In a decade that saw the boom of slasher glory in 1980, sadly started heavily waning in by the end of 1989, with the big three fan favorites franchises more mundane sequels of A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers and then Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, in this one year of 250 horror flicks. It also marked the final time that had Paramount Pictures attached (until the remake), they clearly noticed the market and audiences growing tiresome, as well as the censors growing crueler to the productions, everything pointed to change needed for the genre, selling it to New Line Cinema. Nevertheless, this entry still continues to have many fans torn about, though it’s still a step above the lesser thoughts consider about Jason Goes to Hell and Jason X. Rob Hedden, obtained the director’s helm for this project, a bit of shock at the time as he did music videos, but he created episodes for The Friday 13: The Series, though neither had anything to do with the hockey mask villain, he also penned this film’s screenplay. Although his script did undergo major slicing and dicing before filming started, Paramount slashed his budget, and then informed him of the limitations of filming in NYC, needless to say it ruined some key moments. Some of those locations lost from the screenplay, Madison Square Garden, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and the Empire State Building, hence Hedden agreed afterwards with the fans that there was not enough time spent in NYC given the title, and small body count as well.
While almost everyone knows the plot and storyline I’m still going to cover it slightly, however, Hedden opens with glimpses of NYC and these locations mostly foreshadowing the future torments from Jason, which actually ruins any jump scares and spoils any tension (as if any actually ever existed). Anyway, two teens are out for a romantic cruise by a neon sign reading Camp Crystal Lake drop anchor which drags onto a large electrical cable and shocks Jason back to life. The mighty Jason (Kane Hodder (Exit to Hell )) climbs aboard the vessel sporting a well-manicured fingernail (see picture below),
and slaughters Jim (Todd Caldecott (Mirage )) and Suzi (Tiffany Paulsen [Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th )), then somehow the boat drifts into a bay near a ship called SS Lazarus, (a biblical character who was brought back from the dead, i.e. Jason – boards the ship). Why not everyone needs a pleasure cruise, and yes amazing somehow the lake connects to a river or ocean, but this film doesn’t work to eliminate plot holes, the audience and fans just accept them.
This ship has a graduating class from a local high school filling the vessel from bow to stern heading to New York City, chaperoned by English teacher Colleen (Barbara Bingham (Terror at London Bridge )) and head of biology Charles (Peter Mark Richman (Judgement Day )), whose niece Rennie (Jensen Daggett), suffers from aquaphobia, and has visions of Jason and her love interest Sean (Scott Reeves) however he has bully for a father, Admiral Robertson (Warren Munson (Amityville: The Evil Escape )), who only sees disappointment in him. One nice thing appears early on while sailing, is a return of a doomsayer, portrayed by a Deck Hand, but still refreshing this type of character returns after the loss of Crazy Ralph.
One key element eliminated is the absence of the great special effects from John Carl Buechler’s Jason’s skeletal frame exposure that made him so memorable, the tattered look that had carried over from previous films vanished. It doesn’t take long for Jason get to killing making the students think this truly is their final exam, especially the class is filled with many stereotypes, from rich girl, to geek and jock. The viewers clearly learn which character one hates the most, Charles, who seems to reminds many fans of Dr. Crews (Terry Kiser, from Part 7), in fact when all hell breaks loose he makes the dumbest statement that Sean should know how to operate a radio because he’s a son of sea captain, it’s the stupid logic he uses again and again throughout the movie, helping us easily resent him. Among the killing spree, nothing too outrageous, except Jason definitely knows his way around the ship, using a guitar to kill J.J. and then venturing into a sauna slamming a steamy rock through another’s chest, some justice to a stuck-up teen who cares solely about her looks when Jason takes mirror shards to slash her.
Nevertheless, it’s what’s expected, the time for suspense long since forgotten, and the brutality evaporated especially when showing the blood splatter, however uncut edits exist. Now Jason only spends about 20-minutes in the big city, however when he first appears he gives a bit of head tilt similar to that of Michael Myers in Halloween (1978), when see a hockey billboard with the words “Meet the competition” just a hint of fourth wall of breaking in the acting. The city scenes show some realism, Hodder delivers another wicked performance.
There are a few troubling areas in the movie, namely all the different variations of Jason as a boy, some showing poor disfigurements,
and then there’s his new power of basically teleporting himself from one location to another, before he just stalked a person, as they ran haphazardly. Another scene is the fun boxing match with Julius (V. C. Dupree) however when Julius loses his head it looks very fake,
lost on the scene is that of the beheading that appeared in Friday the 13th (1980). A bit of humor does play into the film, namely when Jason kicks a radio out of his path the punks pulls chains and knives, and he knowingly raises his mask, and that’s all one wrote about the encounter. It’s not the only comical reference another comes from a waitress (Penny Hedden) in response to “There’s a maniac after us,” “Welcome to New York,” at which point Jason smashes into the building and the cook that confronts him is none other than Ken Kirzinger, who later on plays Jason in Freddy vs. Jason (2003).
Hedden’s script contains too many characters, more there for extra fodder, it doesn’t deliver on a bloody massacre, as most killing occurs off-screen. Then the ending is an absolute mess, no one understands the conclusion the toxic sludge destroys Jason, and leaves a young boy, now whether he’s real or not leaves viewers puzzled. Also missing is the classic score from Harry Manfredini, and replaced with a ballad rock track from Metropolis called “The Darkest Side of the Night” it’s not a metal song, or something from Alice Cooper or even Pseudo Echo, it feels thoroughly misplaced. However the marketing for the movie does try to impress, the infamous promotional poster of Jason lashing through the iconic logo “I love NY” however the MPAA disapproval of the bloodied version, did permit the bloodless option, New York City deemed it an infringement on their logo it found itself changed once more. Hodder even made an appearance on the Arsenio Hall late-night talk show, in which Kane admitted afterwards was hard not to laugh at his humor.
Even on September 3, 2019 a very cool company called Terror Threads offered a limited edition version of Jason holding a guitar and SS Lazarus below him.
It comes down to a simple point, ignore many other factors, such as Jason is a zombie killing machine, was it warranted have the character leave the grounds of Camp Crystal Lake to venture into a strange city, why couldn’t one have Jason kill the locals out for their prom night, plenty of pre-marital sex and other taboos occurring, but alas no one consulted me. I believe the franchise lost a lot of its credibility leaving the area, he owned, controlled, thoroughly feared throughout. The ending in Hedden leaves everyone with groans and letdowns, it omits the customary signs of Jason’s future resurrection. Therefore, the understanding of where the bloodbath and brutality went, simply The Final Chapter(1984) and for those that seek some seclusion and tension, well that’s in part one.
- I LOVE NY [heart symbol in the shape of a bloodied ice hockey mask denotes love]
- The city that has seen it all ain’t seen nothing yet!
- The biggest city in the world is about to be scared down to size…
- Life in the city is murder (Deluxe Edition DVD)
- New York has a new problem
- The Big Apple’s in BIG trouble!
IMDb Rating: 4.6/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.5/10
Friday the 13th (1980)
Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Jason X (2001)