Tuesday, December 20, 2005


From the Vault: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

Imagine my surprise when Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan turned out to be an intelligent, suspenseful film that could have been made by Alfred Hitchcock in his prime. Just kidding.

Since, for obvious reasons, no press screening was afforded me for this film, I had to pick my showing carefully. I thought about seeing a late Friday night showing, when everyone would rooting and cheering, but nixed that idea in favor of seeing the first showing on a Friday afternoon. I viewed it from a psychological perspective: Who were the faithful that would venture out at 1 p.m. on the first day of release for a Friday the 13th film?

The audience varied from people who looked like they don't bathe to men neatly pampered in business suits. There were teenagers, busily playing the Jaws theme by rubbing their straws against the plastic drink lids. There were the kids, junior high age and younger, who got in by buying tickets to UHF. So, the 20 of us waited in the music-free environment of a General Cinema theater, complete with its ever-annoying screen from Hell lit by obnoxiously strange red lights, for Part VIII to begin.

The film begins in Crystal Lake, where Jason lies in a water grave, waiting to be electrified back into killing life. He gets back to work immediately, offing a teen couple after the obligatory sex scene and grabbing a new hockey mask.

Then we meet the graduating class of Lakeview High School, all set to go on one of those grad-night cruises to New York so common to students from small East Coast towns. We get to meet all the stereotypes from the snotty debutante to the would-be writer, who gets the present of a pen "Stephen King once used," from the overbearing adult to the doomsaying shiphand.

Why do films like this even waste time developing characters, even stereotyped ones? Their backgrounds serve no purpose. It doesn't matter that you're a would-be rock star when you are doomed to decapitation. This is formula filmmaking at its absolute worst. This series began as a knockoff of Halloween, a well-made suspense film, and has degenerated into an annual hour and a half of pointless gore.

These films aim for suspense, but fail to scare. Nothing shocked me and I never heard any audience member — who were apparently there of their own free will — jump, laugh or cheer at Jason's murderous antics. Nothing of merit exists in this film. No scenes entertain and it contains the true theme of this series — seeing how much money can be made from films with bad acting, bad writing and bad direction before the audience gets wise.

The most offensive aspect of this outing is the title. Jason Takes Manhattan implies that the film will take itself less seriously and try something new. Deep down, I hoped that someone had the idea of putting Jason in musical theater, playing the Phantom of the Opera wearing a half a hockey mask. Alas, nothing so clever finds its way onto the screen.

In fact, it takes more than an hour before Jason even arrives in New York, which is really Toronto anyway since cheap is the name of the game in these films. As a rule, I drop each Jason movie by a negative star. This makes negative six stars on a four-star scale.

Unless someone drops the series or buys some creativity and talent, Part IX will get negative seven stars. Let's hope I never have to give a movie negative seven stars.

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Yay for one of the worst of the series!

GOd i love to hate this crap
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