The WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza Presents: Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

Director - Rod Hedden

Starring -
Jensen Daggett - Rennie Wickham
Kane Hodder - Jason Voorhees
Peter Mark Richman - Charles McCulloch
Scott Reeves - Sean Robertson
V.C. Dupree - Julius
Kelly Hu - Eva Watanabe

Year - 1989

Score - 0.5 Howls Outta 4

After 1988's Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood, Paramount started to realize that the peak of the slasher era, as well as this franchise, was long gone. Critics panned the movie. Fans were mixed on it. Receipts for the film at the box office were less than stellar. Especially when the Halloween franchise came out with an exceptional sequel, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, that same year [Halloween 4 topped the box office two weeks in a row, revitalizing that franchise]. After 7 films, Crystal Lake was becoming a tired, predictable, and boring place to watch. I mean, how many times can one watch Jason Voorhees do the same thing over and over again to blank characters no one cares about?

So Paramount figured they tried to change the scenery a bit, maybe to breathe new life into the franchise. So they decided it would be a fantastic idea for Jason to kill people somewhere else, like...New York City? Okay, I'll admit...the idea is an interesting one. How would Jason survive in a city known for tough attitudes and a stereotypical high crime rate? Could Jason survive in NYC, or would be learn to love the hard knock life? Great questions there...just too bad they were never answered in this film. Jason Takes Manhattan huh? More like Fred Takes A Huge Dump On This Film Because It Sucks.

Two teenagers have sex on a boat. The guy tells the other about the legend of Jason Voorhees to scare her, hockey mask and all. While they go back to getting some, an underwater cable gets cut open, leading a bunch of volts to react under Crystal Lake. Gee, guess who's under there again? Why, it's Jason! And the electricity bring him back to life [again]. So Jason gets on the boat, steals the hockey mask, and kills the two teens. The next morning, a group of seniors on their senior trip prepare to board the Lazarus [I love puns], where guess what? Yep, that's right! Jason emerges from underwater and boards the trip to greet them all on their way to New York City. Jason pretty much offs them one-by-one [with new teleportation powers...WTF?] until five survive long enough to make their way to NYC. The main heroine, Renny, seems to have visions of Jason as a little boy drowning in Crystal Lake. Will she use this knowledge to stop Jason this time? How will Jason fit in NYC? Is this film ridiculous or what?

Jason Takes Manhattan was Paramount's final outing with Jason [and the last film to use Friday The 13th in the title or anywhere else] before handing rights to New Line Cinema. Boy, does it show. This film is a sinking ship [see, I love puns] and I want to get off. I don't understand how Paramount even believed they had a good film here. It's so bad that it's funny, like those movies you used to see on Mystery Science Theater 3000. There's a story here, but it makes no sense. All the characters are stereotypical. The music sucks. The film barely takes place in New York. The ending is beyond stupid. What the hell happened here?

Let me say some good things about the film. The direction by Rob Hedden [who also wrote this crap] is pretty darn good. The lighting is beautiful and the film looks crisp. Loved the overhead shots of Jason as he strolled the hallways of the ship. Loved the dream-like sequences Renny had when she saw Jason as both a boy and an adult. He keeps things moving at a decent pace here, where there is some tension at least given to the kills. One of the better directed Friday The 13ths out there, but it doesn't save the film.

I also appreciated a change of scenery. The woods were becoming tedious, so to see Jason kill teens on a cruise ship and then New York City was pretty neat. It gave the film a fresher and more modern feel. Still didn't make the movie better though.

As for the acting, the only ones who got any kind of reaction out of me were Kane Hodder (Jason), Sharlene Martin (Tamara), and Peter Mark Richmond (Professor Charles - ha, another pun!). Hodder once again made Jason his own, acting mucho pissed off and kicking ass wherever he went. Loved the breathing and the turn of the head when he saw that billboard of a goalie when he arrived to NYC. Jason was definitely the hero in this movie, even though he's supposed to be the villain. Martin was the stereotypical bitch in this film and she did the role justice. I hated her ass [and loved looking at it too] and wanted her dead the small amount of time she was on. I have this thing for liking mean girls, so Martin gets a thumbs up from me. But the best, and most developed character, was Richmond's Charles. Man, this dude was a bastard. He was way overprotective of Renny [he was her guardian] and treated everyone else on the ship like crap, yelling at and criticizing them for different reasons. He almost killed Renny when she was a child by pushing her into the water, knowing she can't swim [the bastard]. Plus he kept doubting Jason until the very end where he actually comes face-to-face with him [he deserved a worst death, I think]. If there was ever a man like Charles on my trip, he'd come out bruised. Definitely the man you love to hate...he did a great job making me hate him for the right reason.

Now the bad things...pretty much everything else. The music sucks here. We get generic pop/rock music that I wouldn't even download for free. There's no music that sets up any tension or scares. It's weak, just like the special effects. Boy, what a downfall from The New Blood.

What the hell is up with Jason's face? In The New Blood, Jason looked dead, ugly, and pissed. Here, he looks like one of those Halloween skeletons you hang up on your door for decoration. I can't even describe how bad Jason's unmasked look looks here. He looks like a Muppet, screaming and saying, "Mommy?", after waste is thrown at his face. It's something you have to see for yourself to appreciate and make fun of. Even the gore was lame. There was none! No decent kills, except for Julius' [the token black dude] death, where Jason knocks his head right off of his shoulders with one punch. The special effects and gore effects were awful, cheap, and shoddy for horror standards.

And then there's the characters. I couldn't give a damn about them, especially the two leads. Jensen Daggett as Renny was just there for me. I wanted to care about her and her psychic link to Jason [?], but she was just so bland and weak. Jason was scared of her for some reason. Why? She couldn't even stand up to Charles, let alone anyone else. Definitely the weakest of the F13 heroines. Her token boyfriend, Sean (Scott Reeves), wasn't that much better either. He seemed like a nice guy and was brave and stuff, but I was never given any reason to root for him. Plus his "relationship" with Renny seemed forced. Those two didn't have chemistry, I'm sorry. Kelly Hu (in her first movie role as Eva) was the good girl who did drugs to be cool with her friend, Tamara the mean girl. She got the lamest kill in F13 history too. Hell, if she had those Lady Deathstrike abilities, Jason would have been toast and the film would have probably been more entertaining. As for the other characters [guitar girl, movie nerd, the angry black dude], I didn't care if Jason murdered them or not. Not all the acting was bad, however, but they just didn't have characters that were interesting to the story.

Speaking of the "story", what the hell was this whole "Jason as a little boy" thing that Renny kept seeing of? I didn't understand it. Was that Jason's true essence wanting Renny to save him from the monster he had become? If so, I wish it was explained somewhat. To me, it just seemed as if Renny was some crazy chick in serious need of Ritalin. Yes Tom, I'm being glib. Sue me. Plus young Jason tried to pull her down into the lake when she was a little girl. How is that possible when he was an adult killing people at the time? I tried to make sense of it, but I never could. And why was Jason NOT deformed for most of those visions? He's supposedly to be bald, deformed, and retarded. This Jason had a full set of hair and nice features until towards the end. How? Why? What? It hurts my head just trying to explain it all. And how does Jason take Manhattan when he's only there for the last 20 minutes? I was taken as a fool for believing the title of this shitfest. And Jason's teleportation powers...HUH!? That motherfucker went from one place and then beamed down to another in a quick second. When did Jason acquire this ability? Did I miss something in the last few parts? Is Scotty beaming him up and down around these cardboard characters? My brain is starting to hurt...

I also disliked how NYC was portrayed [since I live in the area]. Yes, NYC has some bad looking areas with rats and garbage. Yes, NYC can be a violent place. But just like every other city, NYC has its good sides too. When those two guys mugged the group and then drugged Renny to rape her, I was insulted. I'm sure that happens in NYC, but it's not a common activity! Plus every place from inside to outside looked dirty. I know NYC in the 80s was bad, but it wasn't THAT bad. And this whole toxic waste thing after midnight in the sewers - bullshit. I dunno where Rob Hedden got his info from, but the NYC sewers don't fill up with toxic waste every night. And what's with this thing that New Yorkers are immune and uncaring about people running away from some big slimy dude wearing a hockey mask? We have freaks in my city, but even we wonder what the fuck is up? I've lived in NY most of my life and if I saw Jason on my subway or in the street, I'm gonna run away and call the cops on his ass. That's not normal in NYC. I'm pissed it was made to look that way. We are civilized people, geez.

And the ending...man, oh man. I wasted 90 minutes of this film to watch Jason get hit by toxic waste so he could revert back to his little boy form!? Where the fuck did that idea come from anyway? Who thought that was a good idea? It makes no freakin' sense for Jason to become a boy again! I can't even rationalize this idea. Even when I saw this in the theatre at 8 years old, I told myself [in nicer terms] WHAT THE F---!? I was left confused, and I still am. If he's been a child on the inside this entire time, that's okay with me. Still doesn't explain his metamorphosis though. God, I have a headache.

Jason Takes Manhattan...sigh. It's just bad. Painfully bad. Driving me to become an alcoholic bad. The filmmakers were either desperate for money or were on some really serious drugs to come up with this crap and agree that this film was a good idea. Jason's as scary as Tickle Me Elmo here, and it's really sad. I'm just dumbfounded right now about this movie. It's the worst sequel next to The Exorcist II: The Heretic. At least that movie had a plot I could somewhat understand and make sense of. Jason Takes Manhattan is near the bottom of the Friday The 13th franchise and I have no doubts why Paramount sold New Line the franchise in 1991. I would have sold the rights too, just to wash away this crap from my hands. I can't even recommend this to Jason fans because they'll be so disappointed. Just avoid. Like the plague. Ugh. I give up. I give up.

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