Directed By: Rob Hedden
Starring: Jensen Daggett, Kane Hodder, Todd Caldecott
Tag line: "New York has a new problem"
Trivia: Vincent Craig Dupree actually cut his hand in the phone booth when Jason shatters the glass around him
The title alone, Jason Takes Manhattan, is enough to set your mind to spinning. Having polished off dozens of teens in the sparsely populated area of Crystal Lake, just imagine what kind of damage serial killer Jason Voorhees could do in one of the biggest cities in the world. Unfortunately, the filmmakers gave their imaginations the day off, and instead of a kick-ass entry in the Friday the 13th series, we’re treated to what amounts to an average ‘80s slasher, which makes Jason Takes Manhattan something of a disappointment.
Lakeview High’s class of 1989 is on its way to New York for some fun and relaxation. Shortly after they climb aboard the cruise ship Lazarus, the students and their two chaperones, biology teacher Charles McCulloch (Peter Mark Richmond) and English teacher Colleen Van Duesen (Barbara Bingham), set sail for the city that never sleeps. But they’re not alone. It seems that Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder) has once again risen from the depths of Crystal Lake, and he’s bound and determined to wipe out the entire graduating class, which includes Riggen (Jenson Daggett), Sean (Scott Reeves), and a slew of others. The handful of students who survive eventually make their way to New York City, only to find that Jason is still hot on their trail. Chasing them into the subway and through Times Square, Jason does what he can to finish off the last of Lakeview High’s graduates, but will he himself fall victim to the mean streets of New York before the job is done?
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan starts off well enough, with an opening scene set at Crystal Lake during which horny teenagers Jim (Todd Caldeitt) and Suzy (Tiffany Paulsen), while out on a yacht, inadvertently bring Jason back from the dead. I also liked the scenes aboard the boat, where Jason takes out a slew of people. Alas, not many fans enjoyed the boat sequence, feeling that it took up way too much time (the action doesn’t shift to New York until the final act), but little did they know these moments would be the best the film has to offer. To avoid spoilers, I’ll just say that Jason acts very “Un-Jason like” when he gets to New York, and the wrath many people expected him to bring down on the great city never materializes.
The movie has other problems as well, including a lackluster performance by leading girl Jenson Daggett, not to mention some confusing flashback scenes in which Riggen is visited by a younger version of Jason Voorhees (and the less said about the climactic scene, the better). The real let-down, though, was Jason’s inability to cause much of a ruckus in New York, and while there are a few awesome kills (Jason shows at one point that he packs a hell of a punch), Jason Takes Manhattan never quite achieves the level of urban carnage I was expecting.