Saturday, May 21, 2016

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

The title of Friday the 13 Part VII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) suggests the film will adopt the comedic, self-aware style of Part VI, but other than moving the action away from Camp Crystal Lake, this is mostly a by-the-numbers entry that takes way too long to get to the titular city, doesn't have as much fun with the idea as it could have, and shoehorns in a lot of nonsense.

The graduating class at Camp Crystal Lake is taking a cruise ship to New York. Jason's revived again, natch, and stows aboard where he makes mincemeat out of the kids. Everyone left standing ends up in New York City, leading to a final showdown in the sewers.

For a movie with Manhattan in the title, very little action takes place in New York City. Most of the movie occurs on the cruise ship, and most of it's a chore to sit through. The characters aren't very fun or memorable, and the killings are nothing special. The one neat variation is how the characters become aware relatively early that someone is stalking them, so they get weapons and decide to hunt him down. It leads to the usual let's-split-up-and-get-killed-gang routine, but it's a nice touch.

Admittedly, the movie picks up once the story reaches New York. Jason pursues his targets through the subway, and hilariously, he kicks over a boom box out of the blue. One character, a boxer, tries to fight Jason and unleashes a barrage of fists that Jason casually shrugs off. The boxer tells Jason to take his best shot, and Jason knocks his head off with one punch. The decapitated head goes flying (the camera spins from its point of view) and lands in a dumpster, the lid slamming shut like the dot of an exclamation point.

Kane Hodder is back as Jason, and he still rocks. Jason looks as intimidating as ever, and he does more killing with his hands this time around. I like how he's always soaking wet, and after he kicks over the boom box, the punks listening to it threaten him with switchblades. Jason, demonstrating a sense of humor for the first time, calmly removes his mask and scares them off with his ugly mug. Funny, even if I do wonder why he didn't just kill them.

There's a lot of nonsense. The lead girl keeps seeing visions of Jason as a child for some reason never explained. New York City really doesn't look like New York City except for a few shots, and the movie would have us believe its sewers are flooded every night with toxic waste. This leads to Jason's demise when, after getting caught in the toxic flood, he reverts back to a little boy in swim trucks.

All I can say is: what the hell?

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