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Old 10-16-2009, 06:28 AM
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Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (Deluxe Edition)





Reviewer: Rhett
Review Date: October 15, 2009

Released by: Paramount
Release date: 9/25/2009
MSRP: $16.99
Region 1, NTSC
Progressive Scan
Widescreen 1.78:1 | 16x9: Yes
1989



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Jason Takes Manhattan is the last, and least, of the series, I know, but every time it gets re-released I can't help but totally bask in its legacy. Even if some of the other entries lag compared to the more esteemed in the franchise, they never went so far out on a limb as Jason Takes Manhattan. If Part VIII is a failure, it's a grand one, and every time I watch it I admire its audacity. It certainly never plays things safe. Yet, for all the calamity, its biggest fault is that it promises even more than it can give, only docking in the titular city during the fleeting moments of the final act. Still, man, what a concept. Growing up with the Jason movies there was always comfort knowing that Jason was relegated to the lake. Unleashing him in the city though, it practically served as my self-enforced curfew ever since. No way was I going to meet that guy on the streets.

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Its concept, its marketing and its legacy certainly supersedes the actual film, but finally with this new deluxe edition we get a look at the inside. Deleted scenes (and there are a lot of them), a gag reel, a featurette and a commentary. If that's not enough to make you reevaluate a bad film, then there's nothing that will. Paramount sadly closes the door on their wonderful deluxe series of Friday the 13th reissues with this, the last Paramount property before Jason shipped off for New Line. This is it, folks, the final voyage, so let's see if the sea sickness will finally subside and the quality film Rob Hedden always intended will finally emerge from the waste. Will it?

The Story


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God bless electricity! It not only resurrected Jason in Jason Lives but it also brings him back from the depths of Crystal Lake (where he was banished again in The New Blood) in order for him to cause more havoc in Jason Takes Manhattan. After being electrocuted, Jason wastes no time in offing two horny teens aboard a luxury boat. It is on the boat that he learns that Lakeview High School is having their graduation celebration aboard the Lazarus, where they will be heading to Manhattan. Unfortunately for the graduates, tonight is Friday the 13th, and as Crazy Ralph would say "they're all doooooomed!"


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As the Lazarus sets sail on its voyage, we meet Rennie Wickham (Jensen Daggett), a girl afraid of water because her cruel uncle, Charles McCulloch (Peter Mark Richman), threw her in Crystal Lake as a child. She remembers being pulled down by young Jason Voorhees (apparently just "hanging out" at the bottom of the lake), and that memory has haunted her all of her life. We also meet Sean Robertson (Scott Reeves), whose dad is the admiral on the ship, as well as a bunch of generic teenagers ready for slaughter. Jason too, makes his way onto the boat, and he begins offing his victims one-by-one. Surely enough, the surviving passengers begin learning that Jason is on the loose, and they jump ship and paddle onto the wonderful shores of Vancouver-err, Manhattan.


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The title would be lying if Jason didn't join the survivors to The Big Apple, and so his reign of terror continues in the corrupt city. Through alleyways, rooftops, restaurants, city streets, subways, and finally the sewers, Jason continues to stalk and slash his victims until the inevitable women-in-peril climax. It is here that Rennie must come to terms with her past, and free Jason once and for allÖ


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Pleeeeease! The ending of this film is so weak and contrived that it nearly drowns what is otherwise a decent entry into the series. Not only is Jason seen as (and eventually reduced to) a kind young boy, but we are also spoon-fed the worst screen clichť ending ever in film, "the dog survives and makes everyone live happily ever after". Isn't one time enough for that ending (think "Muffin" in Part 2) in this series? You could swear after watching this ending that you were actually watching Benji rather than a Friday the 13th film. Really, Jason deserves a better demise and ending then this film has to give.


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By 1989, Jason had become a screen legend to younger filmgoers, and it is no surprise that they attempted to evoke sympathy out of his villainous character. More than any other Friday film, Jason is seen here as a tragic hero and a victim of a saddening past. He is shown in flashbacks as a gentle boy (without deformity) and one who was unjustly left to drown. He is not a freak here, just a poor fellow killing vile or criminal persons. It should be noted too, that throughout his stay in Manhattan, aside from the bystander in the sewer, everyone Jason kills is foul in some way. With the New York credit montage, featuring druggies and low lifers, and the murky locals chosen in the film, is Jason the villain here, or is it the street trash of New York City? Perhaps this was Director Rob Hedden's attempt at a pro "clean up the New York streets" message?


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Jason's pop-culture status is also amusingly hinted at in the film as he gazes at a huge billboard with his mask on it. He sees it, gives a little "wink-wink" to the camera, and then continues on his murderous duty. Sympathy can also be evoked for the big lug by his laughably slow movements. Jason moves soooo slowwwww in this film, that it is surprising New Line did not opt to continue the series in a rest home. He walks at a snail's pace, and takes even longer in selecting and taking his weapons. With Jason moving so slowly, it is no surprise that the running time in this film is the longest of the series, at a still quick 100 minutes.


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Despite its faults, Jason Takes Manhattan is not all as bad as it is known to be. Debate Hodder's portrayal of Jason all you want, but Jason gets the most screentime of the series here and if anything there are a ton of great shots of the man in the mask. The pacing of the film is arguably one of the best in the series, with Jason always on the prowl and disposing of countless victims. There is no hokey Dana Kimmell-esque romance here; the characters are given just enough screen time to be killed, and it serves the film well. And even the haters of Jason Takes Manhattan have to admit that the film contains one of Jason's most infamous murders ("Take your best shot!"). The Deck Hand (Alex Diakun) also provides the film with the much needed skeptic, a character long missing form the series since Crazy Ralph's demise in Part 2 or Abel's brief eyeball scene in Part 3D. The film is also book ended by the wonderfully cheesy song "Darkest Side of the Night", which lends handily to the movie's camp qualities.


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Jason Takes Manhattan is by no means great, and does remain a low point in Paramount's eight part series, but there is still some fun to be had here. The sanitizing of Jason's character is insulting, and the ending horrible, but leave it to brisk pacing and the 80's to make it all entertaining in a cheesy sort of way. And lastly, Jason Takes Manhattan also foreshadows as to why all the Friday the 13th films following this are damned to be inferior. Jason breaks so many mirrors in this film that his films will be doomed to bad luck for all eternity.


Image Quality


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While thereís no question the Deluxe Edition transfer for The New Blood is head and shoulders above the transfer of old, this new transfer for Jason Takes Manhattan falls more along the lines of Jason Lives: Different, not necessarily better. Like The New Blood, the framing has been opened on this, although itís more like 5% compared to the 11% extra frame space revealed for Part VII. It makes compositions look more flattering, especially noticeable in the shot where Jason grabs Rennie through the window, where the added space on the sides reveals her other eye. A big plus is the added detail in the darker areas of the frame, although again itís not as significant an improvement as the Deluxe transfers for Part 2 and The New Blood. Still, many interiors, like the bedroom seduction on the boat, look much better. Colors are also warmer and more vibrant throughout, which makes a difference considering the film has easily the most colorful palette of the series, using the neons from Times Square as a motif. Being the last of the series, itís also the best preserved, in pretty immaculate shape without any dust or print damage.


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Itís not quite all roses, though. The bit of contention on this transfer is how the sharpness is handled. Paramountís previous DVD is noticeably sharper than this new transfer, evident in the detail on Jasonís decaying flesh or the edges of objects. With that sharpness comes a little added noise from the enhancement, although there are never any noticeable edge halos or rough edges. The new transfer doesnít have as much noise, although itís still definitely there. Instead, everything is a smidge softer. The short of it is that both transfers for Jason Takes Manhattan look beautiful, and it boils down to preference over which one is best. For me, Iíll take the added picture and boosted color over the slightly sharper picture.


Sound


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The 2.0 Surround track on the original DVD was quite the show stopper, easily eclipsing the 5.1 remix of its 2001 DVD counterpart, The New Blood. This time around, Jason Takes Manhattan gets the full Dolby Digital 5.1 upgrade, and yes, once again it sounds better than The New Blood. Sadly, there still isnít any directionality to this track Ė would it kill for a single Friday the 13th to have a left to right speaker pan? The backs are a little more active than previous tracks, with a few more sound effects thrown behind, but itís still not nearly as raucous as it should be. Those common complaints aside, this track easily sounds the crispest and deepest of all Friday the 13th films (to be clear, the New Line entries are Jason movies). All the foley effects really come through clean, be it all of Juliusí punches or all of Jasonís footsteps on that coarse New York cement. Itís the added oomph from the LFE that really sets this track apart from the others though, with considerable low end presence throughout much of the final act. This could have easily been matrixed into a more engulfing surround track, but even as a front end 5.1 track, itís a good one.


Supplemental Material

inline ImageIt took a few tries to get it right, but ever since The Final Chapter, Paramount's Deluxe DVDs have been nothing but grails for fans like us who have deconstructed these films time and again in the twenty odd years they've been around. Jason Takes Manhattan has never been more enjoyable with all the infectious love put into these extras, both behind the camera and with all the returning talent in front. The new featurette, ďNew York Has A New ProblemĒ doesn't just have one or two returning actors, it's damn near the whole cast, with everyone from the girl from the opening death to the boxer and even the curmudgeon old uncle. Of course the leads are there and so is Kane Hodder, and Paramount was even able to track down little kid Jason to finally complete the goal of having every single Jason as they are today on the extras presented across the series of discs. Including more than just recollections, this doc also features some deleted scenes of Kane Hodder in the Big Apple that are not included anywhere else on the disc. Running a good fifteen minutes and filled with fun recollections and hopeful aspirations, itís a tender tribute that will make it near impossible to ever fully dismiss the film ever again. They've had so much fun with it, and now we can too.



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inline ImageThe big revelation on this disc are the 12 minutes of deleted and extended scenes. There is a bunch more blood and gore this time around, the most notable being a scene of aftermath where glass shards are pieced throughout the blonde bitch's body. Harsh stuff! There is also a lot more exposition from the start, including a cut out character arc with Miss Van Deusen. Some bits are only frames longer, like the sauna death, but others pack on several seconds and even minutes, and to see so much fresh footage after seeing the film so many times over the years, it really is like rewriting history. For those who couldnít make it through the smeary VHS mess of the Part VII slashed scenes, youíll comfort knowing the deleted scenes this time around are from a very respectable film source. On the same note, there's also a humorous gag reel that Rob Hedden cut for the wrap party that features a bunch of lost takes and in effect behind the scenes footage from the filming. The money shot, literally, is at the very end, with the much fabled shot of Kane Hodder revealing himself to camera with a giant erection (met with screams from the opening girl) finally unearthed. It's another Friday the 13th legend finally made a reality.

inline ImageAs if all these extras weren't already great enough, there's a jovial commentary with the three main actors, Kane Hodder, Jensen Daggett and Scott Reeves recorded specifically for this release. Daggett and Reeves are in the studio together, and Hodder is included via phone, since he was away filming Adam Green's Frozen in Utah. Both of them share a lot of laughs, a lot of recollections and even a few awkward moments, like when Hodder describes in detail about the prosthetic he wore for the gag reel. Rob Hedden previously did a commentary on the From Crystal Lake to Manhattan set, and it's not surprising that his commentary is much more revealing about all the complexities of the production. Unfortunately that commentary doesn't make it over to this new release, forcing us fans, once more, to hold onto multiple editions of the same film. Rest assured, though, with the addition of the new deleted scenes and gag reel, a double dip is a must for anyone who remotely considers themselves a Friday fan!


Final Thoughts


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There's no doubt that Jason Takes Manhattan is a flawed film, but it's one that was never comfortable with just going through the motions, and as a result there are still many flashes of enjoyable brilliance throughout. There's also a lot of slogging through corridors of a dank and drab boat. The special thing about this new deluxe disc, though, is that it makes a maligned film seem better. The presentation is as solid as ever, but there is passion behind all the extras, and all the new deleted scenes really flesh out the film that is and could have been. Seeing Jason with an erect cock has to count for something, too. It may have been a chore revisiting this film in the past, but thanks to Paramount's work here, it's all pleasure this time around. It's a shame to see all the lavish treatment end with this final release - it's been Christmas all year for Friday fans. Who would have thought the same company that spat these out bare bones over the period of four years would come full throttle releasing all eight in packed, worthy special editions in the span of six months? Who said Friday the 13th was all about bad luck?

Rating

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Movie - B-

Image Quality - A

Sound - B+

Supplements - B+




Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Running time - 1 hour and 40 minutes
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • English Surround 2.0
  • Spanish Surround 2.0
  • French Surround 2.0
  • English subtitles
  • Spanish subtitles
  • French subtitles
  • Portuguese subtitles

Supplements
  • Commentary with actors Kane Hodder, Jensen Daggett and Scott Reeves
  • Slashed scenes
  • "New York Has a New Problem" retrospective featurette
  • Gag reel


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Old 10-18-2009, 05:17 PM
Maniac
I finally got around to checking out this disc yesterday and I'd actually forgotten how ridiculously stupid this flick was. Jason magically teleporting around, boring kills, awful characters, boring settings, the whole thing. Even the deleted scenes were disappointing because there was NOTHING to improve any of the kills at all. Comparing this to something like part 4 makes it seem even more ridiculous.
 
 
Old 01-25-2011, 10:37 PM
I haven't sen this one yet, but I want to
 
 
Old 02-01-2011, 03:25 AM
Moderator
Not sure if you should want to, but good luck, my friend, for Manhattan is a whole other animal.
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Old 06-27-2011, 03:31 AM
HackMaster
While I don't mind Manhattan I think it's two big let downs are Jason's ability to teleport which is much worse (and unexplainable) in this entry than any of the others; the second being the films end. Jason looks pretty terrible in this one so the face reveal is nothing short of lame and his transition to a child is confusing and the worst way to kill of the character. What made it worse was watching a special feature on the disc where the director says he new this entry was meant to bookend the franchise. So it's sad how unsatisfactory this ending feels. Still, if you can put those two things aside this film becomes a fun retro 80's film which goes down great with a few beers.
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