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Continuing our FRIDAY THE 13TH, PART VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN discussion, begun here…
Throughout the cruise, Rennie has had a strange psychic link to Jason for some reason. I guess it was important to the writers that the heroine has a unique advantage or special power (like that damn Tina in PART VII!). Rennie keeps seeing images of a child underwater. With each subsequent vision, the normal-looking child starts to mutate into the bald, slope-eyed, Jason-child from the first movie!! Why? Well, it’s revealed that Rennie’s terror of water comes from Charles McCulloch’s version of a swimming lesson when she was a child. Throw her in the water and force her to swim—or drown. While splashing and trying not to die, little Rennie is pulled under by, yes, Jason Voorhees as a child!
WHOA! Are we still on this whole, Jason-drowned-as-a-boy kick? That he’s been undead since he was 11? No, I refuse to believe it. Perhaps she saw Jason in that stage in a hallucination/premonition. Perhaps Jason (after being chained to a big rock and dropped in Crystal Lake in JASON LIVES) grabbed her and her weird psychic mind saw him as a child…maybe Jason (the 11 year old) swam over to her and wanted to play? Who knows? It makes little sense.
Anyway, after the sinking of The Lazarus, our heroes arrive in New York and so does Jason. He rises up out of the water on the docks and hilariously stares at a huge billboard advertising the New York Rangers hockey team with a close-up of a goalie mask.
Apparently, the director also wanted Jason to kick a dog to death when he gets to New York. Wisely, star Kane Hodder refused. “Why would Jason kick a dog?” he said. “That’s not his character at all!” Hodder is fiercely proud and protective of Jason and rightly so.
Jason is next approached by some street gang members who apparently have it in their minds to rob him. The Sultan of Slaughter is hot on the trail of the main characters and doesn’t have the time to butcher the punks, so he does the simplest thing: He raises his mask up and shows the face of death. The criminals (being a cowardly, superstitious lot) run in terror.
Jason continues to follow our heroes through the alleys of New York and in a moment of unusual role-blurring, saves Rennie from being gang raped by a couple of junkies after they forcefully attack her and shoot her up with crack. Of course, the only reason Jason appeared to stop the assault and kill the two gangbangers was that they were in his way. It’s a nice moment though. Jason as a force of nature, like the Alice Cooper song said, “…if you see him coming get away if you can.”
Jason kills (or causes the death of) everyone but Rennie and Sean, naturally. Miss Van Duesen dies in a automotive conflagration; Julius, the tough boxer and Sean’s best friend gets his head knocked clean off, cartoon style, by a Jason Voorhees punch; and Mr. McCulloch, in what has to be the weakest death in the entire series, is drowned in a barrel of water! What happened to The Sultan of Slaughter? Drowning people in a big bucket?? I admit that the character was destined to drown in an ironic payback for what we saw him do to the cute little Rennie as a child, but come on. Pick up something with a sharp edge, please!!
JASON TAKES MANHATTAN’S climatic moments are in the sanitation tunnels under the city. It’s actually hard for me to type this but apparently, according to this film, each night, toxic waste is flushed through the New York sewer system. Trapped by Sean and Rennie down below, Jason is washed up in the toxic waste and bubbles away before our eyes, while calling for his mommy!!!! Yes, Jason speaks. He pulls his mask off and vomits water and screams for his mommy! His voice was eerily high pitched like a child as he watches the toxic waste rush toward him, “Mommieeeee!” As Rennie climbs up and out of the sewer, she has one last look down at Jason who appears as a young boy again, in his swimming trunks, lying dead in the toxic waste.
What the hell was that about?
Did the waste transform the rotting undead adult Jason back into a boy? Did Rennie have one last vision, showing her fear finally dead? Did screenwriter/director Rob Hedden and his producers take part in the crack cocaine scene? If anyone, and I’m serious about this, who reads this has a theory as to what this all means, please contact me! I’m open! I must admit, JASON TAKES MANHATTAN left me (and a lot of other FRIDAY THE 13TH fans) wondering where’d we go wrong?
The disappointment was mostly because of the build-up created for this film. My nutty friends and I threw a Jason party, with a FRIDAY THE 13TH Jason hockey mask cake (red velvet inside), viewings of the previous FRIDAYs on tape, making a large sign to bring with us into the theater that would be used when Jason made his 80th kill (it was a large 80 in blood-red glitter), and we even played a FRIDAY THE 13TH version of hide and seek in the dark of my backyard that night with one person donning my old Jason costume and hiding until we as counselors found him or the various hidden tools that would help us defeat him (said tools included plastic machete, plastic ax, Mr. Voorhees’ sweater etc.).
Once in the theater, our anticipation grew. With each kill, we would stand up in our seats and chant, “Jason, Jason he’s our man, if he can’t kill him no one can!!” OK, we were a little rowdy and probably a little drunk, but we had a blast. Until we realized we weren’t watching a proper FRIDAY THE 13TH movie… The sadness drained our energy as we left the cinema. We realized that this might be the end of it. That Jason would end his career with whimper, not a bang.
Jason remained dead and MIA until 1993. That’s the longest that Paramount has ever let the franchise rest in peace, in fact they dropped the series all together. I guess that says something about the shame that followed FRIDAY THE 13TH, PART VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN.
I chose to remember Jason the way he used to be…like in Part III.
Vera felt pity for Shelly. He was a nice guy sometimes, but it was obvious that he needed a friend. Having looked though his wallet, she felt she knew him a little better. Photos of him and his family, an only child, obviously well loved. Shelly was just eager to be accepted, but probably felt he needed to cling to something like his incessant practical jokes. Vera would go and find him and talk with him. Right after she…Ooops! Damn! Shelly’s wallet just dropped into the water. Vera reached for it but it floated just beyond her fingertips. Damn.
Vera waded out into the cold lake, her soaked jeans making her feel like she was walking in molasses. Got it. Shelly suddenly appeared on the dock and stood by a post, staring at her. “Shelly! I dropped your wallet, sorry”
Wait a minute… he still had that damn spear gun and now he’s pointing it at her! “Shelly, stop it!”
He was still trying to scare her! What’s wrong with him? “Shelly, damn it, that’s not funny!” She had a sudden thought, Shelly was fat but not that tall. The man standing on the dock was huge, a powerfully built man, and he was bald… Oh, my God…it’s not Shelly! Who is…?
The spear pierced Vera’s brain through her eye. All her thoughts ended in an instant but her remaining eye retained the image of the last thing she saw.
The monster in the hockey mask.
There, now I feel better…
TO BE CONTINUED
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