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Monday 21 June 2021

Burl reviews Friday the 13th part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan! (1989)


Chay, pah, blaah, it’s Burl, here to review the final Friday! Ha ha, and by that I mean I’ve finally watched the one Friday the 13th movie I’ve been neglecting all these years! Last summer I caught up with Friday the 13th part 7: The New Blood, which I hadn’t seen before; this year, after stumbling across a DVD that was too cheap to resist, I finally had no more excuses and spent 100 minutes of my life (the longest running time of any Friday the 13th movie, by the way) watching Friday the 13th part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan, the Jason picture that boasts the most outrageously false subtitle since part 4! 

Oh, these dumb movies! I love them and I hate them and I somehow find I can’t quit them, but installments like this have me coming pretty close! It opens on a small cabin cruiser floating in Crystal Lake, on board which are two dimbulbs who drag their anchor in such a way as to hook on an electrical cable and thereby resuscitate Jason, who’s been reposed on the lakebed ever since the psychic girl’s dad dragged him down! It’s a pretty silly way to bring the unsightly maniac back, but then, ha ha, what wouldn’t have been?

We then move to what will be our major setting, subtitle be damned: a big greasy cruise ship captained by Warren Munson from Executive Decision, carrying the graduating class of Crystal Lake High to New York for a glamorous weekend! Jason climbs on board, and, after lying low for a while, begins taking out the boat passengers in his patented one-by-one style! But before that, and woven in throughout, is a bunch of junior league soap opera stuff straight out of the 90210, ha ha!

Peter Mark Richman, a mean-faced TV actor who was also in Naked Gun 2½, plays the perpetually angry chaperone Mr. McCullogh, who bares his teeth like the chainsaw brand for which he is named and never misses an opportunity to act like a total jerk! He’s also the guardian of Rennie, the final girl; her boyfriend, Sean, is the son of the captain, and is a disappointment to the old man thanks to his lack of interest in or aptitude for ship captaining himself; and there's a mean girl who hopes to seduce McCullogh in exchange for good grades, and her friend, and a few other bonfivés!

Other characters include second chaperone Mrs. Van Deusen, played by Barbara Bingham from Splitz; a doom-crying deckhand played by Alex Diakun from Malone; and student-slash-porkbellies played by such Canadians as Gordon Currie, later the vampire from Blood & Donuts, and Saffron Henderson, who impersonated Geena Davis in The Fly II! And later, when the so-called New York location is finally gained, we espy big tall Ken Kirzinger, who gets tossed around by Jason, but would later himself play the leather-skinned killer in Freddy vs. Jason!

Well, most of these people catch the chop or some variation on it from our man Jason, and one word of mild praise I’ll give this movie is that the killings are nearly as plentiful and as varying in method as they are in Friday the 13th part V: A New Beginning! But the killings are also the problem, for far and away my biggest complaint about this terrible film is how poorly directed it is! Ha ha, there’s no suspense or spookiness and not a single affright to be had at any point throughout its overlong running time! Other people will point to the script or the performances, or the terrible non-Manfredini score, or the fact that it takes forever to get to Manhattan and when they do, aside from one brief scene in Times Square and a stock shot of the Statue of Liberty, it’s Vancouver; but I say the utter lack of filmmaking acumen is the picture’s cardinal sin!

It’s slick looking, with nice lighting from cinematographer Bryan England, and Paramount clearly spent more coin on the picture than was their habit with these things, but none of this can overcome the bone-deep terribleness on display, with all the tension of an oversized novelty bra! Wet firecracker scare scenes follow one after another and graffiti on the subway informs us that “Quayton Lives!,” until finally there’s an apotheotic finale for Jason that tries for 2001: A Space Odyssey but ends up more Invasion From Inner Earth! Ha ha! I give Friday the 13th part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan one half of an “Irish cop” with a heavily Canadian accent!


  1. You know something's gone wrong when Mr Richman is scarier than Jason. They should have been honest and called it Jason Takes Vancouver. In fact, in the years since more movies and TV seem to be shot there than in The Big Apple.

    1. Ha ha, it was a good laugh going to see Jackie Chan's Rumble in the Bronx, with all those mountains looming behind the skyline of "New York City!"