Saturday, September 8, 2012

Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

         A young couple consisting of a Jared Leto look alike and his girlfriend are spending some alone time on a boat next to Crystal Lake.  The guy tells his girlfriend the legend of Jason Voorhees.  While lowering the anchor, it accidentally gets tangled in some power lines at the bottom of the lake, causing electrical charges to go through Jason's body and revive him from a deep sleep. Jason comes aboard the boat, retrieves a hockey mask that the guy used to scare his girlfriend, and then kills the couple. The next day, some high school Seniors at Crystal Lake High are taking a cruise ship to New York City. Unknowingly to them, Jason hops aboard too. Among these teens is shy Rennie Wickham, who has a phobia of the water.   She weirdly begins to see a young Jason every time she is alone.  One by one, Jason begins killing off these teens. The survivors catch a life boat and end up in New York. To their surprise, Jason has followed them there, where he confronts Rennie and the Captain's son Sean  in the sewers beneath New York that makes for the worst ending of the entire franchise.

               In 1988, Paramount Pictures released its seventh installment in the popular Friday The 13th franchise titled Friday The 13th: The New Blood. The film pitted Jason against the telekinetic Tina Shepard and was the first time that stunt man Kane Hodder donned the hockey mask and machete.  The New Blood did decent business at the box office, which meant that another Friday The 13th was definitely going to happen. During the mid '80s, horror fans wanted to see both Jason Voorhees from the Friday The 13th franchise go up against the equally iconic Freddy Krueger from the A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise.  The problem was that neither Paramount Pictures or New Line could agree on anything.  Talk came back up for a Freddy VS. Jason film in the late '80s.  Rob Hedden was hired to write and direct the eighth Friday The 13th film. Hedden told Paramount that he really wanted to make Freddy VS. Jason happen. Paramount and New Line were again in disagreement for the film. Paramount wanted Jason to win and New Line wanted Freddy to win. Being that Paramount was on a time frame, the idea was postponed again.  Hedden decided that he wanted to do something totally different with his take on the iconic Jason Voorhees by taking Jason out of Crystal Lake. Jason had been killing stereotypical dumbasses at Crystal Lake for seven films already and it was starting to get old for many fans who wanted something fresh to occur in the franchise.  Rob Hedden brought the idea up of taking Jason to New York City. Paramount Pictures agreed to the plan.

              Taking Jason to New York sounded like a fantastic idea. The posters got everybody excited for the film. Jason was coming to the Big Apple and was going to do some slashing! Unfortunately, the studio ran low on money and could only afford a few days to film in New York. This lead to a lot of rewrites on Hedden's script. So, the first like hour and ten minutes of the film takes place on the cruise ship where Jason does most of the killing and the last twenty minutes takes place in the mean streets of Manhattan.  Now, while I can understand the disappointment in having almost all of the kills on the cruise ship, that isn't what hurts this film for me. What really hurts this film is the execution.   Friday The 13th: Jason Takes Manhattan is a bad film, yes, but it also has a few good qualities about it that make it somewhat watchable.

           The screenplay that Rob Hedden wrote is not too bad. Sure, it has many flaws, but it could have been so much worse.   I didn't find the characters all that interesting for the most part. They definitely didn't bore me, but they sure as hell didn't have me rooting for them to survive this trip either.  It's pretty sad when the only interesting characters in this movie is the asshole school principal Charles McCulloch and Jason.  Hell, I didn't even find the final girl Rennie interesting at all. I felt a little bad that her asshole of an uncle would teach her to swim by pushing her into Crystal Lake after telling her that Jason likes to pull down anybody who falls in without knowing how to swim. Nice parenting skills pal.  She just felt so bland as a horror movie heroine. Even Alice was a better heroine in the original Friday The 13th.  Rennie is just my least favorite of the many girls that have fought Jason. McCulloch was an asshole for sure, but he definitely kept my interest probably because I wanted to see Jason play beer pong with his eyeballs.   The token boyfriend character/hero Sean was equally uninteresting to me. The only thing interesting about him was that he kinda looked like an '80s version of Ryan Reynolds minus being  fucking awesome.   The rest of the characters consist of some wannabe rocker chick named J.J, who doesn't last long at all. A film geek named Wayne. Some popular bitch named Tamara and her Asian friend Eva.  The token black guy who is a boxer named Julius. The creepy old deck hand guy who is obviously a rip off of Crazy Ralph by warning everybody about Jason and that they're all going to die. And then there is a teacher named Miss Deusen.  That about sums it up.  The characters are pretty forgettable for the most part except for McCulloch.  Pretty meh characters.

              And now for what is normally the best part of these Friday The 13th films: the kills! The kills in Friday The 13th: Jason Takes Manhattan are pretty tame for the most part. The most remembered one is when Jason gives Julius a one hitter quitter on a rooftop in New York, which causes Julius' head to pop off. It's cool because then we get the severed head's POV as it rolls down the roof and into a dumpster, finished by the lid closing shut. My second favorite is when Jason kills the dude in the Sauna by ramming a very hot rock into the guy's stomach.  I also kinda liked where Jason bashed the wannabe rocker chick's head in with her own guitar.  The drug needle kill was a good one too. But, aside from those that I mentioned, the kills were pretty tame. All of the others were impaling, stabbing, electrocution, breaking necks, polluted water, and the usual.  I guess that Paramount took notice to how raped The New Blood got by the MPAA that they decided to do them a favor and tone down the violence so that they wouldn't have to worry about the ratings board being on their asses.  Fuck you MPAA, like seriously. Up and down. Backwards and forewards. And to pop it off with a cherry on top.

             The direction by Rob Hedden is pretty meh and forgettable too.  Enough said about the direction.

           There are quite a few things that really make this movie bad.  Most people hate Jason Takes Manhattan because Jason is killing these high school ditwits on a cruise ship for over half of the movie instead of in the streets of New York City like the posters have been promising. I totally understand where they are coming from, but truth be told, I don't hate Friday The 13th: Jason Takes Manhattan surprisingly enough. I'm just highly disappointed that a film with so much promise and interesting ideas became, well, this kinda movie.  It's like when you are a little kid and waiting forever to get a toy just to find out that it doesn't work or doesn't even do half the shit that it promises.   I can kinda understand why Rennie keeps seeing a young Jason because of her uncle scaring her as a child, but why the fuck does he look like a normal kid huh? Jason has been DEFORMED his whole life. Even in the original 1980 Friday The 13th, we see flashbacks of young Jason as he is drowning in the lake and can obviously see that he is partially deformed.  That is the whole reason why he wears a mask isn't it? To cover up his deformed looking face.  I just don't get why they would make him look normal in some visions and then a little deformed in others.

              There's also a scene where Rennie drives a Police car into a building because she "sees" young Jason standing in the middle of an alley. The camera does this slow motion zoom in thing that just made me burst out laughing. Oh yeah, when Rennie, Sean, and McCulloch get out of the car before it blows up, they up and leave that poor teacher Miss Deusen to burn to death.  Assholes!   Also, since when can Jason teleport? Seriously, one minute he is behind some guy and the next he beats him to the top of the stairs. They don't even explain how he can do that. At least the 2009 remake as standard as that movie was provided some kinda explanation for how Jason gets around so fast.   Jason Takes Manhattan huh? More like, Jason Takes A Cruise Ship In Canada That Is Headed To Gotham City.  This is New York? Really? Aside from the Statue of Liberty, it looks more like Gotham to me. Overrun with crime, smokey alley ways,  polluted water and rats. Yep, it's Gotham alright.   I'm sure the New Yorkers really appreciated the dirty portrayal of their city.  And the BIGGEST problem with this movie goes to the finale. Holy fucking Hell. The finale to this film was an abomination of the character Jason and felt like a blow to the head. What in the world was that? Jason gets hit with toxic waste that for some fucking reason floods the sewers of New York every night at midnight and it turns big badass Jason into a character on The Muppets. Seriously, his face became puppet like. I wouldn't be surprised if you shoved your hand up his ass, that you could get his mouth to move the echo "KI KI KI MA MA MA". The best part though is when he turns back into a little boy again. That is NOT Jason! That is fucking Pinocchio.  No more comments on the conclusion.

         The acting is pretty meh for the most part. It's probably because the way that these characters are written. Jensen Daggett did nothing for me as the heroine Rennie. Scott Reeves did equally nothing for me as the heroine's boyfriend Sean.  Peter Mark Richman was probably the best actor in the film as the asshole Charles McCulloch.  I hated that guy for the right reasons and he didn't even get a good death. Vincent Craig Dupree was actually decent as the token black boxer Julius.  I liked the scene where he was boxing Jason. At least it wasn't Busta Rhymes karate chopping Michael Myers like in that horrid called Halloween: Resurrection. Barbara Bingham was alright as Miss Deusen.  And Kane Hodder was again really awesome as Jason aside from that Muppet ending.  I really loved the sequence when Jason first arrives in New York and he looks up at a hockey billboard with some goalie wearing the same mask and Jason tilts his head. My favorite and most hilarious part of this movie was when Jason walks passed some hoodlums, kicks and breaks their boom box playing rap music, they start pulling out switch blades. One of them says, "You're dead meat slime bag."  Then, Jason turns around and pulls up his hockey mask, revealing to them his face and then the thug says, "It's cool man. It's cool." and all of the guys run away scared. That shit was fucking brilliant! The rest of the cast are pretty eh though.

            Overall, Friday The 13th: Jason Takes Manhattan is a majorly disappointing film.  It didn't go over well at the box office back in 1989, which caused Paramount Pictures to sell the rights back to the original's director Sean S. Cunningham and lead to New Line putting out the rest of the franchise. Paramount Pictures would not come back into the franchise as well as any more Jason movies  using "Friday The 13th" in the title until Platinum Dunes rebooted the franchise in 2009.


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