FRIDAY THE 13TH, PART VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN (1989)
SLASH’S FUCKED UP FRIDAY
Welcome Jasonheads, as we settle back in this franchise. We left dearest Jason, now an undead bruiser mother-fucker, back at the bottom of Crystal Lake, as Tina’s dead father rose up out of the lake, wrapped a chain around his neck, & dragged him underwater. I felt at the time that was a bit of weak chicken shit finale, but that’s what we were given.
Paramount Pictures got cold feet after this film, feeling that it had disappointing BO revenue, so after eight features, they sold the rights for the franchise to the stalwart Indie group, New Line Cinema. Initially, Part VIII was intended to be (you guessed it) the last film in the series; but New Line cranked out three more sequels before they lost their enthusiasm, & Paramount got involved in the 2009 Michael Bay remake; which ended the series at an even dozen. To Jason’s credit, these movies were all mainstream, no hard to find Direct-to-Video bull shit going on at all.
As per Paramount’s custom, the movie was shot under the fake title of ASHES TO ASHES, & the Jason character was called Ethan. No references to David Bowie albums however, nor Alice Cooper. This movie has to carry the reputation for being the lowest grossing sequel in the series.
This film was written & directed by Rob Hedden, & this movie was his first feature film directing/writing job. He started out as a Documentarian.
He has 19 credits as a writer, & has directed 13 film projects since 1985, including episodes of THE COMMISH (TV-1992-94), DYING TO LIVE (TV-1999), ALIEN FURY (TV-2000), & YOU MAY NOT KISS THE BRIDE (2011).
Taglines: The Big Apple is in for BIG trouble.
The city that’s seen it all, ain’t seen nothing yet.
NYC is about to be scared down to size.
New York has a new problem.
The movie runs 100 minutes, cut down from 120. It had numerous locations, in Vancouver & Brianna Beach, BC, Canada–Los Angeles, & about a tenth of it in NYC, highlighted by filming in Times Square.
Kane Hodder, who played Jason again, said that spectators were lined up & down the block watching the filming. He didn’t want to destroy the illusion, so he left his mask on.
It had a budget of 5 million dollars (which reportedly wasn’t enough to do more of the filming in NYC–crazy shit, too many fat cat middle-men executives for damn sure). It had a domestic gross of 17 million dollars. 17 was the magic number, for there were 17 Jason kills in the movie; with 3 more unconfirmed.
This was Kane Hodder’s second time at playing Jason Voorhees.
The musical score was written by rocker Fred Mollin, now on his own after using a lot of the pre-taped music done by Harry Manfredini in Part VII.
The cinematography was done by Bryan England, who has lensed 31 film projects since 1980, including THE PARTY ANIMAL (1984), BLOODY POM POMS (1988), I, MADMAN (1989), SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK (1991), GATE 2 (1990), THE HIDDEN II (1993), & RAGING ANGELS (1995).
THE JASON BABES:
Jensen Daggett played protagonist Rennie.
She beat out Elizabeth Berkeley & Dedee Pheiffer for the role.
Sharlene Martin played Tamara,
doing the one of the only nude scene in the movie.
Kelly Hu was Eva.
This was her feature film debut.
She has had some breast augmentation since then; thanks.
Tiffany Paulson played Suzi,
Actually, it was pretty slim pickings to get some decent tit shots
for this portfolio, so I am including Julianna Guill
who will appear in an upcoming sequel.
The film opens on a houseboat in Crystal Lake, weighing anchor right in front of the old Camp Crystal Lake, which had a few lights on. A young teen age couple is making out, in prep for coitus. They are alone on the boat, so one of them had to have wealthy parents. Jim tells Suzi all about the legend of Jason Voorhees, “Who is supposed to be lying dead somewhere at the bottom of this lake.”
Cut to Jason lying under broken pieces of the old dock that collapsed on him in Part VII, with a half dozen chains wrapped around him; no sign of the reanimated corpse of Tina’s father; maybe that was a temporary action telekinetically. We see the houseboat drifting, & the anchor snagging & dragging a high voltage cable (I guess we are to believe somebody laid that cable across the lake, rather than using fucking telephone poles, right?)
But regardless of that being an odd place to encounter such a dangerous cable, or that size of a house boat being used on a large mud puddle like Crystal Lake, it was a cool way to bring Jason, one more fucking time, back from his demonic coma, to become reanimated, pissed off, blood thirsty, & uglier than the ass end of an anteater.
The anchor tore a hole in a quadruple thick high voltage cable, & a million volts traveled along the outside of it reaching Jason, who twitched like a maniac doing the twist, as blue flames arced around him–a cool effect actually.
Cut to young Jim hearing something outside, & going out to investigate it.
Cut to the pile of old lumber, littered with empty chains; fucking Jason is back at it, smelling teenage blood from 3 fathoms deep.
Jim leaps out of the shadows, wearing a hockey mask, stabbing Suzi with a fake knife. She is not amused, making a blow job out of the question, but he charms her back into bed.
Cut to Jason climbing out of the lake, up onto the prow of the boat. Jason gets right to it, putting on the fake hockey mask, & killing Jim with a harpoon gun, as Suzi ran off to hide. It is about 100 yards to shore, but she decides to hide in the engine compartment, of course. Jason finds her, & rams the bare harpoon through her while she screamed & squirmed below him.
Cut to the SS Lazarus getting set to sail from its salt water dock, a 150’ cruise ship. One of the deck hands sees the houseboat floating up to one side of the dock, apparently unmanned. We see the blood on the portholes. The scene was shot in Queen Charlotte Sound, on the east side of Vancouver Island. We are to believe that somehow the houseboat floated out of Crystal Lake down some mysterious river that flowed into this bay. No one seemed to notice. [Sure, why the fuck not?].
We are introduced to the next dying class of high school seniors, on a senior] trip cruise headed for New York City (it would have to have been within a day’s sail of NYC. We meet all the regular suspects, a young would-be writer, who has come to face her aquaphobia, or some kind of fear of water, the English Teacher, the Biology teacher, the prom queen, the Asian hanger-on, the black athlete boxer, the nerd amateur film maker, the dyke female rocker who carries her amp & electric guitar, ready to perform impromptu, several fresh faced young men & women who remained nameless.
Rennie, our protagonist, has brought her pooch, Toby, along. Her parents had died in a car accident, & she had been living with her uncle, the leering angry control freak biology teacher. There is a crazy deck hand that warns them that Jason is coming & he will kill all of them. No one pays attention, of course.
Cut to Jason surfacing alongside the ship, & pulling himself aboard. The ship is underway, despite a storm warning. The storm they later encounter is like typhoon strength, something one would encounter on Lake Superior for Christ’s sake.
Then Jason gets busy killing some sweet teen age flesh. It did bother me that the ship interior was twice what the exterior could hold, that the distance to NYC seemed more than one day’s voyage, that Rennie’s fucking dog, Toby, disappears for long periods, yet inexplicably shows up.
There is a scene in an alley where a NY cop shows up, with the most ill-fitting uniform, & the thickest Canadian accent you could imagine; funny as hell.
Jason stalks & kills most of the teenagers, & it seems that on a ship no one can hear you scream. The state rooms, engine room, ballroom, were like on a huge cruise ship; just saying. One of the killings puts a body in some electronics in the engine room, & as his dweeb body combusts, it catches the ship on fire, causing the few survivors to flee in the only life boat they launched.
They row for untold hours until the fog lifts, & Eureka; they are passing the Statue of Liberty, & the Twin Towers dominate the skyline; that’s right, they row a boat out of that storm all the fucking way to New York. We never see the ship sink. In NYC, 4 punks who threaten Jason, are scared off when he just lifts his mask.
Jim is stabbed in the stomach with a spear gun.
Suzi is empaled on a spear gun harpoon.
J.J. has her skull bashed in with her own electric guitar.
The Captain’s throat is cut.
The First Mate is stabbed in the back.
Tamara is kicked in the face, then stabbed with a broken mirror shard.
Miles is thrown off a stairwell & is impaled on three radar spikes.
Eva is strangled, then tossed across the room.
A deck hand is killed with a axe in the back.
A teen ager is killed with a heated sauna rock pushed into his chest.
Julius has an interesting boxing match with Jason, until he exhausts himself, & with one punch Jason knocks his head completely off.
Wayne is thrown into some electronic wiring on equipment, shorting out some, & his body catches on fire.
Jason kills a rapist punk with a hammer, another with a hypodermic in the head.
A cop is killed when Jason snaps his neck.
A sewer worker is killed when Jason hits him with a pipe wrench, & bashes his face into the brick wall.
A teacher is drown in a steaming vat of toxic waste.
Jason chases Rennie & Sean up & down alleys, building ladders, roof tops, in the subway, with the climax in the sewers below Times Square. At one point Rennie tosses toxic waste in Jason’s face, making him pull his mask off so that we can get a good look at his demonic undead face.
The sewer floods with toxic waste at midnight. The kids escape, but we watch the acid & toxicity simply disintegrate Jason’s body into a puddle of goo. Gosh, how in hell will he ever be resurrected again?
Rotten Tomatoes gave it 1 star, & rated it at 9% Critic’s Approval & 27% Audience Approval. IMDb rate it at 4.4 stars out of 10.
ROTTEN TOMATOES wrote: “the worst in a string of increasingly pointless sequels, this installment provided clear evidence that the “Slasher” subgenre is already creatively dead, no longer viable.”
Steve “Uncle Creepy” Barton of DREAD CENTRAL wrote: “Taking a serial killer & putting him on a boat is not the silliest thing one could do–you could send him out into space.”
Brian Orndorf wrote: “It’s actually quite audacious that a film titled JASON TAKES MANHATTAN hardly takes place in NYC at all. At least the Muppets kept their promise to take a bite out of the Big Apple.”
TV GUIDE wrote: “Not only are the later FRIDAY THE 13TH films distasteful, but they’ve become so repetitive that each sequel is duller than the last.”
Trevor Johnson of TIME OUT wrote: “For what it’s worth (very little actually), this movie is probably the “Best in the Series”.
Eric D. Snider wrote: “We are lured in with promises of Manhattan mayhem, & all we get is the same stupid stuff.”
David N. Butterworth of REC.ARTS.MOVIES. REVIEWS wrote: “As shrink-wrapped slaying goes, there is no equal (& until moviegoers demand otherwise) the uninspired trail of blood & body parts will continue.”
Well, let’s start off with my gut feeling; I liked it more than I disliked it. It was clunky, illogical, even to the point of massive lameness–but damn my eyes, we are not looking for high Drama here.
Turns out that the NYC location night skyline shots were extra nostalgic since in 1989, the Twin Towers were very prominently on display; gave me a time capsule twinge. Still a dozen years away from 9/11, the film crew could just enjoy making the slasher film, & the fucking War on Terror & the damn Bush Wars leading to the New Millennium Crusades was not on anyone’s mind.
It becomes blatantly evident that the location shooting in Manhattan was less than two days; all the rest were studio & Vancouver alley & harbor shots. I guess some of the interior shots, in the cruise ship, in the subway, etc, would have been shot in Los Angeles. It all made for an old fashioned flawed flow of scenes & matching shots.
The attempts at connected to the original concept, & some of the other sequels was pretty stilted as well–the obligatory Exposition scene that opens with the teen agers on their “house boat” explaining the legend of Jason Voorhees was extraneous, so the moment the boyfriend tried to scare his date by showing up in hockey mask, & stabbing her with a fake knife really seemed contrived & forced; looked better on paper, I’m sure. Having the demented confused Deck Hand spouting Doom & Death was yet another attempt to recreate the Crazy Ralph character from the first two films. The plot structure that had protagonist Rennie connected to Crystal Lake & the young drown Jason, was handled in a clumsy obvious manner.
The film, despite the awkward plot contrivances, was stylish; almost into Giallo. The cinematography by Bryan England, was smooth & lush, with bright colors, & clear well lit up close-ups of principal characters. There were the usual Manfredini Jason musical bites, but most of it was a peppy rock & roll sound, worked in well with the female rocker in the first part of the movie. It has been said that the movie had a Dario Agento feel to it; I agree. Technically the film was excellent.
When the cruise ship LAZARUS sailed from it’s bay dock, I could see it was the Canadian Cascades & San Juan Islands that was a back drop; like nothing you might have seen in upstate New York.
The kills came fast & furious, but the gore was kept to sound effects, shadow dancing, to jump cuts; still director Hedden shot them expertly, so one could still enjoy the Voorhees rampages.
The nudity was not terribly provocative. In the opening scene we see a side tit shot of very tiny breasts on Tiffany Paulson,
& later we see a flash of right breast during the Sharlene Martin shower & death scene. Some lingering butt shots for both actresses did impress, of course.
Biggest bitch I had was that both actresses were flat-chested. I have always contended that men who prefer flat chested women are really closet fags; just saying.
I rate this eighth film in the Jason Voorhees saga with 6 stars out of our HH ten star system; probably would rate a 7 if seen drunk.