Pros:A little bit of cheesiness; Jason don't like rap
Cons:Stupid, no good gore, setting, not scary
The Bottom Line: A poor setting and bad pacing among so many other things make this a suck fest you definitely want to miss.
Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
There's been some bad Friday the 13th sequels...and then there have been BAD Friday the 13th sequels. It's no doubt that the series had become watered down by this point in 1989 after the seventh sequels beforehand since the 1980 original, but this was simply ridiculous.
The filmmakers thought, "Okay, we've had Jason Voorhees at Camp Crystal Lake for how long? Let's take his oversized lump to ...New Yawk?!". You heard right, folks. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is where the series didn't just jump the shark (it did that years earlier by the by), but it drowned the shark--yes, that is possible.
You wouldn't guess by the title, but the hour and forty minute flick only takes place in the dear ole island of Manhattan in the last third of the movie? What, say you ask, does the movie do up until that point? Jason Takes a Cruise! After an anchor awakens him from the slumber he was on after the events of the last film, The New Blood, and he gets electrified back to life via the help of an underwater cable, he boards a boat and travels down river to the outlet where he boards a bigger ship en route to Manhattan.
He has a psychic connection with this girl see. Years prior her dastardly uncle who through her A-word into the lake Voorhees drowned in once upon a time trying to encourage her to learn how to swim the tough love way. Man, this brings back memories of my childhood (thanks, pop). Either way, so she's hallucinating on board seeing a ghostly apparition of a drowning boy (surprisingly not a mongoloid at all like little Voorhees has been characterized before) whilst her friends and the crewmates of the ship are taken out one by one, piece by piece, by the world's most POed hockey-mask dude.
Inevitably it ends up on da streets of New Yawk where the survivors (including our young heroine played rather poorly by Jensen Daggett) must not only fend off junkies and rats, but our friend , Jason (‘member him?). In doing so, this sequel marked a time where the series left the quite surroundings of Camp Crystal Lake to a new location. Why the heck these people would take a damn boat from New Jersey to New York is besides the point.
While I do dig the fact that it's set in New York, which leads to the best parts of this dismal movie (including a "Jason don't like rap music" part I will always cherish), the main bulk of the film takes place on the damn ship. These scenes are so bland and not memorable that you'll be bored out of your mind. Couple that with the fact that the film's director, Rob Hedden (who also wrote it), is inept at creating tension or even an inkling of suspense and you have trouble on the open waters.
Kane Hodder is the lumbering Jason this time around and he brings the menace to the character, for sure. However, the poor direction and lack of gore effects and interesting kills (a staple, somewhat, of the past) make the movie frightfully bad.
There aren't any scary moments by any sense of the word and there's a lack of that loveable cheesiness. Okay, there is some cheesiness such as a young Kelly Hu fake-playing guitar and some other funny moments including a boxing-followed-by-decapitation scene, but these moments are few and far between a bad script that takes too long to get rolling and a frightfully boring story for a sequel in this series.
It's been a little while since I saw this last and what's remarkable is that each time I re-watch it I actually grow less fond of it. I could watch any of the number of other Friday sequels (minus Jason Goes to Hell) a number of times, but because of how pathetic this movie is in its execution and watered down horror factor I can't let it slide this time.
Truly one of the worst slasher sequels to close out the eighties, this is one trip to Manhattan you can do without a hockey mask wearing clown. However, as I always seem to say, if you are going through this series you cannot avoid this one because somehow it fits in with the rest of the poor to yucky sequels that spurred out of the original.
© Jason Haskins, 2011
Friday the 13th (1980)
Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) [you are here]
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Jason X (2002)
Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
Friday the 13th (2009)
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age