DVD Review: Friday The 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

SEPTEMBER 15, 2009


I’ve already reviewed the film here, as well as put together a little summary/capsule thing for Bloody-D's 13 Days Of Jason retrospective series from this past February, so if you want my in-depth(ish) thoughts on the film, check those out by clicking the links above. In short - I don’t mind Jason Takes Manhattan as much as many others seem to. Yeah he’s on the boat too much, and yeah the leads are lame, but the supporting cast is fun (Wayne, Charles, and of course: JULIUS!) and a boat is still better than the umpteenth stalk through the woods and increasingly convoluted lake area (how many isolated houses are on this goddamn lake anyway?). It was a marked improvement over the previous entry, and as the final “Friday the 13th” entry (before New Line/the Jason title took over), it holds a bit of nostalgic value too. This review concerns the brand new special edition DVD and whether or not you should upgrade (spoiler: you should).

As with the others, Part VIII has been blessed with a 5.1 soundtrack, an upgrade from the previous release’s “Ultra Stereo” (which is still available). Paramount has also made the disc more foreign language friendly - French and Spanish dubs are included, so fans that speak those languages can now enjoy lines like “Toxic waste, son! The city floods out with the stuff every night at midnight!” (subs for all three languages, plus Portuguese, are also included). The picture quality, as with VII, is also a big improvement. Screen grabs are below (click to enlarge):

While not as striking as the difference between the transfers for New Blood, it’s still obvious just at a glance that the 2009 version is superior to the 2004 boxed set counterpart. The color seems a bit off (Jason’s mask seems yellow in the boat pic) at times, but the detail is vastly improved, with much clearer definition (look at the wood on the boat) and, again, the 2009 version restores previously cropped out visual information (look at the Olympus sign on the left side of the Times Sq. screenshot). This is just one of the many benefits of not squishing two films on the same side of a disc, as they did last time.

A more striking improvement is the amount of extras on the disc. Rob Hedden’s previous commentary has not been held over (why?), but there is a brand new one with Scott Reeves, Jensen Daggett, and Kane Hodder (who is recorded via conference call, as he was in Utah shooting Adam Green’s Frozen). It’s a surprisingly fun track, as the two leads mock their performances and clothes, and Kane provides a lot of interesting production info. Reeves could have taken the time to at least glance at the IMDb before leaving for the recording studio (he first asks Kane if he played Jason in any of the other films, then asks him if he has done any other horror films in general! Christ), but it’s a hell of a lot better than Hedden’s track, at any rate.

Of more interest, I am sure, are the “slashed scenes”. Gorehounds might be disappointed to see that only two or three of the kill scenes are extended (one of which is the aftermath of the long sought-after “dart” kill), but fans of the film will enjoy all of the little character beats and such that are presented here, as well as a minor subplot about how their graduating class was going to be the last, as the school was closing (I’m sure this tied into the notion that the film was intended as a series finale). A few more excised moments can be seen in the largely unfunny gag reel (only Peter Mark Richman’s goofs really amuse, as well as a prank Kane pulled on Tiffany Paulson in the opening sequence), so check that out for a few more. Rounding things out is the traditional 20 minute-ish retrospective piece on the film, with Hedden, Hodder, and a decent number of the cast, plus composer Fred Mollin and editor Steve Mirkovich (and his son, who played young Jason). By now you know how these things go, but as the film was always considered one of the weakest, it’s also been covered the least. Thus, you probably haven’t heard all of these stories a million times.

While a boxed set is still a rumor, Friday fans should be pretty pleased with these upgrades. Yeah, we’d all love uncut editions, but without the elements to do them properly, they’re probably never going to happen. And even if that one kill or that one cast member couldn’t be found, these discs are practically Lord Of The Rings-ian when compared to their 2004 counterparts, and for that every Friday fan owes Dan Farrands and his crew a giant debt of gratitude. It’s a shame he wasn’t involved with the releases of the first 3, but what’s important to realize is that even Paramount knew that the discs could be better and brought him on board to do 4-6 and kept him around for 7-8. Like the truly invaluable "Crystal Lake Memories" (which he edited), Farrands doesn’t play favorites with these films the way that David Grove did with his book - each film, good or bad, now has a respectable special edition that its supporters can relish and that its detractors can use to give it another chance.

Film score 6/10
DVD score 8/10

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1 comment:

  1. Love Jason Takes Manhattan, one of my favorite Friday The 13th movies.

    Has Jasons best look also with the yellow hockey mask and Kane Hodder looked a brute in it.

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