Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

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Friday the 13th Part VIII:
Jason Takes Manhattan
Original Theatrical poster
Directed by Rob Hedden
Produced by Randy Cheveldave
Barbara Sachs
Written by Rob Hedden
Starring Jensen Daggett
Scott Reeves
Barbara Bingham
Peter Mark Richman
Kane Hodder
Music by Fred Mollin
Cinematography Bryan England
Edited by Steve Mirkovich
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s)
  • July 28, 1989 (1989-07-28)
Running time 100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $5,000,000 (estimated)
Box office $14,343,976 (domestic)

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is a 1989 slasher film directed by Rob Hedden and starring Jensen Daggett, Scott Reeves and Kane Hodder. It is the eighth film in the Friday the 13th film series, and deals with Jason Voorhees stalking a group of high school graduates on a ship en route to, and later in, New York City. It was the last film in the series to be distributed by Paramount Pictures in the United States until 2009. According to New York Has a New Problem: The Making of Friday the 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, this was another sequel intended to be the final film in the series. The film grossed $14.3 million at the domestic box office, making it the second lowest-grossing film in the series domestically.


One year after the conclusion of the last film, supernatural serial killer Jason Voorhees is resurrected when the anchor of a passing houseboat drags a live electrical cable over his corpse. He creeps aboard where high school students Jim Miller and Suzie Donaldson are amorously copulating. Wearing a hockey mask Jim scared Suzie with earlier, Jason kills Jim with a harpoon gun and then kills Suzie when she tries to hide in a storage hatch.

The next morning, the SS Lazarus is ready to set sail, bound for New York City with a graduating senior class from Lakeview High School on board and chaperoned by biology teacher Charles McCulloch and Colleen Van Deusen. McCulloch brings his niece Rennie along for the trip despite her fear of water. Jason sneaks on board and kills rock star wannabe J.J. with her guitar before hiding in the bowels of the ship. That night, after a boxing match, a young boxer who lost to champion Julius Gaw is killed when Jason slams a sauna rock into his abdomen while Rennie, searching for her dog Toby, discovers prom queen Tamara and Eva doing drugs. McCulloch nearly catches them moments later and Tamara pushes Rennie overboard, suspecting she ratted them out. She then uses video student Wayne to record McCulloch in a compromising situation with her, but rejects Wayne's advances afterward. Tamara goes to take a shower and Jason attacks her in her cabin, killing her with a shard of her mirror. Rennie begins seeing visions of a young Jason throughout the ship, and the others ignore the deckhand's warnings that Jason is on board. Jason then kills Captain Robertson and his first mate. Robertson's son Sean discovers them and tells the others before calling an emergency stop on the ship. Eva checks on Tamara and finds her dead; she is then chased by Jason into the dance hall where he strangles her. The students agree to search for Jason while McCulloch decides that the deckhand is responsible; however, the deckhand is discovered with an axe in the back. One of the students, Miles, is killed when Jason pulls him from the mast and Julius is knocked overboard. Wayne discovers Jason in the hold of the ship and is thrown into an electrical box; his corpse catches fire and sets a chain of events that causes the ship to start sinking. With all of the other students aboard the ship dead, McCulloch, Van Deusen, Rennie, and Sean escape via a life raft and discover Toby and Julius alive as well.

They row to New York where Jason stalks them through the streets. Rennie is kidnapped by a pair of punks and the group splits up to find help. Julius tries to fight Jason with his boxing skills but is decapitated by a single punch. Rennie narrowly escapes Jason when he kills the punks that kidnapped her. She runs into Sean and they reunite with the teachers and the police before Jason kills the officer who is helping them. Rennie takes control and crashes a car after a vision of Jason distracts her. Van Deusen is incinerated in the car when it explodes, and it's revealed that McCulloch is responsible for Rennie's fear of water after pushing her into the lake as a child. They leave him behind and Jason drowns him in a barrel of waste. Jason chases Rennie and Sean into the subway where Sean incapacitates him by knocking him onto the electrical third rail. He revives again and chases them through Times Square where they try to escape through a diner. They flee into the sewers which is set to be flooded with toxic waste at midnight. Sean is injured, and Rennie draws Jason off him before severely wounding Jason with a splash of acidic waste. She and Sean climb the ladder as the sewers flood, causing Jason to drift away into the sewer plant as a child.

Leaving the sewers, Rennie and Sean reunite with Toby who had been lost until then and they look toward the sunrise, ready to start a new life together.




"Okay, we'll make Vancouver look like New York and we'll do it that way. But they came back again with, 'You can't do the Brooklyn Bridge in Vancouver. You can't do Madison Square Garden in Vancouver. You can't do the Statue of Liberty in Vancouver.' Pretty soon it was half New York, half on the boat. Then it was the last third in New York. It just kept getting whittled down and down."
— Rob Hedden (writer/director) on the development of Jason Takes Manhattan′s story

The idea behind the eighth film was to take Jason away from Crystal Lake and place him in a larger environment. New York City was selected as the main setting, with Jason spending approximately a third of the movie on a boat before reaching New York. Fangoria magazine originally announced the film's subtitle to be "Terror in Times Square", but the film was eventually subtitled Jason Takes Manhattan. Ultimately, the character spent the majority of the time on the cruise ship, as budget restrictions forced scenes of New York to be trimmed or downgraded. Vancouver had to substitute for the majority of the New York scenes.


The film's musical score was composed by Fred Mollin, who worked with longtime Friday the 13th series composer Harry Manfredini on the previous installment. On September 27, 2005, BSX records released a limited edition CD of Fred Mollin's Friday the 13th Part VII and VIII scores.[1]

The song "The Darkest Side of the Night" performed by Metropolis plays over the end credits to the film.


Box office[edit]

In July 1989, the film opened in 1,683 theaters across the United States, making $6.2 million on its opening weekend. Domestically, the film made only $14.3 million,[2] becoming the lowest-grossing and least successful film of the Friday the 13th film series.

Critical response[edit]

On his commentary track for the film in the box set, director Rob Hedden acknowledges the faults and even agrees that more of the film should have been set in Manhattan, citing budgetary and schedule problems. The film failed to generate a substantial amount of money at the box office, which continued the decline in grosses the series had been suffering, and Paramount sold the franchise to New Line Cinema soon afterward (they would later distribute the 2009 reboot together). Rotten Tomatoes details that only 9% of the critics who reviewed the film gave it positive reviews, making it the poorest-received film of the series. It holds an average score of 3.9/10. Entertainment Weekly labeled it the eighth-worst sequel ever made.[3] However, Leonard Maltin gave it a two-star rating and called it "The best in the Friday series".


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