Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image came across well.
Sharpness appeared pretty concise and detailed. A little softness crept into a few wide shots, but the majoroty of the film demonstrated nice clarity and definition. No issues with jaggies or moiré effects materialized, and edge haloes remained absent. The image boasted a natural layer of grain, and it lacked print flaws.
After a couple of pretty bright Friday flicks, Manhattan took on a more subdued palette. That occurred due to the setting, since much of the flick took place both at night and during a rainstorm. The hues we did see looked solid, as they appeared rich and dynamic. Blacks were nicely dense and full, while low-light shots seemed clear and well-defined. I felt pleased with the image, as it looked better than I expected.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundfield produced the necessary impression. It stayed oriented in the front, where it offered positive stereo music along with effects that spread convincingly to the sides. They offered up a pretty good sense of atmosphere, especially on the ship.
That setting allowed the spectrum to kick in with all sorts of useful ambient noises. The surrounds contributed to the feeling of place as well. They usually acted as general support, but they occasionally became more active, such as when the ship dropped anchor.
Quality was satisfactory but not great. Speech remained natural and distinctive and continued to lack edginess or issues with intelligibility. Though lacking in great low-end, the score and songs usually appeared acceptably distinctive and lively.
Effects packed some decent punch at times, but they also showed more distortion than I’d like. Though the roughness wasn’t extreme, it caused some minor distractions. Ultimately, the audio wasn’t terrific, but it came across as pretty positive for a film from 1989.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2004 DVD? Audio seemed a bit more dynamic, while the image looked cleaner and more accurate. This became a good step-up in quality. (A 2009 “Deluxe Edition” of the film also exists, but I never saw a copy of that one.)
The extras mix components from the two prior releases, and we open with two separate audio commentaries. First we hear from director Rob Hedden, who offers a running, screen-specific track. He goes over the cast, locations and challenges connected to the boat, working within genre expectations and trying to confound them, visual effects and stunts.
Hedden tosses out a lot of great notes about his original plans for the movie. He tells us he wanted to spend much more time in Manhattan and alludes to elements that would have taken place there. He also discusses snippets trimmed for ratings and some cut for length; the latter would have provided greater character development. At times Hedden tends to simply narrate the story, and a bit of dead air occurs. However, he usually chats about his film in a lively and engaging manner to make this a worthwhile track.
For the second commentary, we find actors Kane Hodder, Jensen Daggett and Scott Reeves. With Hodder on-board via speakerphone, all three chat together for a running, screen-specific look at cast and performances, sets and locations, action and stunts, effects, and related areas.
Don’t expect many insights here. The actors seem to enjoy their time with the movie but they don’t tell us a ton about it, as they prefer to laugh and comment on the action. Occasional tidbits of information occur and it’s a painless listen, but it lacks many good details about the production.
Excerpted from a long documentary on a 2004 bonus disc, The Friday the 13th Chronicles, Part VII runs 14 minutes, 32 seconds and features Hedden and Hodder. “Chronicles” covers the influence of the Friday TV series and how Hedden got the job, initial talks for a joint effort with the Nightmare on Elm Street gang, taking Jason away from Crystal Lake, story concepts and changes, shooting in New York and also faking it, filming the boat sequences, flashback scenes, humor, and some kill scenes. This becomes a tight, informative piece.
With the 18-minute, two-second New York Has a Problem: The Making of Friday the 13th, Part VIII – Jason Takes Manhattan. we hear from Hedden, Hodder, Daggett, Reeves, editor Steve Mirkovich, composer Fred Mollin, and actors VC Dupree, Peter Mark Richman, Tim Mirkovich, Tiffany Paulsen, and Sharlene Martin. “Problem” examines challenges related to the theoretical final chapter of the series, cast and performances, stunts and effects, editing and ratings issues, music, and the movie’s ending. A good complement to “Chronicles”, “Problem” covers a variety of topics in a satisfying manner.
Under Slashed Scenes, we locate 16 cut sequences with a total of 12 minutes, 56 seconds. These tend to be short trims from existing segments and they mix minor character elements with gore trimmed for ratings issues. While fans will be happy to see these, they lack much to make them interesting.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a Gag Reel. It lasts four minutes, 54 seconds and delivers a mix of mistakes and silliness. Though nothing special, it includes a few fun glimpses of the production that make it better than most.
Would I call Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan a good movie? No, but it stands as one of the better flicks in the series, especially compared with the two total duds that preceded it. Moderately clever and inventive, it presents one of the more entertaining Friday films. The Blu-ray gives us mostly good picture, audio and bonus materials. This ends up as a good release for a decent movie.
Note that as of July 2015, this Blu-ray version of Jason Takes Manhattan appears only as part of a 12-film set called “Friday the 13th: The Complete Collection”. This includes films 1 through 8 as well as Jason Goes to Hell, Jason X, Freddy Vs. Jason and the 2009 reboot. It also throws in a bonus DVD and some other non-disc-based materials.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII