Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (Paramount 1989)
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan was released on the 28th of July, 1989.
Directed by Rob Hedden, it was unsurprisingly the eighth offering in the series, and the second lowest grossing in the US, and the worst performing on the international stage. Largely ravaged by critics, the film has its loyal, staunch defenders and, despite its shortcomings, is an interesting addition to the franchise. It was intended to be the final episode, and was certainly the last straw for Paramount until the 2009 remake; with a disappointing domestic take of just $14.3 million, they sold the franchise to New Line for what would be the remaining two instalments.
The killing spree takes place aboard the SS Lazarus, bound for Manhattan with its payload of lusty students, after Jason Voorhees has been brought back to life by a Frankenstein inspired surge of electricity provided by that vessel’s anchor as it drags over a cable.
An ironic moment in Friday the 13th Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan, as Jason is confronted with his billboard doppelgänger…
With the passengers and crew largely dispatched, the supernatural slasher’s murderous mayhem continues in the Big Apple, with inexplicable flashbacks of an even more inexplicably undeformed Master Voorhees, courtesy of the slightly psychic Jensen Daggett. The hockey-mask wearing homicidal maniac is eventually destroyed, for this outing at least, as the New York sewers flood with toxic waste, sweeping him away to yet another watery grave on the stroke of midnight.
Originally intended, as the title suggests, to be largely set in New York City, budget and schedule restrictions imposed on Hedden forced drastic rewrites with which he was never entirely happy. Substitute city Vancouver just didn’t cut it: “Okay, we’ll make Vancouver look like New York and we’ll do it that way,” he later revealed he told studio bosses. “But they came back again with, ‘You can’t do the Brooklyn Bridge in Vancouver. You can’t do Madison Square Garden in Vancouver. You can’t do the Statue of Liberty in Vancouver.’ Pretty soon it was half New York, half on the boat. Then it was the last third in New York. It just kept getting whittled down and down.”
Jason Voorhees is ready for battle in the big city in Friday the 13th Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan
Kane Hodder, appearing as Jason, recalls that Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan was one of his most enjoyable portrayals of the character. “When we shot [the scenes] in Times Square, spectators were lined up and down the block watching the filming,” he says. “I didn’t want to take off the mask and destroy their illusion of Jason, so every once in awhile I’d turn my head and look at them, and watch them all go crazy!”
The first scene on dry land required Hodder to kick a dog, but he objected, claiming that – despite his murderous tendencies towards humans – Jason would never hurt an animal like that, so the scene was dropped.
Scott Reeves and Jensen Daggett take a moment to review their situation in Friday the 13th Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan
With Friday the 13th Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan, the producers had intended to widen the appeal of what was becoming a tired franchise by taking the character out of his usual Crystal Lake setting. Sadly, the endeavour backfired due to the studio cuts and, what could have been a shot in the arm for a series rapidly running out of steam, ultimately hastened its demise yet further.
Original poster for Friday the 13th Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan