Home Year 1989 Friday The 13th Part VIII – Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

Friday The 13th Part VIII – Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

That's never going to work, is it?
That’s never going to work, is it?

Twitter Plot Summary: Jason stows away on a boat, kills a load of people and ends up in New York.

Five Point Summary:

1. Let’s all jump on a boat to New York, why not?!
2. Some people die. As per the norm.
3. Finally – New York!
4. A fistfight with Jason Voorhees? Pull the other one!
5. Jason in Times Square. That took AGES.

For the first time, the Friday The 13th series manages to break away from Crystal Lake and transposes Jason to the murky world of 1989 New York. The city looks as it always did in films from that era – dingy, mucky and rife with crime. Anybody who has seen the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film knows exactly what this interpretation of New York looks like, albeit substituting a bunch of mutant ninja turtles for a crazed killer wi a gradually yellowing hockey mask.

Part VIII is competently made, but not enough of it takes place in New York (despite the title) and spends far too long on the cruise ship- we’re more an an hour in before they sail in and spot the Statur of Liberty. Furthermore the attempts at giving the characters a bit of background is a failed exercise, in some cases they feel like inserts from a completely different film. The stern father in law, the expectant ship’s captain, even the insane crew member hearkening back to the first two films, all add nothing to the narrative. With that said, at least it did attempt to do something new with the slasher template, although having Jason run rampant on a cruise ship is a sad indication of the direction of the franchise – little wonder that it did so poorly at the box office. Eight films in a decade really did push audiences to their limits.

This isn't worth the wait, honestly.
This isn’t worth the wait, honestly.

There are a couple of good moments – dropping all sound here and there, in particular ahead of an attack, helps build the occasional segment of tension, and Rennie’s visions of a young, slime-green Jason Voorhees add a little intrigue to the otherwise generic story. The odd moment of levity, such as the boxer engaging in a protracted fight with Jason before a somewhat epic punchline (no pun intended), or a street gang having words with Jason and somehow not being killed, are interspersed with vast moments of general boredom and lethargy. The kills are less inventive, the gore has been toned down and, frankly, the fun has been taken out of it. You can’t even call it horror by numbers because it remains resolutely not scary. There’s a consistency issue with Jason’s killing efforts too – until now he has killed literally anyone who gets in his way, whereas once he moves to Manhattan he primarily targets the survivors from the cruise ship and barely glances at the residents of New York.

Part VIII is a product of its time, capturing the feel of late 80s cinema but failing to capitalise on the formula that made the Nightmare on Elm Street series a much more entertaining prospect and upping the blackly comic tone. It would have also benefited from spending more time in New York rather than on a cruise ship, but then the budget offered by the studio has more to do with that than the efforts of writer/director Rob Hedden. At least there was opportunity to see Jason in Times Square, an 80s icon in an iconic location.

Score: 1.5/5

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