Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan – 5

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Director – Rob Hedden

Cast – Jensen Daggett, Scott Reeves, Barbara Bingham, Peter Mark Richman, Kane Hodder, Martin Cummins, Gordon Currie, Alex Diakun, Vincent Craig Dupree, Saffron Henderson, Kelly Hu, Sharlene Martin, Warren Munson

Release Year – 1988

Reviewed by John of the Dead

The Friday the 13th series was my favorite horror series growing up, and still remains my favorite horror series to this day.  My very first memory of Jason Vorhees came as a result of this film, which was playing late one night on television.  I was born in 1985, this film debuted in 1988, so it was around 1989-1990 that I saw my first Friday the 13th film, and while this is one of the lesser efforts in the series I HONESTLY remember being scared shitless right from the opening scene.  Well, I am a big boy now, and while this film does not scare me like it used to it still provides me some awesome fun Jason action that despite some ridiculous moments still manages to be a decent watch for fans of the series.

When two young lovebirds accidentally resurrect Jason Vorhees from his underwater grave deep within Camp Crystal Lake, Jason manages to latch on to a passing vessel containing a high school graduating class celebrating their introduction to the real world.  Onboard the vessel is a young woman, Rennie Wickman, who has been suffering a terrible trauma every time she comes in contact with water, a trauma caused by a near-fatal drowning accident in which she believes she was pulled underwater by none other than Jason Vorhees during a summer trip to Camp Crystal Lake.  When the body count of the young graduates rises and terror onboard the ship ensues, she soon realizes that her greatest fear has come true…Jason is alive.  The students manage to reach the port of Manhattan, but we all know that Jason is never far behind, and Manhattan meets the infamous Jason Vorhees with gory results.

Right off the back I can say that this is a film that would only appeal to fans of Jason Vorhees, and even then it requires a generous mindset from even such a fan to enjoy this one.  The series has come with its fair share of ridiculous antics, although I must say that this entry may be the most ridiculous of them all.  Yes, it does give Jason X a run for its money.  Thankfully, I found the ridiculous elements mostly enjoyable due to how damn cheezy they are, but I cannot expect everyone else who views this film to feel that way.

You should not be surprised that somehow a group of unwitting and soon-to-be-dismembered teens unleashed Jason from death once again, but how else could Paramount and its filmmakers going to give us another Jason film?  Well, aside from that I must say that the story does give us a unique idea in that Jason is on board a boat, something that had not previously been used in the genre.  I enjoyed this because it provides a nowhere-to-run scenario given the students are miles away from land, plus the boat consists of numerous dark spaces for Jason to lurk and dismember his victims in, which is always a nice touch.  Rennie Wickman’s fear of Jason is a positive touch as well due to the conflict it provides, and had it not been for that this could have been a pretty one-dimensional boring movie.  What obviously sells this film to anyone, aside from Jason himself, is the fact that he is taken to none other than Manhattan!  I will always enjoy a film that “moves”, so I found it captivating that we would go from a cool nowhere-to-run scenario to a huge booming city full of many potential victims.  It is also just plain funny that the maniacal behemoth that is Jason Vorhees would make the transition from his country boy Crystal Lake atmosphere to the big city, without of course changing his appearance, heh.  This idea, despite its ridiculousness, worked for the film when you consider its unique traits.  We had never seen Jason really venture out of Crystal Lake in previous films, and writer/director Rob Hedden gave us some fun elements of the big city thrown in as well when Jason makes an appearance at none other than Times Square.

Hedden’s direction is fair, although you cannot expect any good scares to be thrown in unless you are a youngster like I was when I first saw this.  His execution of Jason is good, especially given the film stars the true Jason Vorhees, Kane Hodder(Hatchet, Hatchet II, Frozen, 2001 Maniacs), and as usual Jason delivers some awesome and pretty gory kills as well.  I will admit that it was odd seeing him slash away inside a luxury cruise liner, a far-fetched environment compared to the alpine woods he usually does his work in, but Hedden made the most of this idea and I believe it worked for the film, although I wish to never see the big city element used again in the series.  The acting performances we get are all pretty bad, but it is obvious Mr. Hedden went with the most stereotyped characters imaginable, which is almost required in every 80s horror film and in my opinion only makes the film all-the-more fun to watch.  His pacing is good, and we really do not get any needless scenes thrown in, just good Jason mayhem and characters you’d love to see fall victim to him.

Overall, this is a bad film if you are looking for good horror, but an enjoyably bad film if you want to see Jason deliver his goods in a unique environment for a change.  The cheeze is high and we get some ridiculous things going on in the film, but if you know what  you are getting yourself into then this should do just enough to satisfy your Jason fix.

Rating: 5/10

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