Saturday, December 8, 2007

Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan

So at long last, here’s the finale to the box set. While this wasn’t the final film to star Jason, it was the last Friday the 13th film, as in a rather convoluted agreement, Paramount sold the rights to the Jason character to New Line, but did not sell them the rights to the Friday the 13th title, requiring New Line to title them Jason Goes to Hell and Jason X. I’m not entirely certain I want to see Jason Goes to Hell again anyway; if memory serves me right, and it quite possibly doesn’t, it was one of the worst in the entire series, and featured Jason getting shot to little bits at the start by the army, only for the coroner to randomly eat his heart and become possessed by him, and then my brain shut down. This one’s better.

The film opens with some establishing shots of Manhattan at night, while an unseen figure who I guess is a radio deejay or somesuch goes on about how great this town is. As odes to the Big Apple go, it doesn’t exactly match up with, say, Woody Allen, but I guess it’ll serve. From there, we go back to Crystal Lake, as a passing boat occupied by sex-crazed teens accidentally frees Jason once more from his watery prison, and after dispatching them he hitches a ride on a larger cruise ship that somehow passes through Crystal Lake. The new ship is for a graduating class of roughly a dozen high schoolers and their chaperones on their way to doesn’t matter, providing him with a moderate amount of victims to ply his trade on. Obviously, after fleeing him on a lifeboat, the last few survivors make their way to Manhattan, closely followed by him, who evidently swam after them, where they have their final showdown.

Just a man about town, surveying all that he rules.

There’s a lot to like about this film. There’s the wonderful open laughing at continuity, as Jason’s mask is mysteriously repaired after being ripped to bits in the last film, or the big revelation that his entire childhood between his initial drowning and when his mom got killed in the first film was spent living in the lake itself, or how, once in Manhattan, his bloodlust is pretty much totally confined to the people on the boat and those who are in his path to them, rather than just going after everyone. There’s the fact that, for the first time in the entire series, a black guy (ignoring the child in part 5) manages to make it almost to the end of the film, before he makes an ill-advised decision to take the fight to Jason and engage him in a boxing match. There’s even the strange dichotomy between the big lovefest for Manhattan at the film’s start, and the shocking revelation at the end that its sewer system gets flushed with toxic waste every night at midnight.

Further, there are no fewer than three grand series traditions carried on here, in the proper Friday style. One is how the heroine is pretty much completely insane, continuing a tradition that has appeared in every film from part 5 to here (at one point she even causes a car accident because she hallucinates a young Jason in front of her, and in doing so kills one of the chaperones, who barely gets a mention afterwards). There’s the anti-helpful authority figure in the form of the principal, continuing a tradition that goes back to part 6, and who meets a particularly nasty end when he’s dumped in one of those barrels of ooze that New York always has lying around (Strangely, it only killed him rather than turning him into a mutant ninja. Oh well). Finally, and perhaps most importantly of all, Teleporting Jason just goes completely into overdrive here. Someone runs directly away from Jason into a building, only to find Jason already waiting for him on an upper floor. Jason drags a cop off to the side into a shadow, only to instantly be directly in front of the cop car for no reason other than so that he can be run over. Best of all, at one point a girl gets trapped in a room with him, and while looking around for an exit, she looks right, to see him there, quickly turns left, to find him already there, then looks back right to see him there again. The man’s like Jamie Madrox, he’s got doubles everywhere.

This is obviously not great art, but Paramount certainly knew how to end their run on the series with a bang. It’s not the best film in the series, but it is one of the most fun. You should check it, and this box set as a whole, out.

Rating: ***

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