July 28, 1989
I was very excited when news broke about Friday The 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan through the pages of Fangoria. At the time, I was a big fan of Kane Hodderís Jason Voorhees and was extremely pleased to see that he was returning in the role. The pictures of him in that and other magazines definitely whetted my fangs for the eighth installment in the franchise.
Days before the film was released, I saw an interesting news bit on HBO. It concerned the movieís poster. They showed the original "I Love NY" image with Jason cutting through the tagline. I have to admit that I liked it, and now have it hanging here in my study. But, they didnít show the poster that would be replacing it. So, on the day the film was released, I took an early morning drive down to the theater to catch a glimpse of it. To say the least, I was a bit underwhelmed. "New York Has A New Problem," indeed.
That night, Eddie and I drove to the Showtime Cinemas for the premiere. For such a crowd to be gathered was a surprise. You wouldíve thought that Friday The 13th wouldíve lost some of its attraction this far into the series, but there was a healthy crowd at the theater. The owner and manager of Showtime mustíve been thinking along my lines because they booked the movie onto the smallest screen in the building. Thankfully, Eddie and I were first in line because the film actually sold-out. It was standing room only in that tiny auditorium, and it only added to the electricity that was flowing through the crowd.
Was that enthusiasm sustained, though?
Unfortunately, Iíd have to say no. From the moment that the credits first played, I knew we were in trouble. No other Friday The 13th film had ever started this way, and I knew a diversion from the old tried-and-true wasnít going to work. At the time, I didnít know that Paramount was finished with the series and intended this to be the last (which it was for the studio), so they gave free reign to director Rob Hedden to dispose of the Sultan of Slaughter how he saw fit. And he did a very admirable job.
I can still remember the two black guys sitting behind us in the theater. During the scene when Sean gives Rennie the Statue of Liberty necklace, one of them turned to the other and said that was how Jason was going to die in the film. He loudly proclaimed that he was going to take a nosedive from the statue. Honestly, I thought that was an interesting idea. Of course, we all know how the finale eventually played out.
And the ending was quite a shocker.
After witnessing Jason utilize teleportation powers throughout the movie (something I still disdain), to see him end up bathed in toxic waste was quite hard to take. I mean, we see the guyís head flop open. We hadnít seen such decimation inflicted upon the Sultan since Corey Feldman did a number on him in Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter. I honestly felt sick to my stomach.
Leaving the theater, Eddie said there was no way he was going to come back to life. I did my best to say that he would; that there was no way to stop the Friday The 13th franchise. But I still had that awful gnawing in my gut. How could he survive a toxic waste bath? It just didnít seem possible.
Of course, we eventually got Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday and the subsequent sequels and remake. The only way to effectively kill Jason Voorhees, as I should already know by now, is for him to face an unhealthy box office. And that just doesnít seem possible. Even now, thirty two years after the original, fans still flock to these films. Old and new trespass on Crystal Lake territory each time a new movie in the franchise is released. Toxic waste, be damned.
That night, I thought more about the movie. I didnít really like it, but wanted to see it again. As I usually do with films (especially slasher films), I go to see them multiple times at the theater. So it was a no-brainer that I was going back into the sewer system with Jason.
However, Eddie had other plans.
The next day, I called him up and asked if he wanted to go back to the movies. He said sure, but he wasnít going to see the mess that was Friday The 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. I silently shrugged and said no problem. I canít remember which film Eddie ended up seeing, but I went back with Friday The 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.
After the previous nightís crowd, Showtime had booked the movie into a bigger auditorium. This time it got the biggest screen. Strangely, though, the second nightís audience was pretty sparse. It was nowhere near as healthy as the one Iíd witnessed before. It nearly left a bad feeling in my stomach as bad as witnessing Jason take a toxic bath.
It was the only two times I saw Friday The 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan in the theater. If Iíd known we were going to have such a wait for the ninth installment, I might have gone back more. But I simply couldnít take it. The film was pretty bad, and it looked as if Jason was down for the count. It was too much for me to handle.
But I have watched Friday The 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan numerous times at home. I still donít care for the film, but I now take it with a grain of salt. And I laugh when I remember how worried I was that I thought Jason Voorhees wasnít coming back.
Oh, he returned. Just like I will with another Opening Frights article.