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Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

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Directed by: 
Rob Hedden
Jensen Daggett
Kane Hodder
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I should quickly apologise to both F13th parts 3 and 5 for past remarks because they can't ever begin to match the sheer badness of this absolute travesty of a sequel. This is the worst Friday The 13th film ever made. Full stop. And quite possibly one of the worst horror films ever made anyway. I'd forgotten just how bad it really was and seeing it in widescreen certainly hasn't improved it any. What Paramount are really offering us here is the 1cm of space that this title will take up between F13 DVDs 7 and 9. My advice is to just find an empty box. You might as well.
The score reminds you of everything that was wrong with bad music in 1989. The eight various artist tracks on offer seem to have all decided to compete with each other for the accolade of worst track ever used in a F13th movie. Christ, the cheesy disco type theme of part 3 seems like a absolute God-send compared to these. One can only assume that Paramount had allocated a budget of around $50 for the soundtrack. Cheesy overproduced rock with clichéd vocals or just plain shit is the order of the day here. This is my message to any band whose biggest break to date was appearing on the Jason Takes Manhattan soundtrack -give up.
We are treated to a little montage of life in New York as the credits run (Jesus, even the credits suck), just to remind us how bad-ass this city really is. And presumably to try to emphasise that Jason Voorhees is even more bad-ass if he gets the better of the city's occupants later on. A few clichéd hoodlums and punks are on display. All of the locations, sets or hoodlums seen here also feature later on in the movie. Hey, maybe that's a clever bit of direction by Hedden, as he shows us early on what the film's characters and Jason are gonna be up against? No. It's just called "cheapness."
Bad title sequence aside, and with the truly horrible "Darkest Side Of The Night" track over, we find ourselves at Crystal Lake, wondering how Jason will be resurrected. Of course, the resurrection will come as no surprise to anybody who's seen either F13 part 6 or Jaws 2. Yacht on Crystal Lake drops anchor. Anchor snares power cable. Dragging it over to Voorhees. Voila! (yawn).
The yacht has a young couple aboard listening to this supposedly convincing NYC radio broadcast - "This request has gone all the way out to Crystal Lake and the senior class of Lakeview High. They'll be graduating on the 13th of this month and we wish them the best of luck and success when they come to visit our seductive city. Our lure is a great one friends but beware, the city of lights casts many shadows indeed." Not as many shadows as Jason Takes Manhattan casts over the entire horror genre but never mind.
Special nods of attention should be paid to the way the word "seductive" is spoken by the disc jockey, and if that's really the track that this young couple requested then Voorhees actually does humanity a big favour by wiping them off the face of the earth. Albeit in a rather boring manner.
We then see a girl called Rennie being dropped off at a cruise liner by one of her teachers. She tells Rennie that she's the best student she's ever had and gives her a gift. It's a pen. "Stephen King supposedly used it in high school." Really? I'm no expert but seeing as though the pen looks as if it was made about 75 years ago, I'm somewhat skeptical. But at least it wasn't a feather quill. Anyway, Rennie and her dog walk on board where she meets the embarrassing characterization of her teacher, uncle and guardian. He didn't want her to go as she can't swim and has a fear of the water. Oh, and she also suffers from  visions of a drowning Jason Voorhees. Interesting, eh? No.
The liner is populated by what seems to be 15 (20 at a push) graduating students (Lakeview High must be a great school), two teachers, and around four or five crew members on board. It's a huge ship but it seems to be empty. Oh no, wait, Jason just climbed on board so that's one more person. We don't ever see anybody else aboard this ship.
Cue the multiple bad moments. Here's just a FEW examples:
The rock chick. Oh dear. This graduate has a very large hair sprayed thing called a hairstyle on top of her head. She is supposed to be able to play her mean (bright pink) axe guitar, whilst her compadre films the exciting musical proceedings. She's the sort of person who shouts things like "Man, this place is aching for a video!"
Sean's father is the ship's captain. He hands the captaincy over to his freshly graduated son, telling him that he is now in charge of the vessel. Sean knows absolutely nothing about such a vocation and fails to follow the correct procedures for readying the vessel for departure. His stupid father is bitterly disappointed and raises his voice thereby upsetting Sean. Obviously Sean's Dad must have thought that the Ship's Captain lessons were still being held at Lakeview High.
The undefeated Lakeview High student boxer decides to take on Jason in a fist-fight. He punches Jason's protective hockey mask repeatedly damaging his hands badly. I don't know how this guy ever managed to graduate. He shouts "take your best shot" to Jason who then punches his head clean off whilst your face frowns heavily. It sounds stupid because it is. And the head looks very fake too.
BTW This film features the most unexciting murder in the entire franchise. Rennie's uncle is held upside-down by Jason in...ta-da!...a barrel of dirty water. Zzzzzzzz...
Rennie remembers why she's afraid of swimming and the water. Her uncle pushed her into Crystal Lake as a young girl to teach her some bizarre lesson about the dangers of not being able to swim. She nearly drowned and was almost caught by the ghost of the little Voorhees boy in the water (sigh).
Once in the city, the escaping Rennie and Sean get on a subway train. Jason follows. Here and in other NYC locations we watch Jason Voorhees walking past hundreds of different people without hurting any of them, as he chases the two kids. Not even a swipe at a bystander. So much for his rep as a killing machine eh?
However, he does smash up a stereo that belongs to some "street-punks." They threaten him and so what does Jason do? Kill them perhaps? No. Jason decides to raise his mask up to show them his face, presumably to frighten or warn them. The punks run away. Then after chasing Rennie and Sean through a cafe, Jason smashes up just about everything except for a customer. A staff member attacks Jason. What does Jason do? Does he kill him? No. He picks him up and throws him against a mirror.
This is the final nail in the film's coffin. Just before Jason dies by being immersed in toxic waste, he speaks and a little boy's voice comes out of his mouth. This is what his child voice says, "Mommy, don't let me drown. Mommy!" No fucking way. Why not just make Jason wear a pink dress and perform ballet as well? That way you could really destroy the character.
This film is absolute shit. We hardly ever see Voorhees for most of the 90 minute picture. And then when we do see a decent enough amount of him in those city scenes, he acts like a complete and utter tool.
All of the script makes Saved By The Bell seem as if it was written by Charles Dickens. The film uses too many bad sets, the direction is hopelessly weak, and to top it all off, horribly back-firing and piss-poor comedy attempts feature in many of the death scenes. Horrible quality of script and film aside, F13th VIII also contains the lowest violence levels of the entire series to date.
Print quality? Who cares, shit is shit. As it happens, the disc's print is a bit grainy but decent enough, but what about the film itself?! This DVD offers just a widescreen print and 2.0 sound. And not even a trailer. And I still bought it. What the fuck is wrong with me?!
Still, that 1cm of title space does look nice in my F13th DVD collection (I need help).

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