Movie Review: "Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan" (1989)
I'm more forgiving than most people when it comes to teen slasher flicks like those of the "Friday the 13th" franchise because I can accept them for what they are, I don't expect anything more out of them. If I do get more, great but if not, it's perfectly fine. With that being said, while the first seven "Friday the 13th" films aren't anything close to academy award winning material, I must say that this is one of the lowest points in the series.
Everything about "Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan" has a sort of 'running out of steam' vibe to it, I don't know if it's the boat from the movie or the actual script (probably the latter). One may argue that the whole 'Jason Takes Manhattan' subplot adds a bit of freshness to this sequel but that whole "portion" of the film (notice how I'm putting emphasis on that word) is so miniscule that it's akin to trying to find one single little ant on a giant beach. Truth be told, this is in fact the lowest grossing film of the franchise, it's no surprise that they didn't make another 'Friday the 13th' movie for a few years after this one.
The 'Friday the 13th' Movies - Domestic Gross Chart
DOMESTIC GROSS REVENUE
Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
Friday the 13th (1980)
Friday the 13th, Part III (1982)
Friday the 13th, Part IV: The Final Chapter (1984)
Friday the 13th, Part V: A New Beginning (1985)
Friday the 13th, Part II (1981)
Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Friday the 13th, Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
Jason X (2002)
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
1. Jason Runs Out of Creativity
Over the course of the 'Friday the 13th' franchise, there has been a noticeable drop in creativity when it comes to Jason's killings. Well in this film, they come across as downright lazy. Jason kills a rock star by bashing her head with her own electric guitar, a boxer is killed in a sauna via sauna rock to the chest, a naked woman is impaled by a broken glass shard, one girl is strangled on a dance floor, a guy gets dunked in a barrel of sewage, and one guy is thrown onto a deck post. That pretty much makes up for the bulk of the killing that Jason does in this sequel.
2. Jason Swims to New York City
Jason kills one of the people on the ship by throwing them into a control panel which starts a fire that leads to the sinking of the ship. After our few survivors escape a on a row boat to the New York harbor, Jason swims after them. I don't quite grasp this since the reason Jason died in the first movie was due to the fact that he couldn't swim.
Actually, if we backtrack to "Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives", the protagonist of that film uses this weakness to help kill Jason. He chains Jason to a heavy block and dumps the block into Crystal Lake, bringing Jason down to the very bottom where he eventually drowns. But then again, we're talking about a supernatural character here, however, I don't think this was clearly defined to begin with.
3. The Big Apple Takes a Bite out of Jason
So the big event of the film is that Jason is taking a bite out of the Big Apple. On the contrary, it's more like the Big Apple is taking a bite out of Jason instead. And this is because he doesn't even set foot in Manhattan until like the last twenty to twenty-five minutes. See, most of "Jason Takes Manhattan" is set on a ship in the Atlantic. Think a poor-man's "Titanic" meets a teen slasher film and just replace the iceberg with Jason Voorhees, then bingo! You've got Part VIII of 'Friday the 13th'.
So eventually, the ship starts to sink and the last of the teen survivors escape via row boat and row the rest of their way to the NYC harbor. Jason follows them in the water, he chases them through some alleyways, a subway station, Times Square, and then finally, the sewer. This may be the most proactive portion of the entire movie but the fact that the filmmakers marketed Manhattan as being a primary setting for the film is downright distasteful and wrong.
This movie should have been retitled "Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Cruise Control" because the primary setting of the film is on a ship and Manhattan is just an after-thought.
4. What Should Have Been Done
How about setting the first act of the movie on the ship and the rest of it in Manhattan? Jason boards the ship, kills lots of people, the ship begins to sink, the survivors escape and make it to the NY harbor, they get hospitalized, then Jason disappears for a little bit.
The NYPD start an investigation, things get worse when Jason starts killing in Manhattan and hunting the survivors down one by one. Then we could end the last twenty minutes the way it did here with the chase through the subway, Times Square, and then the sewer. I think that going this route would have lived up better to the film's title of 'Jason Takes Manhattan'.
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