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Default Friday the 13th: Part 8




Reviewer: Rhett
Review Date: September 28, 2002
Released by: Paramount
Release date: 9/3/2002
MSRP: $24.99
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes



In 1989, Jason, Michael and Freddy all saw new chapters in their respective film series hit theaters. Friday the 13th, Part VII: Jason Takes Manhattan debuted on July 28, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child on August 11th, and Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers on the lucky October 13th. All three films, although moderately profitable, were major disappointments at the box office, and their failures together represent the official farewell of the slasher craze of the 1980's. These characters were pop-culture icons, but the films they were in had run out of ideas…and audience interest. Jason Takes Manhattan was Paramount's final bow of the indestructible Jason Voorhees, but to most fans, the last is definitely considered the least of the series. Was Jason Takes Manhattan a victim of the decline of slasher interest, or was the series just simply as dead as its titular anti-hero? Strap on a lifejacket and let's take this one out to "see".

The Story

inline Image 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!"

inline Image 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.

inline Image 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 all…

inline Image 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 cliché 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.

inline Image 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 and 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?

inline Image Jason's pop-culture status is also cleverly 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.

inline Image Despite its faults, Jason Takes Manhattan is not all as bad as it is known to be. 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. The film is also book ended by the wonderfully cheesy song "Darkest Side of the Night", which lends handily to the movies campy qualities.

inline Image 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

inline Image Paramount presents the film in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and Friday fans, this is the transfer you have been waiting for. There is not a single blemish to be found in the print, and the print is as sharp as Jason's weaponry. Everything from the bright lights of New York to the dark shadows of the Lazarus are captured in breathtaking clarity, and the colors at times appear to jump from the screen. This is a dark film, but thankfully the shadow depth and black levels are very respectable, bypassing the problem of nighttime graininess that has plagued the rest of the transfers in the series. Although the film may not be great, Paramount has definitely saved the best for last in terms of video quality.

Sound

Despite being only a 2.0 Surround track, this is an excellent mix, putting to shame even the 5.1 remix of The New Blood. The sound is very clear and realistic (too realistic for the endless punch looping during Julius' fight) and contains an engulfing sound field. There are some great dynamic effects, and the channel separation is very pronounced. When Mollin's score and the strong sound effects kick in, the track becomes refreshingly aggressive. For a 2.0 track, this is as good as they get, and like the video transfer, the audio on this disc is the best in the series.

Supplemental Material

inline Image Ugly packaging is all Paramount saw fit to include this time around.

Final Thoughts

Jason Takes Manhattan is one of the weaker entries in the Friday the 13th series, but it has its charms, and it should hold up better than most people remember. Although Paramount continues to insult fans with their lack of extras, the audio and video mixes on this disc are stellar. Because this disc contains the best audio and video transfers of the series, I recommend this disc to all Friday the 13th fans, regardless of whether or not you remember loathing the film. Take Manhattan for another cruise, you may just be pleasantly surprised.

Rating

Movie - B-
Image Quality - A
Sound - A-
Supplements - N/A

Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Runnint time - 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • English 2.0 Surround
  • French 2.0 Surround
  • English subtitles
Supplements
  • N/A

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