If you’re looking for terror, here comes a perfect ten. In the year 2455, on a routine training mission, a team of students is about to learn a terrifying lesson. Through the years, Jason Vorhees has claimed over 200 victims. Now, the legendary killer from Crystal Lake is back, hurtling through space and hunting new prey. Jason X is a nerve-shredding thriller loaded with new special effects, hi-tech weapons and new ways to die.
Jason X 3.5
eyelights: the frozen face kill. the gutsiness of taking Jason out of his element.
eyesores: the nonsensical, ripped off plot. the boring kills. the poor production. the weak acting.
“Kids and their goddamn field trips. Let’s bring the psycho on board. Yeah, sure. I just know I’m gonna get blamed for this shit.”
At the end of ‘Jason Goes to Hell‘, Jason’s mask, which was just lying there on the ground (even though it was clearly taken with Jason when the demons came for him) was grabbed by the gloved hand of Freddy Krueger.
This teased an upcoming ‘Freddy vs. Jason‘ motion picture, a very popular concept with fans of both franchises, but it got caught in production hell and it would take a decade for it to see the light of day.
Meanwhile, ‘Friday the 13th’ creator and producer Sean S. Cunningham wanted to keep his franchise alive, lest the movie-going public forget about one of the most popular horror film icons of the last decade and a half.
But what could he do? If he made another movie, it would break continuity since the next one was clearly meant to feature Freddy. Enter screenwriter Todd Farmer, who suggested setting the picture in the future.
“How does he function with a brain that small?”
Well, that would work. It would prevent it from conflicting with previously-established ‘Friday the 13th‘ lore (we can’t really call it “continuity” because the series is plagued with all sorts of nonsensical moments).
So what the filmmakers do? They launched Jason into space.
I guess it was cheaper to do that than to actually have the film set over four centuries into the future, which would cost a fortune to design and produce. At least putting him on a spacecraft means one single, manageable set.
And so we have ‘Jason X’, the tenth ‘Friday the 13th’ film in the franchise – and a much-reviled one, at that. Heck I remember scoffing at it when it came out, vowing to never see it (I already disliked the series, but this…?)
However, for TCE’s sake, being a completist, I decided to do the few that I didn’t do yet.
This is the last.
And thank goodness for that, because, although the series was already of low calibre in the first place, it progressively got worse as time went on, making pre-teens the heroes, throwing psychics into the mix and sending Jason on a boat cruise.
I don’t think I can handle any more.
Interestingly enough, ‘Jason X’ isn’t the worst in the series (yes, I’m reduced to judging the series on its films’ “least worst” status). Setting aside, there were some bloody awful ones in the course of this now stalled franchise.
The problem with ‘Jason X’ is that it’s deathly dull. Yes, the production looks like a cheap TV movie, the actors are TV fodder at best, and it’s blatantly stupid in many areas. But the kills are incredibly weak.
Most of them, anyway.
There’s also the no-small-matter that the plot is extremely familiar if you’ve seen ‘Alien: Resurrection‘. Except that this is a bad version of ‘Alien: Resurrection’ with Jason in the alien’s stead. A bad version, if you can imagine that.
That’s what ‘Jason X’ is.
“His unique ability to regenerate lost and damaged tissue, it’s just it cries out for more research.”
So how does Jason get into space, you ask? I’m still not 100% sure. The movie opens in 2010, at the Crystal Lake Research Center, which looks like your generic “secret military compound”. Jason has been captured and is being studied.
David Cronenberg shows up to take him away so as to study his cel regeneration, despite the protests of one of the scientists, who wants to cryogenically keep Jason in stasis since they can’t find a way to kill him.
Woah… back up a second. Did I just say David Cronenberg?
Yes I did.
Cronenberg has a bit part and stinks up the screen for the full minute he’s on. Why he chose ‘Jason X’ to pursue his acting career in, is beyond me. He should definitely stick to quality fare such as ‘Last Night‘ instead.
“Guys, it’s okay! He just wanted his machete back!”
Anyway, Jason wakes up, goes on a rampage, kills everyone, and the scientist leads him into the cryo chamber and freezes him – but he kills her by stabbing through the chamber with a machete. And then promptly freezes in an action pose.
Woah… wait-a-minute. Did I just say “a machete”?
Yes I did.
Why does he have a machete?
Who f-ing knows. I guess they kept one around for him in case he got peckish and needed to cut himself some cheese and crackers (which is what a Friday the 13th film is usually filled with, when you think about it).
“Jason Voorhees. He killed nearly 200 people and simply disappeared without a trace. Under the right buyer, he could be worth a fortune.”
Then, for reasons that escape me (and probably even the filmmakers), the Crystal Lake Research Center is forgotten for 445 years. That’s right: all the people who worked there had no loved ones who missed them, and the government never checks up on it.
That’s when space-bound scavengers break the place open, find its content and take it back with them, figuring that these perfectly maintained (if frozen) bodies could have some value back home. And so Jason is in space.
And then goes on another rampage.
“Hey, you’re lucky you weren’t alive during the Microsoft conflict. Hell, we were beating each other with our own severed limbs.”
I loved how the crew on the ship chased after Jason with guns – big, clunky, stupid-looking guns. Has no one in the future learned that bullets fired inside a spacecraft means certain doom, should the hull be breached?
Speaking of the ship, I didn’t realize that there was a ship design pool in Hollywood and, unless you have lots of money, you’re stuck with the leftover scraps that none of the studios would touch. You should see their dumb-@$$ ship!
The production is a problem here and the quality of the talent leaves much to be desired. From the CGI opening credit in “Hell” to the ship design to the guns to the special effects, this looks like a poor man’s Roger Corman picture.
The best set piece was the Solaris base, which the ship hurtles towards and crashes through, destroying it and killing everyone. So we barely see it (and on that note, why wasn’t the base built with defenses or a force field anyway?).
Honestly, here are the few things that I liked about ‘Jason X’:
- The design of Jason’s mask. It’s an improvement over past ones. Yes, it’s still wedged into his over-sized head and he’s far too hulking for my tastes (he used to just be a dude in a jumpsuit), but the mask is cool.
- The first kill aboard the spacecraft, which finds Jason dipping a scientist’s face in liquid nitrogen, freezing her face to ice and then smashing it on a counter, breaking it like glass (ahem… but not his hand, which should have been frozen too…).
- An android blows Jason apart and he’s (conveniently) regenerated by their medibay. I liked to see that he was now souped up and armoured. Sadly, it didn’t change anything; it was just to get a reaction out of the audience.
And that’s it. ‘Jason X’ has nothing else going for it. I’ve seen worse (installments 7-9 in the series, for instance), but it certainly could have been better. Had it not been so dreadfully familiar and trite it might have been okay.
But ‘Jason X’ does offers nothing that’s original, and does none of it especially well. It’s hardly surprising, then, that there hasn’t been another film in the franchise – excepting for the match-up with Freddy and the reboot.
Jason may not have been killed with finality on screen, but he died a slow, tortuous death anyway.
Happy Friday the 13th, everyone!!!
Date of viewing: February 13, 2015