Friday the 13th: The Complete Collection - Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Written and directed by Rob Heddon
1989, Region A, 100 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on September 13th, 2013
Jensen Daggett as Rennie
Todd Shaffer as Jim
Scott Reeves as Sean
Kane Hodder as Jason
Peter Mark Richman as Charles
Kelly Hu as Eva
V.C. Dupree as Juilis
Sharlene Martin as Tamara
Martin Cummins as Wayne
Tiffany Paulsen as Suzi
Alex Diakun as Deck Hand
Crystal Lake apparently opens onto the Atlantic Ocean, and the graduating class of the local high school is going on a cruise to New York City. Our story opens as two horny teens make out on a boat. The boy takes the time to scare his girl with a story about legendary murderer Jason Voorhees, because that's what the ladies like to hear, right? She has no idea what he's talking about, so he leaves to drop anchor (really, not a bathroom metaphor) and returns wearing a hockey mask to scare her. The anchor drags across the bottom of the lake (despite the total stillness of the water) and snares both a random exposed power cable and a water-logged murderer. Jason is back doing his thing-only this time at sea.
Despite the promising title, the majority of the plot takes place on a cruise ship that is filled with the most egregious group of stereotypes seen in the franchise to date. Without an establishing sequence that puts these characters into context with each other, there is no way of knowing which are friends, except for the couple pairings. Jason works his way through the crowd pretty quickly and, apparently having mastered the art of teleportation, appears all over the ship. Our protagonist is another emotionally disturbed woman named Rennie who fears the water, but volunteers for the cruise anyway.
"Jason Takes His Time" may have been a better subtitle, but he eventually gets to New York (pronounced Canada) and spends the majority of the trip running through back alleys and sewers. Despite not being able to catch two kids on a boat without an exit, he chases the same targets through Times Square, totally ignoring the thousands of people around him. His manners must be improving, as the worst thing Jason does on the subway is push a woman down. Seriously, a train car to Jason should be the equivalent of a sausage casing that, by the time he exits, would be filled with gory remains. Just when it seems these big city antics couldn't get worse, the ending comes along and slaps you in the face with absurdity that must be witnessed to be believed.
The cast is pretty forgettable with the only standouts being Peter Mark Richman (Naked Gun 2 ½) as Uncle Charles, the nasty adult who hates kids. I don't know why we get saddled with this horrible authority figure, but Richman takes the character and runs it into the dirt. Even worse, however, is my favorite actor in this movie, Alex Diakun as Deck Hand. I don't know who this guy is, but he is the epitome of everything wrong with this franchise. His parody of Crazy Ralph is utter nonsense, but he makes me laugh every time he pops up on screen. Watch for actress Kelly Hu (The Scorpion King) as Eva, the peer-pressured Asian. I'm sure she would love to drop this title off her IMDB page.
Kane Hodder (Hatchet) returns as Jason (following his debut in Part VII) and has the distinction of being the only actor to play the role more than once. He brings a presence that resonates with audiences and genuinely seems to enjoy the part. It is too bad that his physical appearance is such a step down from the awesome look of The New Blood. Here he is just an old soggy-bottom guy in a jumpsuit.
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is easily the worst film in the franchise and was the final film released by Paramount Pictures. Critics railed against these movies from the beginning, but more sequels came as long as audiences asked for it. This time, no one did. Duped by a marketing campaign that promised to live up to the title, fans were left feeling ripped off when the aquatic adventure ate up two thirds of the running time and Jason spends maybe 5 minutes in Manhattan.
Director Rob Heddon has stated several times that there was a much grander vision for Jason in major landmarks that the budget could not provide. It is expensive to film in New York, I get it, but you know what's not expensive? Changing the title when you realize you can't deliver. I sincerely believe fans would have been more supportive had they been promised terror on the high seas and everybody kept the New York sequence as a surprise ending.
Reflections from Behind the Mask (may contain spoilers):
Since we now know that Crystal Lake opens onto the ocean, I wish Jason would have stayed home and fought a shark.
When Eva (Kelly Hu) is running from Jason, she ends up in a disco and is suddenly confused as to how to leave the room. She stands in the middle of the dance floor waiting for Jason to get her. Honestly, shouldn't the club environment work to her advantage as Jason should be the one to freak out with all the loud music?
Rennie's English teacher knows she is an amazing writer and gives her an inspirational pen from Stephen King? Why not Hemingway or Poe? This feels a bit like pandering to the audience.
Julius (V.C. Dupree) boxes Jason on a rooftop – not because it makes sense, but this is the only thing we know about the character. Why would a boxer waste so many punches damaging his hands on the heavy plastic mask? Why not punch your opponent in the fleshy parts?
After Boxer #2 loses to Julius, he takes a trip to the sauna and is killed by a steaming hot rock to the chest. On the way he passes a dart board and the camera lingers on the ominous darts (as it does with every potential weapon on the ship). Original promo pics show the boxer with darts in his eyes, but the scene was shot again later. The guy in the sauna seems much taller than in the earlier scene and he keeps his face covered with a towel the entire time. I don't know where this is going except that it looks like they did a reshoot with a totally different actor in the role.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features for this collection will be discussed on the final page of this review.
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