Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan [retro review]

“Walking corpses are not real.”

The Scoop: 1989 Rated R, directed by Rob Hedden and starring Todd Shaffer, Tiffany Paulsen, and Kane Hodder

Tagline:  The Big Apple’s in BIG trouble!

Summary Capsule:  Jason wreaks havoc on a boat and spends only 20 minutes frightseeing in NYC.

Kyle’s Rating: This was great when I was 11. Now it’s garbage!

Kyle’s Review: I wish I could say I was 13, but in fact I was 11 when I saw my first Friday the 13th movie. I was pretty excited, because up to that point in my life it had been an uphill battle for me to see any horror movies, and impossible to see any of the F13 series. Here’s an example of the struggle I faced, and I should note I still use these nicknames for my parents to this day.

1989 KYLE: Muma, I want to watch a movie.
EVIL MUMA: Not Fletch again.
1989 KYLE: Nope.
EVIL DUDA: And no Airplane!, you watched that last night.
1989 KYLE: I want a scary movie.
EVIL MUMA: I don’t know…
1989 KYLE: Please? Please! Just this once.
EVIL DUDA: What movie?
1989 KYLE: Uh, Friday the 13th Part 4. It’s on Cinemax!
EVIL MUMA: NOOOOO! I don’t want you watching those!
EVIL DUDA: I’m sorry, son. What else is on?
1989 KYLE: Uh, Commando is on again.
EVIL PARENTS: That sounds fine.

Can you believe that? I could watch ultra-violent shoot-em-up trash, but throw a few knife murders in there and set the thing at night and suddenly it’s forbidden. The worst part was my grandma (an unrepentant video pirate) had copies of all the F13s and several other scary movies because she’s cool like that. So I had potential free access to them, I just didn’t have parental permission. And by the time my grandma had a copy of F13 Part 8 in her closet, the epiphany that I could easily sneak the movies I wanted to see out under my shirt was still a few years away. But I had two valuable assets: quick-thinking and plausible deniability. See, my grandma would usually record three different movies on one tape, and that would come very much in handy…

1990 KYLE: Mom, for my sleepover party on Saturday I want to get a scary movie to watch.
1990 MUMA: Well that’s okay. What are you getting?
1990 KYLE: This movie Puppet Master. It’s supposed to be good.
1990 MUMA: Uh huh. What else in on the tape?
1990 KYLE: Um, I can’t read grandma’s old person writing. It looks like Princess Bride and some Care Bears movie.*
1990 MUMA: Hmmm, are you lying?
1990 KYLE: As far as you know, no.*
1990 MUMA: Alright then.
1990 GRANDMA: “Old person writing?” Get out of my house, you ungrateful bastard!
(*I was lying!)

You guessed right: there was no Princess Bride or Care Bears movie on there. It was Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan! I snuck that one past my mom! Ha ha ha ha ha ha! The other movie was actually something with nudity, but I was too young to care. Oh well. And at my sleepover party, we watched Part 8 and thought it was great hokey fun, though the hit of the party was the nude scene in Puppet Master, which led to pictures I still have of all of us ogling and touching the screen with that certain scene paused on camera (I guess I DID care about boobies!). I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize profusely to Justin and the rest of the MRFH for using the term “boobies” in this review and in so many of my other reviews. Sorry about that!

You might I’m crazy, the way this review running long. Actually it’s almost over because I have very little to say about the actual film. The class of 1999 at Crystal Lake High (?) are going on a cruise to NYC for their senior trip. But Jason has been dredged up from the bottom of the lake, and he gets onboard! Murders ensue! They stay on the frickin’ boat for more than half the movie, then get to NYC for the last 25 minutes or so! And it’s the bad NYC, where street youths inject young girls with drugs and stuff, so you kinda want Jason to not kill our heroes but to kill everyone else who lives in New York. Wouldn’t that be nice?

That’s it. I can say no more about this. Jason shouldn’t have powers of omnipresence, but here he does. The film should make sense, but it doesn’t. You should care about these people getting sliced and diced, but you don’t. Oh well. Parts 2 and 3 were good, go rent those instead!


Justin’s Rating: As if I needed another reason not to go to NYC?

Justin’s Review: The title Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is a bit of a misnomer (that’s a female nomer), for two reasons. The first is that the title should probably be Jason Takes A Boat To Manhattan, since about ¾ of the film takes place on a ship slowly trekking its way toward the Big Apple. The second misnomer is that once Jason gets to Manhattan, it’s actually Vancouver, for the most part. Only a small segment of this film was shot anywhere in NYC (the Times Square scene, to be exact). These wily nomers, coupled with an intense marketing campaign that proudly boasted how Jason was going to rip a new one out of New Yorkers, contributed to a loud bellyflop at the box office. People hate being lied to by professional liars. Go figure.

Personally, this movie marks a turning point in my self-imposed Friday the 13th marathon. After Part VII, I honestly felt that I had had enough, and gave up on them for more than half a year. I couldn’t keep going. Yes, I can see the attraction to the series – its iconic figure, the camp ketch, hating the bad guy but cheering him on, the brutal and non-stop rampage – but it’s all the same theme with extremely minor variations after a while. A little more sex here, a little less there. Different “actors” filling the role of a faceless, voiceless killer. Setting the movie at camp, setting it at a mental institution. Whatever. It all becomes a cacophony of gory effects and cheesy screams after a while.

Still, the fun for me is the generous amounts of cheese that come with each Jason Happy Meal, and after a break and some liberal therapy, I’m willing to enjoy the final couple installments for what they are. The acting in Part VIII is no better than Part I, which means plenty of opportunities for snooty name-calling, plus hoots ‘n hollah when someone you couldn’t care about gets butchered by your friendly neighborhood wrecking machine.

Although he gets stabbed in the eye every film or so, Jason’s vision is as bright as ever: to find nubile, frisky teenagers wherever they be, and introduce them to pointless terror. Here, he comes back with the help of a boat anchor and a hefty dose of electric current, then decides to up and leave Camp Crystal Lake for good.

But where to? Mass Murderers Weekly suggests a tropical island resort or a ski cabin in the isolated Rockies as the perfect getaway for the killer without a conscience, but with a load of stress. Jason opts to tag along a senior class cruise on what appears to be a cargo ship (?) taking them from the mountainous harbor of Vancouver to the other mountainous harbor of Vancouver. It’s not really clear why the seniors are going to New York – sometimes the film suggests that this is a post-graduation party, sometimes it’s for final projects due, and sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. Either this is the smallest graduating party in the world, or Victims ‘R Us High School drew straws and sent only their brightest and most delicately-boned students on their merry way.

A bulk of the film is set on this drab and boring ship, which is as decorative as any fishing trawler you might’ve seen, but the students act like this is the party of their lives anyway. Jason stalks, Jason kills, and in between are very minor slices of character development, only necessary as filler since the characters never have to be developed past “Oh geez I’m bleeding out andnowI’mdeadarghhhhh.” Eventually, Jason sinks the ship and they all end up in NYC for a little cat-and-mouse chase. While the final segment is by far more enjoyable (with what little humor and NYC stereotypes they threw in), it’s nothing for the filmmakers to be proud of and bring home so mom could put on her refrigerator.

To be honest, it’s all kind of a drag. I know this, because I spent a vast majority of the time watching Part VIII wondering what’s going on in Jason’s mushy head. Why hasn’t he stopped killing yet? Anyone who could’ve possibly offended him was dead or written out of the series long ago, and there’s no real indication that he needs to do this for justice or vengeance. Mindless slaughter begs for someone to put a mind to it. Why he fixates on a particular group of teenagers in each movie to the exclusion of all others is unknown to us, as is how his clothes could stay intact for long periods of death, decay and underwater submersion.

I’ve also had it with the surviving characters being weaklings with “troubled pasts” who avoid death due to sheer stupid coincidence. There’s a scene in Part VIII where a guy–definitely NOT a weakling–gets sick of running and unloads a flurry of boxing action on Jason’s head and torso. Futile, yes, but there’s the determination and moxy that deserves a little recognition. He deserved better.

On to Part IX, and oblivion!

The scheduled NHL goalie Meet N' Greet did not go as planned.

Intermission!

  • Entering into NYC, even for one minute, means you WILL be mugged.
  • Gee, NYC has a lot of barrels filled with green toxic sludge lying around.
  • When Jason is defeated (come on, you knew he would be) he seems to gush water out of his mouth while being buffeted by sewer water. This was accomplished by Kane Hodder drinking a pitcher of water before the take and then using his impressive ability to vomit on cue to make the shot. Wow.
  • Writer/director Rob Hedden had two different ideas for Part VIII, one in which Jason wreaked havoc on a cruise ship and one where Jason reached a big city and went nuts. Paramount told him to combine the ideas, and so he did.
  • SEX AND DEATH AND BLOOD AND MONEY – I don’t remember any explicit nudity in this, maybe I wasn’t paying attention. 19 people bite it, and there is only one you care marginally about. It was bloody, but the story is so mind-numbingly dumb you won’t be shocked. And the severed head was more fake than something that’s really fake. This one made $14.3 million, making the least successful of the series.

Groovy Quotes

Rennie: You don’t understand, there is a maniac trying to kill us!
Waitress: Welcome to New York.

McCulloch: Walking corpses are not real.

If you liked this movie, try these:

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Al does Friday the 13th (2009) « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

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