Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)


Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan

Written & Directed by Rob Hedden

Rennie...Jensen Daggett
Colleen...Barbara Bingham
Sean...Scott Reeves
Charles McCulloch...Peter Mark Richman

Jason Voorhees had always been a backwoods maniac, a timeless ghost story that kids would tell each other around the campfire. That was his entire identity, his entire appeal. But then, when the 1980s had hit the height of its 1980sness, some studio executive decided that small town America just wasn't 1980s enough for modern youth. What the franchise needed was to drop Jason Voorhees smack dab in the center of an urban setting.

The movie open with a video montage of Manhattan's dirty streets as a radio DJ for WJAZ--the electricity of Manhattan--delivers a ridiculous voice over: "We live in claustrophobia, a land of steel and concrete trapped by dark waters. There is no escape, nor do we want it. We've come to thrive on it and each other. You can't get the adrenaline pumping without the terror, good people. I love this town!" Turns out Crystal Lake is within radio range, and we fade into a houseboat where two teenagers are cavorting half-nude and rehashing the urban legend of Jason Voorhees. Jason, at the bottom of the lake, sees this as the perfect opportunity to pull the old Frankenstein trick and next thing you know he's emerging soggy and rotten from the water and stowing away on the S.S. Lazarus, a cruise-liner delivering a whole class of students to the city for their senior trip.


Jason has an entire class full of nubile youngsters to choose from: Sean, the captain's son; Wayne, the film geek with a camcorder; Tamara, the slutty prom queen with a love of “top-dollar toot;” Julius, the bad ass boxer; and Rennie, the troubled teen who Jason has had a run-in with before.  In other words, plenty of eager young flesh ready and waiting for the ol' chop-chop.  There's even a doomsaying deckhand, who is the prerequisite Crazy Ralph replacement.

Jason dispenses with a great deal of them in the usual bloody ways before the boat docks in New York. Once it does, it's Jason's turn to take a bite out of the Big Apple.


It's too bad that Jason doesn't even get to Manhattan until the last 30 minutes of the film, so the first hour is the same old thing that we've grown accustomed to, only in slightly more confined quarters. Even when he does make it to the city, he doesn't TAKE it at all. He still concentrates almost solely on those who survived the boat trip. Talk about a one track mind.

After 8 entries in the franchise, things are beginning to feel rather stale. Things needed to be shaken up a bit, but relocating the series certainly didn't accomplish that. For good or for ill, though, the next two films shake the shit out of this slasher.

So just how 80s is this movie? Pretty fuckin' 80s at times. The music, the fashions, the hairstyles, the cocaine, the fake grit and grime...just feast your eyes on these images.


Again, it's not a horrible slasher film. It's just the same old thing over and over again--only now with worse music. Except for the ending. That was a brand new piece of crap.

Allow me to leave you with a word of advice: if you're every trying to escape from a masked madman who is trying to kill you, don't just step into the middle of an empty dance floor and spin in circles. Despite what you might think, it doesn't work.

1989
Rated R
100 Minutes
Color
English
United States

--J/Metro

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