Today is not the day to be camping.
Today is not the day to be a camp counselor.
Today is not the day to be in the woods, all alone, swimming, or drinking.
No, on this day, every horror rule you've ever learned is to be followed without sin because, today, Jason lives!
Happy Friday the 13th!!
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't celebrate this day. It's not that I'm superstitious, but this is usually just like any other day with the inclusion of "Friday the 13th" films and popcorn. But, this year, we're talking about a special occasion because Friday the 13th is so close to October and certainly a major part of the Halloween season. We're in the thick of our countdown here on The Holidaze and it's only right that I wish you a very happy Friday the 13th. For me, today feels just as much like Halloween as the 31st does next month. There's an aura to this year's Friday the 13th and I'm embracing it. I already stayed up watching classic Jason flicks much later than I probably should have. One of the films I watched was Part VIII when "Jason Takes Manhattan." As I soaked it all in, it gave me an idea for a bonus post on this eerie day.
When it comes to story, gore, and dialogue, this is probably my least favorite film from the franchise. But, there's a reason why I watched it over and over again as a child and that's for the simple fact that Jason Voorhees ends up in New York City on Times Square. For that one moment, nothing else in the movie matters. Being that I live 20 minutes away from NYC (with traffic,) I used to be scared out of my mind knowing that Jason was only a train ride away. I used to think, it's okay, Jason is tucked away at Camp Crystal Lake and has no interest in coming to find me in Jersey City. Then, the next thing you know, he's rising from the subway station, standing in the middle of the city, and knocking over boom-boxes like he owns the place. Even worse, nobody seems to care or even want to stop him. As an adult, it's a thrilling thought, but when you're 7-years-old, it's absolutely terrifying.
The film was released in 1989 when I was only 2-years-old. It's a part of the franchise that I've looked back on often for the nostalgia attached to the imagery. Forget about the stupid ship and water scenes because I couldn't care less about that filler. I'm talking about the moment Jason enters my territory and classic visuals were captured. To celebrate this Friday the 13th, I wanted to take a closer look at this moment and focus in on Jason and the tiny details that surround the killer, himself.
One of my favorite scenes in the film is when Jason looks up at a billboard advertisement for hockey and essentially sees himself. He turns at the camera and, while unable to express any emotion, we can read him like a book. There's an underlying sarcasm here and Jason himself is saying, "really?" Being such a ruthless killer, I think he may be breaking the 4th wall to ask the writers and director, but it's also a nod to the type of popularity Jason had reached by this point in the 80s. There's a lot to be said about this one scene.
What really stands out to me is the "Eastern Hockey League" logo. As a graphic designer and fan of logos, I immediately noticed that this was a modified version of the New York Rangers' logo. I never took the time to pay attention before, I only looked at the mask, but that's why I wanted to write this post. I wanted to look at the "NY" specifics. I don't know why they couldn't use the Rangers logo but, for whatever reason, they went with this made-up incarnation.
Having some fun, myself, I wanted to make a clearer version of the logo Jason may have seen when he looked up at the copyright and gimmick infringement being presented to him in New York. I did a quick Google search to see if one like this existed, but no results popped up. Maybe this is the first? It's nothing special and I finished it in a matter of minutes, but it would make an awesome t-shirt for the truly hardcore horror fans. I fall into the category of "casual fan," but I'd love to know how many people would recognize this without reading this post, first. I bet I'd be impressed by many of you reading.
As Jason chases Rennie and Sean on the moving train car, we see plenty of graffiti spread throughout. While the interior shots weren't shot on an actual NYC subway car, the decor is a true sign of the times. Come to NY now and you'll find relatively clean trains with little to no graffiti, depending on where you're going. But even I know how different NY was back in the 80s. I remember drug dealers calling out to my Dad as he took me to Madison Square Garden for WWF Fan Fest in 1994. It was nothing compared to what it is now. It was a scary place where only the strong and strong-willed survived. That's why it was the perfect place for Jason to invade. Even the toughest SOB's were in trouble with Mr. Voorhees on the loose.
I looked everywhere for a copy of the advertisement to the right. They drew glasses, blush, and lipstick on somebody asking for blood, but the most noteworthy defamation of property is what's written below. I would have never noticed without a screen cap, but it clearly says "Jason Lives" on the bottom.
It's a bit blurry, but you can make it out enough to read. I love things like that, especially in horror movies. For as great as some of our modern day horror films are, especially Insidious and The Conjuring, there's nothing like the classic 80s slasher flicks. They're movies that can scare you, thrill you, and frighten you, but still manage to maintain a fun side that lacks seriousness. The fact that somebody thought it would be cool or funny to write "Jason Lives" in a hardly seen area for a scene that only last seconds? That's just awesome and I'm so happy I took to time to investigate and search for details. It may not be new to you, but my jaw dropped when I found this. Kudos to whoever did this in '89!
After Sean pulls the emergency brake and they escape, Jason emerges from the NYC subway platform. Before he's pictured, there's a quick shot of the subway sign and stairs. It's ugly, but represents an 80s NYC very well. I'm trying to figure out what the sign on the right says. I narrowed it down to "Word To The..," but that's as far as I can get. I'd love to know what it says, means, and stood for. Was it symbolic of the time, or just a throw-in? For the most part, the other signs are all about moving. My guess is nobody lasted long in NYC and wound up moving before they ever settled down. With Jason unleashed, I'd be looking to move, too. $18.95 is a small price to pay to keep your throat intact.
This, along with another close-up, is another scene that cracks me up. Here, we have a ferocious Jason, who was believed to be electrocuted to death, back on the surface and looking for revenge. He's standing there, angry, upset, and out to kill. In the background? A Kodak advertisement featuring three half-naked Polynesian girls! It's hilarious. How are we supposed to take Jason serious in this type of environment? On one hand, it's realistic and the surroundings shouldn't change just because he's arrived, but on the other, you'd think somebody would try to shoot around images like that. But again, perhaps it's a testament to the humor often found in 80s horror. Because it doesn't take away from an already crappy story, I can appreciate the cheap laugh it gave me.
I love the way Jason stands there for a second, staring at his prey, before looking up and around at Times Square. It's as if even he is impressed by the pretty lights and attractions. I actually think it all might have distracted him from his intentions to kill because, whether he realizes it or not, there are thousands of people ripe for the picking. Instead of taking them out, he continues onward after Sean and Rennie. Does Jason have a soft spot for New Yorkers? After all, they didn't drown him.
While there were plenty of ads in Times Square in 1989, it was nothing like today's industry. Looking at the screen-caps, Coca-Cola is the first brand that really stands out. It's the most recognized logo in the world and it's only fitting that it reigns prominent in Times Square when Jason visits. The Suntory Whiskey sign is raised above Coke's with Sony on the sides.
To the left, we have Canon and AIWA. I had no idea what AIWA was, so I had to look it up. It's a Japanese consumer-electronics company from the 70s. They went out of business in the early 2000s but, along with the other ads, it's obvious how much technology was taking over the country. AIWA, Olympus, Kodak, Sony, and Panasonic were all prominently displayed in 1989 and, as somebody who doesn't personally remember the year, it's nice to see Jason rise in a technological renaissance. It was really just the beginning. Maybe that's why he was so surprised.
Have you ever wondered what guys like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees eat? Do they even need to eat? Makes more sense for Michael than Jason, but I like to believe they both got hungry every now and then. With all that killing, you're bound to build up an appetite. Luckily for Jason, he was surrounded by food and, fortunately, it was all fast food. Now he could make a quick order, take it to go, and get back to killing camp counselors and sexually active teenagers. The question is, what would Jason go for? Is he a Burger King guy? McDonalds? How about Sbarro? I see him choosing burgers over pizza, but I think all three establishments should be considered Friday the 13th food. Unless you're camping and grilling, these are the only food items associated with Jason and Friday the 13th. That's it, I'm getting McDonalds later in honor of Jason. Hopefully he joins me.
Here's another humorous scene outside the Marquis Theatre and Marriott. As these four goons are blasting music from their boom-box, Jason walks down the sidewalk and kicks it over. The kids get pissed and call him out on the New York City streets. For whatever reason, they thought they could take him with the mask, but wanted no part of him after he showed them his face. I'm not sure why Jason gave them a "don't-mess-with-me" chance and didn't just slice and dice, but it's pretty funny. Even he knows he's so disgusting that it's enough to end a fight before it starts.
The other observance is the style of clothing. Again, I was just a kid, but is this how we dressed in 1989? The first thing I think of when I see them are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I think of the 1990 film and the countless human cartoon characters who wore baggy clothes and sported the mohawk. I guess grungy and dirty was the style, but it seems so odd, now. 20-years from now, I'm sure I'll have a kid telling me what I wore was ridiculous, and they'll probably be right. But if nothing else, I love this scene for it's so many telling moments. It gives me a laugh, says a little bit about Jason, says more about his intimidation, and screams nostalgia in 2013.
Finally, this may be the most awesome scene in the entire movie. It's nothing more than a scenery shot, but it picks up an ad for another 1989 film - Batman! This is like worlds colliding. This means, in Jason's world, Batman also exists. But, does he live in our world where Batman is a comic-book superhero, or does he live in the movie world where Batman is real. This is nerdy heaven, people. This lends the possibility that Batman and Jason could one day meet. Forget the Joker, forget the Riddler, and forget Bane! There's no greater villain to enter Gotham City than Jason Vorhees. It would be an amazing crossover, but I believe Batman is just as fictitious in Jason's world as they both are in ours. But it's even cool to imagine Jason watching the Batman trailer in 1989. Maybe it played aloud as he hunted down Sean and Rennie through the streets of New York. Regardless, it's awesome to see a film acknowledge it's own competition to maintain reality.
I've never done a "dissection" post like this before, but I've always wanted to and, given the date, I think "Jason Takes Manhattan" was the perfect way to start. I don't know if I've written college essays as long as this, but I appreciate you reading if you actually did. If you didn't, then just lie to me in the comments. I'll even help you out. Say "Wow, that part about Batman was sick!" or "Damn, I never noticed that logo!" Even better, write "Come on, Cliff, we all know Jason would throw back some whiskey with his burgers!" Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.
I hope you enjoyed digging deep with me and, if you're a casual fan like me, you might have actually learned something. If not, we'll be back to candy and food in no time!
Happy Friday The 13th!! Here's to a lucky day!