Craptastic Cinema

Celebrating The Best Of The Worst Movies

Friday the 13th Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan

Year : 1989 Director : Rob Hedden Running Time : 100 minutes Genre :
Movie review score

Words can not truly express how hard it has been getting through the last few Friday the 13th films.  It is not like they were really all that bad, but I knew that I still had the one that, until now, I considered the worst of the series still to come.  It has been nice to relive the mythology of the series.  In addition, I had replaced my original copies of the films (VHS tapes) with the newer “deluxe edition” DVDs for this review.  In many ways, it was like watching all the movies for the first time again.  I even developed a new least favorite film for the series, “Jason Lives“, but I knew that I still would have to face my old nemesis.  Back when my friends and I would argue who the greatest slasher villain was (Freddy, Michael Meyers, or Jason), I would always use one movie as my argument against Jason.  As I placed the DVD into my player, I took a deep breath, and opened my mind to give it fair chance.  I was prepared to take on “Friday the 13th Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan“.

When we last saw Jason, he was pulled to the bottom of Crystal Lake by the zombie corpse of Tina Shepard’s father.  One year later, a high school couple on a boat decided to drop anchor near that same part of the lake to rest for the night.  Of course they have a little sex too.  Would it be a Friday the 13th film if they didn’t?  Their anchor stroked an underwater power line, and the electrical spark it created was enough juice to awaken the dormant Jason Voorhees.  Just to point out, Tina’s father is nowhere to be seen.  Jason boarded the boat, and killed the two teenagers inside.  Much to his luck, one of them had a hockey mask that Jason took to complete his signature look.

The next morning, we are introduced to a group of High School Seniors who are gearing up for a graduation yacht trip from Crystal Lake to New York City.  Before continuing on here, I have to say that Crystal Lake looks HUGE in this installment.  In the previous films, and ones that followed, Crystal Lake did not look all that big.  In fact, you could see the other side of the lake in almost every shot of it.  In this one, not only can you not see the other side of it, but there is a mountain range bordering one side that didn’t exist before.  In no way was this the same Crystal Lake as before.  I guess they needed to make it look bigger to explain how the lake connected to New York City.  Or maybe the fact that most of this movie was filmed in Canada and not New York is the reason… could be.

Alright, back to the movie.  The group of teenagers are your typical stereotypical kids.  There is a rocker, a loner, a jock, a stoner, a slut, and more.  In true movie fashion, not a single one of them look younger than 24, so they must also be the dumb kids too.  The group is chaperoned by their biology teacher Charles McCulloch (Peter Marck Richman), and Colleen Van Deusen (Barbara Bingham).  Colleen brings along with her Charles’ niece Rennie (Jensen Daggett).  Rennie was reluctant to go on the trip.  Her uncle disapproved of her going, and she had a fear of water.  She did end up going, and her boyfriend Sean (Scott Reeves) is among the group of teenagers too.  As their boat, the SS Lazarus, set sail, Jason Voorhees grabbed hold of the anchor and made his way aboard.   Rennie had visions of a young boy, who we learn is Jason, that reoccur throughout the movie.  Jason soon began to kill off the group, and the boat crew, one by one.  It got to the point where the only chance of survival for a few of them was to abandon ship, and make their way to shore on a paddle boat.  Rennie, Sean, Colleen, Charles, the captain’s son, and Toby (Rennie’s dog) rowed all night till they reached the shore of Manhattan.  Jason swam to follow them there.  Once Jason came ashore, he saw something that made him question his own reality, not too far off from the ending of “The Final Chapter“.

Jason Mask

The group of teenagers are in New York for only a couple minutes before they are held up by a couple “thugs” who take Rennie hostage, and all of their money.  The thugs brought Rennie into an alley, shoot her up with heroin, and planed to rape her.  In an act I guess you can call heroic, Jason appeared, killed the thugs, and saved Rennie from that.  Of course, he then tried to kill Rennie.  Rennie got into a cop car and ran Jason over.  She then saw a hallucination of  the young Jason and attempted to run it over.  Instead, she crashed the car, and killed Colleen in the process.  Jason also killed off the rest of the group leaving only Rennie and Sean remaining.  They made their way into the sewer system of New York where they met a worker who informed them they had to get out of there.  It seams that every night at midnight, New York floods their sewers with toxic waste and they only had 10 minutes to go.  Jason found them down there, and killed the worker.  He also injured Sean, which caused Rennie to run off.  While hidden, she found a single metal container of toxic waste, which she easily opened.  When Jason approached her, she tossed it at his face.  This caused Jason to rip off his mask, to expose his mutilated, and now melting, face.  It looked a little crappy, no doubt not a work from Tom Savini.  I love the little fist at the end as if Jason is saying “Damn you kids”.

Craptastic Cinema Jason Face Melt

The toxic waste bath gave Rennie enough time to run back to Sean and find that he was ok to get out of the sewers.  They discovered that the only way out was a locked gate, and Jason was hot on their path.  Time was running out, and they had to get out.  They pounded on the gate that was on top of a ladder, as Jason pulled at their feet.  Then the toxic waste infused water began to fill the sewers.  Jason saw it coming and in a child voice screamed out “Mommy”, one has to assume that it was Jason’s inner child.  Jason, once he saw the wave coming, spit water out of his mouth as if it was candy from a PEZ Dispenser.  Rennie and Sean squatted up as high as they could on the ladder, and Jason was taken in the wave.  In an odd twist, the toxic waste that caused him to melt before, now simply turned him into the child version of himself.  Seriously, I am not creative enough to make this stuff up.

Craptastic Cinema Jason SpitCraptastic Cinema Jason Kid

Yeah, I am telling you it is so silly to watch.  Even more silly because the kid looks nothing like the flashbacks of Jason of a kid that have occurred several times throughout the franchise.  For sure it looks nothing like Ari Lehman did from the first Friday the 13th.  Jason was a deformed child with rumors of metal retardation, not some kid who looks like he could have been raised in any suburb.

The movie ended with Rennie and Sean walking into Times Square, relieved that the evnets with Jason were behind them.  The final scare of the film was Rennie’s dog Toby sneaking up on them.  Wooo who, big scare there.  The camera pans to Times Square, and the torture of “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan” is over.

On the Craptastic Scale, “Jason Takes Manhattan” gets a 2 out of 5.  It really is a horrible film, but upon watching it again, I found a new found love for it.  It was not like it was good, but in the cheesiness there was some pleasant humor.   For years, I considered this the worst of the series, now I no longer feel that way.  When doing my research for this review, I found out that this movie was plagued with budget problems.  The movie was in fact shot mostly in Canada.  Truth be told, New York is barely in this movie at all.  They do not even get there until about one hour into the movie.  When they do, I think they use the same crane shot of Times Square three different times though the movie.  Several shots are used more than once.  New York is perhaps in the movie for maybe three minutes…. maybe.  Most of the movie is actually on the damn boat getting there.  Then when they are there, you see more alleys, inside buildings, and the sewers, than the city.  All of which could have been shot in Canada, or a set.  In a movie called “Jason Takes Manhattan”, one would expect more New York.  Maybe Jason fighting on the Statue of Liberty, or maybe something at the Empire State Building.  No, we get three shots of Times Square, and a couple skyline shots.  Oh, we do get Statue of Liberty, but all that happens is lightning hitting it.  Whoopee!  James Bond in Moonraker had more scenes in space than this did of New York, and that says a lot.

Is this movie worth buying?  On it’s own, no.  I would nab it as part of “The Collection” which has the first eight films.  You can also view this one on Netflix Instant.  This was the last film for this franchise by Paramount Pictures.  Starting with the next movie, New Line Cinema took over, and completely revamped the franchise.  Knowing that I have four more decent films ahead of me, and the worst is now behind me, I look forward to continuing reviewing this franchise.  Eight down, four to go.  Bring it on Jason, this reviewer is ready.

Want to see how “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan” ranked against the rest of the franchise?  Click here to find out.

-Matt Camarco

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