With the release of a
new Friday the 13th this Friday February 13th mixed with the (third,
maybe) rerelease of the first three films in new DVDs, I figured now is
as good a time as any to reprint this classic series from a couple of
years back, where I sat down and watched all 10 Friday the 13th films
as well as Freddy vs Jason. To make this something more than a simple
reprint series, I’m also reviewing the new DVDs on each of the relevant
entries. Which I guess makes just the last 8 nothing more than a
reprint series, but since this was a pretty fun series I don’t see the
harm in that. This new edition of CHUD Goes to Camp Crystal Lake will
culminate with my review of the new Friday the 13th, but it’s unlikely
that it will be in the same format as the rest of the series. I’ll save
that for my review of the DVD in four months.


Special thanks to Litmus Configuration for the amazing image above!


Kills:
19
(one by spear gun, one by just the spear, one imitation of Pete
Townsend versus Abbie Hoffman at Woodstock, one hot rock in the gut,
one mirror mirror cut, one harpooning, one throat slashed, one boring
choking, one accidental shooting, one impalement on the communications
array, one electrocution, one axe to the back, one syringe to the back,
one piping, one fisticide, one offscreen kill, one hilarious car
accident and explosion, one sewage drowning, one wrenching fate)

Best Kill: In the Rumble in the Urban Jungle Jason really knocks his opponent’s block off.

Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll:
Boat sex starts things off. A girl plays Guitar Hero without a TV
screen. Cocaine is snorted by a member of Weapon X. A blandly blonde
slut paints her internal organs on herself in a seduction move that
leads to blackmail.

The Comeuppance: Every
13th of the month New York’s sewers are flooded with toxic waste that
just happens to turn Jason into a young Asian boy. Are we sure that’s
not just General Tso’s sauce?

http://chud.com/nextraimages/friday_the_thirteenth_a_new_beginning.jpgThe Movie: What
are the worst movies ever made? Obviously you’d have to immediately
narrow that list down to theatrically released movies, since the annals
of student and amateur films are almost certainly filled with garbage
in quantities that would be impossible for the human brain to process –
all of this incredible badness is slithering just under our radar, like
same horrible Old One in a Lovecraft story, always just on the other
side of the threshold and beyond human comprehension. So we have a list
that begins with theatrically released movies, which is still a
staggering amount, but much more manageable. I don’t know what films
would be on that list but I do know that among their number must be Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.

This final Paramount Friday
film is legendary in its badness, and the badness permeates every
single level of the production: from script to editing, this is a work
of sheer and stunning incompetence. I propose a theory that this is a
movie that goes beyond being just bad to being hilariously bad, and
then continues on past that spot like an express train whose
destination is right back at the start of the bad line, except maybe
like ten levels below what you previously had ever defined as bad. This
is a movie that makes you look fondly upon syphilis – at least there’s
a cure for that.

I’m not even sure where to begin with this one; Jason Takes Manhattan
is so terrible that I could do a shot by shot breakdown of the film and
not find one redeeming quality (well, Jason does punch a guy’s head
off, but that’s about it). The DVD should have a bonus commentary track
of Herbert Morrison just saying, “Oh the humanity!” over and over for
90 minutes. From the plot to the characters to the kills to the setting
to the music, everything in this movie is bad and I find myself frozen
in the face of such overwhelming shit.

Let’s start with the title. This film should have been called Jason Takes The Lido Deck,
since the vast majority of the movie is set on a boat. It’s worth
noting that this boat sails from Crystal Lake to New York City, and
that the man in charge of it is an admiral. The admiral of the Crystal
Lake Navy, I guess. When Jason et al get to Manhattan (really
Vancouver, except for one sequence shot in Times Square), there’s
barely a couple of reels left. On top of that, Manhattan is a useless
setting in this film, since Jason doesn’t interact with it; with one
utterly fucking stupid exception, he just single-mindedly goes after
the victims he was already stalking on the boat. Seeing Jason walk down
a subway car and ignore every person on it is so frustrating; what’s
the point of having this setting if you’re not going to do anything
with it? Jason unleashed on a subway train – a sealed tube filled with
people! – should be the slasher set piece to end all slasher set
pieces, but the train may as well be rear projected here.

This
boat happens to be hosting the graduation cruise for Lakeview High,
which seems to have about twelve students in it (it’s actually really
hard to get a read on this. During the boarding of the boat we see
dozens of people getting on, but once the ship has sailed it seems that
the only faces we see are the main dozen characters. If there were more
passengers, Jason’s kill count jumps up to like 40 or 50 for this film,
since the boat sinks and only five people and a dog are seen getting
away. At least one Friday the 13th
fan site thinks that an explosion on the boat kills the rest of the
graduating class). These kids are the least interesting victims that
Jason has had to face yet, and some of them seem like they’ve just been
plucked whole from previous entries or other slasher movies. The
Survivor Girl this time is just as boring and as ripped off – she’s a
girl with a traumatic background who has inexplicable visions of Jason.
These visions really never pay off, one of the symptoms of just how
shoddy this script is. Our Survivor Girl is, I guess, a writer – her
teacher gives her “the pen Stephen King used in high school” as a
graduation gift (this sounds like perhaps the biggest fucking eBay scam
of all time) – and also the ward of the school principal, played by
Peter Mark Richman, one of those actors who appeared on all the great
bad 70s and 80s TV shows (Knight Rider, Love Boat, Dallas, Galactica 1980, etc) , and who was the villain in The Naked Gun 2. Not only can no one in this film act, most of them don’t even seem to be trying, so in comparison Richman’s Fantasy Island
level emoting (he played four different characters on four different
episodes!) reads as some kind of hyper-Shakespearian thespianizing.
It’s almost a hoot, but it doesn’t do much to leaven your spirits as
you watch the movie; anything unintentionally funny in this movie
comes across like a pratfall on the way to the showers in Dachau.

Jason
has been revived by a stray power cable, and he climbs on board the
cruise ship. Why? Because the movie wouldn’t happen if he didn’t. On
the ship he slowly works his way through the kids and the crew,
including a guy who runs around saying the voyage is doomed. He makes
Crazy Ralph from the first film seem like a Eugene O’Neill character.
At some point between drowning again at the end of VII and this movie
Jason developed the ability to teleport – there is seriously no other
explanation for some of the moves he makes, unless you just chalk it up
to a completely talentless director cheating to create cheap jump
scares – and he spends most of the boat ride popping around from deck
to deck, boringly killing kids. There’s a decent kill here or there (a
kid in a sauna has a steaming hot rock jammed through his stomach), but
mostly no one is trying; Jason just strangles Kelly Hu, although the
setting is a disco floor, so some people find something to like about
it. These are the kinds of people who, when reduced to eating stone
soup say that it’s full of minerals.

Eventually
the boat sinks (long after the movie has done so), and the survivors
get on a life raft and go to New York City. Here the film enters a
whole new sort of hyper-shittiness. I don’t even mind the cartoonish
view of Manhattan the film has: when I was growing up my parents split
up and my dad lived in the Chicago suburbs while my mom, my brother and
I lived in New York City. When I would visit Chicago, the other local
kids would be a little bit afraid of me because I was from New York –
surely I had to be tough and maybe even crazy to live in that urban
hellhole. The idiotic depiction of New York as some sort of
post-apocalyptic criminal wasteland in stupid, stupid films like Jason Takes Manhattan
surely helped me build some out of town cred (that I didn’t deserve. I
survived in the post-apocalyptic criminal wasteland by alternately
being funny or bugging the fuck out of a situation if it looked like it
would get hairy). The problem with the New York stuff is, as I said
before, how lamely it’s used. In the one Times Square scene, Jason
knocks over the boombox of a bunch of “gang kids”. They threaten him
and his response is not to hack them limb from limb but to lift his
mask and scare them off. What’s next, a sternly worded warning? (I
would like to take this opportunity to mention that the filmmakers seem
utterly unfamiliar with this character, as they have replaced the “ki
ki ki ha ha ha” sound with “Jason Jason Jason”. Awful)

I
know that the budget on this was low (anyone watching three frames of
this bargain basement crap would know that), but why bother setting
your movie in Manhattan if you can’t afford it? There’s a couple of
alleys, a rooftop and a sewer featured in this film, and they could
have been any city on Earth. It’s obvious that Jason Takes Manhattan
began its life with a marketing team (the trailer, which includes zero
footage from the film, is actually really great, and with its
succession of New York types being menaced by Jason – a commuter,
yuppies, a bum – is a capsule view of what this film should have at
least tried to accomplish. Fuck, if Maniac Cop
could shoot in New York, so could this shit), but someone at some point
should have realized that the conceit was beyond them and just stuck
with Jason on a goddamned boat.

Of
course, if that was the case I would have missed some of the truly
illogical and inane elements of the Manhattan scenes. Survivor Girl and
her boyfriend run into a diner to ask for help: “A psychopathic maniac
is trying to kill us!” “Welcome to New York,” is the reply she gets,
which is a joke I still make with friends. I would miss Jason drowning
someone in a barrel of toxic waste that happens to just be around –
open! – in a filthy alley. And I would miss the single most insane
Jason kill in the whole series – but more on that in a second.

Jason Takes Manhattan is not just a bad film, it’s one that does violence to the whole Friday the 13th
series. Survivor Girl’s flashes of Jason drowning as a child in no way
resemble the footage from Part 1 that has been used again and again in
the series; for one thing, Jason has a thick head of black hair. For
another, I think he’s Japanese. But this film isn’t content just
fucking up the continuity with the other films – no, that’s standard Friday the 13th activity, and Jason Takes Manhattan is no standard Friday the 13th – the film actually has completely fucked up Jason continuity in
itself. Survivor Girl has all these visions of Jason-san drowning
throughout the movie. Later she has a psychiatric breakthrough in the
form of a repressed memory – she’s afraid of the water because Peter
Mark Richman tried to teach her to swim in an unorthodox way. He
brought her to the center of Crystal Lake and told her that a boy named
Jason Voorhees drowned and that his body was still in the water… and
that he would drown anyone who went in there. Then he pushed her into
the lake. I’m not sure which issue of Parenting taught him that
technique. Anyway, once in the water, Young Survivor Girl is indeed
grappled by Jason – except this time he’s bald and all mongoloid
looking! I’m just going to ignore how dumb the idea of a kid at the
bottom of a lake growing up is (and I don’t even mean logically –
Jason’s a zombie at this point and we all accept it. But our disbelief
will only be suspended too much. This movie attempts to expel our
disbelief), but why can’t this film at least get consistent with how
Young Jason looks?

Which
brings us right around to Jason’s death. Killing the bad guy should be
the highlight of one of these films – we’re all rooting for him, but we
also want to see him get his just desserts. I honestly don’t think you
should even start a slasher movie until you’ve figured out a good,
unique death for your killer. Friday the 13th Part VIII
certainly has the unique part down pat. At the end of the movie Jason
chases Survivor Girl into New York’s sewers where she learns that on
the 13th of every month the tunnels are flooded with toxic waste.

The
filmmakers are now tying our disbelief to a rocket and trying to light
the fuse. What the fuck kind of nonsense is this? Even people who buy
the rest of the film’s portrayal of New York City have got to sit up
and wonder how they’re expected to accept this nonsense. Watching the
film again I began to wonder how anyone looked at the script and
thought that this was a decent idea. Why not establish that meteors
strike Central Park on the 13th of every month? Or that the Sanitation
Department’s Disintigrator Trucks hit the street on the 13th of every
month? How do you decide which totally nonsensical and absurd and so
pulled from your ass that it’s still brownish plot device to use?

However
the filmmakers came to this brain-damaged conclusion, they went ahead
and made it even worse. The final moments of the movie see Survivor
Girl and her boyfriend climbing a ladder to avoid the wave of toxic
sludge headed towards them. Meanwhile, Jason, who is just below them,
looks at the wave and does two equally incredible things: he says, in a
little boy’s voice: “Mommy, don’t let me drown again!” and then starts
vomiting water. I don’t even understand what the vomiting is supposed
to signify – I heard that Jodorowsky saw this and thought it was, and I
quote, “totally fucking weird.” But it gets better: when the wave of
toxic waste hits Jason (who, it should be said, has the appearance of a
felt muppet once his mask has been removed), he promptly starts
de-aging back to the Japanese kid with the thick head of hair. I am no
expert on hazardous waste, but I will stake my entire reputation as a
writer on this claim: Toxic waste will not de-age you. Ever. No matter
what. If you believe that it will, or if you wrote this movie, I
strongly urge you to go play in some toxic waste at your earliest
possible convenience.

The
movie pretty much comes to an end at that point, and you are left sort
of dazed, as if someone has been delivering punches to your temples for
the last 89 minutes. Watching Jason Takes Manhattan
again has, I am convinced, done some damage to my brain – this morning
I had a very hard time with the New York Times crossword puzzle, which
is unheard of on a Wednesday. This film has left me diminished,
emotionally and mentally crippled.

And in my weakened state I must tackle the first New Line Friday the 13th, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday.

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan scores:


Half a Retard Jason out of four.



Next: When
asked what first comes to mind when he hears the words Jason Voorhees,
bounty hunter Creighton Duke says: “A litle girl in a pink dress
sticking a hot dog through a donut.”