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Why Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is Awesome

October 12, 2019 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #526: Why Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is awesome!

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never been on a cruise ship and never intends to be on one, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and twenty-six, I explain why I think Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is awesome.

And, yes, that is what I’m doing here. I am going to explain why I think Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is awesome.

Why Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is awesome!



Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is probably the least regarded of the twelve Jason/Friday the 13th movies made to date (I’m including Freddy vs. Jason in that total). The only other FT13 movie that’s hated just as much/maybe a little more depending on the day is Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (check out why I think that Jason movie is awesome here). Jason Takes Manhattan was the last Friday the 13th sequel released by Paramount Pictures and was, for a brief time, the believed end to the franchise, and for lots of horror movie nerds, it was the end for good reason. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan was just awful, compared to the previous seven movies, at least. It wasn’t as gory or inventive in the kills department as Part VII: The New Blood. The familiar Harry Manfredini music was gone, replaced by some other composer (Fred Mollin). And the movie was called Jason Takes Manhattan and yet Jason spends most of his time killing people on a cruise ship, and when Jason does finally get to Manhattan he really doesn’t do anything cool and “New York.” Why isn’t he slaughtering people on the subway, or killing people on the Statue of Liberty, or wrecking people in the Empire State Building? It was a cool idea, sure, a great title, but it failed to live up to its promise and premise. The movie was lame.

Now, for a period of time I was one of those horror nerds who didn’t really care for Jason Takes Manhattan. I thought the movie should have been called Jason Takes Over a Boat instead of Jason Takes Manhattan. I was annoyed that Jason didn’t really kill anyone in New York City outside of the sewer worker and, maybe, the cook in the diner. And what was the deal with that fucking song over the end credits? Why couldn’t Alice Cooper do another song for the Jason franchise? My opinion changed on the movie, though, the more I watched it. I rented it numerous times from various now very long gone video stores, I watched it on cable TV every time I happened upon it while flipping channels. And when I eventually purchased the first Friday the 13th DVD boxed set I watched the special features for Jason Takes Manhattan first. When I think back on that it’s insane because my favorite Friday the 13th is part 6, Jason Lives!. Why didn’t I watch that one first instead of Jason Takes Manhattan?

I still don’t know. For whatever reason, there was just something about Jason Takes Manhattan. It had become so incredibly watchable. Sure, the movie still had problems, but so what? It was something I wanted to watch. Repeatedly. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan had become awesome.

But why? I was going to have to think about it and watch it several more times.

I’ve thought about it. And now, I explain to you, in detail, why Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is awesome.



The title: Yes, I know, the actual movie doesn’t live up to the title, but, come on, the title is Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. Not only is the movie proud of the fact that it’s the eighth goddamn movie in a franchise, but it’s also telling you that it’s going to try to shake things up a bit. From parts 2-7, Jason has been killing people in and around Crystal Lake. Now, this time, he’s going to fucking Manhattan, New York City, and going to kill people there. It’s such a great, audacious idea that I’m shocked someone hasn’t tried to remake it, at least in spirit, and actually have the monster killer in Manhattan.

And you have to admit that, when you first heard the title, your ears perked up and you thought about how cool it would be to just see Jason Voorhees in New York City. And then you went and saw it/rented it/watched it on TV to see what that would look like. The title works, even if it can’t live up to its own promise.

The movie’s weird tone and look: Jason Takes Manhattan looks different than the other seven Friday the 13th movies up until that point. It almost looks like a big, slick Hollywood production, as opposed to the low budget, down and dirty horror flicks that most of the other sequels come across as (Jason Lives! is probably the lone exception here). The colors are different, the sets seem bigger and more elaborate (the entirety of the cruise ship), and the scope of the movie is just more than the other ones. And when the movie gets to “Manhattan,” even if it really isn’t Manhattan it still looks like Jason is in a big city of some sort. None of the other Friday the 13th movies tried to do anything like that.

As for the tone, Jason Takes Manhattan takes itself seriously. Despite its “fun” title, the movie wants you to know that it’s a horror movie, that Jason is a nasty, unstoppable killer, and that people are in danger. And when you look at main character Rennie’s backstory when it comes to her relationship with Jason, good God that shit is messed up. Rennie can still remember the time that little Jason tried to drown her in the lake, and when she thinks she sees him in that New York alleyway you can see the rage in her face. She’s going to get the chance to run over her childhood trauma!

Jason Takes Manhattan may be, in the big scheme of things, silly, but it also tries to be a little more than “just” a horror movie. And it’s a strategy that works.

The boat setting is both cool and ridiculous: The cruise ship location that takes up the first half of the movie is a great idea for a slasher movie. Once the ship sets out to sea, it’s a secluded location that the killer can use to his advantage because it will be very hard for his victims to get away. What are they going to do, hide? He’ll find them. Are they going to jump overboard? Ha! He doesn’t get to physically kill them in this instance, but he does get to contribute to their demise, so it’s essentially the same thing. And think about how large the cruise ship is. From top to bottom, there are plenty of places for the killer to hide and for the killer’s potential victims to run to. Kill them in the engine room? In the disco? In the cockpit? In one of the life boats? If the killer can’t find his prey, they’re probably hiding in one of those places.

The cruise ship is also ridiculous because, hell, it’s a cruise ship. Crystal Lake is deep enough to allow a cruise ship to dock there, and the lake has access to the ocean? Did any of us know that ahead of time? And how much money did the high school spend on renting the cruise ship in the first place? Fifty thousand or more? Where the hell did Crystal Lake High get that kind of money? Even with bake sales and fundraising, could the little hick town of Crystal Lake really come up with that amount of money?

Eh, none of that shit matters. The high school has rented a cruise ship and the graduating seniors are going to New York City. They could have taken a bus, sure, but would Jason killing people on a Greyhound bus actually work for more than a minute or two?

See? It’s cool and ridiculous.

The return of the “crazy old coot” character: While the Deck Hand character played by Alex Diakun isn’t as old and crazy as Walt Gorney’s “Crazy Ralph” from the first two Friday the 13th movies, the Deck Hand at least brings back the “You’re all going to die!” motif that parts 3-7 just ignored. And with the way he acts, you get the sense that, even if Jason wasn’t on the cruise ship, the Deck Hand probably would have done the “You’re all going to die” thing anyway because that’s just who he is. I mean, what else is the guy going to do to get through the day? What other hobbies could the guy possibly have? If he can’t warn people of their mortality, he’s got nothing else.

I was disappointed with the Deck Hand’s death scene. He just stumbles out of nowhere with an axe in his back. Why didn’t he get his head crushed or punched through the gut? Or, hell, why didn’t the Deck Hand get the death that Kelly Hu’s character got (a weird chase scene that ends with a seriously broken neck followed by a loud body drop)? I bet the audience would have gotten a kick out of that.


Rennie is a great final girl: As played by Jensen Daggett, Rennie is the perfect “final girl.” She’s smart, she’s nice, and she’s pretty (she isn’t hot, which gives off an entirely different vibe). She also has a dog, which suggests that she doesn’t have many friends (nice, smart girls rarely have friends in these kinds of worlds). She does pine for Sean Robertson (Scott Reeves), the sort of popular guy that doesn’t have a girlfriend because he isn’t into “shallow” girls, and, holy shit, Sean has a thing for Rennie, too.

Rennie also fights back against Jason. Yes, she runs away from him, too, but she doesn’t completely lose her cool when confronted with danger (think about the scene with the muggers. She doesn’t cry, doesn’t run, she just stares holes through those two mugger scumbags). She also throws a goddamn barrel of toxic waste into Jason’s face. That’s as badass as it comes.

Rennie also has frizzy hair. For whatever reason, in the late 1980’s that seemed to personify “nice girl.”

I often wonder what the first thing she did with Sean after they killed Jason in the sewer. I think she got a hotel room with Sean and they both went to sleep because, shit, they were both probably tired as fuck after everything they went through. I doubt they went to see the Statue of Liberty right after.


Charles McCullough is a fucking asshole: As played by Peter Mark Richman, Charles McCullough is the lead adult chaperone on this cruise ship trip and he has absolutely no problem wielding the authority that comes with that position. Very few people, and that includes the students, take much stock in McCullough’s posturing, but that doesn’t stop him from being, well, a total fucking asshole. McCullough is also Rennie’s uncle and he treats her like shit, which just makes you hate him even more.

On top of all of that, McCullough is also a fucking pervert. Think back to the scene where he goes to see if Tamara (Sharlene Martin) has completed her biology project and she attempts to seduce him while the nerdy Wayne (Martin Cummins) videotapes it. McCullough could have screamed at Tamara to get her clothes back on and stop the foolishness, but he didn’t. He paused and took a good look at Tamara’s half naked body. And when she started kissing him, he didn’t stop her. What the hell kind of adult allows that kind of thing to happen? And that’s what happened. He allowed it to happen. That’s just disgraceful.

McCullough’s eventual death at the hands of Jason is easily the most satisfying kill scene in the movie. It isn’t gory or anything, as Jason drowns him in a rancid barrel of water, but it, again, satisfying seeing that prick just get fucking owned. “Please, not by you, please.” Oh, go fuck yourself, Charles, and take your sad, pathetic death like a man.


Kane Hodder’s performance: Jason Takes Manhattan is Hodder’s second time playing Jason, and Hodder is once again terrific. His walking and movements are a little more plodding than they were in Part VII: The New Blood, but that slowness just makes him more menacing. You can’t stop him. Once he starts moving, you either run or you die. Hodder also makes Jason’s new look work, too. He doesn’t have the exposed spinal column and mega dark, decaying skin to work with like he did in The New Blood. He’s super water logged and, well, soggy in Jason Takes Manhattan (he probably also smells. Did any of the other Friday the 13th movies mention that? Didn’t Jason Goes to Hell sort of do something with it?). And he’s fucking terrifying.

Now, Hodder does amp up his speed a little bit when he gets to New York, like when he’s on the subway and when he smashes through the door of the diner (man, that sequence is fucking badass), but, again, he keeps his speed, for the most part, even throughout. Think back to when he enters the sewer, walks through the water, and you can hear a little bell faintly on the soundtrack. Holy shit. I still get goosebumps just thinking about that sequence, and it’s just a guy in monster makeup walking. Amazing.

The general horror movie loving public will likely always remember his Jason from The New Blood because it was the first time he played Jason and the make-up. But I will remember his performance in Jason Takes Manhattan. Well, that and Jason X, because that’s awesome, too.

Jason can pop up anywhere: One of the tropes of the “typical” slasher movie is that the killer manages to catch up to his feeling victim despite the fact that his victim runs because the killer steadily moves forward and never stops. Jason in Jason Takes Manhattan does that, but he also has the ability to pop up wherever he wants at random times. How does he do it? And why can he do it? I have no idea. He was never able to do that in the six previous movies he killed people in and the movie never bothers to explain any of it. It’s just something that this Jason can do. And that’s scary as hell. He’s unstoppable and he can pop up wherever he wants whenever he wants. How the fuck are you supposed to fight that?


Death by guitar: Actually, it’s death by electric guitar. Poor JJ. Such a badass musician who probably would have been a hard rock star if she managed to not get killed on the cruise ship by Jason. She had the chops, the look, and the enthusiasm to be a big deal. Unfortunately, Jason decided to go after her in the engine room while she practiced down there, he stalked her a bit, and then he just popped up in front of her and smashed her fucking head in with her electric guitar. Messed up? Sad? Sadistic? Absolutely. But then Jason isn’t fucking around.

Julius: As played by V.C. Dupree, Julius is the senior class popular, badass jock who isn’t a complete fucking asshole. He has a sensitive, almost nerdy side to him that makes his friendship with Sean and some of the other students on the boat seem plausible. Yes, he can punch your face in like a world champion, but he also has no problem singing the words to “New York, New York” even though he can’t sing and sounds kind of lame doing it.

Julius’s best scene? Obviously, it’s his big “fight” with Jason on the roof of that building in New York City. Julius has nowhere else to go. There is no help coming. If he’s going to survive Jason he’s going to have to take the fight directly to him, and that’s exactly what Julius does. He punches Jason again and again, delivering heavy body and head shots, pushing the big fucker to the edge of the roof. Unfortunately, the punches Julius delivers eventually lose some of their effectiveness and Jason stops moving back. It’s at that moment Julius, completely exhausted, gives Jason a free shot and calls him a motherfucker. Yeah, Julius probably figured he was going to die right then and there, but he was going out defiant anyway. That’s awesome. I’d like to think that I would be as heroically defiant and badass as Julius if I ever found myself in a similar situation. It’s really the only way to die if you’re going to get decapitated with one fucking punch.


Jason in Times Square: In one of the very few actual “on location in New York City” sequences in the movie, Jason is seen standing in the middle of Times Square, momentarily overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of a super bustling mega city. Jason then focusses on his prey, Rennie and Sean, who have no idea that Jason is still alive (they thought they killed him in the subway after electrocuting him on the third rail). Jason walks after them, taking a moment to knock over a radio and pissing off a game of young hoodlums. They threaten to kill him. Jason de-escalates the situation by lifting his hockey mask and showing the gang members his face. They run away, terrified.

Now, you would think that a gang of young NYC thugs wouldn’t be intimidated by Jason’s face (because, you know, it’s NYC in the 1980’s, they’ve seen shit) and that Jason would just rip them apart because he’s Jason goddamn Voorhees and that’s what he does. None of that happens, though. In that sense, the scene is disappointing, but watching the scene as it is, it’s hilarious. It’s goofy. And it works. It keeps the main story moving (killing the gang members would have likely taken around a minute, maybe two minutes, and the movie doesn’t want to stay away from the main story for too long).

And, hell, it’s Jason in Time Square. Like the name of the movie, the fact that there’s a scene in a movie where Jason Voorhees is standing in New York City, in Times Square, is just awesome. It defies criticism.

The sewer sequences: Jason Takes Manhattan ends with our heroes Rennie and Sean going into the sewers and Jason following them. Rennie and Sean have no idea where to go, and Jason, as always, is in pursuit, slow and steady. The sewers are just a series of long, partially lit hallways that seem to lead to more of the same, making them inherently scary. With Jason stalking them, holy shit, they’re even scarier. They eventually find a sewer worker that agrees to show them how to get out, and for a very brief moment it seems like Rennie and Sean might get out of this alive. Then Jason pops up out of nowhere, knocks out Sean and kills the sewer worker with a wrench (nice blood splatter on the wall). When Jason goes to kill Sean next Rennie manages to get his attention and Jason decides to go after Rennie instead.

The dankness really gets to you in these scenes. Everything is wet, which you expect in a sewer, but there’s something about this particular wetness. The glistening. And the low lights. Even when the characters are standing directly under a light it’s moody and disturbing. And, good God, it must smell horribly in there. How the hell can anyone work in there?

Toxic waste!: Before Jason kills him, the sewer worker tells Rennie and Sean that the sewers fill up with toxic waste every night at midnight, so they have to get out of there before that happens. I have no idea why the sewers of New York City or, really, anywhere in the world would fill up with toxic waste every night, but it’s a great idea and, when it happens, it’s an awesome visual. The hallways of the sewer system fill up quickly with rushing waste, and Jason is taken out/defeated as his rancid body melts away.

Now, if a sewer system did fill up with toxic waste every night, would it be the kind of waste that would melt a dead body in seconds? Why couldn’t it be waste that’s nasty and disgusting and horrible but not body melting? And if it is the kind that melts bodies, why didn’t the toxic waste melt the plastic bucket filled with toxic waste that Rennie throws in Jason’s face? And, hell, why didn’t the rushing waste just knock over and take that bucket and out it somewhere else in the sewer system?

Am I asking too many questions here? Am I thinking about this too much? Yeah, probably. I should be more focused on the fact that Jason Voorhees is killed by toxic waste. Who the hell ever thought that would happen?

”The Darkest Side of the Night”: When I first heard this song by the band Metropolis, which plays over the opening and ending credits to Jason Takes Manhattan, I wasn’t a fan. It was a little too whiny for a Friday the 13th movie, and after Alice Cooper did “He’s Back! The Man Behind the Mask” for Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives!, “The Darkest Side of the Night” was a letdown. I mean, if you have no hope of equaling the badassness of Alice Cooper, why bother with doing something that can’t possibly compete? But, as the years went on and I heard “The Darkest Side of the Night” over and over again, especially on YouTube, I caught up to the song. Suddenly, I didn’t hate it anymore. Suddenly, it was actually good, and it fit the mood of the movie. It still wasn’t as good or cool as “He’s Back! The Man Behind the Mask,” but it was good enough on its own, and that was enough.

Go ahead and listen to the song on its own. It’s pretty good, isn’t it?

You fucking know it is.


Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan was never a bad movie. It was a mediocre Friday the 13th movie, when compared with some of the others in the franchise, but in the big scheme of things it was always a pretty good horror movie. With solid direction from writer/director Rob Hedden, it set out to be another solid entry in a slasher movie franchise and mostly succeeded. Unfortunately, it didn’t set the box office on fire and ended the franchise’s stay at Paramount Pictures. It did find an audience on home video, and that audience has continued to grow with each year. Some people (not all, but some) have figured out that while it didn’t live up to its title, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan was, again, a good movie. It was, in its own way, awesome. And that’s why it will continue to endure as horror movie fans discover it. Yes, they will no doubt read about how it’s terrible, awful, ridiculous, a joke, the movie that almost ended the whole Jason thing, but if they actually watch the movie they will see that those criticism are misguided. Jason Takes Manhattan is awesome.





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Things to Watch Out For


Gwen: Written and directed by William McGregor, this Wales set period horror flick has been compared to The Witch, which was a sort of slow burn folk tale that seriously divided horror audiences. Lots of people loved The Witch and lots of people despised it. Gwen seems to be generating the same sort of buzz, albeit on a slightly smaller scale. I plan on reviewing Gwen very soon, so I will be able to tell you if it’s worth your time. The trailer is fantastic, and, while period set, slow burn horror usually isn’t my thing, it’s good to step outside of your comfort zone every now and then. I definitely want to see this. And if you want to see this, track it down on home video or wait for it to be on Shudder.


The Curse of Halloween Jack: Apparently this is a sequel to something called The Legend of Halloween Jack, which came out last year. How the hell did I miss that? Anyway, Curse picks up two years after the events of Legend and has something to do with a cult of dipshits resurrecting the supernatural serial killer Halloween Jack and carnage ensuing. Man, I have to see Legend, and I think I then need to see Curse. I mean, how often do we get new low budget slasher movie franchises these days? And from England, no less! Anyone out there see The Legend of Halloween Jack?


Midsommar: Written and directed by Ari Aster, Midsommar is the horror movie event of 2019, at least that’s what I’ve been told. I didn’t see this when it was in theatres, either in its original version or the longer director’s cut, but then I missed Aster Hereditary, too, so I am clearly out of touch on this topic. Still, with all of the positive reviews and whatnot it’s received, Midsommar really seems like something horror nerds need to see. So I think I am going to have to make an effort to see this now that it’s on home video. Hereditary, too.

So who saw this? Is it as good as its reputation suggests?


Nightmare Beach: Also known as Welcome to Spring Break, this is some sort of Italian slasher movie from the very late 1980’s (like 1989), and it’s about a motorcycle helmet wearing killer that takes out people using electricity or something. The great Umberto Lenzi apparently directed some of it as did James Justice (and they’re both credited as Harry Kirkpatrick). The movie also features John Saxon and Michael Parks in supporting roles, and the immortal Lance LeGault is in it, too, for some reason. The fine folks at Kino Lorber are releasing this on Blu-ray with an audio commentary by film historian Samm Deighan and a few other special features, so that’s cool. Anyone out there see this under either title? Is it good or, well, mediocre?


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