#304 -- Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

Director: Rob Hedden
Rating: 5 / 5

Contains spoilers

Okay, so a lot of people have issues with this movie. It looks like most feel one of two things about it. They think either A) putting him in Manhattan was stupid, or B) that was cool, but he wasn't there long enough. Both are true, but I don't really care about all that. I do have some issues with the movie; to me, it feels like one big plot hole. But I don't care about that either. Parts 7, 8, and 9 of the series are the ones that were released around the time I was a kid -- this one was actually released five months before I was born -- so they're really the ones I remember watching back then. They all have a special place in my heart, no matter how silly or gimmicky they are. This one has always been one of my favorite, and it will stay that way, despite the tiny little issues I have with it. Sure, the movie is nothing but a giant plot hole. Sure, they figured people were getting tired of the summer camp setting (which I absolutely never will) so they stuck him some place else, which felt weird. There are only two movies in the series that I will rate anything below five points, and even then I'm only willing to go as low as 4.9. So, there are only two reasons that I will really have an issue: if they A) mess with the story (part five, where Jason wasn't even present), or B) they mess with Jason's appearance (Jason X, when they turned him into a fucking ROBOT). So, in conclusion, despite its faults, I love Jason Takes Manhattan.

Here's the run-down. It wasn't just a random occurrence that took him to New York. A bunch of high school kids were going on some sort of graduation party/field trip to New York, and they were taking a cruise ship. They happened to go through Crystal Lake, where Jason was awoken via some electricity or something. He climbed aboard the ship, because even though they weren't technically in his camp, they were still invading his home, and he didn't like that. So he started killing all the kids on the ship, and of course, it eventually took them to New York. I don't care that the majority of the movie took place on a boat, because, to me, that just makes the events that much more terrifying for the victims. When they're at the lake, at least there's an endless amount of open space that the kids can run into. Even if their cars don't work (which they never do, of course), they're still not completely stuck. Here, though, there was absolutely nowhere they could go. They were trapped in a confined space with Jason, knowing that the only they could do was either hide or fight. Or throw him overboard, but good luck with that. Once they got to New York, they felt like they'd reached a safe haven. They thought, "Okay, we're here, there are other people around, and there are plenty of places to hide." They learned quickly that there was still no way to get away from him, of course. But that was a giant let-down and, and I feel like it showcases the exhaustion that they must have felt. They went through so much already while they were on the boat; they arrived at their destination, believing that they were safe, only to realize that nowhere was safe from Jason Voorhees. I think that these victims had a rougher time than the rest because of this.

Okay, first I'll explain the issues that I do have with the movie, then I'll round things off with reasons why it's still fucking awesome. I mentioned that it feels like one giant plot hole, and it really does. The back-story for this one really doesn't make any sense at all. The main character, Rennie, has something in common with Jason: she can't swim, and she's terrified of the water. To be fair, Jason's not scared of anything (I hate when people say he's scared of water, because he's in it all the fucking time; there's no way he's scared of  anything.), though he was when he was a child. Apparently, when Rennie was a kid, her uncle tried to teach her to swim by throwing her out of their canoe. While under the water, she saw a young, deformed Jason -- which is why she grew so completely terrified of being in the water. Okay, one of two things were happening with this bit. They were either trying to imply that Jason was a ghost, or they didn't realize that he's like, 40 years older than her and there's no way she could have met him as a child. Throughout the movie, she sees glimpses of the young Jason drowning and crying out for help. She sees him in mirrors and in the windows of the boat. Again, is Jason supposed to be a ghost, or are they somehow mentally linked to one another? It didn't really expand on or explain any of that, so I really didn't get it.

Secondly, the way Jason looked. They didn't fuck with his appearance in the same way that Jason X did. For the most part, he looked just like he was supposed to. When he was unmasked, though...I don't know what the fuck that was. His face was flat, he had no teeth, and his skin sort of looked blue. Hillbilly smuf, anyone? When Jason's mask is removed, we're supposed to be terrified by how vile and gruesome his face is. This, though, was just funny -- and that shit ain't right. He was unmasked down in the sewers of New York. The two heroes threw some toxic waste on his face, it melted a little bit, and then he...turned back into a child. What? Yeah, little Jason returned, in the fetal position crying like a baby. Who knew that toxic waste was a time machine? It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, and it  is actually the biggest issue I have with the movie. Maybe it was imagination or drug-induced hallucination (because Rennie had been drugged and almost raped by some thugs). Maybe they were trying to turn Jason into something different; something less than human that we hadn't seen before, but they weren't really sure how to do it. I think that was actually done better in Jason Goes to Hell. Sure, it was stupid as fuck, but at least it made a little bit of sense.

Despite the fact that Jason Takes Manhattan doesn't make a whole lot of sense, I still love it. It has some of my favorite scenes from the entire series, ones that I always use as examples when explaining why I love these movies so much. First, there's a hot rocker chick who is killed by her own guitar. There's the boxer who thought he could actually beat Jason's ass. Jason ended up letting the guy punch him until he was exhausted, then punched his head clean off. It landed it a dumpster. Later, when his friends were trying to find him, they found his head stuck on the gearshift of a police car. Oh, Jason. You're so funny. There was a guy who had a hot sauna rock shoved into his stomach, which looked extremely painful...and awesome! There was the hockey billboard that really confused Jason when he first arrived in New York. And  the best one, and probably my favorite scene in any of the movies. There were some thugs in New York, outside listening to some music. Jason was angry as he walked past them, so he kicked over their boom-box. They thought they were bad-ass, thought they'd pull a knife on him and start cussing him. He turned around, lifted up his mask, and the thugs stumbled through something like, "Sorry, m-man. It's cool, dude." No, he didn't kill them; which brings me to another thing I like about the movie. It shows that Jason isn't the mindless killer everyone thinks he is. Sure, he was a mongoloid. Sure, he's not the sharpest tool in the shed. But he's not as stupid as people assume. Once they got to New York, he didn't bother anyone. He didn't kill any of the NY citizens unless they got in his way. He wasn't after them. He had no problems with them, because they hadn't invaded his home. I think he only killed one person in New York, actually, which...makes me smile really big. You remember when Kane Hodder was denied the part in Freddy Vs. Jason, in favor of Ken Kirzinger? Well, I really despise Ken, because he really sucked balls. The NY citizen that Jason killed here? He was played by Ken. Ha! I love watching it now and seeing Kane throw Ken around like a rag doll. Little bitch ass.

So, yeah; the movie has its issues, but it also has its charm. I don't care that it doesn't make sense. Sure, I like the stories they throw in, but that's not why I'm here. It's cool if they've got a good story, but mainly it's about Jason. I don't watch these movies to be engaged with the characters' stories. I don't watch them for the characters, because I could give two shits about any of them, despite how likable they are. I'm here to watch Jason fuck shit up. Ghost, mongoloid, whatever they were trying to turn him into...he still does that quite brilliantly.

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