Alright, as we begin our backwards trek through the Friday the 13th films you’re noticing right out of the gate that I’ve skipped some movies. Let me explain myself before we continue with the review. My reasoning is two-fold. One, I just don’t have enough time. If I start with Part VIII and work my way back to original classic we’re going to end that journey on Friday the 13th, the actual day. I would have needed to have started this earlier in the week had I intended to include ALL of the movies, which brings me to my second reason. Jason Goes to Hell and Jason X are terrible movies, even by my low horror movie standards. Freddy vs Jason isn’t really part of the series, and though I enjoyed the reboot film, I’m not including it because of reason number one, being time. Alright, now that we’ve gotten that all cleared up, let’s dive in (pardon the pun)!
Friday the 13th Part VIII is easily one of the worst/best movies in the franchise. For a movie where Jason is supposed to “take” Manhattan, very little of the film actually takes place there. While budgetary excuses were made (which I’m sure were true…these movies have never had big piles of cash to work with), don’t say you’re taking Manhattan if only a quarter of the film is actually in New York. While this has no real bearing on the quality of the movie, it’s something that has always bothered me.
As we are dealing with the 8th film in a slasher franchise, you expect there to be some over the top kills, and Jason Takes Manhattan doesn’t disappoint. Here’s some of the crazier offerings: A wannabe rocker getting smashed by her guitar (which actually breaks the glass on the screen as it comes towards you, which makes no sense at all), death by hot sauna rock to the chest (not joking), electrocution on an electrical panel where the victim’s crotch catches fire, drowning in a barrel of sewage, and the icing on the cake, a boxer getting his head punched off, down the side of a building, and into a dumpster that’s lid then closes once the head is inside. There are more but they’re of the normal variety and don’t bear much mention.
There are no real scares here on offer and while the film had no intention of being a parody of the slasher genre and Friday the 13th as a whole, that’s exactly how it feels. While this would normally be an issue, it actually pushes Jason Takes Manhattan into “so bad it’s good” territory. All of it is so crazy it makes you wonder what they were thinking as they sat down and wrote the film. This was by no means an issue that lied solely on the shoulders of the Friday the 13th franchise. The slasher genre in general was breathing its last breath…it would take Scream in 1996 to resurrect them again. No, this was a time when the American public had pretty much had enough of the horror junk that the studios were peddling at this point, and Jason Takes Manhattan serves as a perfect example of that bloated, lake smelly corpse.
As we progress backwards toward the first Friday the 13th film we’re going to have some ups and downs, but few will give as many unintentional laughs at Jason Takes Manhattan. While it may not have been the swan song the slasher genre needed as the 1980’s came to an end, it was most certainly the one it deserved.