Friday, May 13, 2011

'Jason Takes Manhattan' is squandered potential

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
Starring: Jensen Daggett, Scott Reeves, V.C. Dupree, Kelly Hu, Sharlene Martin, and Kane Hodder
Director: Rob Hedden
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

A chartered boat full of high schoolers celebrating their graduation crosses Crystal Lake, and in doing so dredges the undying killer Jason Vorhees from his temporary watery grave. Mass murder and massive amounts of mayhem follow, aboard a ship and on and under the streets of Manhattan Island.

Someone came up with the clever idea of trying to breath new life into a played-out slasher movie series by moving the murder spree from shadow-haunted woods to the debris-strewn alleys of New York City. And that's where any cleverness and creativity stopped.

From the shipload of super-intelligent Asians, hyper-athletic black kids, bitchy white party girls with big hair, and Jason hacking and stabbing his way through the stereotypes with wild abandon, aside from a change in setting, there seems to have been little or no effort put into writing a decent script. In fact, the writers don't even give us kills as impressive as we've seen previously. Worse, they almost completely squander the basic idea's potential for a really terrifying film, what with the set-up of the close confines of a ship by going with all sudden shock kills/attacks instead of mixing in a few slow-build terror sequences. Hell, they even fail to fully deliver the promise of the tile; Jason doesn't get to Manhattan until the final 1/3rd of the movie, and he is even absent from the film for a bit at that point. Perhaps "Jason Goes for a Boat Ride" would have been a better title?

Near the end of the film, Jason is washed away by a wave of toxic sludge. Perhaps this is the one clever bit in the movie--with the writers commenting on what they believe the nature and effect of their "contribution" to the franchise will be?

There isn't much to be said about the acting, the music, or anything else about the film's technical aspects, other than the camera's always in focus and gore effects are well done. At least some effort was put into that. Lead "survivor girl" Jensen Daggett is easy on the eyes, and she does an adequate job, but supporting cast members Kelly Hu and V.C. Dupree are far more interesting both as characters and as performers on screen; naturally, then, given how bad this movie is, they are both killed off early.

Hardcore fans of the series and the world's biggest lovers of slasher flicks, are probably the only viewers who will enjoy this movie. It's not as bad as "Jason Goes to Hell" but it's close.


  1. I've admitted in the past to not being a big fan of the "Friday the Thirteenth" movies, but I've been told there's a law that if you have a horror movie blog, you MUST cover at least one of them whenever a Friday the 13th shows up on the calendar.

    However, an unimaginative slasher flick is preferable to an unimaginative comedy any day.