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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Day 273: Friday The 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan

Friday The 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan
I heart movies that actually take place where they say they do

As I expressed in my review of Resident Evil: Retribution, it becomes increasingly difficult for a movie franchise to stay fresh and entertaining the longer it continues. While the Resident Evil franchise has managed to stay relevant and fun, others have not been so lucky. Friday The 13th is a prime example of what happens when studios become lazy and crank out a horror movie in hopes of making a quick buck based on villain recognition. Hellraiser has done the same thing, only on a much more franchise-ruining level. When you get to a certain point in a franchise, you're bound to run out of ideas so you just throw the main character into different locations or situations. While I'm still holding out for Friday The 13th Part 11: Jason's Super Fun Slumber Party, today we'll have to settle for Manhattan.

Friday The 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan is a 1989 slasher movie starring Kane Hodder (Jason X, Hatchet) as Jason Vorhees and Jensen Daggett (The Single Guy, Major League: Back To The Minors) as Rennie Wickham. One year after the events of Friday The 13th Part 7: The New Blood, a boat's anchor rips through an underwater power cable, reviving the previously defeated Jason Vorhees. The next morning, the senior class of Lakeview High School boards the SS Lazarus and heads to New York City for their graduation. Rennie's uncle, biology teacher Charles McCulloch (Peter Mark Richman, Naked Gun 2 ½, Beverly Hill 90210) chaperones the trip, ensuring that no one causes any trouble.
Unbeknownst to the passengers, Jason has climbed aboard the ship. He kills some of the students and the ship's captain as the boat heads towards New York City. Jason throws one of the students onto the ship's control panel, sparking a fire. Rennie, Charles, the captain's son Sean (Scott Reeves, General Hospital, The Young and the Restless), and a few others are forced to abandon ship, taking a small row boat to New York City. There, Rennie is kidnapped by two thugs and injected with heroin. They attempt to rape her, but Jason, who followed the group to the city, kills them both. Jason than chases Julius, a boxer, to the roof of a building. Julius unloads a flurry of punches to no effect, tiring himself out. Jason throws an uppercut that literally knocks Julius's head off his body. With Jason on the loose in the dangerous city, how will Rennie and her friends survive?

I can make it anywhere!

Full disclosure, I watched this movie because I knew it wasn't going to be good. For those that don't know (or couldn't tell) most of the movie takes place on a boat instead of Manhattan. Time and budgetary constraints forced the majority of the movie to not be shot in New York City. I can understand why you would want to have Jason running around in New York during the 1980's. It was dirty, scary, and dangerous. Times Square wasn't the family destination it is now with Disney Stores and restaurants. By having Jason in New York, you can add a lot more kills to the movie, having him take out thieves and drug dealers, sort of like a horror version of Death Wish. That's the entire point of interest for anyone picking up this movie. Sadly, this is not the case and instead we're forced to sit through Jason Takes A Dingy.

The plot is very, very predictable as by now the series had just become “Let Jason kill lots of people”. By now, we all know who Jason is, but the movie does attempt to talk about his origins. Rennie's weird visions of a young Jason asking for help and her connection to Crystal Lake at least try to make sense of things. On paper it's a half-decent idea, but on screen it's a hot mess. The characters are not predictably interesting and it's tedious having to sit through mindless dialogue with barely-there development. There's some sub plot about Rennie and her uncle, not approving of her life, but it has no relevance other than to kill time until Jason shows up. Another reason why I watched this movie was to see the incredibly ridiculous fight scene on the roof. It is so funny for all the wrong reasons. Take a look for yourself: As a former boxer, I have to say that Julius is carrying his left hand way too low and leaves himself open for a counter-punch.

The acting is fine for what's required, but that's not saying much. If you ever wanted to see a young Kelly Hu (X2, The Scorpion King) in her first movie role, this is your chance. There are a variety of creative kills throughout the movie and the audience ends up cheering for Jason by the time he gets to New York. The portrayal of Manhattan is very silly even by 80's standards. If your only knowledge of the island came from this movie, you'd think the city was made up of bums, thieves, steam-spewing pipes, and toxic waste. Yes, I said toxic waste. For whatever reason, there are barrels of toxic waste just hanging out in alleys, just waiting for Jason Vorhees to dunk someone in them. You didn't know that the city flushes toxic waste in their pipes? Well now you do! In the 80's, New York City was grittier and more dangerous than now. The movie, though, makes the city look like a cartoon version of itself. I can only imagine what someone from say Kansas thought of New York if they saw this movie.

This is awkward. We're wearing the same thing!

I knew Friday The 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan was going to be bad and I wasn't disappointed. That's losing while still winning. Most of the movie doesn't take place in New York and when it finally gets there, we're bombarded with one ridiculous scene after another. There is plenty of violence and creativity in the killing, but nothing we haven't come to expect. There isn't much in the way of plot or character development as most of the movie is just a vehicle for Jason to kill people. You can't expect much by the time you've gotten to the eighth of anything, let alone the eighth movie in a horror series. Jason Takes Manhattan is good for a laugh and for some over-the-top violence. Other than that, you're better off with the original.


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