Friday the 13th 8: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) Explained

An Average Movie-Goer’s Review

Spoilers! If you don’t want spoilers – check out the Spoiler-Free post

Friday the 13th 8: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) poster explained

I love horror movies and if I’m going to watch them anyway, why not write an entertaining/funny review from the POV of an average movie-goer and not a professional critic.

Today we’re looking at the 8th film in the Friday the 13th series, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

Jason returns to wreak havoc on Manhattan in New York City… sort of. Meanwhile, a graduating class must survive Jason hunting them on a boat.

Is Friday the 13th 8: Jason Takes Manhattan Scary?

No Friday the 13th 8: Jason Takes Manhattan is not scary, unless you find Jason’s design scary. Even if you live in Manhattan you won’t be scared of the film, mainly because the title is a lie but also because the movie doesn’t even try to scare you. There are no effective jump scares, no gore, and no tense scenes.

Overall in the end you won’t leave Friday the 13th 8: Jason Takes Manhattan scared of anything except being in a sewer at midnight because apparently toxic sludge time is a thing…

All Friday the 13th Explanations/Reviews:

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Friday the 13th 8: Jason Takes Manhattan Full Plot Summary:

Last we left Jason, he was trapped under the waters of Crystal Lake but was revived/released by a psychic teen named Tina. After murdering a bunch of teens and getting his ass handed to him by said psychic teen, at the end of the film the spirit of Tina’s father drags him back into the water… yea we’re a long way from the “just a dude in a mask killing teens” premise from the original Friday the 13th.

We open this film in New York City as we see scenes of someone getting mugged, rats climbing out of random barrels of toxic water, and a bunch of people doing drugs in a dark alleyway. Whoever wrote this must have really hated New York City or have never actually stepped foot in it.

At Crystal Lake two teens, Jim and Suzi, are aboard a small houseboat about to disrespect Jason’s memory by having sex. Importantly on the radio, we hear that the senior class of Lakeview High will be graduating on the 13th and will take a trip to Manhattan.

It’s a good thing that the radio host made that random announcement or else I would’ve been lost this whole movie.

Jim drops the anchor (not a euphemism) and underwater we see the anchor gets caught on some cables. Despite the boat not moving at all, the anchor pulls and tugs on the cables until they break. Conveniently the electricity that shoots out the cables happen to hit Jason’s body that is pinned under some wood and he comes back to life.

Jason comes back to life in Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan
Guess who’s back with their bullshit

Meanwhile, Jim tells Suzi about Jason and completely spoils the first movie but adds that they’re just stories. As the power goes out at the nearby cabins, the sound of a bird shrieking freaks Suzi out and she asks Jim to investigate. Jim heads to the deck but returns in a jumpscare wearing a Jason mask and pretending to stab Suzi.

After removing the mask and apologizing, Jim takes Suzi back to bed and they start having sex not realizing Jason has climbed aboard. Jason grabs the mask and a harpoon gun but Suzi spots him before he fires. Doesn’t matter though because he misses.

Suzi escapes to the deck via a window as Jason says ‘fuck it’ and just stabs Jim with the gun. Jason heads out to the deck, immediately finds Suzi, and kills her as well.

The next day we meet our main character Rennie (played by Jensen Daggett) as she arrives at the shipped name Lazarus for the high school trip to NYC. Along with her is her teacher Colleen (played by Barbara Bingham) and Toby the Dog.  

Colleen checks in with another teacher who also happens to be Rennie’s uncle and legal guardian Charles McCulluch (played by Peter Mark Richman). Charles informs Rennie that Jim and Suzi never showed up and we learn that Charles has a stick deeply embedded in his ass when he learns that Rennie is going on the trip. 

We don’t learn why, but Charles doesn’t want Rennie on the trip and yells at Colleen for bringing her.

Meanwhile, on the ship’s bridge, Admiral Robertson (played by Warren Munson) tells his Chief Engineer (played by Fred Henderson) that he is relinquishing the command of the ship to his son Sean (played by Scott Reeves). 

Sean is one of the freaking high school students who is graduating! In a film series where teens constantly make stupid decisions that have them killed by a serial killer, this is up there as the dumbest thing a character has done.

With his friend Miles (played by Gordon Currie) watching Sean does his best to set sail but forgets several important procedures much to his father’s dismay. Embarrassed Sean angrily leaves and bumps into the deckhand (played by Alex Diakun) who tells him the voyage is doomed.

Earlier the deckhand saw Jim’s boat with blood on the windows sail up to the pier and told NO ONE about what he saw. Instead, he’ll just give vague warnings about how everyone is going to die yet still go on the voyage himself.

As the ship sets sail, Jason grabs onto the anchor rope and climbs aboard. We see several people standing on the pier and yet no one sees this.

Jason climbs aboard the ship in Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan
Was Jason just hanging out underwater since he killed Jim and Suzi?

Several hours later, Rennie finds Sean and he gives her a Statue of Liberty necklace as a gift. The moment is ruined by Charles who I feel is an expert cock blocker. It’s implied that Rennie is afraid of something in the water although she says she doesn’t know what she’s afraid of. Charles offers to send her back to shore since there’s a storm coming but Rennie is determined to get over her fears and declines.

Meanwhile, Rocker J.J. (played by Safron Henderson) heads to the boiler room of the ship to get better acoustics to practice her guitar playing. As she plays Jason comes down the stairs behind her but she spots him and lets out a deafening scream. 

Throwing her guitar on the ground, she runs down some stairs immediately in front of her. The moment she reaches the bottom of, maybe, ten steps, Jason is already there in front of her with her guitar in hand and kills her with it.

Later while Rennie is getting changed in her room, she hears a child crying out for their mother. Look, this movie isn’t good so I’m just going to let you know about Rennie’s trauma now because it makes the movie make a tiny bit more sense. 

As a child, Rennie fell into Crystal Lake and was grabbed by child Jason but she was able to escape. That moment traumatized her and she can’t remember it happening but she will occasionally see child Jason. 

Why was it child-Jason who grabbed her when Jason would have been a full-on adult during Rennie’s childhood? Why does she see a different child compared to the child-Jason that grabbed her underwater?

Maybe Rennie is so traumatized that she doesn’t remember it was adult Jason who grabbed her and, since she knows the stories of child-Jason drowning in the lake decades ago, that is what she “remembers” seeing.

Anyway, Rennie looks out her window and sees a child begging for help while underwater. Also, the window isn’t underwater so she’s imagining all of this. Toby also sees this or sees Jason walking by because he gets freaked out and runs out of the room.

Rennie sees child Jason in her window in Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan
Yea this is a manifestation of her fear but also what the fuck?

Meanwhile on the deck of the ship prom queen Tamara (played by Sharlene Martin) pressures her friend Eva (played by Kelly Hu) into doing some coke. As they are about to take a hit Rennie appears looking for Toby and Tamara immediately assumes Rennie will rat them out.

Minutes after Rennie leaves, Charles appears looking for Rennie and suspects Tamara and Eva were doing drugs. Though they deny it Charles tells Tamara she better have her biology project done or else she won’t get to see the sights of NYC. He then says he’ll be stopping by her room later to review it which is a weird thing to do.

In a sauna room, Jason enters and kills one of the students by driving a hot rock into their chest. Though he screams, no one hears it…

Jason kills a teen in a sauna in Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan
“Is this really going to be this easy?”

On deck, Rennie has apparently given up her search for Toby and is talking to Colleen when Tamara “accidentally” pushes her into the water. You know if you think someone might rat you out about something, maybe don’t do anything to them that might piss them off?

In the water, Rennie is grabbed and pulled down by the child but she’s able to break free again. Sean jumps into the water, grabs Rennie, a life preserver, and brings her back onto the boat. Charles arrives and yells at Colleen and Sean despite them being the ones who saved her. 

Rennie runs off to the bathroom and hallucinates blood coming out of the sink. Looking at the mirror, a child grabs Rennie’s throat and begs for help which is a weird way of asking for it. It’s clear the child is supposed to be Jason as a kid although he looks nothing like child-Jason since this kid has a full head of hair. Rennie breaks free and falls back as the hallucination disappears.

Meanwhile, Charles visits Tamara to review her project and she attempts to seduce him by greeting him in her underwear. Charles doesn’t do much to stop her from kissing him and the two make out for a few seconds before Charles comes to his senses and pushes her off. 

Tamara then reveals that she had another student Wayne (played by Martin Cummins) record the whole thing as a way to bribe Charles. Charles threatens to fail them both and angrily leaves. 

A short time later, as Tamara finishes showering she spots Jason so he kills her by stabbing her with a piece of a mirror. Jason next heads to the ship’s bridge where he kills the Chief Engineer with a harpoon and kills Admiral Robertson by cutting open his neck.

With the storm getting worse Sean and Rennie head to the bridge to suggest the coast guard be called but they find Admiral Robertson dead. Through the loudspeakers, Sean calls everyone to the bridge for an emergency and then attempts to call the coast guard. As he connects with someone, we see Jason break the antenna at the same time.

Jason destroys the antenna in Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan
“This looks important… whoops.”

Everyone arrives at the bridge and are shocked at the scene but they’re interrupted when the deckhand arrives. The deckhand tells them Jason is onboard and killing them all but runs away when Charles accuses him of being the killer.

Down in the rooms, Eva finds Tamara dead in the bathroom and then spots Jason at the end of the hall. Unfortunately for her, Jason also spots her. Eva runs to the empty dance hall where music is still blasting for some reason and the lights are still trying to give seizures.

Jason enters behind her and we see that Eva is still tripping balls from the cocaine earlier because she sees Jason teleporting around the room.

The real Jason catches up to her and kills her by strangling her. On deck, several students, including Wayne and Miles, led by boxer Julius (played by Vincent Craig Dupree) gather up several weapons including shotguns, and set off to hunt Jason.

Vincent Craig Dupree as Julius prepares to hunt Jason in Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan
Luckily these shotguns were unlocked and easily accessible on a ship full of teens who would totally be drinking.

Wayne heads to the boiler room with a shotgun in hand and accidentally shoots one of his classmates… WHOOPS. Angry that Wayne is a kill-stealer, Jason appears and chases after him. Wayne runs downstairs and trips over J.J.’s body allowing Jason to catch him. Jason tosses Wayne into an electric board which electrocutes him and starts a fire.

On deck Miles carrying an axe bumps into Jason and Jason quickly disarms him, throwing the axe aside. Miles runs across the deck only to find Jason in front of him again, his only option besides literally anything else is to climb up a ladder to escape Jason…

Jason watches Miles run up a ladder in Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan
“Is he seriously going up the ladder?”

As Miles is about to reach the top, Jason teleports up, grabs him, and throws him off, impaling him on the antenna. Moments later, Julius finds Miles’s body and doesn’t see Jason approaching behind him. Jason grabs Julius and throws him off the ship.

Meanwhile, Charles has locked Rennie in her room where she has another hallucination of child-Jason. This time the real Jason breaks through her window and attempts to strangle her but Rennie is able to reach a pen and stab Jason in the eye.

Rennie stabs Jason in the eye with a pen in Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan
“Hey, which one is your good eye?”

Jason releases Rennie, pulls the pen out of his eye, and decides to go and kill someone easier. Sean runs into Rennie’s room and the two embrace as they hear an explosion in the power room caused by that fire from Wayne’s body.

The two head to the engine room where they realize the ship is sinking and Sean decides they all need to abandon the ship. Meeting up with Charles and Colleen, the four head to the deck where they find the deckhand with an axe in his back. 

Charles, Colleen, and Rennie climb down a ladder onto the lifeboat. As Sean climbs down, he looks up to see Jason standing on the deck.

Jason watches Rennie, Charles, Colleen, and Julius escape the boat in Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan
“Hey guys, I know we got off on the wrong foot but… any room for me on that lifeboat?”

The four and now magically Toby start rowing away from the ship as a still-alive Julius jumps out of the water and climbs aboard the lifeboat. Sometime later and 65 minutes into this 100-minute film, the group finally makes it to New York City. As they head off to search for a phone, no one notices Jason climbing out of the water nearby.

The group immediately encounters two guys with guns who mug them, attempt to shoot Toby, and kidnap Rennie. Charles advises them from following them and instead suggests they all split up to look for help. 

Meanwhile, the kidnappers inject Rennie with cocaine and before one of them can sexually assault Rennie, Jason saves the day by stabbing him through the back with a needle. The other kidnapper shoots Jason several times but Jason doesn’t care and kills him by slamming his head onto a pipe.

This allows Rennie to escape but she screams as she runs so that reminds Jason that she’s still a thing he needs to kill.

Jason kills the kidnappers in Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan
“Why do I feel like I forgot someone… “

Jason remembers Rennie is still alive in Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan

Somewhere nearby Julius finds a phone and asks the operator for the police. Jason suddenly appears behind him and tries to grab him but Julius breaks free and climbs up a fire escape. On the roof of the building, Julius realizes there’s no other way down and resolves to fist-fight Jason. 

After throwing several punches that have no effect on Jason, an exhausted Julius tells Jason to give him his best shot…

Jason punches Julius's head off in Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan

Sean, Rennie, Colleen, and Charles all regroup after Charles finds a police officer. The five make it back to the officer’s car only to find Julius’s head propped up in the car. Jason then appears and kills the cop.

Rennie climbs into the front seat, starts the car, and rams Jason but then sees a hallucination of child-Jason. Maybe because she was recently injected with cocaine, she decides the best idea is to run the kid over. Unsurprisingly, she crashes into a wall and the car ignites. 

Charles and Sean are able to pull Rennie out of the burning car but the car explodes before they can save Colleen. Rennie has a flashback to when she was a child and was out on the lake with Charles. In an attempt to teach her how to swim so she doesn’t become like Jason, Charles pushes Rennie into the water and she almost drowns. 

As she struggles to swim, child-Jason appears underwater and pulls her down. In the present, Rennie realizes that is the source of her fear and she tells Charles to stay away from her as she and Sean leave.

Rennie remembers being attacked by Jason as a child in Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan
This makes no sense based on the vaguely established timeline

Jason, who was considerate enough to wait until the flashback and character development scene was over, wakes up and chases after Charles. Charles runs into a nearby building and Jason teleports into the building and throws him out of a second-story window. 

Jason then grabs Charles and drowns him in a barrel of gross green water that has a dead rat floating in it. Hold on, I need a minute to vomit.

Meanwhile, Rennie tells Sean that her parent’s died in a car accident when she was young and that’s why Charles was her legal guardian. The two kiss because dead parent stories are super romantic in horror movies but they’re interrupted by Jason.

Sean and Rennie run into a nearby subway and hop on a train. Unfortunately, Jason also carries a MetroCard with him and appears on the train as well. Sean and Rennie run to the end of the train and scream out for help but this is NYC so it’s none of the other passenger’s business. 

Jason chases after Rennie in Sean in a subway in Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan
Not even in the top 10 weirdest things I’ve seen on the NYC subway

Sean pulls the emergency brakes and the two escape into the tracks through the emergency door. Jason follows after them but Sean pushes him onto the 3rd rail which electrocutes Jason. Thinking Jason is dead, Sean and Rennie walk off not knowing that by this point Jason probably electrocutes himself for fun on the weekends.

Exiting the subway, Sean and Rennie find themselves in Times Square. As they wander around Rennie spots Jason and the two start to run. Jason chases after them and accidentally knocks over a boombox belonging to some stereotypical gangbangers. The group threatens Jason but after he shows them his face, they run away.

Jason follows Sean and Rennie into a diner where a cook attempts to fight Jason but he’s thrown across the counter instead. This is why people in NYC mind their own business. Sean and Rennie escape into a connecting alleyway and have no choice but to climb into the sewers to escape Jason.

Running through the sewers the two bump into a sanitation worker. The worker agrees to help them to find an exit as the sewers flood with toxic waste at midnight every night and there’s only 10 minutes till that happens…. What the fuck? That’s not a thing…

As they walk through the sewers, Jason attacks, knocking out Sean and killing the sanitation worker. Before Jason can kill Sean, Rennie taunts Jason and he directs his attention to her.

After a brief chase, Rennie finds a small container of acidic toxic waste (because you know how those things are just laying around) and tosses it onto Jason.

Jason pulls off his mask revealing some bad special effects and lets out a guttural scream.

Jason has a face reveal in Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan
That’s a face only a mother would love… if she was a blind demon

Rennie runs back to Sean and wakes him up so he can continue doing nothing this whole movie. The two hear the river of toxic waste coming and start climbing up a nearby ladder. Meanwhile, a weakened and disoriented Jason catches up to them and grabs Rennie’s leg. 

Before he can do anything, Jason sees the river of toxic waste approaching and we hear child-Jason begging his mother to not let him drown. Jason then starts… vomiting up water? 

The waste engulfs Jason and we see his body start to disintegrate. As the water recedes, Rennie looks back and sees child-Jason lying in the water. Pretty sure this is a manifestation only she can see and is supposed to signify her getting over her fear of water… Sure.

The film ends as the sun rises and Rennie and Sean reunite with Toby on the streets of New York City which was totally not taken by Jason… not even a little bit.

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan Spoiler Review:

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is bad which is a shame since Parts 6 was one of the best of the series and while 7 felt like a slight step down, I was hoping this would be better. Instead, it takes a shit on everything that makes the series good.

The are no interesting characters besides the main character but even then Rennie’s backstory is basically the same as Chris’s from Part 3. They were both attacked by Jason years ago and have trauma from it. Part 8 does this worse by screwing with the timeline and then making Rennie constantly see kid Jason which is scary at all, it’s just confusing.

We also jump in halfway through Rennie’s character arc so that makes her character overall less interesting. We learn (way too late in the movie) that Rennie is afraid of water but it starts with her getting on a ship.

Though she gives the vague “gotta face my fears” speech we don’t see what makes her get to that point. What was her motivation? It would have been so easy to give her motivation, even a shitty one like she’s moving away and wants to spend time with Sean.

Apart from the characters, the setting of this entry is also boring. I understand trying to make it fresh by taking away Camp Crystal Lake but if your title is Jason Takes Manhattan and then you spend only a third of the film there while Jason barely does anything interesting, then you failed.

The last thing I’ll say about this film is that the ending is just confusing to the point of annoyance. I’m not talking about child Jason showing up at the end because that’s just what Rennie is seeing, what I’m referring to is the toxic waste, Sean being even more useless, random buckets of acid in the sewer, and Jason vomiting up water because he’s about to be… caught in a flood?

We watched him hanging out in water at the start of the film right before he climbed onto both boats. He swims to NYC to chase after the remaining survivors and we’ve seen him kill people in the water in past movies, Jason loves the water.

Overall I can’t recommend Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, just skip it unless you’re a completionist but don’t blame me if you feel anger by the end of it.


Stuff to Ignore

Rotten Tomatoes – 11%

Metacritic – 14

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