Lincoln (Friday the 13th Part VII, Freddy’s Nightmares), and Parry Shen (the Hatchet series) sat down at a panel to discuss their oeuvre of work. Naturally, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood came up, and some behind-the-scenes details were revealed.
With the upcoming 30th anniversary of Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (released May 13, 1988), this seemed like the perfect opportunity to share some insights on the making of the film.
Friday the 13th Part VII is arguably the most heavily and savagely censored film in the franchise (it had to be submitted to the MPAA nine times before they approved an acceptable version). Kane Hodder revealed that “every single kill in part 7 was cut completely” and had a lot to say on the topic of editing down the kills.
“The timing of our movie was the absolute worst for trying to get something on the screen that’s graphic.” Hodder explains, “For some reason, that time of filmmaking, they were taking out everything. Every single kill I did in that movie was so crazy and over-the-top, and it was cut down to nothing”.
He spoke of the makeup and effects department’s months of work on the incredible detail that went into the kills. “People still love the movie, so it’s amazing to think of how much more enjoyable it would have been had they left some of the makeup effects in”.
The head-squeezing scene was a particularly sad cut as, according to Hodder, the original version was truly gruesome. Everyone’s work, as he said, “looks amazing on screen”. Though some deleted scenes are available, it’s tragic that fans cannot admire that original effort as part of an uncut version of the film.
But for Hodder, the film is about far more than the kills. He explained that it is – and always will be – his favorite movie in the franchise because of the storyline. Tina’s telekinetic powers made Jason’s (after)life a lot more interesting.
“No other time did anyone ever have that effect on Jason before. So as a stunt person, it was great for me because [Tina] made so many things happen to Jason. It was a lot more enjoyable to film as a stunt person.”
For Lar Park-Lincoln, the process of making Friday the 13th Part VII was quite a challenge. Tina goes through so many intense emotional changes through the film, so the common practice of shooting the scenes out of order meant that Park-Lincoln had to diligently track her reactions from scene to scene.
Park-Lincoln spoke fondly of the process, saying, “As an actress, it was really fun because I didn’t use any artificial tears, I didn’t really know about them. I had to really script out the level of the crying and hysteria, which level she was at at each point”.
Despite the many migraines that were caused by being in that intense emotional state for long hours every day, Park-Lincoln emphasized her appreciation for the experience. With a smile, she said “As an actress, I really enjoyed that part”.
An additional challenge, as Hodder explained, was the fact that they shot all of the interior shots over a period of four weeks in LA, then moved to Alabama to shoot all the exterior scenes.
“Imagine the difficulty for [Lar], going from a scene where’s she’s at one level of emotion, then going outside for instance. Now she has to remember how that was a month ago when she shot the interior part of that exact same shot. So, I was always amazed that [Lar] could pull that off”.
Lar now has an acting school in Dallas where she used her skill and experience to develop a technique for actors called script diagramming. “Kind of like script supervision”, she will guide actors on how to break down every scene so they know where their characters leave each take emotionally and how that translates into the next scene.
Another surprising story explained that they were doing pickup shots at the very end of March, 1988. Keep in mind the movie was in theatres on May 13. That’s an insane turnaround time.
While pickups are, again, a very common practice when filmmaking, our use of digital film technology allows actors and directors to check the scenes that were shot at any point in the process. In 1988, the use of film reel – rather than digital – added the challenge of not being able to reference the previous scenes to carry that emotional thread.
Friday the 13th Part VII still managed to stay impressively on schedule, but the hardest part for Hodder was the long hours of filming with the additional three hours of makeup application and removal. Part VII grants the audience with a glimpse of the rotted face of Jason, and that decayed, waterlogged look takes some time to create.
The last two days of principal photography were spent on a whole different kind of challenge – the underwater scenes.
“I had to be underwater for 4 hours at a time without coming up”. Hodder shared, detailing the stressful experience, “I was cabled to the bottom of the pool by my ankle because the foam latex that I’m wearing is very buoyant. So I couldn’t just stay underwater when I wanted to, I had to be held under.”
Hodder was supplied oxygen through a scuba system, which of course could not be visible in the shot. Another stunt person was in the tank with him and would swim out to provide him with much-needed oxygen in-between takes.
“It’s a weird feeling, I’m telling you, when you’re holding your breath and you’re getting toward the end of that breath and they haven’t cut yet.” Hodder adds, “It’s a tough way, physically, to end shooting of an already physical movie.”
As a testament to the film’s legacy – even after all of the complexities of making such an intensive movie – Hodder and Park-Lincoln still seem genuinely passionate about it.
For more on the Friday the 13th series, check out our article on why the franchise is at a standstill .