31 Days of Horror Cinema Reviews

Friday the 13th Part VIII (1989): 31 Days of Horror

#14. Friday the 13th Part VIII (1989)

Friday the 13th Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan posterNature of Shame:

Hooptober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1980’s

AT LAST. I’ve reached my goal. I had to watch through Part VIII to satisfy my personal requirements for my #Watch1989 marathon. (Thanks, DVD Netflix, for fueling this madness.) Huzzah. Calling this a pyrrhic victory would be generous. I spent 20 minutes at a bar struggling to differentiate between all 8 Friday the 13th movies. I had to rewind for some do-overs, but I hit my stride after the second pint of Imperial Stout.

friday the 13th part viii netflix dvd

‘Friday the 13th Part VIII – Jason Takes Manhattan’ Elevator Pitch

Right — lovely. So based on the title, Jason’s unleashed in Manhattan. What a wonderful premise! I can’t wait to hear more. 

Noooooo, no no no. Wait. This is even better. Jason’s stuck on board a high school party river cruise. Fish in a barrel!

Wait. So he’s not in New York City? 

Not until the very end! But trust me on this river cruise thing. It’ll be perfect. Die Hard on a river cruise! Except not Die Hard, but Friday the 13th!

Tell me one thing. Does Jason at least maul a boombox blasting rap music once he’s in New York City?

You know it!

Friday the 13th Jason Takes Manhattan skyline
Jason shakes his machete angrily at the skyline.

‘Jason Takes a Party Cruise’ Doesn’t Have the Same Ring To It

But then again, maybe “Jason Takes a Party Cruise” would have been appropriately reflective of how little Jason actually “takes” because it’s definitely not Manhattan. It also speaks to the dearth of creativity found in this eighth entry in the series. While I’m no apologist, I also can’t abide the critics who lament a rapid and steady decline of Friday the 13th from its glorious heights.

First of all, what glorious heights? And second of all, the original wasn’t well made nor was it all that entertaining. You want a solid slasher flick? Try Part II. If you want wild and entertaining, try Part VI. You want trashtastic? Part VII‘s got your number. If you’re a masochist, I recommend Part V.

If you’re looking at this series as a steady decline, you’re not actually watching the movies.

Reverting back to tired old teenage “types” and putting them aboard a party cruise for Jason to pick off one by one isn’t a bad premise. It at least tries to push the series beyond Crystal Lake. (If you’re a camper or vacationer aren’t you steering clear of that place by now?) Friday the 13th Part VIII seems content to go through the motions in the new and shiny locale that serves as a stand-in for invention.

Tom Caldecott and Jensen Daggett in Friday the 13th Part VIII
Jim (Tom Caldecott) and Rennie (Jensen Daggett) take on Jason in a nonsensical sewer throwdown.

The teenagers have no personality. Jason does Jason things. Worst of all, director Rob Heddon seems perfectly content to invoke a Freddy Krueger brand of illusionary, red herring dreamscape terror. Our “final girl” sees visions of young Jason around every corner. Heddon’s trying to humanize our inhuman evil, but it rings false because he does so in a way that invokes A Nightmare on Elm Street and concedes that Jason’s run out of momentum.

In Friday the 13th Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan -- or does he?
In Friday the 13th Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan — or maybe just a souvenir, like a I Heart NY t-shit.

Final ‘Friday the 13th Part VIII’ Thoughts

By the time Jason actually makes it to Manhattan, there’s no saving this movie. We’re only treated to this one image that hints at the promise of a movie called Jason Takes Manhattan. There’s no tension, no thrills, and no surprises. It’s a 100-minute slog that wears out its welcome after the first 30 and Jason doesn’t even sniff the ripe garbage of New York City until the one-hour mark.



friday the 13th blu-rayFriday the 13th Part VIII is available on Blu-ray and DVD.

2019 @CinemaShame / #Hooptober Progress

#1. Shocker (1989) // #2. Etoile (1989) // #3. The Phantom of the Opera (1989) // #4. Blacula (1972) // #5. Scream Blacula Scream (1973) // #6. Jaws: The Revenge (1987) // #7. Blood Bath (1966) // #8. Friday the 13th Part V (1985) // #9. Friday the 13th Part VI (1986) // #10. Friday the 13th Part VII (1988) // #11. Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) // #12. Pet Sematary (1989) // #13. Eaten Alive (1976) // #14. Friday the 13th Part VIII (1989)

James David Patrick is a writer. He’s written just about everything at some point or another. Add whatever this is to that list. Follow his blog at and find him on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

Disclaimer: I earn rewards from, which has thousands of movies to choose from, many that you won’t find on streaming services. I do this because the availability of physical media is important. The popular streaming notion of “everything available all the time” is a myth. We are always our own best curators. #PhysicalMedia #DVDNation #ad

31 Days of Horror Cinema

Friday the 13th Part VII – The New Blood: 31 Days of Horror

#10. Friday the 13th Part VII – The New Blood (1988)

friday the 13th part vii posterNature of Shame:
Trudging my way through the intermittent (and extremely relative) joys of the Friday the 13th series. Bring on Friday the 13th Part VII because it’s the next one and this time I’m actually looking forward to it!

Hooptober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1980’s
John Carl Buechler

For the first time in this Friday the 13th saga, I felt enthusiasm for viewing the next film in the series. How many times can anyone say that the 6th movie in a series made them a believer?

Seriously, though. Has anyone ever muddled through five films to enjoy the sixth? Police Academy? A Nightmare on Elm Street? I’m at a loss. This next entry arrived via Netflix DVD and here’s the little red envelope to prove it.

friday the 13th part VI netflix

‘Friday the 13th Part VII’ Elevator Pitch

A pscyhokinetic, guilt-ridden teenage girl named Tina inadvertently unshackles Jason from his water grave in Crystal Lake after a creep psychiatrist intentionally agitates her with the intention of somehow vaguely exploiting her psychic powers.

So how does he intend to exploit her? 

Uh. Well. He just intends, okay?

You have no idea.

Tina must then learn to harness her powers in order to subdue the rampaging supernatural prometheus before he kills and kills again.

friday the 13th part vii underwater jason

Maybe more of a Thursday?

At this point I’ve written more unnecessary words about the Friday the 13th series than just about anything else. I’m not part of the in-crowd; I prefer my slashers weird and Italian. And until just recently I wouldn’t have recommended any of the films in the series for anyone not already indoctrinated into the cult of Jason.

Since we’ve come this far, however, I’ve no qualms about saying if you tried Friday the 13th but gave up after a few entries, re-join the party with Part VI and Friday the 13th Part VII. Where VI aims for greater respectability and production value, Part VII feels indirectly inspired by the manic energy of Evil Dead II (1987).

Paramount Pictures had originally wanted Part VII to be a crossover with A Nightmare on Elm Street, bringing Freddy Krueger into the fold. The two sides failed to agree on terms, but screenwriter Daryl Haney instead came up with the idea of pitting Jason against a “Carrie” — a girl with telekinetic powers, apparently dead set on a monster vs. monster type crossover.

tina - friday the 13th part vii

Associate producer Barbara Sachs took this lazy premise, and according to Haney, aimed to win Academy Awards. Most unbelievably, the production team reportedly batted about candidates like Federico Fellini to direct Friday the 13th Part VII to show how serious they were about crafting high-minded schlock. When that Fellini thing fell through (shocker), Sachs had to settle for John Carl Buechler — who also had a unique vision for Jason, even if it wasn’t especially tied to certifiably insane goals like Academy Awards for Jason Voorhees.

Friday the 13th Part VII: The Ultra-Violent Terminator(?)

Despite Oscar intentions, Friday the 13th Part VII feels tonally schizophrenic from the very beginning, consisting of maybe a dozen partially-thawed frozen turkeys. There’s a bite from Jaws when Jason drags a skinny-dipper down underwater. The ghouly, maggoty Jason — especially after the removal of the mask — takes a page right out of the Evil Dead makeup effects. The Carrie elements and the shady psychiatrist (played by Terry Kiser aka Bernie Lomax) feel completely tacked onto the standard Jason-murders-a-houseful-of-horny-teens script. They just happen to live next door!

The teens that Jason rips through like a fun size package of Cheetos have no life or individual flavor. They’re balloons just waiting for the POP. There’s some sort of nerdy-girl She’s All That makeover, some unreal mean girling, and a whiny sci-fi author that makes George McFly look more Rudolph Valentino.

friday the 13th part vii

To top it all off, Tina uses her vague and amorphous psychokinetic powers to see the murders before they take place — but her visions are totally different than the actual deaths. I don’t have any special powers of foresight but I could have told her exactly which characters were going to be dead by the credit roll, too.

And then we get to the extended Jason vs. Carrie climax of the film. I mean Jason vs. random psychokinetic Tina and definitely not Carrie the Stephen King property. I mean Frankenstein’s Terminator vs. Firestarter Tina. Just toss it all in a bingo wheel and see what shakes out.

Final ‘Friday the 13th Part VII’ Thoughts

And this is where I take this bl-g post in an entirely different direction. Friday the 13th Part VII is a disasterfest of misguided ideas, but in as much as it gleefully flaunts the standard “rules” for a Friday the 13th movie I can’t help but be entertained by this disconnect.

friday the 13th part vii

The climax of the film where Jason takes on Tiny takes on a life of its own. It’s a self-contained showcase of practical effects and makeup. Jason loses his mask and the scarred, maggoty face remains on display. Kane Hodder, the stuntmant playing Jason in this entry, endures a then record-breaking 40-second burn. He’s engulfed in flames for so long, I was convinced it had to be some sort of animatronic trickery. In this finale the film gleefully flaunts its B-movie status. There’s no attempt at high-minded entertainment. This is wacky C-grade schlock begging you to be entertained.

Yes — it’s clear that the more extreme moments of violence were cut to appease the MPAA. It’s also clear that the filmmakers behind this movie actually had no handle on the kind of movie or homage or rip-off that they wanted to make. I compare Friday the 13th Part VII favorably to the similarly unfavorable Part V. Both are heinous messes, but part VII remembers to have fun with the format rather than just trying to push the exploitative elements to the extreme.



friday the 13th blu-rayFriday the 13th Part VII is available on Blu-ray and DVD.

2019 @CinemaShame / #Hooptober Progress

#1. Shocker (1989) // #2. Etoile (1989) // #3. The Phantom of the Opera (1989) // #4. Blacula (1972) // #5. Scream Blacula Scream (1973) // #6. Jaws: The Revenge (1987) // #7. Blood Bath (1966) // #8. Friday the 13th Part V (1985) // #9. Friday the 13th Part VI (1986) / #10. Friday the 13th Part VII (1988)

31 Days of Horror Cinema

Friday the 13th Part VI – Jason Lives: 31 Days of Horror

#9. Friday the 13th Part VI – Jason Lives (1986)

friday the 13th part VI jason lives posterNature of Shame:
Trudging my way through the intermittent (and extremely relative) joys of the Friday the 13th series. Bring on Friday the 13th Part VI because it’s the next one. 

Hooptober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1980’s
6th film in a franchise

Complacency had set in. After the disaster that was Friday the 13th Part V, I was just going through the motions at this point. I had to get through #6 to satisfy the Hooptober “6th film in a franchise” requirement and I had to get through Part VIII for #Watch1989 because that’s the other watch prompt I’ve got going on. I’d been told better things were on the Friday the 13th horizon. “Keep going,” Twitter said. “Ugh,” I said to no one in particular. I’d scavenged the entire series on DVD from Netflix and my library so I might as well get these things watched so I can get these back into the library system/Netflix circulation to torture others. And hopefully, eventually, watch the other movies on my Hooptober list.

Something happened very early in Friday the 13th Part VI that brought me back into the fold, however. After a generic Jason-rises-from-the-grave pre-title sequence (featuring Ron Palillo, aka Arnold Horshack!), we’re treated to this little nugget: Jason riffing on the James Bond opening gun barrel by walking into his own dilated pupil and slashing the screen.

I’m normally skeptical of non-espionage movies that riff on James Bond. Without going too far down this rabbit hole, I’ll summarize my feelings by saying they just don’t “get it.” They don’t get what makes these 007 rituals so important to Bond fans — but Friday the 13th, on the other hand, does? Like James Bond, Jason has become an immortal cinematic icon. He cannot be killed. He will return. And he really really likes women. So when Jason steps into pupil, turns, and not-so-gently nudge nudge wink winks James Bond; I finally witnessed the kind of self-awareness necessary to survive, as a viewer, six movies into this franchise.

‘Friday the 13th Part VI’ Elevator Pitch

So Jason wasn’t Jason in Friday the 13th Part V, but we’ve had enough of that nonsense. Stop being cute. Jason’s back, baby. Poor Tommy Jarvis, trying to end the hallucinations plaguing him since his last encounter with Jason, ventures to the graveyard with his friend Allen (Horshack!) to cremate Jason’s corpse. As he opens the casket, flashbacks strike Tommy and he panics, stabbing the rotting, maggoty corpse with a piece of metal fence. Lightning strikes the post, reanimating the corpse and bring Jason back from the dead. Jason punches a hole through Allen’s chest, Tommy flees, and Jason Lives!

friday the 13th part VI

The Best Friday?

I’ve not been shy about shrugging away the popularity of the Friday the 13th films. I watched the first one for a Cinema Shame podcast episode two years ago and I’ve been on a two-per-year diet. They occupy a particular place in horror film history and I’ll never deny the budget-conscious effectiveness of the original Friday the 13th construct. Despite some affection for Part II, it wasn’t until this entry, however, that I found the Friday the 13th that proved to be more than its very mechanical, lumbering parts. Part VI has a defined identity and a purposeful sense of humor about itself. Humor had been a component of the series, but it had always taken itself just a little too seriously. Even as the characters kept getting dumber and more deserving of a machete attack, the films as whole failed to embrace humor beyond lazy stereotyping and broad stabs at humor. (Get it? Stabs?)

So Tommy’s not a very good Tommy. We can get over that. John Shepherd, despite his reservations about the role, rendered Tommy as a fully-formed, Norman Bates-like scarred psyche. This Tommy (Thom Mathews) is just a Tommy. He’s dismissed as a quack and subsequently charged with the new Jason murders based on zero evidence. His supposed crimes provide more depth to the film. In order for Tommy to stop Jason, Tommy must also outwit Sheriff Mike Garris and his patrolmen. I didn’t suggest profundity, mind you — just an extra layer of conflict that also introduces Tommy’s love interest in the form of the Sheriff’s daughter Megan.

friday the 13th part VI

Friday the 13th Part VI: The Ultra-Violent Prometheus

Director Tom McLoughlin intended to deliver a different kind of Friday. The producers resisted his efforts. Unlike other Friday the 13th films in which editors had to remove graphic sex and violence to avoid an “X” rating, producers asked McLoughlin to add more. He also changed the momentum of the series heading into Part VII. The reborn Jason has now become an indomitable supernatural force — and in certain ways McLoughlin has rendered him as a modern Frankenstein’s monster. A scene early on depicts him discovering this power as he rips an arm off of a corporate paintballer. The resurrection via a bolt of lightning certainly inspires immediate comparisons to the birth of Mary Shelley’s creation.

friday the 13th part VI jason

I can’t say that the parallels continue beyond those few moments. This is still the sixth entry in a series of low-budget slasher movies, after all. Top to bottom, however, there’s just more interesting filmmaking decisions to pick apart. Add in a smattering of Alice Cooper tracks and Friday the 13th Part VI becomes its own thing — an oasis on this cruise through the endless hordes of routine slashing and stabbings.

Final ‘Friday the 13th Part VI’ Thoughts

It took me six tries, but we got there — the Friday the 13th movie that would make me a “fan” of the series. I just needed that one to put me over the top. There’s enough surprises and purposeful filmmaking decisions in Friday the 13th Part VI to make this something more than your average cavalcade of 80’s sex and carnage. I salute this new direction and hope that some of this carries over into Part VII.



friday the 13th blu-rayFriday the 13th Part VI is available on Blu-ray and DVD.

2019 @CinemaShame / #Hooptober Progress

#1. Shocker (1989) // #2. Etoile (1989) // #3. The Phantom of the Opera (1989) // #4. Blacula (1972) // #5. Scream Blacula Scream (1973) // #6. Jaws: The Revenge (1987) // #7. Blood Bath (1966) // #8. Friday the 13th Part V (1985) // #9. Friday the 13th Part VI (1986)