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 Voorhees 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 spectacular special
effects, high tech weapons, and new ways to die.
"Guys, it's okay! He just wanted his machete
- Professor Lowe
Jason X is
a terrific, fast-paced, big-budget sci-fi/action movie that---silly plot
synopsis aside---shouldn't work, yet does. And why shouldn't it work? Unlike
previous entries in the series, this isn't a horror film. It's a rip-off
of James Cameron's Aliens, although now starring Kane Hodder as
Jason Voorhees instead of those nasty, overgrown roaches with piranha teeth.
I watched this film in stunned disbelief. I suspect that New Line Cinema's
decision to postpone the film's U.S. theatrical release has nothing to
do with the film's quality. (It shouldn't, because the movie is very good.)
Instead, I wonder if Jason X is being withheld because New Line
is still processing the shock of reading its name atop the "Eagerly Awaited"
column in Cameron's logbook of upcoming court dates. Not since Universal
Pictures wiped Great White off the face of the earth has there been
such an opportunity to burn the master negative of a reported $13.5 million
dollar motion picture.
Jason X doesn't settle for lifting and reworking certain scenes from Cameron's
space classic. Oh no, it does so much more. What do you call a movie that
not only recreates the mood, setting and characters from someone else's
original screenplay, but then also insists on lifting actual dialogue from
that same screenplay and passing it off as its own? How is it possible
that director Jim Isaacs unknowingly staged entire segments of Jason
X with his actors framed in the same proximity to the camera as in
Cameron's film? And what's the defense when these actors physically react
to these situations in exactly the same manner as the cast of Cameron's
original? I do not dare whisper the words, homage or spoof, because I have
indeed seen the films of John Sayles and, in my opinion, a spoof is something
the Zuckers Brothers are hired to do. What we have here is something deliciously
more akin to swiping your dad's credit card and using it to buy yourself
a home theatre system with THX SurroundSound. It's fun while it lasts,
but sooner than later you're gonna get nailed by the higher-ups. And yet,
I'm so pleased with the results of Jason X that I'm damned if I
don't want the silly thing to break $100 million at the box office, if
only to read how James Cameron copes with it.
Let me say that Jason X does not begin promisingly. The film opens with one of those
standard attack sequences in which our heroine races from one darkened
set to another, while Jason dispatches a quarter of the Screen Actors Guild
and violins screech in the background. I doubt whether such a high-security
government facility would have truly allowed an imprisoned psychopath to
continue wearing his hockey mask, but what the hell. Jason gets cryogenically
frozen and the film skips four hundred years into the future. Before long,
a group of teens on a field trip from "Earth 2" are dumping Jason's frozen
carcass onto their orbiting spaceship, and never thinking twice about the
bloody machete still clutched in his oversized mitts. (In all fairness,
they do observe that hockey was a violent sport outlawed in 2010.) Did
I forget to mention that our dark-haired heroine was also cryogenically
frozen in the same room with Jason and has now been rescued, too? Or that
the spaceship is filled with a rowdy band of Marines armed with enough
firepower to overthrow a small Republic? Or that there's an android aboard?
Or that the expedition's leader turns out to be a greedy entrepreneur with
selfish motives? This is not a movie that wastes time with creating new
storylines, not when laying a piece of onion skin over somebody else's
work and carbon-copying it idea-for-idea will suffice. Once Jason wakes
up with a truly hateful headache, however, the film finally closes its
eyes and steps on the gas.
Take the scene,
for example, where the Marines find themselves stalking Jason in a cargo
room that's roughly the same size as that warehouse at the end of Raiders
of the Lost Ark. The teens, huddled elsewhere on the ship, are monitoring
this same track-and-pursuit by listening to the conversations being broadcast
over the loudspeakers. (Don't ask why.) We're not stupid. We know that
Jason is going to skewer every person in that cargo room. We know this
because we've been around a while. We've seen a few horror flicks, maybe
some sequels. And of course we've seen Aliens. Jason finally does
attack, while the camera zooms around corners and our heroine demands "Get
your men out of there!", and walkie-talkies squawk about copy this and
copy that. And I didn't care a smidgen about how James Cameron did it better
or that I was watching a rip-off, because the scene worked. In fact, it
And much later,
when a new-and-improved Jason Voorhees strides through a shattered doorway,
out of the smoke, as if daring you to make one more Aliens reference,
I knew this film had blindsided me. It's a moment as cinematically thrilling
as when Sigourney Weaver finally confronts the Queen, delivering the line
quoted 'round the world. And why shouldn't it work? After all, it's the
exact same scene.
X ought to be ashamed. Perhaps I should be embarrassed for being so
easily amused. And yet, credit must be given to the filmmakers for attempting
something unique---now nine sequels into the series---when the same tired
storyline would have probably earned as much money. Yes, the film has flaws.
The first half-hour shows severe signs of tampering in the editing room,
including an awful sex scene between a student and teacher that feels like
a filmed memo from the Audience Research Department to the screenwriter.
(This particular moment almost collapses the movie.) On the other hand,
the final three minutes of Jason X are everything that a certain
2001 re-imagining claimed to be, without involving apes on motorcycles.
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character of Adrienne, played by Kristi Angus, is named after Adrienne
King, the star of the original Friday the 13th.
Todd Farmer based much of Jason X on Alien, even naming one
of the characters (who he would incidentally play) Dallas, after Tom Skeritt's
character in the Ridley Scott film.
X had four different U.S. release dates before it was finally released.
of the characters in the film are named after screenwriter Todd Farmer's
online friends in the PC game "EverQuest".
the Television series Andromeda, Lexa Doig plays, among other roles,
a robot and Lisa Ryder a human. In Jason X, their roles are reversed.
character Janessa was originally named Jessica, after producer Sean Cunningham's
name of the primary ship in the film is the "Grendel" which is the name
of a monster in the Old English poem "Beowulf". Grendel was a direct descendant
of Cain from the Book of Genesis, a monster described as half-troll, half-ogre.
Like Jason, Grendel rose from a lake in search of victims and seemingly
could not be killed.
name "Tiamat" comes from Babylonian mythology. She was a dragon/god of
the sea, who was slain by the god Marduk, who then formed the land from
mentioned a gun while the soldiers were suiting up called the "BFG". This
sci-fi gun is well known to players of the PC games of Doom and Quake as the most powerful weapon. "BFG" is an acronym for Big Fucking Gun.
Voorhees' eyes never blink when they are shown.
- The space debris floating in space has "cunningham reality" written
on the side. After the producer Noel Cunningham, the son of executive producer
and maker of the original Friday the 13th, Sean S. Cunningham.
- The music played during Jason's first look at the virtual reality
Camp Crystal Lake is the same musical score from Friday the 13th: Part
- In the scene where Dallas is smashed against the wall by Jason,
the stuntman making this stunt actually broke his nose.
- When Stony opens the door and gets stabbed and his blood sprays
in Kinsa's face, she screams. According to the audio commentary, the effects
guys weren't supposed to spray the blood into her face. She was screaming
not because she just saw her boyfriend die, but because the fake blood
was burning her eyes
- The "virtual '80s" scene was originally meant to be much more
detailed, including a number of topless women playing volleyball. One idea
even included the appearance of Pamela Voorhees, Jason's mother, and even
went so far as to have Jason attack her, showing the extent of just how
evil he had become. The latter idea was dropped.
- The "sleeping bag death" scene was first done in Friday the 13th
Part VII: The New Blood, and was actually ad-libbed by Kane Hodder
in that film out of frustration at re-shooting the same scene over and