Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is a 1989 horror film and the eighth entry in the Friday the 13th film series.
After being revived once again thanks to a mishap involving an underwater electrical cable, the undead Jason Voorhees sneaks aboard a cruise ship carrying Crystal Lake High's graduating class to New York City. Meanwhile, the class valedictorian, Rennie Wickham begins having strange visions of Jason's younger self.
Why It Sucks
- Despite the title, only the last third of the film actually takes place in New York City, with everything prior to that being on the cruise ship. And of the NYC footage, only about two minutes of that is in a location (Times Square) actually identifiable as being in the city.
- Awful make-up effects on unmasked Jason, who looks like some kind of half melted waxwork dummy.
- The title feels like a fan-fiction and a parody, at least.
- Jason seems to conveniently "teleport" around the ship. Once Jason begins chasing someone, we know that even if they seem to escape, he'll just instantly catch up to and kill them.
- Rennie is a bit generic and uninteresting, aside from a connection she has with Jason.
- Some characters are copied from those in Part VII, which also had a shy leading girl, a sensitive jock, a caring maternal figure who tragically dies, and a slimy male authority figure who meets his end thanks to Jason. In addition, it also recycles the character of Crazy Ralph from the first two films, by creating a deckhand with a near-identical personality.
- Contrived opening scene, where an occupant of a houseboat that accidentally revives Jason by snagging an underwater electrical line just happens to have made a mask that looks exactly like his old one, which was destroyed in Part VII.
- While the film tries to make jokes about New Yorkers, it takes them to such ridiculous extremes that we're expected to believe that a six-foot-tall rotting zombie trying to murder two teenagers on a subway car isn't too far out of the ordinary.
- Part of the film's climax includes the revelation that the New York City sewers are flooded with toxic waste at midnight every night, which sounds more like something from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, not a Friday the 13th film.
- Bafflingly incomprehensible ending, depicting Jason drowning and dissolving in toxic waste... which then recedes to reveal that not only has he been reverted to a young boy, he's even been cured of the deformity he was very clearly shown to have in the first film! Possibly it was just meant to be one of Rennie's visions, as established throughout the film, but Sean's reaction suggests that he can see Jason as well, making the scene very confusing.
- Jason’s younger self looks far too average looking and doesn’t look disfigured in the slightest (except for one of Rennie's visions near the end, when he suddenly looks like he did in the first film again, only to go straight back to looking normal the next time he appears).
- Due to the result of the film's under-performing box office, Paramount sold the series to New Cinema afterwards.
- Jason does get a few cool moments, including kicking over a beat box and then scaring off some thugs with his deformed face, and throwing a chef who's even taller than him (played by the actor who would play Jason in Freddy vs. Jason, no less) into a mirror. There's also a funny moment with him looking at a poster featuring a hockey mask like his.
- Charles McCulloch is a pretty entertaining secondary villain, and meets a satisfying death at Jason's hands.
- The scene where Jason kills Julius by punching his head clean off is one of the cooler kills in the series.
- Some cool kills.
- Neat direction from Rob Hedden.
- Some of the characters are interesting and likable, like Sean, Eva, Wayne, and JJ.
- Good opening song.
- Even if setting the film on a cruise ship wasn't exactly what was advertised, it (and what little we do get of NYC) makes a change from the Crystal Lake setting of the previous seven films.
- The cruise ship setting is interesting and would've been better had the film not been advertised to take place in Manhattan.
The film met with a poor critical reaction even compared to the other Friday the 13th films, with its Rotten Tomatoes score of 8% being the worst in the series. It was also at the time the lowest-grossing film in the series (with only Jason X having since earned less) with a box-office take of $14.3 million, though this was still a little under three times its budget. As a result of the film's under-performance, Paramount sold the series to New Line Cinema afterwards.
Director Rob Hedden has since admitted that the film turned out poorly and that his original plans were too ambitious for the budget Paramount was willing to grant.