Jason X (2001) aka Friday the 13th Part 10
Directed by: James Isaac
Starring: Lexa Doig, Kane Hodder, Chuck Campbell, Lisa Ryder, Peter Mensah, Melyssa Ade, Jonathan Potts, Philip Williams, Melody Johnson, Derwin Jordan, Todd Farmer, Dov Tiefenbach, David Cronenberg, Kristi Angus, Boyd Banks, Robert A. Silverman, Jeff Geddis, Barna Moricz, Dylan Bierk, Yani Gellman, Steve Lucescu, Thomas Seniuk, Amanda Brugel
(out of 4)
Hockey is even more violent in the future.
Warning: Some spoilers ahead.
Adam Marcus said that the scene with Freddy’s hand at the end of Jason Goes to Hell was just an in-joke, but I have also heard other things – specifically, that New Line wanted the Friday franchise for the sole purpose of putting Jason and Freddy together. But around the year 2000, seven years after Jason Goes to Hell, Freddy vs Jason was still stuck in development hell. So a decision was made to do another Jason movie while everybody was waiting for the famous faceoff (which would start filming a few years later). David Cronenberg groupie Jim Isaac (he had just been working on effects for eXistenZ) then got together with writer Todd Farmer and producer Noel Cunningham (Sean Cunningham’s son) to pitch “Jason in Space.” The result is a piece of campy cheese called Jason X.
The beginning takes us to the “Crystal Lake Research Facility” circa 2010, where Jason Voorhees is chained up and awaiting “cryogenic suspension.” (This is how awesome the little town of Crystal Lake has become – they have their own cryogenic lab now!) But Rowan (Lexa Doig, from TV sci-fi shows like Tekwar, Andromeda, Stargate, etc) is overruled by Dr. Wimmer (played by David Cronenberg himself – slumming it!), who wants to experiment on Jason because of his unique regenerative abilities. * Jason escapes, of course, and slaughters everybody, except for Rowan who manages to start the freezing process, but she is unfortunately trapped in the chamber with him. Fast forward to the year 2455, and Earth is now a barren wasteland, but some students on a field trip land their spaceship and uncover the frozen bodies of Jason and Rowan. Thanks to future nanotech, Rowan is resurrected, but the greedy Professor Lowe (Jonathan Potts) wants to use Jason’s frozen corpse to make money (sell him to a museum? stick him in a 25th century circus? Who knows?) In a clever sequence, two students go off to their quarters to get it on, intercut with Jason thawing out and returning to life. (Can Jason sense premarital sex?) He gets up the immediately performs the film’s best kill – freezing a woman’s face in liquid nitrogen and then smashing it to pieces.
Hey girl, don’t feel bad – you should see my face.
The rest of Jason X goes as you would expect – Jason runs around a spaceship killing people. Pilots are slaughtered, hulls are breached, space stations are accidentally destroyed, and engineer Crutch (Philip Williams) quips “Be glad you weren’t around during the Microsoft Conflict – we were beating each other with our own severed limbs!” Basically, the entire film is practically a spoof, with characters breaking out one-liners while in the middle of being killed. The creators have decided that it’s too late trying to stamp any kind of seriousness on the Voorhees character, so they create a mostly self-aware, post-modern atmosphere. The result is mixed – sticking Jason “in space” works sometimes… and then other times it just comes across as too silly. It’s also a bit dull in the middle – something I never felt while watching the equally ludicrous Jason Goes to Hell. That middle section, by the way, is a ripoff of Alien, Aliens, and Alien: Resurrection, as a bunch of grunts are picked off one by one (just to give you an idea of my confusing thoughts on Jason X, one soldier falls onto a giant screw and twists around on it, then another exclaims “He’s screwed.” Funny? Wince-inducing? Both?)
Jason X isn’t just satisfied stealing from Alien – it also loves The Terminator and Virtuosity(!). When ship android Kay-Em 14 (Lisa Ryder, also seen in Andromeda) is given an “upload” (surely, they meant “upgrade”) she turns into a dominatrix super-fem-bot (reminding me a little bit of Alice from Resident Evil) who blows Jason to bits (why weren’t the soldiers given the same weapons?). But the ship nanobots decide to reconstruct him into “Uber-Jason” – a bullet proof killer made of metal. (Rockin!) Finally, Isaac and Farmer seem to love Star Trek: The Next Generation, since ship geek Tsunaron (Chuck Campbell) decides to activate the holodeck thing and stick Jason in “Crystal Lake, circa 1980!” where Jason runs into virtual female campers who disrobe and express their love for premarital sex and smoking pot. The result is an update to the sleeping bag murder from The New Blood.
Some people are just not fans of Fast Company .
Logic doesn’t really have a place here. Jason can shove a machete through a thick steel enforced door, nobody thinks it would be a good idea to protect the ship cockpit (Jason gets in there twice!), soldiers are shooting at Jason and in the next frame he has disappeared (how? he’s a giant lumbering thing!), every girl in the future wears belly shirts, people still talk like they do in the year 2000, even though it’s over four hundred years later. Plus, for all the effort getting Lexa Doig into the future, she barely figures in the plot. It’s all surreal and absurd, and yet, despite the feeling that this thing could have easily gone straight to video, the biggest surprise to me was that it doesn’t completely suck. In a way, it’s comic-bookish and campy enough to be almost charming. New Line’s contribution to the world of Friday the 13th has not been well received overall, but at least they tried going in different directions. Jason X was followed by Freddy vs. Jason in 2003 and the Friday the 13th remake in 2009.
– Bill Gordon
Buy Jason X on DVD
Buy the New Line Jason Slasher Collection
Get Friday the 13th: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray
The DVD release of Jason X features commentary by James Isaac, Todd Farmer, and Noel Cunningham. It’s an interesting-enough yakker; I laughed when they said that the “space idea” had been done unsuccessfully before (Leprechaun 4, Hellraiser 4) and they did it anyway, LOL. The 30 minute retrospective “The Many Lives of Jason Voorhees” is mostly fluff, but it’s amusing to see Mark Borchardt and Mike Schank (American Movie
) in there along with Drew McWeeny, Tony Timpone, Joe Bob Briggs, and others. The Making of Jason X (17:30) actually has some interesting material related to how they did the visual effects of the film (done by Toybox). They also talk about the film-to-digital conversions, set design, and costume design. Also on the disc are trailers for Jason X, Blade II, Final Destination, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
But wait, you say – didn’t Jason go to hell? Well, yes, but it appears that continuity places Jason X after Freddy vs Jason
, so by this time Jason has already been resurrected.