A blog mostly dedicated to cinema (including both new and old film reviews; commentary; and as the URL suggests - movie lists, although it has been lacking in this area to be honest), but on occasion touching on other areas of personal interest to me.
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan Movie Review
This one I used to catch quite a lot on cable. It contains my all time favorite death in a horror movie so it holds a special place in my heart for that. It also takes place (a small portion of it, anyway) in the city I love. But did it scare me as a kid? Probably a little, but the setting of New York City made it much less scary. Click here for a list of all other films reviewed and considered for this October 2012 series of horror reviews.
Jason frightens some Times Square punks.
Where else could they take it, really? After a mother
seeking vengeance for her drowned son; the same son come back seeking vengeance
for his beheaded mother; the reins taken over by a third killer; the reins
taken back by Jason; and Jason squaring off against a girl with telekinetic
powers, what could possibly come next in the Friday the 13th series? Well, in Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, we
The film presents the most laughable portrait of New York
City. It’s about on the level of Jackie Chan’s Rumble in Bronx for urban authenticity. It wants to believe that
New York City is a sewer of junkies and criminals, perhaps even a place in need
of a Jason cleansing. Speaking of sewers, it invents a subterranean sewer
system below the streets of New York. And filthy city that it is, the
sanitation department floods these sewers with toxic waste every night at
Truth be told, only a small portion at the end of the
film takes place in Manhattan (although you’d be hard-pressed to convince me it
was all filmed there) while the large middle section takes place on a cruise
ship full of graduating high school seniors. Never mind how Jason winds up
aboard the ship. It only matters that he’s there with a gnashing propensity to
There is hardly anything in this chapter that is worth
talking about in a positive sense. Yes, it contains what is probably the most
hilarious and wonderful death in the entire series when a student named Julius
(Vincent Craig Dupree), who is a boxer, faces Jason one on one on a Manhattan
rooftop. After pounding Jason’s hockey mask (why the hell would you punch a
hard plastic mask?) and getting him with body shots he challenges Jason to give
him his best shot, at which Jason punches his head clean off. It’s a miraculous
kill and the one glorious murder the entire series had been working toward for
a decade. And Kane Hodder returns as Jason, which automatically elevates it a
Until that point you have to suffer through Rob Hedden’s
(who also directed) wretched screenplay. This is a piece of work that comes
across like Hedden wrote it the night before he was due to turn it into his
elementary school teacher. It’s like he makes no attempt whatsoever to even
craft a story that makes much sense, or to tie scenes together cohesively. He
just sets up vignettes into which Jason appears to kill someone.
The protagonist, Rennie (Jensen Daggett), is terribly
afraid of water owing to an incident that occurred at Crystal Lake (where
else?) with her guardian, Charles (Peter Mark Richman), who is also the
principal. Rennie’s girlhood encounter with Jason at the bottom of the lake has
left her psychologically scarred with visions of a drowning boy haunting her
during waking hours. The idea that a boy Jason at the bottom of a lake pulled
Rennie under the water doesn’t mesh with the internal logic of the series as a
whole. Additionally, it enacts a rape of the timeline (then again, so does Part VII) of the series.
On board the ship, character motivations are either
non-existent or make so little sense the whole thing turns into a big joke.
Maybe that’s the idea, but there’s little in the way of a signal that anything
is meant to be taken too lightly. This is a movie where no character behaves in
a way not dictated by the will of the screenwriter. There is no
characterization, no attempt at all on Hedden’s part to play out how a
particular character would act in a given situation. Maybe I’m just asking too
much now. Horror movies can be fun and they can be scary. They can even be both
at the same time, which helps relieve the tension. Jason Takes Manhattan is hilarious unintentionally. The laughs are
not in service of relieving tension, because there’s nothing scary to begin
with. It’s funny because it’s generally an incompetently made film.
Deaths (with my
rating out of 10)
Total deaths: 20 (2 off screen and 2 accidental deaths)
Average rating: 3.2/10
Highest rating: 10 (the highest rating of any death in
the entire series)
Ratings are based on my personal reaction to the killing
taking into account factors such as shock, surprise, and fear, as well as the
creativity involved and how graphic it is.
1.Jimmy gets a spear gun in his stomach (2).
2.Suzy gets the spear gun in her chest (3).
3.J.J. gets smashed in the head with her electric
4.An unnamed boxer gets a hot sauna rock buried in
his chest (6).
5.Tamara is stabbed with a shard from a broken
6.Jim is stabbed in the back with a harpoon (3).
7.Admiral Robertson has his throat slit by a knife
in slow motion (4).
8.Eva is lifted off her feet and choked to death
9.An unnamed crew member is accidentally shot in
the chest with a shotgun (1).
10.Wayne is thrown on a control panel and
11.Miles is thrown from the ship’s mast and lands
impaled on a radio antenna (4).
12.The crazy deck hand is found with an axe in his
13.A street thug is stabbed with a hypodermic
needle in the back (5).
14.The other street thug has his head smashed on a
15.Julius gets his head punched off at the end of a
boxing match with Jason (10).
16.A cop is dragged into an alley and killed off
17.Mrs. Van Deusen dies accidentally in an
exploding car (1).
18.Charles is thrown from a second floor window to
the street (the third time in the series this has happened, but the first time
the character doesn’t die) and then drowned in a barrel of green sewage (3).
19.A sanitation worker in the sewer takes a wrench
to the head in shadow (2).
20.Jason is drowned in sewer waste, which turns him
back into a boy (1).