FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN (1988)

DIRECTOR: Rob Hedden          CAST: Kane Hodder, Jensen Daggett, Scott Reeves

The Halloween season has finally come upon us, and while this year’s Halloween celebrations may be a bit more socially distanced than most, that won’t stop us from dealing with a deadly threat that’s been in our country longer than COVID has–Jason Voorhees, whose murder spree began 40 years ago with FRIDAY THE 13th (technically 39 years ago with PART 2, but whatevs), and which almost came to an end 31 years ago with the eighth installment in 1989–JASON TAKES MANHATTAN!

With Paramount Pictures concerned about the underwhelming box office for PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD, they decided that Jason’s next adventure would take the mute masked mongoloid from the rustic woods of Camp Crystal Lake to the bright lights of the big city known as New York. But before you get too excited by the prospect of Jason slicing his machete through Times Square, you should know that Paramount wasn’t willing to spend the money that was needed to actually have most of the film take place in New York City, with Jason instead boarding a cruise ship containing a graduating high school class that’s on their way to a senior trip in the Big Apple, and only the film’s final 30 minutes actually taking place in New York–well, Vancouver passing for New York, to be specific, but still! And with the studio unwilling to give this FRIDAY a bigger budget to help Jason actually take Manhattan, the film ended up with the lowest box office gross of the franchise to date, and Paramount washed their hands of the series by selling it off to New Line Cinema.

But at least New Line’s FRIDAY movies actually made good on the promises of their premises, with Jason going to hell and space and fighting Freddy Kreuger. In the case of PART VIII, it was clear that the studio had grown even more tired of these movies than the audiences had, as the MPAA chopped out even more of the bloody kills than they ever did with the previous FRIDAYs. So while Jason does kill plenty of these teenagers in memorable fashion–dunking them in toxic waste, punching their heads off their body, etc.–the lack of gushing blood takes away most of the fun that horror fans expect from these sequels. It also doesn’t help when the film’s central heroes don’t merit the slightest sliver of a shit, as our story’s “final girl” spars with her overprotective uncle/legal guardian in a manner more befitting of a soap opera than a slasher movie, and is visited by the spectre of Jason Voorhees as a child for a reason that’s too stupid to spoil here.

Still, with this being the final installment to be released during the series’ 80s heyday, JASON TAKES MANHATTAN is not without some fun to be had. It’s just unfortunate that the cheapskates at Paramount Pictures couldn’t spend another couple of million to end the original era of FRIDAY THE 13th on a bang that actually delivered on the promise of its subtitle instead of giving us JASON 2: CRUISE CONTROL. Oh well, at least they never moved forward with FREDDY TAKES MANHATTAN, which would have surely been a bigger disaster. Think about it: The City That Never Sleeps…guy that only kills you in your sleep–Freddy couldn’t have done a damn thing! Anyway, have a happy spoopy season, everybody, and stay safe out there from both pandemics and hockey-masked zombie killers alike.

And if you haven’t already, make sure you vote on November 3rd! Practice your democracy skills by voting below on previous episodes of Awfully Good Movies

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