Saturday, October 18, 2014

In short: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

This, the last Friday film under the auspices of Paramount, is generally treated as the worst among a bunch that’s all over the place in quality and disliked on general principle by most anyhow. And the general horror public’s right on the money here, because honestly, I have a hard time imagining how any of the following films could be worse than Jason Takes Manhattan.

Plot-wise, we see Jason revived by an anchor that doesn’t act like anchors actually work hitting an underwater electricity cable that also doesn’t work as these things do that electrocutes Jason’s body which has been hanging around down in Crystal Lake after the end of the last movie, and revives him. Because getting our slasher back to the surface via the local officials finally wanting to drag all those dead bodies out of the lake (can’t be good for the water quality) would have been too clever, I guess. Anyway, for reasons only known to the script, Jason sneaks onto a cruise ship/ferry/whatever – commanded by an Admiral, no less – full of late teens going on a school field trip to New York, which is a thing US small town classes do, I’m sure. Just as obviously, he begins doing what he always does, this time around imbued with slasher teleportation powers so heavy they are actually happening on-screen, and making snoring noises from time to time. Can’t blame him for the latter.

A few survivors actually manage to escape and land in the promised Manhattan for the final thirty minutes of the movie or so, so Jason can continue his thing on some damp New York street sets probably located in Vancouver where most of this was shot.

Yes, this Friday really is so crummy, even its title is more or less a lie, probably because “Jason burns down a cruise ship and wanders around Manhattan a bit” wouldn’t have had quite the right commercial ring to it. Now, I’d be perfectly alright with a lying title, if anything of the stuff that happens on the cruise ship had any kind of impact on any level, but nothing that happens there – or in New York, for that matter – is in any way, shape or form scary, or horrific, or exciting, or even very funny. Well, if you’re really straining for inadvertent comedy, you might get a kick and a half out of Jason dying by drowning in the toxic sludge that is nightly flooding the New York Sewer system at midnight (because that’s how sewers work on the planet this mess takes place on, hooray) and turning into little Jason again when dead.

Because yes, writer/director Rob Hedden wasn’t even competent enough to understand the really very simple mythology of the Friday the 13th films; you can’t even call it a retcon, because retcons generally are supposed to have a point beyond putting in hallucinations of young Jason drowning, and are generally made by people with a working knowledge of the stuff they are re-jigging. Speaking of Hedden, he does at least manage to produce a pretty slick looking film, but when that’s combined with a script too dumb for even a Friday movie, something so dire it makes me sorry to have criticized the writing of Part five, and no visible talent at all for making an actual horror movie, it still results in a film very much worth avoiding with utmost care.

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