A Look Back at Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from watching the movie and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Considering how long the Friday The 13th franchise of horror movies lasted throughout entertainment history, there were indeed chapters that proved to be good, bad or simply satisfactory towards its fans and other moviegoers.

Having seen ALL the Friday The 13th movies myself, I can say without hesitation that the most defining films of the franchise were the first four films (released 1980 to 1984) which eerily reminds me of the early stage of James Bonds movies released in the 1960s (read: Sean Connery and Albert Broccoli struck cinematic gold with 1964’s Goldfinger).

As I mentioned before, Friday The 13th Part 3 was indeed a fun horror movie and marked the time when the film franchise and its featured villain Jason Voorhees really started to take shape. It was the film that saw Jason wearing his now iconic hockey mask, and improved the creative formula (examples: Jason’s stalking and eliminating people, his encounter with the surviving protagonist or the final girl). In other words, Part 3 ended on a very strong note and high fun factor, setting the stage for the inevitable sequel Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (AKA Part 4).

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This dangerous stunt will always remain memorable.

Before starting this retro movie review, it’s important to take note of what happened in Hollywood that led to the creation of the 1984 movie.

Background

After Friday The 13th Part 3 rode the 3D movie trend and made a lot of money on ticket sales alone, Paramount Pictures perceived that the slasher horror genre was waning with moviegoers and decided that the Friday The 13th franchise should end. Eventually Joseph Zito was hired to write and direct The Final Chapter. The funny thing was that Zito secretly hired Barney Cohen to write the screenplay, going as far to take phone conferences with one of the producers, share details with Cohen to produce the pages (Zito and Cohen collaborated on the script in a New York apartment) which were sent to the producer (who would go back to the director).

Because it was clear that the film was supposed to end the franchise, Zita wanted the film the be about the death of the newly masked Jason and this explains why The Final Chapter opened where Part 3 ended…at the Higgins property which Jason’s body in the barn. The director told Cohen to focus on developing the characters (as opposed to emphasizing kills). Of course, this did not stop Zito from ramping up the kill count, the gore and nudity. With the cast hired, veteran stunt performer Ted White hired as Jason and movie makeup specialist Tom Savini rehired (note: he worked on the 1980 Friday movie and created Jason’s look as a youth), Zito really wanted to end the franchise with a bang!

With those details already recorded in history, here now is my retro movie review of Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter.

Early story

Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter opened with a recap of Jason, the killings and how things turned out in the first three movies, cleverly using Part 2’s camp fire scene in which Paul told the camp trainees the legend of Jason.

The story begins on the evening of Monday the 16th. For some weird reason, the local police and other emergency personnel arrived at the Higgins property (note: this was the very same California location where Part 3 was filmed at) at least twelve hours after Part 3’s lone survivor Chris Higgins was picked up by the police during the morning.

After picking up the dead bodies and examining the venue for evidence, the medical personnel brought Jason’s unmoving body to the local medical center with his mask and clothes still intact. Some time into the night, Jason (Ted White) discreetly gets up and kills two medical personnel before leaving for the great area of Crystal Lake.

The next morning, Tuesday the 17th, Mrs. Jarvis (Joan Freeman) and her daughter Trish (Kimberly Beck) jog together in the woods heading towards their country home which is located some distance away from Crystal Lake. Inside the house is the young son Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman) who is a geek and collector of special stuff. The family is already aware of the killings Jason caused over the past few days (refer to Part 2 and Part 3) and Mrs. Jarvis referred to him as the psycho.

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Remember the good old days when print media journalism was much more credible and not too politicized?

Meanwhile, a new group of teenagers riding a car are on their way to the Crystal Lake area for a group vacation completely unaware that Jason is on the loose. Their destination is a vacation house located very near the Jarvis home…

Quality

Even though the production team had a low budget, this film had improved production values which is literally only the tip of the iceberg. The real indicator of this movie’s quality is with the overall execution in terms of directing, storytelling, characterization (yes, there is character development here) and horror spectacle. The good news is that Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter’s overall quality is pretty good.

For starters, the creative team took the bold approach of having a family and a group of teenagers as targets for Jason’s killing spree. The presence of a likable family like the Jarvises made the Friday The 13th formula feel fresh since the old approach of having teenagers (and a few adults) getting killed off has gotten repetitive. Having good natured characters like Mrs. Jarvis, Trish and Tommy should remind you of the likable families living in your neighborhood. As such, the Jarvis family in the story will make you get concerned for them and despise Jason for the evil icon he truly is.

The new batch of teenagers in this film is an improvement over Part 3’s teenagers (which by the way are more likable than those in Part 2). Among them is Jimmy (Crispin Glover), a troubled young guy trying to achieve something important in his life. There is also Sara (Barbara Howard) who is sweet and appears reserved for Doug (Peter Barton). The pretty twins (Camilla More and Carey More), who just appeared into the film encountering the rest of the youth, added nice variety to the romance potential among them. On the other hand, Ted (Lawrence Monoson), is the stereotypical unlikable and pathetic guy meant for viewers to despise. Samantha (Judie Aronson) is the lady craving for sensual love with Paul (Clyde Hayes).

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Ted: Hey, could you please pass to me a copy of that fake news-oriented local community print media publication? The tabloid, not the broadsheet.

What this movie clearly had in bringing some of the above-mentioned characters to life is character development. Director Zito and team succeeded in making the Jarvis family worth caring for. Jimmy is the teenager that moviegoers would relate with and also root for him to succeed. The other cast members, notably the teenagers wanting fun and satisfaction (skinny dipping and partying, anyone?), were made to be interesting and were clearly not merely disposable. Sara is likable and she looks like she could rival Trish in terms of who would be worthy to be the film’s final girl, not to mention who would be more worthy of the care from the viewers.

In terms of presentation, this film has a more serious tone. Other than Jimmy’s ever memorable dance, the approach to humor is noticeably weaker when compared to Part 3. At the same time, the killings of Jason are executed and made to really look visceral. When Jason kills a character who is likable or at least interesting, you will really feel bad or sorry, and then despise Jason. Speaking of Jason, the filmmakers made him look scarier with the visceral approach to killing on-screen and the fact that Ted White avoided speaking to the other cast members in between takes.

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The memorable Crispin Glover dance!
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One of many hard-hitting stunts in the movie.

When it comes to the stunts, the film crew really went all-out and it involved a lot of pain on the part of the actors because of the lack of safety and stunt performers as a result of the low budget. The stunts in this movie were executed with a lot of intensity and when each stunt ends, you will feel something. Take note that Ted White is a veteran of stunt performing and even doubled for Clark Gable long ago.

Remember the traditional stunts of having a human body thrown into the house through the ground-floor window? Such a stunt in this movie had a lot more impact than what was shown in the first three films. As for the stunt involving the very young Corey Feldman, that one was real and there was a huge risk of injury due to the lack of safety measures. Regardless, the stunt was performed and Feldman’s surprise and shouting were genuine. Here’s a video clip for you to enjoy.

The presentation of the on-screen kills and stunts here are the absolute best of the Friday The 13th franchise. The scare factor is also much stronger.

As for the music, Harry Manfredini returned. His musical score proved to be excellent in terms of bringing life into the scenes complete with precise timing.

Conclusion

I declare that Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter is the best and the most definitive movie of its franchise. It’s also one of the best and most defining horror movies ever released in the 1980s. It’s not worthy of awards for film excellence but it still is a major standout among all horror movies of the 1980s. It should be noted that this movie implemented a twist to the final-girl-versus-Jason formula of the first three movies by having a key character involved during the climax.

Believe it or not, Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter actually had a lot of tension between the director and actors during production (Note: Ted White stood up for the younger actors who had to endure physical pain due to lack of safety, and this put him into direct conflict with the director. And then White was very annoyed with Corey Feldman who in turn was allegedly badly treated on location by Zito).

Even so, the movie turned out to be its franchise’s biggest highlight, the best of it all! Apart from the final results made by director Zito and his crew, Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter owes part of its success to Friday The 13th Part 3 since that movie (a clear improvement over Part 2) helped set the stage for the fourth movie on a creative manner.

At the same time, it was in this fourth Friday The 13th movie where Jason truly became a horror icon as well as one of America’s pop culture icons. Director Zito, Tom Savini and Ted White combined their efforts on making this the most definitive story of Jason Voorhees who was not a zombie but a living human killer who simply won’t stop due to the evil in him. This movie’s Jason is clearly a dramatic improvement over Part 3’s Jason (which in turn was a dramatic improvement over Part 2’s Jason-with-a-potato-sack-for-a-mask) and each time the villain was on screen, you can sense his evil force. The mere fact that Trish got frightened by Jason at different stages of the chase between them proves how intimidating and scary the masked killer really is.

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This is the best Friday The 13th movie ever!

Overall, Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter is highly recommended. For the best viewing experience and story immersion into Friday The 13th, I recommend watching Part 3 and this movie back-to-back.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back At Friday The 13th Part 3

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced by means of watching the movie and doing research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Long before movie franchising and shared cinematic universes became normal in modern day Hollywood, the very low-budget Friday The 13th movie of 1980 became a very profitable success and paved the way for sequels throughout the decade. Really, the first movie was just a standalone, self-contained story of horror set in the American summer camp. There really was no plan back then to turn that particular film into a series of movies that showcased people getting killed in slasher horror style.

Because Friday The 13th grossed almost $60 million worldwide, its first sequel Friday The 13th Part 2 was rushed into production (with more than double its predecessor’s budget) and eventually got released less than a year later. Part 2 made $21.7 million in America (note: overseas ticket sales remain unavailable) which was barely half that of its predecessor ($39.7 million) in the same market.

Creatively, Part 2 was made with Jason Voorhees as the antagonist because (SPOILER) his mother was the killer in the first movie. While Jason was indeed a victim in the 1980 movie, the Part 2 filmmakers had to make hard changes to establish him as the new killer and expand on the previous film’s concept. The result was that, within Friday The 13th’s version of history, Jason somehow witnessed his mother’s death from a distance and motivated him to become a territorial killer at Crystal Lake (note: the first movie established him as having drowned to death because the summer camp counselors did not watch him). This paved the way into introducing a grown-up Jason (wearing a potato sack as mask) as the new killer in the sequel.

Even though the box office reception for Part 2 was weaker, this did not stop the filmmakers and Paramount Pictures from pushing through with a sequel: Friday The 13th Part 3. To say the least, the business model on making Friday The 13th movies with very low budgets and raking big profits was too good for the filmmakers to stop doing. At the same time, the 1980s saw a huge demand for slasher horror. As if that was not enough, there was a short-lived revival of 3D cinematic viewing (moviegoers wore the old-style red-and-blue 3D visors to see the 3D effects on the screen) which the Part 3 filmmakers (led by director Steve Miner and producer Frank Mancuso, Jr.) decided to capitalize on. As such, they used special cameras and lenses to make Part 3.

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This is what the film looked like in 3D and this is the 3D yoyo scene.

Enough with the history of the Friday The 13th film franchise for now. This is my retro movie review of 1982’s Friday The 13th Part 3.

Early Story

The movie opens (SPOILER for Part 2) with a recap of the final conflict in Part 2 showing Ginny (Amy Steel) in Jason’s shack in the forest. After some struggle near the makeshift shrine which had the decapitated head of Jason’s dead mother, Ginny’s boyfriend Paul arrived to save her from Jason. As Jason focused on fighting Paul, Ginny struck the killer with a blade on his left shoulder putting him down. After Ginny and Paul left the shack, it turns out that Jason (in brand new footage for the movie, a creative attempt to revise key story elements) was still alive and slowly moved.

The next day – Saturday the 14th – at a small town store (with a private residence), Jason (still wearing his clothes from Part 2) arrives and kills the couple (the owners) in the evening. Before getting killed, the wife saw TV news footage of Ginny being moved into an ambulance (using daytime footage from the ending of Part 2) establishing the current day as Saturday.

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The bodies of the husband and wife being moved into the ambulance. Jason killed them on the evening of Saturday.

And yet the next day – Sunday the 15th – a group of teenagers travel together in a van heading towards the private property of Higgins Haven which is located by Crystal Lake. Due to the lack of security, Jason moved there in secret becoming a danger to them…

Quality

With a budget that was much bigger than that of Part 2, Friday The 13th Part 3 has better production values. Higgins Haven in the film was a nice physical set that was actually constructed from scratch in California. The vacation house, the barn and even Crystal Lake (which looked radically different from the first two films) were all made on location. Of course, money had to be spent on making tracks and setting up the cameras which had special lenses for filming in 3D. I also noticed that Part 3’s visuals are a lot more colorful to look at than in Part 2 which is the result of using the cameras with special lenses. The downside of this is the constant lack of sharpness on the visuals when compared to Part 1 and 2.

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Larry Zerner’s Shelly (middle) is one of the most memorable characters of the entire Friday The 13th film franchise.

In terms of storytelling, this movie looked generic on face value when compared to not only the other Friday The 13th films but also with the many other slasher horror movies that were released. There is a group of people who don’t realize they were being stalked by a killer. The killings are done in secret. Some people either have sex or use illegal drugs. The film’s protagonist encounters the killer and somehow survives. The storytelling is shallow and the characters were designed to be mostly killed off by the antagonist. Of course, there was no real room for any character development.

The good news about this particular movie is that it was nicely paced, there were no boring moments, the on-screen kills were visceral enough, there was an amount of humor to balance the tone enough, and most of all, Part 3 is a lot more fun to watch than any of its predecessors.

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Nothing like being stalked by Jason.

Adding more to the fun factor was that the cast of characters was pretty good. Dana Kimmell as Chris Higgins is charming, romantic, physically capable and also sympathetic. Larry Zerner meanwhile is funny to watch as Shelly who is an overweight guy trying hard to gain attention and friendship. Zerner has a certain appeal of being funny without ever becoming an on-screen annoyance. Like Chris, Shelly is also sympathetic.

Similar character traits are also found in Debbie played by Tracie Savage, and Vera played by Catherine Parks. Vera is the lady on a blind date willing to have fun as she goes on a journey of discovery with her friend. Debbie is pretty, sweet and loves to have fun with her boyfriend even though she is already pregnant. By the way, Tracie Savage acted early as a little girl and her performance her shows it. In real life, Savage went on to become a credible journalist and she was involved in covering the O.J. Simpson murder story of the mid-1990s. Check out Tracie Savage in these embedded videos below.

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Tracie Savage in 3D as Debbie!

And then there are the arrogant, leather-wearing bikers who were written only to cause trouble. Kevin O’Brien as Loco is tough, Gloria Charles as Fox is rude and yet has a weakness for doing something fun, while Nick Savage as Ali is both savage and even funny.

As for Rick played by Paul Kratka is the least interesting character as the good-intentioned boyfriend of Chris. Rick is bland not because of Kratka’s performance but rather the way he was written for the film.

Richard Brooker, a circus performer, excelled in his portrayal as Jason Voorhees and he provided the template on how the icon should act on screen. Not only was he physically imposing, he had to endure the tough procedure of going through several hours of movie makeup (for Jason’s distorted face) before even wearing the hockey mask. Brooker’s Jason is a major improvement over than of Part 2 and it’s too bad we never got to see him reprise the villain.

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Richard Brooker as Jason Voorhees. Believe it or not, the use of a hockey mask in the film was unplanned and it so happened than one of the film crew members was an ice hockey fan and he had a mask with him.

When it comes to on-screen spectacle, the killings by Jason were creative and visceral at the same time. Apart from a few on-screen kills that paid homage to key kills in the 1980 movie, Brooker and the filmmakers delivered a good job on showing how deadly Jason is as the killer. We also get to see that Jason is not only unstoppable but also is very strong (look at what happened to Rick) and even agile (look at his first encounter with Ali). It was also in this film where moviegoers got to see for the first time how visceral a hockey mask-wearing killer could be on the big screen.

Dana Kimmell proved to be capable with the stunts she was given and the action during the encounters between Chris and Jason. Her attempts to fight back at Jason with the knife was believable in terms of character desperation. She is comparable with Amy Steel (Part 2’s Ginny) but is ahead in terms of doing the stunts. Kimmell even had an accident during a chase in which she tripped and fell down face-first.

On storytelling, Part 3’s fimmakers made the right gamble by having the film set immediately after the events of Part 2. Originally there was a plan to make Part 3 feature Ginny in a new story setting her up with another encounter with Jason. Because Amy Steel turned the role down, this particular movie became the result. Part 3’s filmmakers scored a right move having the story set at a private vacation property by Crystal Lake which is a nice change from the summer camp settings of its predecessors.

When it comes to cinematic style, I just love the way director Steve Miner had Jason appear discreetly on screen long before he gets the hockey mask. To see Jason standing on the foreground (no head shown) looking at the characters in the background remains creepy and stylish, slowly adding to the build-up of suspense. To see Jason slowly creeping in the background was also creepy. These are cinematic moves that were not used that much anymore in the sequels that followed.

If there is anything lack here, it definitely is the 3D cinematography which involved a process that is crude and ineffective by today’s standards. The old-style 3D (with 3d visors of red and blue) visuals can be viewed on an HDTV when selected but such visuals have not aged well. I personally prefer to watch it in old-fashioned 2D even though the sharpness of the pictures is lacking and even though the key on-screen moments originally filmed for 3D (with objects captured close to the camera) look out of place. Back to storytelling, I felt that Chris Higgin’s recall of a past incident in the woods felt like an afterthought on the part of the screenwriters.

Conclusion

Overall, Friday The 13th Part 3 is a fun horror movie to watch again. It is not only one of the best ever Friday The 13th films released, but also one of the strongest among all slasher horror movies released in the 1980s. That being said, it made the original Friday The 13th look more of a bore and it made Friday The 13th Part 2 look half-baked. Truly, Part 3 was the film that had the standards of fun and engagement of its film franchise raised higher. Of all the Friday The 13th movies I saw in my life, I declare that Part 3 is the 2nd best film of the franchise.

In terms of cinematic artistry, Part 3 serves as the template on storytelling and structuring for the franchise similar to how Goldfinger became a standard for the James Bond film franchise. To make things clear, this film not only showed Jason wearing for the first time an ice hockey mask (now iconic in American pop culture) but also showed why he is so dangerous whether he stalks people or strikes them down. This film marked the true beginning of the now iconic Jason Voorhees and the filmmakers did a nice job in showcasing him as a horrifying antagonist, easily blowing away the Part 2 potato sack hermit Jason.

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Dana Kimmell as Chris (right) in a scene that copied a similar scene in the first movie.

The film has, in my view, the most appealing cast of characters. There are key characters worth caring for and when you see the most likeable characters killed off, you will feel very sorry for them.

What struck me most was what happened to Chris at the very, very end of the film. Granted, she is the final girl of this movie but what I saw when this film ended will always stick me. Without spoiling anything, I should say that Dana Kimmell’s Chris is creatively a standout among all the many slasher horror movie final girls that were presented. I really felt sorry for Chris and Dana Kimmell was very convincing with her performance.

Back to Friday The 13th Part 3’s quality and overall fun factor, I can boldly declare that without this film, the filmmakers of the sequel Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (Part 4) would not even have the foundation and concepts to make their own film great. Really, Part 3 is really good and it’s even intriguing to learn that it was originally made to mark the end of its franchise.

Overall, Friday The 13th Part 3 is highly recommended. To those who are about to watch it for the first time, remember that this movie is a part of 1980s Hollywood history.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back At Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

When a filmmaker has high concepts but ends up receiving insufficient resources to realize them, disaster normally strikes not only the film crew but also the fans.

This was precisely what happened in the horror movie Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, written and directed by Rob Hedden. Released on July 28, 1989 in the United States, the movie was the result of Paramount Pictures’ rejection of proposals on making a direct sequel to Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood involving that film’s lead character Tina Shepard (played by Lar Park Lincoln).

Hedden, who previously worked for another movie studio and participated in the unrelated Friday The 13th TV series, was hired to make the sequel and he had the idea of bringing the horror icon Jason Voorhees out of Camp Crystal Lake (and its related locations) and came up with concepts of having one story set on a cruise ship (for a claustrophobic horror experience) and another story set in New York City (which includes ideas of having notable locations there as key places for misadventures and action).

“Everything about New York was going to be completely exploited and milked,” Hedden said in an interview. “There was going to be a tremendous scene on the Brooklyn Bridge. A boxing match in Madison Square Garden. Jason would go through department stores. He’d go through Times Square. He’d go into a Broadway play. He’d even crawl onto the top of the Statue of Liberty and dive off.”

The movie studio liked Hedden’s concepts and gave him a budget. The big problem was that there simply was not enough money granted (a little over $5 million) and it was too expensive to film on location in New York (I wonder if Hedden actually made some research about the city as he came up with his New York ideas). Although the given budget was the BIGGEST for a Friday The 13th film at the time, Hedden had no choice but to combine the two concepts into one single narrative. As if insufficient funds were not bad enough, Hedden implemented another concept to look at Jason as a child through the hallucinations of the film’s lead – Rennie Wickham (played by Jensen Daggett). Of course, the hallucinations led to spending some money on “special” effects, make-up, and set-up.

Now, we can start taking a close look at Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.

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Kane Hodder as Jason on location at Times Square in New York.

The movie begins with shots of New York City (with several spots of Vancouver, Canada pretentiously presented as spots of the more famous city). Over at Camp Crystal Lake far away, a guy and his girl prepare to make love riding a boat floating on the lake unaware that Jason is deep underwater (following the events of Part VII). Through expository dialogue, the guy tells his girl about the legend of Jason who had murdered several people who came near the camp.

Due to an anchor cutting an underwater power cable, loose electricity reanimates Jason (played by Kane Hodder) who went up to the boat to kill the guy and the lady, one by one.

Very soon, a group of graduates from Lakeview High School prepares to embark on a cruise ship for their much-awaited visit to New York. Beyond logic, the scene shows that Crystal Lake is magically connected to the Atlantic Ocean and the background scenery shows that they are in Canada (note: back then it was more affordable to shoot scenes in Canada and pretend to be in the US).

At this point, the film introduces the final girl Rennie who is a gifted student but remains terrified about water since childhood. The leading man meanwhile is Sean (played by Scott Reeves) who is handsome but lacks the heart to follow the footsteps of his successful father who is the captain of the ship. Rennie and Sean both show signs of pain and lack from their respective past and these elements, predictably, make them a matching pair for moviegoers to follow.

Aside from the two, the film introduces mostly disposable characters like Rennie’s overbearing uncle (who happens to be a teacher in the same high school she attends and was clearly written to be the one character to irritate moviegoers into being sympathetic with Rennie and others), the good-natured lady teacher, the hard rock musician, the aspiring filmmaker, the jock, the pretty bad girl, the dude who talks without taking a look, the doomsayer, etc.

Just before the ship leaves, Jason climbs his way up to join the trip. Then he’s stalking starts.

Quality

Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan was very bad when it was first released more than thirty years ago. By today’s standards, this film has aged terribly. Its quality is even worse now.

Let’s start with the most obvious flaw – the movie failed to live up to its promise of Jason’s taking Manhattan. The film’s subtitle is a big lie as much of the movie is set in the ship and New York (including the fake NYC spots that were filmed in Vancouver) does not appear as the definitive location until late in the story!

While the story was set on the ship, the film crew seem to focus on producing on-screen fillers creatively. Sure we get to see Jason stalk and kill characters (with some off-screen death blows) but the dialogue scenes, the transition scenes and character “development” stuff in between were very cheaply and poorly handled.

With Rennie, however, the team managed to make her somewhat engaging as the lead of the film by slowly defining her personality (nicely done by Daggett) and creating on-screen hallucination sequences emphasizing the emotional and psychological damage she suffered from encountering Jason when she was a young girl. The flashback of little Rennie encountering little Jason (which does not make sense at all as far as in-story history is concerned) under Crystal Lake was not only badly done but done without any sense of logic. One can argue that little Rennie only hallucinated of seeing kid Jason (supposedly out of fear and paranoia) but that sequence was just a waste of time even though the filmmakers tried to make moviegoers connect and feel with her. Sean, the other lead, was literally protected by plot armor (note: he was not one of the disposable characters) but his character was not written to do much except serving as a supporter for Rennie.

Lousy stuff? Lots of them here and there! Even though he saw his captain father dead, Sean does not show very much emotion and even worse, he easily forgets about him even as he sees Jason quite a number of times later. He should at least show some deep anger (if not lust for revenge) against Jason. Even though he did not witness Jason killing his father, it was made clear to him and the rest that Jason (and not the doomsayer) was responsible.

How about Wayne, the film-obsessed guy? Even though he and his pals took weapons to go around and hunt Jason, he still bothered to use his camera (while clumsily holding the gun) and film his way around! That is so stupid and it was no surprise that he ends up getting disposed of! Being obsessed with filming, Wayne could have decided to accompany one of his armed pals and used his camera for both video documenting and even help an armed guy see something (example: zooming at a spot or object far away).

As for lousy stuff reflecting the very low budget of the movie, I can point out that the scene in which Sean, Rennie, the uncle and lady school teacher board a lifeboat clearly looked fake and was shot on a studio set. The same thing can also be said about Rennie’s fall into the water (pushed over the deck by Tamara) and she was NOT left behind by the ship that was supposedly moving. The location where JJ played rock music before getting killed looked cheap.

More on production cheapness, either the filmmakers ran out of money or they became too lazy with the wardrobe and hoped moviegoers would be too stupid to notice anything. Look back at the scene when Rennie got pushed off by Tamara into the water and was saved by Sean (who jumped to do his heroic act). Even though they got wet, both Rennie and Sean STILL WORE THE EXACT SAME CLOTHES until the end of the film! Those characters did not change clothes even though Rennie returned to her room!

Speaking of which, the filmmakers disregarded the fact that, in the story, the ship was filled with a lot of students going to New York. There were guys and gals partying, playing games, enjoying the scenery (of Canada!), etc. And yet as the film played on, the filmmakers literally abandoned those many other students. The only exception here was the short scene in which the good-natured lady teacher brought some students with her and told them to stay and wait in the restaurant. A short time later, as she mentioned to her companions that there were students left in the restaurant, Sean replied to her depressingly, “There is no more restaurant.” Without showing any scenes, the filmmakers creatively and nonsensically got rid of the others. I suppose Hedden and team had no more time and money left to show what happened to them all.

The cheapness also affected the look of Jason. Adult Jason in Friday The 13th Part VII had a very menacing, gritty and rotten face design. In this movie, adult Jason’s face looks melted and cartoony! And then there was the inaccuracy with regards to how the film presented little Jason. In the early flashback scene, a kid Jason with a normal looking face was shown drowning (which contradicts the fact that Jason always had a deformed face). There was a ladies’ rest room scene wherein kid Jason (with a slightly deformed face this time) appeared to Rennie via a hallucination. Then there was another kid Jason, more deformed, during the flashback of little Rennie. Whatever the filmmakers did, none of those physical presentations of Jason proved to be scary. Clearly whatever little amount of money they spent here ended up wasted.

On the presentation, the film’s pacing was inconsistent and it sure had several dragging moments. Granted, this was Rob Hedden’s debut as a movie director but I’ve seen other slasher horror films that were paced better and had kills that were executed satisfactorily. The fear factor of this movie was weak overall. Meanwhile, Jason illogically has the ability to teleport in this film which is complete nonsense. I believe that the teleportation was implemented as a convenient way of cutting down on time and expense to complete the production. I suppose showing Jason physically moving from one place to the next to get to his running victim was too expensive and too inconvenient for Hedden’s team.

If there are any good points in this film, I should say that Rob Hedden and his team at least tried to be creative with Jason’s kills (but the teleporting still makes no sense). Tamara (whose mirror got dropped and broke into pieces) got stabbed with a sharp mirror piece. A guy in the sauna gets killed with a hot rock forced into his body. And then there was the city thug who got killed with a syringe piercing through his body (which is impossible and cartoony to look at).

The most memorable kill sequence by Jason was the “boxing fight” with Julius. In that sequence, Hedden told the actor to punch Jason many, many times with real physical contact. That sequence lasted rather long but Jason’s kill of Julius was undeniably good and with impact. Too bad that kill sequence could not carry this movie up.

Another good point to take note is Kane Hodder’s improved take on Jason in terms of action and looking threatening. This was his 2nd time to play Jason and he showed more confidence playing him.

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Kelly Hu was only 20-years-old at the time of production. Jason Voorhees, not Wolverine, was the first pop culture icon she encountered on the big screen.

The stunt done inside a diner (with a particular stuntman who would later have his moment playing Jason in a certain 2003 movie) was at least satisfying to see. Last but not least, this movie featured a very young Kelly Hu who is now a successful and popular Hollywood actress. Fourteen years before she got to fight superhero icon Wolverine on the big screen, she encountered the horror icon Jason right here. What happened to Hu’s character and Jason? You should take time out to watch her scene here.

Conclusion

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Symbolically speaking, Jensen Daggett realized that the film was doomed and it took Jason to catch her attention from behind!

Overall this movie is very, very bad. I can only recommend this to die-hard Friday The 13th fans who are more than willing to set aside logic all for the sake of seeing Jason stalk and kill people. There is little entertainment value here and drastic cheapness will disturb viewers along the way. Not even the short Time Square on-location sequence could save the film. The kills of Jason are a mixed-bag at best and clearly this movie is not even scary to watch. I remember the very first time I saw this way back in the summer of 1990 on laser disc format and there was not even a single moment I got scared. I got to replay this movie on DVD to take a closer look and still I did not get much entertainment value in return.

Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan should be skipped as it is a clear waste of time. If you plan to watch it at all, play the movie only when you want to bore yourself to sleep.


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