Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan - 1989
The Friday the 13th series has had some ups and downs across their thirty-seven years of existence. But let me say this up front so nobody gets it twisted, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is definitely... something. Director Rob Hedden takes his first (and last) crack at breathing a new life into this slasher franchise.
We open the movie with all the classics we love in a Jason movie, the lighting revival, the teenager sex scene and their gory deaths as a consequence from it (don't they know Jason doesn't like sex? I mean he has been pretty clear about pre-matrimonial activities.). After this we get to see all of the victims (I mean new characters) for our movie as a class of seniors that are going on a cruise to New York City to celebrate graduation. Every single demographic is showcased, we have the outcasts, the punk rocker (more on her later), the cool athlete... boxer (more on him later), the son of a ship captain, the biology enthusiast and the psychic, there is someone for everyone to identify with.
So once everyone is on the ship, including our lovable hero Jason, we get a sweet montage of teenager killings. There are two that stand up on my mind, the punk rocker and the biology enthusiast. The punk rocker decides that the she needs to shoot a music video (because that's what this crazy MTV's generation kids would do) and we get a stylish 80's music video in the boiler room of the ship. Jason feeling left out joins her (he just wants a friend) and tries to jump start his singing career and for some reason this selfish teenager starts screaming and running because she doesn't want to share the spotlight. So our hero left with no other choice, he kills her and moves on to the next potential friend in line.
After a few failed attempts of making friends (killing everyone that doesn't want to love him), we get a break from our movie to learn biology! A little backstory here, on the ship is one of the teachers (very strict teacher no mind you) and he wants his homework given to him before they hit NYC ("Wait",you may say, "Isn't this a graduation cruise ship?" you may ask, well... yeah...). So we finally run into our biology enthusiast, she decides that her homework will be painting certain body organs all over her body to seduce the teacher into bed (because writing a paper is too much work) and having another student tape them, so she can use that to blackmail him in order to get an A on his class (this is some Oceans Eleven's criminal mastermind level of planning). Once everyone leaves our biology enthusiast runs into our hero, Jason, after he notice that she loves biology he tries to connect with her (by showing her, how her organs look), but he once again get's his friendship rejected.
Let's fast forward to when the last survivors escape the ship, we have the son of a ship captain (the one I most identify with, we all have a father who are ship captains), the psychic (who has a connection with Jason and the best shot of being his BFF), the strict teacher, some lady I honestly don't know who she was and our cool athlete boxer (you know like all high schools have). They escape on a tiny boat and drift in to the darkness for God only knows how long but they hit the shores of New York City. Don't worry about our hero as he has been hot on their tales under water... walking his way to the big apple and like the title suggests he is going to take it by storm.
When I think about realistic takes, of the gritty underbelly of New York on film, I instantly think of Taxi Driver, The French Connection, Serpico and Friday the 13th Part VIII. They clearly shot on location and used real life gang members, because no actor in this world could portray the raw evil this two gang members brought to the screen. As soon as our group gets to NYC they get instantly mugged and our psychic is kidnapped by the gang members (I know it happens to me every single time I visit NYC). So here comes Jason to save the day, he stops the gang from rapping and killing the psychic (killing them in front of her to prove his friendship) and she just runs away without giving him even a single thank you. Jason feeling worried about her being save (since he could check to see if the gang members hurt her) goes after her.
Let's skip ahead to a great scene that rivals any boxing movie ever made. Jason learns that among the group of potential friends he can make, is the cool athlete boxer and that he needs a sparing partner. Jason once again extends his hand of friendship and this time he actually gets what he wants, a friend. Both of them spar on the roof tops of NYC for a while and well Jason (accidentally), punches the head clean off the cool athlete boxer, sending it flying down to the streets of NYC. I will take a hard stand here and defend Jason, he just doesn't know his own strength and was only trying to learn boxing from his knew friend.
So now we are closing in on the ending and Jason is running out of potential friends. As he power walks his way through NYC he runs into another gang that tried to mess with their friends, this time he decides to give this punks a warning (since they didn't cross the line like the previous two gang members), please enjoy below:
Now the end sequence can only be described as art. After countless and countless (I just didn't want to count) rejections Jason has finally caught up to the psychic (who through this entire movie has been seeing flashbacks or visions or mirages of Jason as a kid), this is the final chance of making a real connection with another human being. So as you can expect Jason gets rejected in the sewers of NYC and as the water coming in to clean/flush out the sewers Jason lets go (as he can't deal with another rejection) and drowns in the water ("Wait" you might say "Didn't he walk underwater all the way to NYC?" you may ask, well... yeah...). As the waters die down we get to see the real Jason, a boy in his underwear, dying of loneliness as he couldn't find a friend in time to break the curse of the hockey mask.
Sure this movie on the surface can only be described as a silly slasher movie, but if we dig further into the psyche of Jason we get a beautiful touching story of a boy and his quest for friendship. Aren't we all Jason's in this world looking for someone to love us back? This is why I love movies, I was able to identify with a murdering ghoul that was just clearly misunderstood.
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is available on Amazon, watch it and make a new friend.
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