The Slasher Movie Encyclopedia: Friday The 13th Part VIII - Jason Takes Manhattan

Are you ready to start spreading the news? Jason's leaving today. He wants to be a part of it, Vancouver, BC.

The 8th entry in the Friday franchise picks up where it all began: Camp Crystal Lake. Two seniors, one of whom I swear is Jared Leto, are cruising around the lake, and like idiots, decide to drop the anchor. After seeing this film, whenever I'm in a boat, I never let'em drop the anchor. It's much better that we drift than resurrect an undead killer, am I right? Sure enough, the anchor disrupts a giant power line that ends up coursing electricity through Jason, bringing him back to working order. It appears he went shopping at some sort of under-water haberdashery, as he has on black gloves that he didn't wear before Tina's dad drug him under water. Anyway, he hops on the boat and is immediately annoyed by the guy's haircut and guts him with a harpoon gun. If Jason had a knife, I guarantee he'd have found some way to shoot the guy with it. The girl of course bails, and instead of escaping to the infinite land around her, she hides in a cubby hole and gets what she deserves.

The next day, the graduating class of Lakeview High are taking themselves a big-time party cruise. Well, needless to say, this pissed Jason off because when he graduated high-school, all his class got were rings that turned everyone's fingers green, because Zack was trying to get a deal. Jason hops on board and we get going. The ship appeared to be full, but much like Saved By The Bell, we really only care about a select few. Rennie is our heroine for the film, with her Uncle Charles being the real star. This dude doesn't have a face, there's his body, his neck, and then a scowl. That's all it is. Scowl. He's such a bad-ass. He's constantly pissed at everyone for being an idiot, and the fact he doesn't have two mouths so he could rock double the scowl. Sean is Rennie's love interest, as he can't resist her giant hair and total mom-butt. We've got Julius, the sweat-suit rockin' boxer, the resident rich bitchy white girl, Tamara, and her friend Eva. There's also the AV nerd, Wayne, and his hair-metal loving friend, J.J., who's actually pretty hot.
Jason hops aboard, and the crazy deck hand tries to warn them all, as he's being paid to do. J.J is the first to get it, as she rocks out in the engine room and Jason promptly plugs her guitar into her skull. Soon after, a fellow student is sparring with Julius and gets his ass handed to him. So, he decides to relax in the ship's sauna. Well, Jason is a practicing Massage Therapist and it's his firm belief that to get the most out of a sauna you must shove the rocks into your chest, which is a pretty sweet kill.
Tamara, who isn't a firm believer in hitting the books, decides the best way to pass biology is to blackmail McCulloch. She paints organs on her body, and parades around in front of him in her underpants. It's a good thing she decided to blackmail her way to a grade, because from what she's drawn, it appears she believes the human body only has 2 organs. So, she starts making out with him, and the dude is so burly that he's able to scowl while making out. Even this pisses him off! He calls off gettin' down to the business of gettin' down, but it's too late. Tamara had talked Wayne into filming it all. He storms off as she & Wayne feel triumphant in their victory. While basking in the after-glow of a mission well done, Wayne feels now is the moment to go after the girl he's been rather keen on. She turns him down with the quickness, because she wouldn't be an absolute clone of Melissa from Part 7 if she didn't shoot down the nerdy guy. Soon after, Jason shows up and deals with her for all the blue-balled nerds out there by shoving her head-first into a mirror and then using the shards.

Elsewhere, Rennie is starting to have hallucinations of a young Jason, doing a variety of things such as asking for help, as well as just flat out scaring the hell out of Rennie. Meanwhile, the adult Jason has killed the Captain and his first mate. The remaining group discover this, and try to figure out what to do. Despite yet another warning from the deck-hand, as well as a building body-count, McCulloch still doesn't believe this is all is the work of Jason. The rest of the crew is smart enough to believe the ramblings of a drunk & crazy deck-hand, and set out to take care of Jason themselves. First step against an unstoppable killer? Separate. You severely hinder Jason's ability to kill you if he only has to take you on one at a time. The gang load up on weapons, which include McCulloch grabbing a flare gun, as he's apparently going to alert Jason to his whereabouts to death. As they do this, Eva looks for her pal Tamara, only to find her very dead. She promptly runs into the cause of the situation, Jason, and proceeds to run away. However, she ends up trapped in a large room with many exits, and has no place to go. Jason hits the dance floor to get footloose, and chokes her out with the quickness. Afterward, it's go time on the rest of the group.
Wayne feels the need to go hunting with a school bus for some reason. Although, I now realize it's not a school bus, it's his video camera. He ends up shooting another student, who for some reason feels the proper way to greet people is by jumping out at them in a startling fashion while brandishing a weapon. Jason then shows up and throws Wayne into control board that promptly sets him on fire, which is another pretty sweet kill. After that, he chases a guy up a ladder and impales him on some sort of antenna. Julius does his best, but gets tossed off the ship for his troubles. The rest of the crew heads to the escape boat, finding mid-way that the deck-hand has been killed. Once in the boat, Julius pops up and reveals he's one hell of a swimmer. After a good deal of rowing, they make their way to New York City. Jason is of course soon to follow, which leads me to imagine him walking on the floor of the ocean, choking out sharks and punching whales in the eye.
Once there, things aren't exactly bright-lights & movie-shows. They're promptly robbed by a couple of junkies, with Rennie being taken along with the group's possessions. Once they're out of sight, the group split up to try and find help. All Julius finds is Jason. He runs to a roof-top, and like a man, decides to settle this with Jason via the burliest round of Hit For Hit of all time. He goes first, and ends up throwing 62 punches at Jason's head & body, almost getting him to the edge of the roof, but runs out of steam before being able to perform a stage fatality. It's now Jason's turn, and in one of the coolest moments of the entire series, he punches Julius' head clean of his body, Johnny Cage style. While this is going on, the rest of the group is useless as far as getting Rennie back. They've tried nothing and they're all out of ideas, so it's up to Jason. He's big on the whole Just Say No era, so he promptly stabs one of the guy's who kidnapped her through the chest with a needle. The other one he slams face first into a pipe. Now, if Jason would have been able to talk, he would have said something cool like “You druggies enjoy hittin' the pipe, right? Well here you go!”. But alas, we don't get that.
Rennie is now free, but as in many cases in life, is stuck with an undead killer on her trail. Once reunited with the group, and behind the wheel of a car, she feels that despite Jason being an immortal zombie, she'll be able to put him down by hitting him with a car going a cool 20mph or so. She then decides to do everyone a favor by trying to run down a hallucination. Hey, this is what you get when you let a woman drive. The car crashes, and everyone makes it out except for Rennie's teacher, who dies when the car explodes. Big J is now back, prompting Rennie and her beau to flee, however our main man with the scowl isn't so lucky. Although his death is rather simple, it's also one of the best of the series for how seriously gnarly it is. Jason dunks him head first into an oil drum of sludge. This must have pissed McCulloch off so bad I'm surprised his entire body didn't turn into a scowl.

Finally, there are no more smoke & mirrors, no more cruise ships, and no more BS. We're smack-dab in New York City. A simple backwoods killer has made it to the big time, as he's hunting his prey while standing in the middle of Times Square. He kicks the hell out of a stereo, which is something I wish he did in every movie. Not just every Friday the 13th either. I want to see Jason walking through Shawshank prison booting boomboxes. I want to see him in Gone With The Wind delivering an elbow drop on a record player.
Sean & Rennie continue their adventure by going through a cafe where Jason throws future Jason, Ken Kirzinger, into a mirror. Afterward they end up in a sewer where, and I bet you didn't know this, toxic waste flows through every night at midnight. Why? Well, why not? That's what I miss about the 80's & 90's. Anytime you needed a device to make someone a bad guy, or create a super hero, or deform something/someone, you went to toxic waste. Now? It's no longer the scourge of society. Instead, Jason would be defeated by driving an SUV and not buying carbon credits or something stupid. Anyway, they get down into the sewers where Rennie throws toxic-waste into Jason's face, which for some reason hurts him, and reveals the LAMEST make-up job in the history of the series. I mean, wow. It's stunning how bad it is. We're talking The Giant Claw here. The look is absolutely laughable, and completely takes away any menace that there was about Jason. Well, as he bumbles around like a drunk, Rennie & Sean climb a ladder to escape the unavoidable toxic-waste that's about to flood the sewer. Never mind the fact the fumes would kill you, this toxic-waste only kills you upon contact. Oh, and it also reverts you back to a child if you so happen to be a supernatural killer. Plus, that's not all! Act now, and the toxic-waste will not only revert you back to child form, but if you were originally disfigured, it will clean all that up and you'll be a normal looking kid. Not a bad deal.
Rennie & Sean head back up top and begin living the dream.

Slasher Movie Tally:
People Killed: 17
Swear Words: 17
Boobies: 2
Slow Motion Scenes: 6
Chases on Foot: 4
Fake-Out Scares: 1
Car Stalling: 0
Drugs/Drinking/Sex: Instances of all 3
Warned But Didn't Believe: Many times. Seriously, the guy wouldn't shut up.

Top 3 Deaths:
Jason's Song Gets Stuck In Your Head: Jason uses the power of rock when he takes JJ's Flying V guitar and cracks her in the skull with it.

A Bummer of a Swirlie: It's simple in execution, but brilliant with the added touch of the disgusting chemicals he dunked McCulloch in. Love it.

Greatest Game of Hit For Hit Ever: Arguably the greatest kill of all time, so it's a slam-dunk for making the top of the list here.

Things You Need To Know In Order To Survive:
During his death scene, Jason starts throwing up a bunch of water. This isn't a special effect. Kane Hodder, being the man and professional as all get out, drank pitchers of water before the take and puked them up himself

Leonard Maltin actually called this the best of the Friday series.

Paramount assumed that Kane wasn't interested in reprising Jason, as no one else ever had. When he got wind they were looking for someone, he lobbied and landed the part.

Because Paramount is a movie studio, and has no respect for horror or it's fans, it complete slashed the budget of the film, so that about 2 minutes of it really takes place in New York. Then because the film title was misleading, fans felt disappointed, which lead to a disappointing box-office, which then lead to Paramount selling the rights to Jason.

The film was only in theaters for 2 weeks. In it's opening weekend it lost out to films such as Batman, Lethal Weapon 2, Turner & Hooch, and When Harry Met Sally.

The girl in the cafe who talks to Rennie & Sean is the sister of director & writer Rob Hedden.

Although the box-office returns weren't all that great, the film had arguably the greatest promotion out of any of the films. First there was the original poster of Jason slashing through the famous “I Heart NY” logo, which prompted quite a stir from the tourism board and made the news. Then you had the absolutely fantastic trailer that featured the NY skyline with an instrumental version of New York, New York playing while it closed in on someone standing there. Suddenly it's Jason and tadow, you find he's coming to New York. Brilliant stuff. Finally there was the interview that Kane did in character on the Arsenio Hall Show.

One of the people who auditioned for the role of Rennie was none other than Jesse Spano herself, Elizabeth Berkley. I imagine before auditioning she was so excited., she was so excited, she was so...scared.

Box-Office Business:
Released by Paramount on July 28th, 1989 to 1,683 theaters on a budget of $5 million. Jason Takes Manhattan debuted at #5 for the weekend, the worst showing for any of the series yet, with a total of $6,251,310 and averaging $3,714 per theater. At the end of it's 2 week run, the film brought in a grand domestic total of $14,343,976.

Final Rating:
Unfairly named the 8th Worst Sequel of All Time by Entertainment Weekly, Jason Takes Manhattan takes a lot of flack from fans & the general movie going public. I think it's a really fun movie, especially when you're watching it with friends. Sure, it's nowhere near the quality of part 2, 4, or 6 in terms of taking the film serious, but that's part of the joy when it comes to the Friday films. Some of the films are just a blast to watch and have a laugh with while also having a lot of merit to it, which this film has in spades. We have some great kills, great music, and a few cool characters. The score sounds like it was done under-water, which I thought was a brilliant touch from the film-makers. As I mentioned, you can have a laugh with this film, but it's like your friend whose a goof. You can laugh at him, make jokes, but if anyone outside does, they're gonna pay in blood. We fans can poke fun, but we'll be damned if anyone else gets to and will defend the films, especially in the face of pop-culture snob magazines like Entertainment Weekly. Jason Takes Manhattan is a blast and has more character & originality than 80% of the stuff that comes out today. If Jason can make it there, he can make it anywhere. Even hell & space...but that's for next time.

***3/4 Head-Butts Out of 5

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