Entertainment Magazine

13 Things You May Not Know About Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

Posted on the 22 March 2014 by Weminoredinfilm.com @WeMinoredInFilm

Paramount is going to release what will be 13th ever Friday the 13th film next year.  So, we’ve been looking back at the prior Friday films in search of trivia and answers to long simmering questions: Friday the 13thPart 2, Part 3, The Final Chapter, A New Beginning, Jason Lives, New Blood.  Now, it’s time for Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989):

[My sources from this point forward are: Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th documentary & the companion coffee table book of the same name]

1. Why didn’t they bring back Lar Park-Lincoln’s Tina Shepherd from New Blood?


Tina and Nick from New Blood – Well, it was nice knowing ya’

Money.  Pretty much anytime an actor asked for more money to return in a Friday the 13th sequel Paramount conveniently lost their number.  Amy Steel (Part 2‘s Ginny) and John Shepherd (Part V‘s Tommy Jarvis) knew this, each purposefully asking for way too much money during negotiations since they didn’t really want to come back in a sequel.  Sadly, Lar Park-Lincoln actually did want to come back, and thought her salary request was more than fair.  However, merely asking for any more at all was too much for Paramount.

So, even though she was the new blood who was so badass she could set Jason on fire using just her mind Tina Shepherd joined the ranks of similarly discarded Friday the 13th final girls like Part 2‘s Ginny (Amy Steel), Part 3‘s Chris (Dana Kimmell), Tommy Jarvis’ sister (Kimberly Beck) from Part 4 and his girlfriends from Part 5 (Melanie Kinnaman) and 6 (Jennifer Cooke).

2. Both the director and stars of New Blood wanted to come back for, essentially, Jason Vs. Carrie: Round 2

New Blood‘s director (John Carl Buechler) and two surviving characters (Lincoln’s Tina, and Kevin Spirtas’ Nick) each had some definite ideas of where the story should go.  Buechler and Lincoln both agreed Tina would be in a mental institution, though Buechler wanted Tina to be a patient there while Lincoln wanted her to simply work there.  Buechler wanted everyone to blame Tina for the deaths in New Blood, thus institutionalizing her even though Nick backed her story.  Lincoln wanted to go Nightmare on Elm Street 3 with it by having a slightly older Tina work as psychologist for young people going through similar mental problems.   She even adapted this into a screenplay, co-written with her husband, a die-hard horror movie fan.


Lincoln and her husband just ripped off what Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors did with Nancy

Spirtas was similarly motivated to pen his own potential Part 8 script, but he went a totally different direction: “My take was that Part 8 was all a dream, and I killed off Lar Park Lincoln.  I don’t know if it would have been a Jason movie in that traditional sense, but it definitely would be great to have tried it.”  Just a note: Lincoln and Spirtas famously did not get along on the set of New Blood despite playing love interests.  Then the dude wrote a script killing her off and featuring him as the star.  So, yeah, that happened.

Buechler’s idea didn’t go anywhere because he had unintentionally made an enemy of New Blood producer Barbara Sachs, who was returning to produce Part 8.  Lincoln’s concept died on the vine after her failed contract negotiations.  Spirtas may not have ever even managed to pitch his idea to anyone connected to the Friday films.

3. The director had previously written and directed for Friday the 13th: The Series

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Rob Hedden, as he looks today, showcasing one of Jason’s kill weapons: a Flying V electric guitar

Part 8 director Rob Hedden had previously worked as a writer for Paramount on MacGyver.  Of course, what he really wanted to do was direct.  So, when he was asked to write for Friday the 13th: The Series he would only accept on the condition that he could also direct.  They walked away, but came back two months later since they still desperately needed scripts.  Hedden stuck to his guns, and they relented, letting him ultimately direct two episodes.  They then offered him the chance to write and direct Part 8.

4. How did they come up with the idea of Jason taking Manhattan?  

friday the 13th NY billboard

The dwindling box office for Parts 5-7 told the producers that Jason killing yet more campers at Crystal Lake was no longer a viable storyline.  So during a story pitch meeting the newly hired Rob Hedden asked Executive Producer Frank Mancuso, Jr., “Can we take [Jason] out of Crystal Lake? Can we take him out and put him in the big city?”  Mancuso jumped at the idea, “Oh, Jason takes Manhattan.”  Actually, Hedden didn’t even have a specific city in mind, but, sure, if the boss says “Manhattan” then Manhattan it is.  They reverse engineered the story from there.

5. Jason was supposed to box in Madison Square Garden, climb the Statue of Liberty, and do other way-too-expensive to film New York stuff

Jason doesn’t so much take Manhattan in Jason Takes Manhattan as he does spend most of his time conquering the Love Boat, and then very briefly marching through a very Vancouver-like New York.  What gives?

According to Rob Hedden: 

“The way I envisioned it for the first third of the movie we’d be on the boat, then we’d get to New York at the end of Act I.  Everything about New York was going to be completely exploited and milked.  There was going to be a tremendous scene on the Brooklyn Bridge.  A boxing match in Madison Square Garden. Jason would go through department stores.  He’d go through Times Square.  He’d go into a Broadway play.  He’d even crawl onto the top of the Statue of Liberty and dive off.”

But all he got out of that was Time Square:

Hedden’s ideas were simply too big for his $4 million budget, which he still went over budget on by around $1 million.  They only gave him one week to film in New York, and then picked Vancouver for the rest of the time simply because it was the cheapest possible place they could find to film.  Plus, they made him push back Jason’s arrival in New York in the story as far as possible.

6. Elizabeth Berkley auditioned for the female lead & the original male lead was fired for being too gay

These are the leads in Jason Takes Manhattan:


Jensen Daggett as Rennie, and Scott Reeves as Sean

Here’s who Jensen Daggett beat out for her role:

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A pre-Saved by the Bell Elizabeth Berkley, so excited, so excited, so scared



Deede Pfeifer, aka, Michelle’s sister

Scott Reeves, on the other hand, originally auditioned for the role of Sean, but then became unavailable.  The guy they did cast didn’t work out, and luckily Reeves was newly available again.  Here’s how it went down: They fired the guy they’d cast as Sean after one day of filming because, according to producer Randolph Cheveldave, “He was a very nice guy, a very handsome guy.  But in the dailies he just came across so gay.  Like so gay.  Yet in person you didn’t fell that at all.  It never even occurred to us.”  They called up Reeves, and he was there asap.

7. They were desperate to get their female lead to do a nude scene

Rennie is quite possibly the most consistently fully clothed of any teenage female character in Friday the 13th history.


Heck, she almost never even takes off her coat

It wasn’t supposed to go down like that, though.  They fully intended for Rennie, their virtuous, goodie-goodie, to have a nude scene, thus rebuking slasher norms in which only the slutty girls show skin.  They simply failed to cast an actress who would agree to it.  Hedden repeatedly worked on wearing Jensen Daggett down, pointing to examples of notable actresses who had done nudity without causing damage to their careers.  First, he asked her to go nude.  No dice.  Then, maybe just topless.  Again with the no dice.  Finally, he requested that she at least take her blouse off.  She said good day, sir.

8. The director went the full monty

They got their nudity, of course, in a shower with Sharlene Martin, playing the requisite bitch:


This one – that’s the one Sharlene Martin played

However, Martin was no more comfortable with it than Daggett.  So, borrowing a page from theater and film lore Rob Hedden stripped down fully nude and walked into the shower to put her at ease by illustrating how easy it would be.  The problem?: Hedden didn’t realize the camera was rolling the whole time.  The producers were very, very confused the next day when they screened the dailies and saw their director standing completely nude in a shower and talking to one of his lovely young actresses.

9.They lost the original ship they wanted, and had to replace it with one which carried massive debt and another some guy won in a poker game

Due to a scheduling conflict, 3 days before they started filming they lost the huge cruise ship they were supposed to use.  They had to scramble, ultimately using 3 different boats: a practical ship in water, a second ship sitting in a dry dock, and a third ship for certain interiors.  The practical ship was owned by a wealthy British Columbia businessman who let the film crew use it in exchange for a mere fee of one dollar.  However, this guy owed a massive debt in wharfing fees since the ship had been sitting in the same spot for two years.  The people who owned the wharfs took it out on the film crew, limiting their access to the ship to bizarre nighttime hours.

One of the other used ships had recently been won in a poker game in Washington, and the new owner didn’t really know what to do with it.  The production crew rented it from him on the cheap, but there was one problem: they were filming in Canada, and this was not a Canadian boat.  Legally, they were not allowed to move it to Canada for the purpose of filming since there were other Canadian boats available for that use.  So, they had to load the ship with bags of potatoes, and its actual legal use was importing potatoes into Canada.

10. Those were real punches during that boxing match

Well, obviously not Jason’s final punch in which he literally knocks poor Julius’ (V.C. Dupree) head clean off.  However, Kane Hodder is a big, tough guy.  Plus, there was usually some padding under the costume.  So, to make it look real he just told V.C. Dupree to go all out and actually punch him.  Incidentally, as you might have guessed this is the scene director Hedden originally wanted to take place in Madison Square Garden.

11. So, seriously, what was up with that ending?  The toxic waste turns Jason back into a little boy?


The original scripted ending featured Jason being melted by toxic waste, but you have to leave something behind if you have any chance at a sequel.  So, the produces nixed that idea. Rob Hedden then figured, “In the first film a young boy drowns and we find out it is his mother who is the one that has been killing everbody.  It’s not Jason.  That was a great twist, but young Jason still propelled the whole thing.  So, in our movie, he drowns in the toxic waste and turns back to that young boy.  I wanted to have it come full circle.  His soul has finally been released.”

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Rennie keeps having visions of a young Jason in water throughout the film as a way of preparing us for that ending

It’s up to the audience to decide if Jason has literally reverted back to the form of a small boy, or if that is simply another one of Rennie’s visions.  However, the audience also reserved the right to simply laugh themselves silly in the aisles, floored that Jason Takes Manhattan had managed to somehow top New Blood‘s death by ghost-dead ending in sheer stupidity.

12. Young Jason was played by the editor’s son

The original child actor cast as Jason struggled with the underwater scenes.  Luckily, the editor’s (Steve Mirkovich) similarly aged son (Timothy Burr) was visiting him on set that day.  A star was born.  Timothy’s choice was either go back home to school with the rest of his family, or stay in Canada with his dad for five weeks and get to play make believe.  They probably had him at the “get to miss school” part.

13. The original cut was over 2 hours long

In the original, 2 hour+ cut of the film there was considerable more footage meant to flesh out all of the characters so that we’d care when they died.  According to the DVD commentary from Hedden, these lost scenes included:

  • Several additional scenes with Tamara and Eva were cut
  • A scene at the beginning where Sean hears that Rennie will not be on board and is disappointed
  • Several scenes with Miles, who is shown to have been an Olympic diver
  • Before Rennie gets pushed into the water there was a longer conversation between her and Colleen
  • A scene of Eva meeting with the group on the bridge and then leaving to find Tamara
  • A shot of Rennie touching Jason after he is electrocuted on the railroad tracks

The final damage for Jason Lives?

  • Body Count: 18
  • Box Office: Released on July 28th 1989, Takes Manhattan ultimately earned just $14.3m at the US box office, the lowest grossing installment in the franchise to date.  This was the fourth straight disappointing box office take for the franchise, which was enough for Paramount to finally sever all ties.  They would not release another Friday the 13th until the 2009 remake.

Next Friday, we’ll do our best to make sense of the bat-shit crazy Jason Goes to Hell.

For a making of Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan featurette head over to YouTube.

Fan-Made Music Video for Metropolis’ “Darkest Side of the Night” from the Jason Takes Manhattan Soundtrack:

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