Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

A bunch of high school kids and their chaperones take a cruise ship to New York to celebrate their graduation.  Little do they know... Jason is on there.

This movie is absolutely ridiculous, but so much fun.  It begins with a couple enjoying a relaxing night on a boat on Crystal Lake—the very same Crystal Lake that Jason was banished to in the previous movie, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood.  What's interesting is that, Crystal Lake must apparently connect to the Atlantic Ocean, because that boat somehow ends up drifting into some port in New Jersey, where it is completely ignored.  You see, it is this port that the high school kids are disembarking from, to make their trip to New York.  What kind of school are these kids going to, that arranges to rent a full-sized cruise ship to take like 10 kids from New Jersey to New York??  The ship has a DISCO in it fer chrissakes.

The vast, vast majority of the movie takes place on this cruise ship, and while the movie takes a lot of flak for that, I really don't mind.  Unlike the boring Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, which just takes place in another bunch of cabins on Crystal Lake, I really appreciated that this movie finally introduced a unique environment in which Jason could kill a bunch of unlikable kids.

It helps that the movie is just overall more interesting.  The kids are all hateful, but at least they have some quirk to tell them apart—and I actually got a kick out of how each of their quirks basically defines them as characters and there is zero character development whatsoever outside of that.  This girl plays an electric guitar, and that's how she dies.  This guy is an amateur boxer, and that's how he dies.  This other guy walks around the entire movie holding a video camera, and that's how he dies.  Contrast that with the previous movie in the series, where you had the psychic girl, and then that guy that gets killed, and this girl that gets killed, and this other girl that gets killed.

The last part of the movie takes place in "New York," but it was actually somewhat infamously shot everywhere else but New York (with some minor exceptions toward the end), including Vancouver and Los Angeles.  Jason manages to take the entire cruise ship down, but a few survivors climb into a little rowboat and escape (the movie gets major points for a part where a teacher tells another group of survivors to wait in the kitchen while she gets help, and then she is told five minutes later that, basically, all those kids drowned so forget about them).  Somewhat hilariously, Jason apparently just swims alongside that rowboat in the middle of a massive storm because the very minute the boat arrives in New York, Jason climbs out of the ocean—this is the guy whose origin story is, he drowned as a kid cuz he doesn't know how to swim.  It's nice to see Jason grow as a person.

The New York depicted in this movie is... unique to say the least.  It's ultra violent and filthy, and in one alarming scene the heroes are told to get out of the sewers because the city floods them with toxic waste every night at midnight!

Having said all of that, this is a criminally underrated F13 film.  Sure, it's not as good as the very best the series has to offer (that would be parts 1, 2, 4, and 6), but it is far, far better than any of the others.

Sadly, outside of some great gore effects in the unrated version of the following film, Friday the 13th sadly has very little to offer to pretty much anyone from here on.

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