Nearing the end of our Friday the 13th journey. Officially past the halfway point and quickly approaching Freddy vs. Jason. We’ll have to confront the philosophical question of why we watched through all of Friday the 13th before that entry, but have made no indication that we will do the same for the Nightmare films. Truly a conundrum. Until then let’s just get into some details.
What?! Jason’s back, Jack! After spending some more time chilling at the bottom of Crystal Lake, Jason is inadvertently resurrected… again. He then promptly boards a cruise ship filled with teenagers headed to the Big Apple. Can they take down Jason before he brings a new problem to New York City? Find out in… Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan!
How?! We open on an eerie night on Crystal Lake where a couple teens are looking to get it on. They drop anchor, hit an underwater electric cable, and Jason is electrocuted back to life (as always… or at least per the last few movies). He kills the teens and commandeers the boat. Inexplicably, He is then able to take this boat out of the lake to the Atlantic Ocean where he boards a NYC cruise populated by the recent graduates of a local high school. Most of the characters in the film are teens looking to party, but our protagonists aren’t really into that scene. Rennie is a girl with a troubled past. She had an encounter with Jason as a kid and has been left traumatized. Sean is the son of the captain of the ship. He’s expected to take over the family business of sea captaining, but he’s just not sure he’s up to it/wants to do it. Oh, and they’re also kinda in love or something. Anyway, everything goes to shit. Everyone dies except Rennie, Sean, and other less important people. They escape via rowboat and make it to NYC only to find that Jason has followed them. Uh oh! A chase ensues, ending in the sewers of NYC where Jason is dissolved in a wave of toxic waste… can’t wait to see how he lived through that!
Why?! We keep having to go over this. Jason kills! It’s his job. He punches in, kills some sex-crazed teens, and punches out. Despite the monotony, he loves it. Perfectly satisfied in his workaday position and not looking for a promotion to upper management. While he would appreciate the raise, he doesn’t want to get too far from the day-to-day killing, you know? For the most part this film is without much motivation for the teens, other than to celebrate their graduation in style. Eventually their motivation is to not be killed. Pretty standard for F13.
Who?! The actor who played Sean has made a bit of a career in country music, but he’s more of an actor-turned-musician than the other way around. I’ll instead highlight our animal friend in this film. Rennie’s dog Toby was portrayed by a dog actor named Ace. Ace doesn’t have a huge number of credits, but he was the dog actor in a Canadian TV Show called The Odyssey which featured Ryan Reynolds (Canadian child actor extraordinaire). Show looks weird. Someday we’ll have an animal actor cycle. The credits are fun.
Where?! A+ setting alert! Obviously a good chunk of this film takes place in Manhattan. Most of it takes place off the coast of New Jersey in the Atlantic Ocean. Either way we are pretty clear on where we are the entire time. A+.
When?! Well at least this time we have an idea of when this takes place. I’ve stated a number of times that the timeline for the series is fucked. There are numerous websites claiming that the year Part VIII takes place is anywhere from 1994 to 2004. Since this deals with a high school graduation we can at least be pretty certain this film takes place at the end of May/beginning of June. C+.
There really isn’t anything like the Friday series. We’ve truly gone through a journey with these films. I daresay 2017 will be remembered in BMT lore as The Year of Jason. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan? More like Friday the 13th Part VIII: Barely In Manhattan, amirite?! A director had a vision: take Jason from quaint Crystal Lake and drop him in the most exciting city in the world! And the producers said “great, but we already built this boat set sooooooooo ….” Let’s get into it!
The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – A short rundown of the good in the film. Taking Jason out of his element was a solid idea on paper. Kane Hodder continued to impress as by far the most lively and interesting Jason in the franchise. Decent practical effects here and there. Felt a little bit more like a classic Friday the 13th than the fifth, sixth, or seventh (although that is not necessarily a good thing). As usual I would just kind of remake it as a part of remaking the whole series. I would keep the boat and do all the killing on that instead of ever getting to Manhattan. The close quarters, trapped at sea, nowhere to run. Could very well lead to some tense moments. In the end, a crippled heap of a boat floats into New York harbor, a ghost ship without a trace of Jason to be found. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Cruise Control.
The Bad (Seven Deadly Sklogs) – What didn’t work: The last bit in Manhattan didn’t work at all. There was a whole storyline about a girl being haunted by Jason due to an interaction she had with him as a child that was mainly stupid. Most of the characters are forgettable, so much so that at one point a teacher remarks “hey shouldn’t we go get the others from the restaurant?” to which another character says “there is no restaurant left” … okay, not sure how he knew that, but that is how the unceremoniously dumped a handful of ripe-for-the-killing teens out of this movie. Anywho, the real issue two-fold: the director/writer overreaching and the studio unwilling to yield on costs. The director has a solid idea on paper, but either didn’t have the resources or the ability to translate it to screen. What resulted was what I would consider the second worst Friday film in the first 8 released, which is pretty bad. I think the main culprit here was sloth. The produced-on-a-dime horror film would fall into a slumber, waiting to be awoken years later by Jason Blum.
The BMT Legacy – I think the legacy of this film, again, is mainly tied to us having watched the entire franchise in a year. I thought it was slightly better than the Rotten Tomatoes score would suggest, so it probably won’t have the legs, but then again, if we were holding, say, a Friday the 13th Bad Movie marathon, it would be pretty easy to pick out 3, 5 and 8 as the worst three of the franchise. Nice distribution there actually, basically get one or two good ones between all of the flops. So it’s got that going for it.
Time for a StreetCreditReport.com! My new favorite game, so fun I think it might actually end up as a permanent member of my recaps. People love to rank the Friday the 13ths (including us!), and this is typically second to last (this guy has #5 as fifth best though so …), or worst, or worst again, and finally number 9. This random blog ranks movies from specific years, and Manhattan gets number 3 for 1989! Two interesting things. One, it is quite common not to rank Freddy vs. Jason because it is apparently much more of a Nightmare on Elm Street film. We just had this debate ourselves and will likely watch Freddy vs. Jason as a part of this mini-challenge. Two, people really really don’t like number seven (The New Blood)! Which is interesting, because we both dug it and have it quite high in our own personal rankings. We’ll probably go through the Friday the 13th rankings again at the end of the run, but until then …