Saturday, July 2, 2016

Jason X

Here's a guideline for the Friday the 13th movies. If you're looking for scares, your best shot of finding them is early in the series. The longer the series went, the better entries tended to be the ones that didn't take themselves too seriously and poked fun at their conventions.

It's in that spirit we arrive at the tenth entry in the series, Jason X (2001). Is it a good movie? No, but as other reviews have noted, if you're watching this with anything resembling high expectations, it's your own damn fault for being disappointed. Jason X knows what kind of movie it is and delivers the goods as demonstrated by having David Cronenberg of all people turn up in a cameo to get skewered by Mr. Voorhees.

As you would expect, Jason Voorhees is back and stalking oversexed teenagers, but now, he's doing his work... IN OUTER SPACE. Alien this is not, despite the presence of a character named Dallas, a platoon of rough-and-ready marines with big, hi-tech guns, an android, and people creeping around the dark, cramped corridors of a spaceship. Other sci-fi elements include nano machines that can heal life-threatening injuries and re-attach limbs, cryogenics, and a reference to something call the Microsoft Conflict ("We were beating each other with our own severed limbs.").

Jason still uses his trusted machete, but the new environment gives him an opportunity to try some new and inventive methods of killing. After he's thawed out of a cryogenic chamber, Jason grabs a researcher and stuffs her head in a vat of liquid nitrogen. Once her face completely solidifies, he smashes it against the counter, shattering it to pieces. Jason also punches a hole in the ship's hull, resulting in the inevitable vacuum which pulls a teen through a tiny grate. "This sucks on so many levels," she protests just before she's pulverized.

Toward the end, Jason undergoes an upgrade. After the android blows him to pieces, the ship's computer automatically heals him, complete with cybernetic armor. He looks pretty bad ass, but seeing as how the movie's almost over when this occurs and Jason doesn't do anything he wouldn't have done in his normal garb, it is something of a letdown the filmmakers didn't do more with the idea of Cyborg Jason.

In a similar vein as Jason Lives! and Jason Goes to Hell, Jason X has a streak of self-aware humor. Down (Lexa Doig), who had the unfortunate fate of being frozen along with Jason, reveals there were several attempts to execute the hockey mask-wearing killer once he was captured but all of them failed. Jason steps into a virtual reality simulator, twice, and is puzzled when the guys he killed there are still alive when the simulation is turned off. The surviving teens also attempt to delay Jason by trapping him in a simulation of Crystal Lake where a couple of topless sims offer him some beer, pot, and premarital sex. Jason responds by killing them, repeating the sleeping bag murder from The New Blood

Jason X is a stupid movie, and apart from the gore, the special effects are mostly terrible, about on par with a cheap, latter-day episode of Star Trek. Still, can you really complain when it's Friday the 13th Part X? Compared to other slasher movies that flung their villains into space (Hellraiser 4, Leprechaun 4), it's not too bad. It's Jason formula all the way: graphic violence, gratuitous nudity, and some laughs at the absurdity of it all. What else would you expect?

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