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"Friday the 13th Part VII: Jason Takes Manhattan" and "Jason Goes to Hell."

By Scott Phillips

DECEMBER 22, 1997: 

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

Gaahh! Down to the wire, and we get saddled with one of the worst of the series. Faking us out with scenes of decadence in NYC (accompanied by a heartfelt power ballad), the film quickly returns to Camp Crystal Lake, where two young morons are fooling around on their boat. When the anchor cuts into a submerged power cable (!), the resulting jolt of electricity revives Jason, who hastily dispatches the two. Then we find that Crystal Lake is apparently a lagoon, as the Jason-laden boat drifts into a harbor that seems to be somewhere on the Pacific Coast. As the boat comes to a stop near a cruise ship full of "high school students" on their way to New York, we meet the abundance of asswipes some might call "characters"--the Sweet Virginal Girl; the Misunderstood Hero; the Film Geek; the Bitchy Prom Queen; the Cock-Rocker Chick (who dies way too soon--she had the potential to be annoying in a good way), and the Cranky Principal, who also happens to be the Virginal Girl's abusive Uncle. It's here that we realize how deceptive the title is--"Jason Takes the Love Boat" might've been closer to the truth, 'cause our loveable slasher doesn't touch his wet-n-squishy tootsies on Big Apple asphalt until an hour or so into the flick! The killings are pretty weak, the best being when Jason punches a guy's head off--other than that, the most interesting death occurs when Big J repeatedly stabs someone in the ass with a speargun. Once in NY, our "heroes" are attacked by a couple of junkie muggers, who shoot the Virginal Girl up with heroin so she'll be more relaxed while they rape her. However, proving he's not all bad, Jason rescues the girl (so he can kill her himself), then chases her and the Misunderstood Hero into the sewer. There they meet a worker who tells them they'd better beat feet--after all, everyone knows the sewers are flooded with toxic waste every night at midnight! This bit of nonsense leads to one of the stupidest things I've ever seen, which I won't spoil in case you choose to watch this ineptly-directed installment. Not as stinky as Pt. VI, but close. (Paramount)

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)

New Line Cinema bought the rights to F13 (at the time, they also owned the Nightmare on Elm Street and Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchises), and they managed to produce the only entry in the series that feels like a real movie rather than a cinematic hoodwinking. Ignoring the ludicrous ending of Pt. VIII, this one opens as a sassy young lady pays a nocturnal visit to Camp Crystal Lake. The groceries are soon delivered as she shucks her clothes, compelling Jason to attack. The towel-clad chippie leads Jason on a wild chase into the woods, where SWAT guys start dropping from the trees, un-leashing a hail of bullets on the slash-meister. Within seconds, Jason is blown apart in a shower of meaty chunks, and the smoldering leftovers are taken to the morgue.In a wild scene, the Medical Ex-aminer, overcome by some twisted desire, eats Jason's still-beating heart and is possessed by the slasher's evil spirit! Pausing only to kill and kill again, this pseudo-Jason makes a beeline for Crystal Lake, where we witness the first instance of actual plot in an F13: In order to be reborn, Jason needs another Voorhees, and at a diner near Crystal Lake, there's a waitress (Erin Gray from "Buck Rogers") with a dark secret. ... OK, it ain't exactly Marathon Man, but it's still pretty cool. At any rate, we soon meet our nerdy hero (John D. LeMay from the F13 TV series), who has fathered a kid by Erin's daughter. With the help of a jive-ass bounty hunter (Steven Williams from "The X-Files"), LeMay sets out to put Jason in his grave for good. Although the flick's major plot device is lifted from The Hidden (Jason's turd-like "essence" is puked from body to body), F13 Pt IX is my favorite of the series. We get a surprisingly graphic sex scene (interrupted by a surprisingly graphic death scene); the "Book of the Dead" from Evil Dead II on a shelf in the old Voorhees house; a shotgun-wielding bad-ass waitress; tons of gore, and best of all, this time around, only some of the characters are loathsome scumbags! (New Line)

So let's wrap it up with the old Greased Ape Scale (keeping in mind that in this case, the scale is relative to the subject matter--four Apes for an F13 doesn't exactly carry the same weight as four Apes for The Exorcist).

F13: 2 (mostly for the arrow through Kevin Bacon's neck)
F13 PT II: 2 (the second Ape is for gratuitous buttcheeks)
F13 PT III: 1 1/2 (first hockey mask)
F13 PT IV--THE FINAL CHAPTER: 3 1/2 (good solid cheese)
F13 PT V--A NEW BEGINNING: 1 (for nudity & the New Wave Girl's dance)
F13 PT VI--JASON LIVES: 0 (the worst)
F13 PT VII--THE NEW BLOOD: 2 1/2 (telekinetic cheese)

And don't sweat that "Final Friday" stuff--thanks to the success of Scream, the oft-threatened "Jason vs. Freddy" movie is back on track once again!


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