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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

1989 | CanadaUnited States | 100 min | More...
A still from Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
D+: 2 stars (out of 5)
on Fri Aug 13, 2021

I remember when this premiered. I was too young to drive but old enough for my folks to drop me and my friends off at the theater. In a lesser summer, maybe I would have tried to sneak into a screening. But that was the summer of Batman. Besides, word spread fast that Jason didn’t end up in New York until the final twenty minutes. That they should have called it Jason Takes a Cruise.

The movie opens with a teen couple fooling around on Crystal Lake. After an obligatory resurrection sequence, Jason makes quick work of the teens and reclaims his trademark hockey mask1.

Fast-forward to the following morning. The local high school’s graduating class sets sail for New York City aboard the Lazarus, an old ocean liner. As they depart, Jason sneaks aboard.

While Jason preys on the passengers, we’re presented with a series of subplots involving the students. Our protagonist, Rennie, has visions of a child drowning. The captain’s son, Sean, disappoints his father by fumbling the nautical equivalent of backing the car out of the garage. The prom queen tries to blackmail her biology teacher by seducing him on video.

After thinning the supporting cast, Jason kills the captain. Sean discovers his father’s body and alerts the others. In a refreshing twist, the kids arm themselves and take the fight to Jason. But a contrived series of events sinks the ship.

Sean, Rennie, and a few others escape and row to New York City. Jason is, of course, right behind them.

The finale sees Rennie and Sean fleeing Jason through a sewer tunnel due to be flushed with toxic waste.

This isn’t a good movie, but it’s better than its predecessor, The New Blood. Although the script saddles its protagonist with an overwrought subplot, it finds time to pepper the supporting cast with personality and even offers some chuckles. Granted, The Final Chapter had a more memorable cast, and Jason Lives had wittier humor, but I can appreciate the effort.

And yes, Jason spends more time prowling the Lazarus’s corridors than Manhattan’s streets, but so what? After seven films set at Camp Crystal Lake (or a reasonable facsimile), isn’t any scenery change welcome?

The film’s biggest disappointment isn’t Jason’s meandering journey to New York, it’s that, once he’s there, he gets tunnel vision. He walks through swaths of pedestrians and ignores them. Aside from some street punks, he’s only interested in the Lazarus survivors.

Jason should be a one-man apocalypse, killing anyone within reach. Why else transplant him to the country’s most populous city?

To that end, Jason Takes Manhattan proves more disappointing than awful. Aside from a change of scenery, it offers little we haven’t already seen done better.

  1. It even includes the axe-crack from part 3. What an amazing coincidence.

Viewing History

    Watched on
    Fri Aug 13, 2021 via Blu-ray (Friday the 13th Collection, Shout Factory, 2020)
    Watched on
    Sat Dec 27, 2014 via Netflix