ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 18, 1989
By Steve Newton
Okay, okay–so the Friday the 13th movies are not exactly cinematic works of art. But people realize, when they lay down their money, that they’re not getting The Last Emperor. They’re only going to a Friday movie for two things: to see Jason kill people, and to get scared. Unfortunately, they don’t always go away satisfied on even those two points.
After eight outings, the potential for Jason Vorhees to frighten an audience has dwindled considerably–as has that of Freddy Krueger, whose fifth film was just released. Both characters were definitely scary in their first appearances, but the immortal status that brings them back, sequel after sequel, has taken the edge off their ability to terrify. It’s hard to get emotionally involved when you know the villain can’t lose.
In Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, old hockey-face is resurrected from his watery grave at the bottom of Crystal Lake when an unsuspecting teen drops his anchor to indulge in a little nookie. The anchor catches an underwater cable, which snags on to Jason and shoots him full of electrical life. Puritan that he is, Jason quickly boards the vessel and puts a stop to any further hanky-panky–with the business end of an empty harpoon gun!
From them on it’s Jason versus any naughty (and even nice) teens, as he boards a cruise ship full of Crystal Lake High School grads on their way to the Big Apple. As usual, Jason relies on the traditional sharp and blunt instruments for his work, but he occasionally comes up with something new–like an electric guitar, which he plants up-side the the head of an irritating headbanger (played by local singer-actress Saffron Henderson).
When Jason and a few survivors finally get to New York (which for the most part is Vancouver dressed up), that’s when the real fun starts. The jaded Manhattanites barely blink as Jason rampages the streets, and in one hoot of a scene the unstoppable killer proves that Mike Tyson is definitely not the only boxer with a deadly right hand.
As usual, Jason’s unsocial shenanigans end with him in more than a spot o’ trouble–but don’t count him out quite yet. The makers of the Friday films wouldn’t even consider stopping the series till they hit that magic number: Part XIII.