Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan

F81

After spending years slaughtering campers at the infamous Crystal Lake, Jason Voorhees has decided to take a little trip to the big apple, with humorous consequences.

Manhattan…you know, as bad as it was in the 80’s I still would have liked to see it before they gave the city a thorough cleaning up. I know it was dangerous, full of violence, dirty as hell, and supposedly smelled bad too, but it would have been nice. Plus, what’s the worst that could happen to me, in fact it’d be pretty damn funny to have some punk kid stab me only to get his throat torn out just to satiate my undead hunger. I don’t know what it is but sometimes I just need a little bit of sleaze, some grime just to make my world more interesting. We have this place here in St. Louis, an area called The Loop, used to be the greatest place to go if you were looking for the more “adventurous” side of town, then the city cleaned it up. No more sleaze, no more grime, no more shifty types trailing you around, nothing. Now, it’s just a place where all the trendy types go, that and way too many kids. Just ruined the whole place. Oh well, I guess there’s at least still the East Side.

Our 8th installment in the Friday the 13th franchise begins with two randy teenagers ready to get it on before their trip to Manhattan, a trip that the entire senior class of Crystal Lake High will be taking. It seems the senior class of one of America’s most notorious towns is ready to take a trip to New York City, I guess in an effort to see what a city looks like when it reaches its asshole breaking point. Unfortunately for our two young lovers, they happen to be on a boat directly over the same lake Jason was submerged in after the events of Part 7. Furthering the unfortunates, their anchor just happens to hit a power line Jason is resting over. When their boat pulls further out, the anchor rips the power cord and an electrical pulse brings the maniacal killer back to life once again (making my argument that he is a zombie and not Frankenjason harder to dispute). His first act once alive again is to slaughter the horny teens (surprise, surprise) before going back into the water and managing to climb onto the very same boat about to carry a class of sexually charged, drug infused, absolutely insane teenagers to The City That Never Sleeps. After his ninja-like boarding of the ship, Jason goes about business as usual, taking out anyone he comes across with his main goal seeming to be young Rennie Wickham, a girl with some odd connection to Jason that is never quite explained. As Mr. Voorhees does what he does best and empties the ship, their arrival to Manhattan closes in and the City That Never Sleeps could be put to sleep permanently.

F86

{Best not to keep a spear gun on a boat above Crystal Lake}

I actually don’t hate this installment of the franchise as much as most fans do, to be honest it’s actually my favorite Jason movie. It’s most assuredly a ridiculous film, but that’s why I like it so much. Yeah, that might sound kinda lame, but seeing Jason used in the absolutely ludicrous ways he is in Part 8 makes this one comes across as very entertaining and if wasn’t for that fact, this film would easily be the worst in the series as it has more than its share of problems. The laughter from Part 8 and the sometimes absurd deaths make this film a worthwhile watch when a twisted smile is needed. Still, I think I would have been pissed beyond belief if I had wasted my time watching this one in the theatre but luckily I’ve only ever seen it on home video (or DVD). Just because I like this one so much doesn’t mean I don’t see everything that is wrong with it and there is a lot wrong. As a fan, it’s a favorite of mine but as a reviewer it’s a pretty terrible movie.

FT13th_Still_C-5042

{Mirrors are horrible things}

The first thing wrong is in the title itself. You would expect that should you watch a movie with “Takes Manhattan” in the title than the city would most likely play a huge role in the movie. Not so much. Manhattan seems to be more of an afterthought, one of those moments in cinema when somebody remembered at the end that they were supposed to do something. I can imagine the moment:

“Hey, was there anything else we were going to do with Part 8”

“No, I think we got it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Let’s see, Jason kills a bunch of people, there’s rampant sex and drug use, and we had him on the boat for a while. I think we got everything for Jason Takes Manhattan…OH SHIT, we forgot about Manhattan.”

That’s right, there isn’t much use of the actual city itself, most of the film is on the party boat and even when they finally make it to Manhattan, a lot of that time is spent running around the sewers. It was my opinion that they could have done a whole lot more with Manhattan instead of leaving it as an addendum. Director Rob Hedden actually did want to add more scenes of Manhattan and agrees with fans disappoint with the lack thereof but Paramount refused to budget more time in Manhattan.

F82

{Thus the inclusion of so many New York tropes}

Then there’s Jason himself. I still love the way Kane Hodder (the actor who took over the role of Voorhees in the last film) holds himself as the undead menace but his intelligence seems far too great for a mentally challenged man who grew up as a feral child in the woods. He’s just too damn smart. I like that he seems especially vindictive all of a sudden but this addition gives him too much personality and takes away a bit more of his character as a mindless killer. There’s also the odd connection between Jason and Rennie, another supernatural add-on that I could have gone without, particularly since it’s never fleshed out. Jason Voorhees becomes more and more magical and mystical as the series goes on, something that will come to a head with Part 9. If you’ve read the previous Friday the 13th reviews, you know that one of my biggest issues with the character of Jason is how much he goes toward the occult with the inception of Part 6. I don’t care if he is an undead serial killer; the supernatural ridiculousness that comes with it bothers the crap out of me and makes Jason less of a force of nature and more of a tired old ghost.

F85

{He also looks like kind of a toy}

Let’s move to the story, Friday the 13th has never been a series known for intricate plot lines but I think this one takes the cake as the most ridiculous in the series. Jason wakes at the bottom of the lake, climbs aboard a small pleasure craft to kill a couple of teens before using a rowboat to get to a bigger ship, where he climbs the anchor to get at some chick who has visions of him as a child before they reach a crime infested Manhattan. Really? That’s about the worst idea for a horror film since Retardead (though still not as bad). It was easy to see that they were reaching for anything that would keep the franchise going, where they failed (whether intentionally or not) was in making the film so damn funny and absolutely absurd. Some of it works, some of it does not. Julius (the film’s badass whom some may remember as a certain older brother in Part 5) beating the shit out of Jason with nothing but his fists was pretty damn cool, it was nice to see a normal person (i.e. someone who doesn’t have telepathic powers) giving Jason hell, but Jason’s teeth chattering when he begins to drown in green goo is absolutely hilarious. The run through Manhattan (as brief as it continued) was exciting but the child version of Jason looking normal made no sense. The crazy person for this film (they all have one) was a great fit (Alex Diakun, a man I think most horror fans will recognize) but Jason being able to move so fast was unnecessary. These are but a few of the “right negated by a wrong” things done with this film. Part 8 is full of these conflictions, something done right versus something done wrong. As I’ve already mentioned, if it wasn’t for the comedic nature of this film (whether intentionally or not) Jason Takes Manhattan would be a god awful film. Each idea done right is destroyed by the ideas that epically failed.

F83

{Though Jason getting into a match of fisticuffs was nice}

So, one may be asking themselves right now “Other than being funny, which isn’t enough to draw me to a film that’s not supposed to be funny, why else should I watch this movie?” That’s a very good question and the answer is the kills. Jason uses many different objects to implement his particular version of justice. Many of them might be preposterous, coming across as silly and nonsensical but that aside, they are pretty cool. I loved some of the deaths here more than any I’ve enjoyed in the series. Yeah, they might be comical but they are still badass at the same time. Jason is allowed to go on a rampage unlike any other in the franchise and I can appreciate that.

F84

{I so wish he’d killed these guys though}

One more thing I think I should touch on is the radio announcer for Jason Takes Manhattan. I have no idea who he is but the guy does his job well, he’s like a dark version of Casey Kasem, I loved it. If anyone can tell me who this person is, I would very much appreciate it (in return for the info I promise to never consume your flesh…pinky swear).

F89

{RIP}

All in all, this movie is not the best but it is still a good watch, giving laughs and great kill scenes alike, occasionally at the exact same time. You may not want to watch this again after seeing it for the first time, but I think you’ll be happy with your watch at least once. At the very least, this is the best Jason film to put on if you and your drinking buddies need a good laugh after a few drinks.

The Undead Review

 

Jason’s Kill Rate:

Spear Gun: 1 (3 series total)

Harpoon: 1

Guitar: 1

Sauna Rock: 1

Broken Glass: 1

Spear: 1 (5 series total)

Machete: 1 (16 series total)

Strangulation: 1

Knife: 1 (8 series total)

Electrocution: 1 (2 series total)

Impalement: 1

Axe: 1 (3 series total)

Hypodermic Needle: 1

Head Crush: 1 (5 series total)

Head Knocked Off: 1

Car Explosion: 1

Pipe Wrench: 1

Vat of Goo: 1

Unknown: 1 (4 series total)

Jason Total Kills This Film: 19

Jason Total Kills: 91

Series Total Kills: 116

 

Side Note: There are a certain number of kills on this boat that are assumed rather than shown; this number includes the few slaughtered members of the crew and the rest of the senior class. I didn’t want to include them in the main number because I really wasn’t sure if I should, however, being an anal retentive zombie has its benefits, one of which happens to be counting everyone who was not shown to be killed but is shown on the boat at one point or another. That number is 38. You can choose to count them or not but for me, I’m leaving them off to the side.

 

Directed By: Rob Hedden (The Colony, Alien Fury: Countdown to Invasion)

Starring: Jensen Dagget (Asteroid, Major Leagues: Back to the Minors), Peter Mark Richman (The Naked Gun 2 ½ The Smell of Fear, 4 Faces), Scott Reeves (Edge of Honor and for those Soap Opera fans out there he was Steve Webber in General Hospital), and Kane Hodder once again playing Jason.

Released By: Paramount Pictures and Horror Inc.

Release Year: 1989

Release Type: Theatrical Release

MPAA Rating: Rated R

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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