2/5/11

Mind over Matter: Tina in Friday the 13th VII: The New Blood

When I was thinking about the films I wanted to watch for Women in Horror Recognition Month, I thought a lot about “final girls” who didn’t fit in the traditional mold. One popped into my brain immediately almost as if someone had put it there using the power of their mind. That character is Tina as played by Lar Park-Lincoln in Friday the 13th Part 7: The New Blood. Unlike the vast majority of women in Friday the 13th movies, Tina is not a wild, crazy camper scrambling though the woods trying to make her escape. She is a troubled young women, but she also holds an inner power making Tina a force to be reckoned with for Jason Voorhees. It is not a power fueled by the same kind of supernatural brute force as the hockey masked killer, but rather by a combination of her mind and emotions. So while Jason might prefer machete’s and harpoons, Tina is able to fight back with only her thoughts.

When Tina (Park-Lincoln) was just a six year old girl, she made a wish many children flippantly make. She wished that her father was dead. Tragically, unknown to her, she was in possession of an untapped telekinetic power, and when she made the wish, the dock of her family’s Crystal Lake vacation home gave way beneath his feet plunging her father to his death in the lake. Ten years later, at the behest of her doctor (Terry Kiser), Tina and her mother (Susan Blue) return to the lakeside cabin to confront the guilt that has haunted Tina’s life. Dr. Crews however has other ideas. He believes that Tina’s telekinetic powers are linked to her heightened emotions. Rather than trying to help her, he has brought her to Crystal Lake to provoke a response which will give him definitive proof of her ability. What he didn’t count on is what other secrets the lake holds. When Tina looks out across the water and wishes that she could bring her father back to life, it instead stirs Jason Voorhees, who had been chained to a stone and sunk to the lake bottom. Responding to Tina’s wish, Jason comes back to continue his reign of terror.

Unlike horror’s other teenage telekinetic, Carrie White, Tina’s power is never linked to either her ascension into puberty or due to emotional trauma. While trauma certainly seems to exacerbated her condition, the fact that her powers manifested in her youth suggests to me that it was an innate, though inert, ability. Psychotherapist Susan Caroll PhD states in her article “Awakening Our Full Potential”, “Strong emotion is an important element in telekinesis because emotion is ‘energy in motion.’”  While Caroll  goes on to talk about “love-based emotions” as a source for these powers in her article, there seems to me no reason it could not be grounded in the opposite. There have long been paranormal theories regarding poltergeist activity linked to unchecked telekinetic powers in young girls living in the proximity of limestone. Perhaps the intensity of Tina’s powers in relation to Crystal Lake not only are caused by her heightened emotional state, but also the makeup of the lake’s bedrock.

What makes Tina’s paranormal ability really interesting to me is how it differentiates her from Jason Voorhees. Jason kills and continues to live as a supernatural force of vengeance intent on continuing his mother’s work. He manifests as a monster filled with violence and brute force, happy to split skulls or beat someone in a sleeping bag against a tree. Vengeance and brutality are so often male dominated traits, and there is no doubt Jason’s oedipal revenge directed at those who trespass against morality is a very masculine. On the other hand, while Tina’s powers first manifested in defense of her mother as well (her parents had been fighting prior to Tina’s fatal wish), she is filled with guilt, despair, and plagued by an unstable mind leading her to spend many years in a mental hospital. While Jason gains his power from rage and vengeance, Tina’s power comes from her sadness and anger, a powerful emotions in both men and women, but especially potent in young women. Channeling these feelings, she becomes aware of her ability, and though this awareness it allows her to use it to fight back against Jason’s brute force.

Much of the credit for how well the character of Tina works goes to Lar Park-Lincoln. While she was no stranger to horror movies having also appeared in House II: The Second Story, she was a stranger to psychic phenomena. Park-Lincoln has been quoted as saying, “"I took it upon myself to work with real psychics and learn what it would be like to experience a vision and what a person would go through trying to communicate the experience to other people. I was really serious about trying to do this movie right." This attention to detail greatly contributed to the areas where the somewhat lukewarm film succeeds. While Park-Lincoln nails the vulnerability of her character, she also shows a strength, which like her character’s telekinetic power, is hidden deep inside her. This was also the first Friday the 13th film for Kane Hodder who played the hockey masked killer in films VII though X. For my money, Hodder is one of the best Jasons, and here his massive, intimidating frame makes for a striking dichotomy to the diminutive Park-Lincoln.

While Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood is only a mediocre entry into the series, the individuality of Tina both as a “final girl” and a rival for Jason makes up for many of the film’s shortcomings. Where many of the films series’ female characters are portrayed as stock, weak damsels in distress, Tina starts off as a traumatized girl who might be considered weak only to grow into a supernatural force in her own right. One that is powerful enough to defeat Jason Voorhees, well, at least until the next sequel. Unfortunately, Tina’s storyline is not extended beyond the confines of Part VII. Instead in the next installment Jason headed off to The Big Apple. As a formidable opponent to the supernatural killer, I don’t think that Tina, and likewise Lar Park-Lincoln, have gotten their due, and what better time to give it than my first post for Women in Horror Recognition Month. For more information on events going on this month, make sure you check out their page on facebook for links to all the great contributions out there.

5 comments:

  1. If memory serves, doesn't Jason use a modified weed whacker to kill someone in this film, or have I finally lost it?

    This one is a guilty pleasure - I remember when it came out, some film magazine did a shot by shot article about the scene where the house in the woods blows up.

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  2. jervaise brooke hamsterFebruary 5, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    Its incredible how much that little blonde girl looks like Heather o`Rourke.

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  3. Probably my second favorite Final Girl in the F13th franchise [number one would be Part 2's Ginny (Amy Steel)]. Yeah, the film isn't the best sequel but I think it's a fun flick due to Park-Lincoln's performance, as well as Kane Hodder doing his thing as Jason. The ending of this film still bugs the hell out of me though, but it doesn't completely ruin the performances and the entertainment value of this film. For a 7th film in a horror franchise, THE NEW BLOOD is a whole lot better than it has any right to be. Great write up!

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  4. Great post. This Friday is a guilty pleasure for me; it's so camp and trashy. I thought having a telekinetic final girl was a pretty interesting attempt to move the series into a more fantasy orientated brand of horror though, much like Friday the 13th's main competitor, the A Nightmare on Elm Street series.
    Happy Women in Horror Month!

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  5. @Pax Romano- Ft13th 7 surely is a guilty pleasure, but there seemed to me to be something interesting they were shooting for. Jason does indeed use a weed wacker with a saw blade on it to dispatch one foe in a scene that veers into parody territory.

    @Hamster- I didnt consider that, but sure.

    @FRed- " THE NEW BLOOD is a whole lot better than it has any right to be. " That sums it up so well. This is exactally what I feel about it.

    @James- There is something of a "Dream Warrior" vibe about this entry into the series, but thankfully Jason didn't have to grunt out punchlines. Thanks for the comment.

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