Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
directed by Rob Hedden
(Paramount, 1989)

Jason's my main man, and you know that -- but Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is absolutely horrible in just about every way imaginable. It is far and away the worst film in the entire series. I simply have nothing good to say about this film.

The only way I can even stomach its existence is to theorize that Freddy vs. Jason might never have been made were it not for this cinematic atrocity. In other words, had this film not been such a flop at the box office (earning little more than $14 million), Paramount might never have sold the franchise to New Line Cinema, and I don't think we would ever have seen a battle royale between Jason and Freddy had the two slasher icons not been brought together under the same network.

Warning: beware of plot holes and inconsistencies of gigantic proportions. I won't even bother to tell you how Jason gets resurrected from the bottom of Crystal Lake yet again because it is extremely hokey. Suffice it to say that Jason's back, and this time he makes his way onboard a ship full of graduating seniors headed for a visit to New York City. As luck would have it, Rennie Wickham (Jensen Daggett) defies her uncle's wishes and decides to come along -- despite her intense fear of water (which may or may not have something to do with Jason). Her uncle (Charles McCulloch) is one of the school's teachers and the man in charge of the big trip to the Big Apple -- and he is an insufferable, stuck-up bore with some serious control issues when it comes to his guardianship of Rennie, whom he took in to his home after her parents were killed in a car wreck some years earlier. Guess what happens? Jason gets to work killing everyone on board the ship, and then he goes after the small band of survivors who manage to find a dock and escape into and under the mean streets of the Big Apple.

Even Kane Hodder was unable to show the least bit of inspiration or excitement in his work as Jason this time around. The whole film is just surreal, partly because it takes Jason out of his natural element, but mostly because the script is awful, the cinematography is awful, the acting is awful and the ending is just ridiculously lame. I don't know what writer/director Rob Hedden had going through his head during filming. You have a dog that disappears and then reappears with no explanation, Rennie periodically sees vision of a young Jason trying to reach out for her, pointing to a past connection that would never fit into any possible Friday the 13th timeline, and the ending is just plain stupid. Then there's the soundtrack featuring some of the worst music I've ever heard in my life. Between that and the female actresses' hairstyles, I just have to hope and pray that young people today and in the future don't pick up this film and start to think it represents even the first thing about life in the glorious 1980s -- or the otherwise sound Friday the 13th series as a whole.

review by
Daniel Jolley

6 November 2010

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