Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan Preview

It’s baaaaaaa-aaaaaaack. That’s right! We’re watching some more of our favorite horror franchise: Friday the 13th. Last cycle we had to endure the fifth in the series, which was so bad that it almost destroyed my taste for all things Jason Vorhees… almost. For the StreetCreditReport.com cycle we have to jump to the eighth film in the franchise, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, which often makes it to the top of the worst of the series lists. This is reflected in the RT score with a solid 2/22 (8%). This of course means that we have non-BMT homework for Part VI: Jason Lives (which is often considered one of the best in the series; 52% RT) and a BMT qualifying bonus film Part VII: The New Blood (30% RT) which we just previewed. We’re going to do it guys. We’re going to watch the entire series in a single year! Let’s go!

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) – BMeTric: 69.0

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(Whoa, also regression to the mean. Popular Low Rated film. That is surprising to me. I would have thought that the film would have a more of a sustained low rating … perhaps (spoiler alert) Leonard Maltin is right … maybe this movie is “better” than I am giving it credit for in my mind. By better I mean intentionally so-bad-it’s-good, which to me is just intentionally-bad-and-not-at-all-funny. Gauntlets thrown.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  The best film in the “Friday” series, imaginatively directed and written by Hedden, is still just a slasher film, though less gruesome than most. Despite the title, most of the film takes place on a cruise ship. Too long and not really for fans of the series.

(Ludicrous statement that this is the best film in the franchise. I can tell you that right now. Maybe for someone who doesn’t appreciate the horror genre at all making a movie where Jason “takes” Manhattan as some kind of joke (some kind of sick, sick tongue-in-cheek joke) could be considered a weird pinnacle, but I say nay. Leonard hints at that at the end though, so I have to give him credit for that. Perhaps he did watch this movie at the time though. Could be tipping the hand a bit that the more over-the-top comedy horror films like Leprechaun were well on their way.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5fc43O3ynE 

(What. The. Fuck. So yeah, I guess they aren’t playing this exactly straight. I’m going to hate this movie aren’t I? Yeah, I think I’m just going to straight hate it. It isn’t going to have any good kills. It won’t be funny even though it thinks it is. Ugh. I already hate it. I’ve already ruined my viewing of this film.)

Directors – Rob Hedden – (BMT: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan; You May Not Kiss the Bride; Notes: Was a big tv movie guy back in the day it seems which is interesting. He was also offered the chance to direct a Nightmare on Elm Street sequel after this production wrapped, but was exhausted from the hectic production on this film.)

Writers – Rob Hedden (written by) – (BMT: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan; Clockstoppers; You May Not Kiss the Bride; The Condemned; Notes: Wrote 14 episodes of MacGuyver. Also cast his sister as a waitress in this film, her only IMDb credit.)

Victor Miller (characters) – (Again, he always gets credits, we’ve delved as deeply into his backstory as the internet allows.)

Actors – Jensen Daggett – (BMT: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan; Major League: Back to the Minors; Telling You; The Opposite Sex and How to Live with Them; Notes: Had a recurring role on Home Improvement as Tim “The Tool-Man” Taylor’s sister-in-law. I’m kind of obsessed with the fact that she was on Project: Alf, the tv movie that wrapped up ALF in 1996. It was terrible, I was ten at the time, and an all-around weird thing to have happened.)

Kane Hodder – (Known For: Monster; Daredevil; The Devil’s Rejects; Frozen; Prison; Hatchet; Alligator; Lone Wolf McQuade; Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon; Hatchet III; BMT: Jason X; Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday; Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan; Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood; Room 6; House II: The Second Story; Hatchet II; Wishmaster; Muck; Best of the Best II; Father Hood; Out for Justice; Grind; Notes: It is so strange that this guy was also uncredited in Daredevil just like Kevin Spirtas … anyways, he played Jason and was also a long time stunt man. He appears to have parlayed his can-do and fun-loving attitude (much talked about in notes about this film) into a long slasher film career. On wikipedia it states that he is a noted Juggalo.)

Todd Caldecott – (BMT: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan; Fear; Notes: Canadien and an herbalist, he released a book called Ayurveda: The Divine Science of Life.)

Budget/Gross – $5 million / Domestic: $14,343,976 (N/A)

(Slowly a-tumbling down. Probably still profitable if those numbers are accurate. It is just that now it is a 300% return instead of 1000%. So, I presume we are about to find a true-blue bomb among these micro-budget horror films)

#61 for the Horror – Slasher genre

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(Below Halloween III: Season of the Witch. That is basically all you need to know about that. As the franchise which managed 8 filmed in the 1980s (!) transitioned to the 90s there was something foreboding about the trends the horror genre had been taking. And realizing that the franchise would go from 8 movies in the 80s to 1 in the 90s … well, 80s horror was a special time. It is understandable people would reminisce about the fun-loving attitudes of the era.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 8% (2/24): No consensus yet.

(I’ll make one: Comes across far better in retrospect, but still, the series (and this installment) is still some of the worst the genre had to offer from the era. None of these reviews are from pre-2000 so they are all looking backwards. And they are far more positive than you would expect. A few mirror Leonard’s opinion that it is the best of the bunch, but the rotten tomatoes review score (3.0/10.0) doesn’t really reflect that, so I’m still pretty skeptical.)

Poster – Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Take Sklog-hattan (D)

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(Egad! This color scheme is no bueno. Unlike the previous entries they have fully transitioned from artistic 80’s styling to tacky garbage. Still got the font, but that’s about it.)

Tagline(s) – New York has a new problem (B)

(First of all, could you be more condescending to NYC? Basically saying “check out this garbage town where everything is shit and crime is rampant… even worse now. Fuck NYC, emirite?” But that being said, it’s short, somewhat clever (“new” and “new”), and hints at the plot. Still, there is something that nags me about this one. Don’t love it even though it hits a lot of right notes.)

Keyword(s) – hockey mask; Top Ten by BMeTric: 77.8 Jason X (2001); 72.2 Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993); 69.0 Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989); 67.6 Stan Helsing (2009); 66.7 Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985); 52.2 Eight Legged Freaks (2002); 50.7 Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988); 47.6 Friday the 13th (2009); 47.5 The King of Fighters (2010); 46.3 Exit Wounds (2001);

(Friday the 13th is a lot less than I would have imagined. Exit Wounds … well I can’t wait to see the hockey mask there. This is also a pretty nice list. I mean, you wouldn’t watch all of the Friday the 13th, but still, kind of a fun variety. How nice.)

Notes – Kane Hodder says that one of the most fun parts of his tenure as Jason was the scenes in Times Square. He says that spectators were lined up and down the block watching the filming, and he didn’t want to take off the mask to destroy their illusion of Jason. He said that every once in awhile, he’d turn his head and look at them, and watch them all go crazy. (This movie sounds weirdly fun. People had fun making this)

Writer/Director Rob Hedden originally wrote more of the movie to be set in New York. He had written scenes at Madison Square Garden, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Empire State Building. But Paramount told him that budget would not allow him to spend that much time in New York, so he was forced to rewrite the film and spend more time on the cruise ship. Hedden says he agrees with fans who complain that not enough time is spent in New York, given the title Jason Takes Manhattan. (HA!)

(at around 1h 28 mins) In the diner, the man Jason throws into the mirror is Ken Kirzinger, who would go on to play Jason in Freddy vs. Jason (2003). Kirzinger also doubles as Jason in a few brief shots in this film. (That is a fun fact)

In the original script, when Jason makes it to the dock, a dog starts barking at him and he kicked it. Kane Hodder, who was playing Jason, felt that kicking the dog was going too far and so the scene was dropped. (It was going too far. He murders innocent children, but kicking a dog is too far. I would never condone animal abuse and I’m glad they cut it, I just find that funny)

After the disappointing results at the box-office, Paramount decided to sell the Friday the 13th film series to New Line Cinema, making “Jason Takes Manhattan” the last feature produced by Paramount, until the 2009 remake. Only three other sequels were released in between. (Cool. We shall watch them all!)

Many of the actors pointed out to themselves a plot hole earlier in the filming of the movie. They were asking how did the ship get out of Crystal Lake and into the Atlantic Ocean. But most them were just happy to be in a movie so they didn’t bring it up to the Producers or the Director. (Yeah … I was wondering how they would get from Crystal Lake to Manhattan. I guess the answer is “fuck you”)

At 1 hour and 40 minutes, this is the longest of the Friday The 13th films. (WHAT)

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Bonfire of the Vanities Recap

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Bonfire of the Vanities? More like Bonfire of the Banalities. I had a tough time figuring this movie out, and I’ll tell you why. Let’s go.

  • The Good – For much of the movie it is well acted. I was rather impressed with Hanks, Willis (surprisingly), and especially Melanie Griffith. It is, for decent stretches, at least fascinating. I would say I was more confused as to whether this was supposed to our world or a truly surreal satirical take on our world, and perhaps that is what kept my attention, but there were certainly bits I did like.
  • The Bad – Where to begin … I mean, I know this movie is a satire, but it does come across as genuinely racist. Like it is painting a picture of a world it imagines exists and then takes the unfortunate tack of taking down the strawman caricatures it creates, as if that is meaningful. I kept grasping at things, trying to think how I could make the movie better in some tangible way, but the unfortunate thing is: without reading the book I didn’t know! I knew the movie’s approach couldn’t be the book’s angle because it would have been torn down and cast out of society with vigor. But how it differed I didn’t know. Reading the IMDb notes and realizing they were forced to recast the judge as black (Morgan Freeman) makes oh so much sense. At times I really couldn’t believe what I was watching. I found it shocking. I knew it was supposed to be satire, but it is so weak that occasionally you get lulled into the sense that you are watching a real movie only to be shaken awake by angry and awful people and actions. I found the first half of the film stressful, and the second half unpleasant (if slowly relieving as you realize that things are kind of going to way you’d expect them to go). So there you go. I did not think this is was not that bad, but perhaps that is the mood I was in, willing to take this silly movie a bit too seriously. And yet my feelings seem to mirror the critical reception at the time, so I’m giving myself the benefit of the doubt.
  • BMT – I’ll keep this short. I thought it was boring, but shocking enough to warrant a solid 25 and maybe (maybe) I’d throw it to someone with the tentative recommendation that you are watching a truly strange movie come to life. I do kind of want to read the book about the making of this movie. It must have been simply bonkers.

Let’s see. Sequel/Prequel/Reboot would be fun to try and figure out who would play all of the people in a reboot made this year (plus, hey, it’s not like we are having a serious discussion on race in the United States at the moment …). So in the Tom Hanks role I wanted someone with that boyish charm, who can play someone you kind of want to hate a bit, and as close to 35 as possible (a believable age for the social position Hanks was in in the movie), and I think Andrew Garfield in that role would work really well. You could definitely believe him on Wall Street and then sympathize as his world falls apart around him. Bruce Willis comes across a lot older than he actually is (also 35 at the time), but also the literal alcohol character is tough to pull off I feel like these days, they are either now much older or the perpetual party boy type deal (like Miles Teller in The Spectacular Now). I went a little older and found Danny McBride which I think could work, even has the comedy chops if they wanted to go that direction again. Jeremy Renner or Joel Edgerton could both work as well. Scarlett Johansson in the Griffith role rounds out the important bits. Recast Freeman in his own role and you got a stew cooking.

There isn’t much beyond the three leads to make this movie again if they cared. The rest of the cast you could debate back and forth, but really that is unimportant compared to actually getting the tone right.

Jamie

As we finish our Now A Major Motion Picture cycle heading into our transition week, I can start to think retrospectively about the collection of books that I’ve (largely suffered) through. In most cases the books and the films were either very similar, bordering on straight adaptations (Pinocchio, Phantoms, The Choice, and The 5th Wave) or wildly different (Fair Game, Get Carter, and Random Hearts). The Bonfire of the Vanities stands out because it’s not really in either category. The first half of the film is basically a straight adaptation, with only minor changes to how characters look or behave. Halfway through the film though, it veers wildly off course. Starting from a scene where our main character Sherman McCoy wanders out of a courtroom in which he has been indicted on charges of reckless endangerment, we, as the audience, also wander helplessly from a film that made some sense, to one that makes no sense. I was so confused by the tone change at that point (anchored by what I knew from the book) that I actually assumed for a while that what we were seeing was a dream sequence (spoiler alert: not the case). It seems at this point that the filmmaker decided that he no longer liked the film he was making (probably because all the characters are terrible people) and decided that the movie needed some bucking up. Let’s all of sudden make Peter Fallow a hero (rather than the shitty pulp tabloid man that he is in the book), let’s have Sherman comically brandish a shotgun in a crowded party, and let’s make the climax of the film be the just acquittal of our valiant hero (!!!) Sherman McCoy. In the book this climax was just only in that it took all the shitty, vain people involved in the story and destroyed them all in a blaze of glory. In the film none of the characters are developed enough to convey this (and the ones that are developed have been developed into nicer, softer characters) so that the climax is played straight. Gross.

Funny enough this probably wouldn’t have made a difference to me if I hadn’t read the book. I wondered if I would have thought the film was well-acted and well-written (albeit a bit aimless), and produced in that Hollywood way to make it pleasant enough. I thought that I might have even said It’s Not That Bad.™ With the book, though, it seemed like a disaster. In the end I think Patrick and I agreed though. The fact of the matter is that the book is considerably more shocking in its racism than the film and in that way you can see the satire. It creates caricatures of real NYC dwellers of the time, but magnifies the hidden racism that roils beneath in order to satirize the institutions in the city (police, law, finance, politics). But how the film reigned back the exaggeration and dared to soften the McCoy and Fallow characters destroys the satire and in turn makes it simple offensive. Basically, I was wrong in my assumption that I might not be offended if I didn’t have the book to anchor me. His recap proves that I would have probably been even more offended.

Perhaps it’s a byproduct of all these films being based on books, but we’ve had a nice little run of films with very distinct settings for Settings 101. Once again we have a film that gets an A! In this case The Bonfire of the Vanities is a takedown of the New York City elite. Obviously they couldn’t change the setting or else the entire message would be lost (instead they just lost the message through shitty character development). We get several shots of the New York skyline, a close-up shot of Sherman McCoy’s New York license plate, clear “Manhattan” and “Bronx” highway signs, and a climax that centers around the idea of a white Manhattanite running over an African American youth in The Bronx. Kinda hovers a bit between A- and A as there isn’t really a distinct New York landmark used as a prop. But as the setting itself is vital to the plot and unchangeable, I give it the A. Once again, misses out on the coveted A+ by not having the setting in the title of the film.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs