Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

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The title of Jason Goes to Manhattan is false advertising. Jason does not take Manhattan in this movie; in fact, he is barely in the fucking city at all. The majority of the movie’s runtime is shot on a cruise ship that doesn’t make it to New York until nearly 40 minutes in. And most of the New York scenes were actually shot in Vancouver since the film’s budget could not afford shooting in the Big Apple. Perhaps Jason should have stayed in the more affordable Crystal Lake, New Jersey where he belongs.

Aside from the fact that Jason is at the bottom of the lake nothing from the previous film carries over to this one as far as continuity goes. In fact this movie takes little cues from the continuity established in the previous films at all. It does not outright contradict it per se, but it does take its direction in such independent avenues that you really don’t need the previous movies to comprehend it at all. In fact, this was the first Jason movie I had ever seen. It was on TV late at night when my folks were asleep and I snuck in the living room to watch it on mute. Even on mute this stupid fucking movie was easy to comprehend. Jason goes to New York after nearly 40 minutes of tedious scenes of him on a boat with plenty of murders interspersed in between. It’s just another slasher movie.
By the way I never told my folks that story so, mom, if you are reading this consider this review my confession.

After two horny teenagers by themselves on a boat drop anchor over the lake to have sex the anchor cuts a power line that electrocutes Jason’s body. This, of course, revives him and not showing any gratitude for his resurrection he climbs aboard and kills the two teens.

He then, later on, sneaks aboard a cruise ship carrying students to NYC who just graduated from high school. On board is our heroine, Rennie, who has a severe phobia of water and is forced to face her fear onboard the cruise ship. Also on board is her uncle, one of the teachers, who is the cause of her fear when he pushed her into Crystal Lake as a girl to teach her to swim. She starts having strange visions of Jason as a little boy drowning when she is alone in her cabin. These visions of Jason as a child crop up every once and awhile in the movie and each time the boy Jason starts looking more and more deformed. This is never really explained in the movie because, aside from his resurrections by electricity, there have not been any previous supernatural elements to Jason’s backstory. This odd plotline has no proper introduction and is not resolved with any satisfactory conclusion.

When most of the crew and students wind up dead from Jason’s periodic slicing and dicing the remaining survivors, including Rennie, her uncle, and her boyfriend; escape in rafts to New York City. There things start going horribly wrong from the start. They are accosted by two drug pushers who try to rape and inject Rennie with heroine, but unfortunately for them Jason shows up and kills the thugs and continues his stalking of the survivors of the ship.

After killing some more the survivors boil down to Rennie and her boyfriend who are chased down into a sewage tunnel. Rennie eventually splashes a barrel of toxic waste into Jason’s face which surprisingly hurts Jason. I say surprisingly because Jason has hitherto survived without slowing down multiple bullet wounds, electrocutions, drownings, hanging, and a host of other things. But apparently toxic waste is enough to not only stop Jason in his tracks, but even leave him screaming in agony. He pulls his mask off revealing his hideously deformed face and staggers after Rennie. Rennie and her boyfriend climb up the drainage hole, but Jason doesn’t make it in time and is overwhelmed when the tunnel floods with toxic waste.
This is followed by a very bizarre moment in which Jason’s body transforms into the body of a young boy similar to the one Rennie saw in her visions. No real explanation is offered and none of the sequels explain why this happened to Jason.

This movie fails too much in so many places to be a good Jason movie, but I do find moments in it that are entertaining. Most of the stuff with Jason in New York are a lot of fun. Probably my favourite scene in the movie is when Jason kicks a boom box some street thugs are listening to. For those of you who have already seen the movie you already know what I am talking about and for those of you who haven’t I will not spoil how it plays out. Suffice it say, it is pretty fucking hilarious.

Unfortunately funny moments like these are too few and far between and the majority of the film is spent aboard the cruise ship which is not that entertaining. The movie is a massive disappointment to anyone who went into it expecting 90 minutes of Jason in New York and with the addition of the weird visions subplot which comes out of nowhere and goes nowhere for the rest of the series the movie inevitably becomes a confusing mess that is not worth the sit through. Skip to the part where they reach New York and just enjoy it as a Jason Voorhees’ short film. You will be happier for it.

 

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