Kane Hodder says that one of the most fun parts of his tenure as Jason was the scenes in Times Square. He says that spectators were lined up and down the block watching the filming, and he didn't want to take off the mask to destroy their illusion of Jason. He said that every once in awhile, he'd turn his head and look at them, and watch them all go crazy.
Rob Hedden originally wrote more of the movie to be set in New York. He had written scenes at Madison Square Garden, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Empire State Building. But Paramount told him that budget would not allow him to spend that much time in New York, so he was forced to rewrite the film and spend more time on the cruise ship. Hedden says he agrees with fans who complain that not enough time is spent in New York, given the title.
(at around 1h 28 mins) In the diner, the man Jason throws into the mirror is Ken Kirzinger, who would go on to play Jason in Freddy vs. Jason (2003). Kirzinger also doubles as Jason in a few brief shots in this film.
Despite the nature of the film and adverse filming conditions, Kane Hodder provided several moments of levity which were appreciated by the cast. Following several death scenes, for example, once director Rob Hedden called "cut," Hodder would do a brief disco dance in full Jason costume and make-up, making the cast laugh.
Many of the actors pointed out to themselves a plot hole earlier in the filming of the movie: they wondered how the ship got out of Crystal Lake and into the Atlantic Ocean. Since most of them were just happy to be in a film, they didn't bring it up to the producers or director.
Of the female leads (all the girls are supposed to be graduated from high school), only Jensen Daggett was one of the few actresses who was actually a teenager and was 19 years old at the time of shooting.
After the disappointing results at the box-office, Paramount decided to sell the Friday the 13th film series to New Line Cinema, making "Jason Takes Manhattan" the last feature produced by Paramount, until the 2009 remake. Only three other sequels were released in between.
In the original script, when Jason makes it to the dock, a dog starts barking at him and he kicked it. Kane Hodder, who was playing Jason, felt that kicking the dog was going too far and so the scene was dropped.
Lar Park-Lincoln originally wanted to sign on to reprise her role as Tina Shepard in Part 8, but she wanted a higher salary than what she was paid in Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988). Paramount told her that their budget could not afford to pay her anymore than what she bargained for. Because of this, Park-Lincoln turned the role down for Part 8. Thus, Paramount decided to re-write the entire script for Part 8 to take the movie to a whole new direction, which later completely excluded the character of Tina as they decided they did not want anyone from Part 7 return to Part 8.
(at around 1h 24 mins) In the subway, when Jason is chasing Rennie and Sean, Sean pulls the emergency brake to knock Jason back. On the poster to right of Sean, sprawled in graffiti are the words "Jason Lives", which is the subtitle of the sixth installment of the 'Friday the 13th' franchise: Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (1986).
(at around 55 mins) In the scene where Jason reaches through the porthole and grabs Rennie, Jensen Daggett was reportedly really terrified. Her face was just inches from a large and very sharp piece of glass that had become stuck in the window frame, and the actor who played Jason was (unknowingly) pulling her towards it.
Sharlene Martin initially expressed discomfort at being filmed nude for a shower scene. To put her at ease, Rob Hedden borrowed a page from theater and film lore and stripped down fully nude and walked into the shower himself to illustrate how easy it all was. Unfortunately, he didn't realize the camera was rolling the whole time. When the producers watched the dailies the next morning they were very, very confused as to why their director was standing completely nude in a shower talking to one of his lovely young actresses.
Julius was actually punching Kane Hodder because he was a big, tough guy, wearing plenty of padding. 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 envisioned taking place in Madison Square Garden.
The original posters for the film featured Jason ripping through an "I Love NY" poster. In the first poster, Jason is holding a bloody knife which was cleaned in a second poster for fear that the blood was too graphic. However, both posters were dropped following a complaint from the New York Tourism Committee.
1989 marks the only year entries from the three biggest slasher franchises of the decade (Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween) were released in the same year; Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989), Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989), and Halloween 5 (1989).
The movie was falsely titled "Ashes to Ashes" while filming in New York City to avoid fan interruptions. This fake title was also used in the script to prevent auditioning actors from knowing and revealing what film they were making. In the fake-titled script, Jason was renamed Ethan.
According to the DVD documentary from Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (2013), Lee Coleman was the original actor playing Sean Robertson. A couple of weeks later after filming had started, he was let go as the directors/producers felt that he was uncomfortable with his role and his character for his role did not have the right chemistry to serve as a love interest for Rennie. So Scott Reeves was hired to replace him and re-shoot all of the scenes that Lee had played.
Of all the Friday the 13th films released by Paramount in the 1980s, Amy Steel (who played Part 2) and Jensen Daggett who played lead female roles were the two of the youngest at the time of filming. Amy was 20 years old during the shooting of Part 2, while Jensen was 19 years old while filming Part 8 making her the youngest actress to play a lead female role of all Friday the 13th films.
On the DVD audio commentary the director said that the original version was over two hours long and he cut the following scenes for time *Several scenes with Miles, who is shown to have been an Olympic diver *A scene at the beginning where Sean hears that Rennie will not be on board and is disappointed *Several additional scenes with Tamara and Eva were cut *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
Part 8 director Rob Hedden had previously worked as a writer for Paramount on MacGyver, but what he really wanted to do was direct. So, when the studio asked him to write for Friday the 13th: The Series he'd only do it if he could also direct. They hated the sound of that, but two months later they were still desperate for writers. So, they gave in, hired Hedden, and let him direct 2 episodes, walking away impressed enough with his work behind the camera to offer him the job to write/direct Part 8.
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 forgot to cast an actress who would agree to it. The director 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.
During the opening credits featuring New York City's Time Square a huge Batman (1989) poster is clearly visible. As filming of these scenes took place during the promotional campaign of Tim Burton's first Batman film, starring Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton.
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
The original scripted ending featured Jason being completely melted by toxic waste and His soul has finally been released. But they changed it so that if there was a chance of a sequel they didn't write themselves into a corner.