Jason goes to space in this unlikely Friday the 13th outing. John gives it a revisit.
Who made it?: James Isaac (Director), Todd Farmer (Writer), Noel Cunningham, Sean S. Cunningham (Producers), New Line Cinema/Crystal Lake Entertainment.
Who’s in it?: Kane Hodder, Lexa Doig, Jonathan Potts, Lisa Ryder, David Cronenberg.
Tagline: “Evil Gets An Upgrade.”
IMDb rating: 4.3/10.
Even though the concept of Jason in space is totally absurd, I can’t help but like this movie and be enthralled by it. Maybe the fact that I am such a big fan of the Friday the 13th series contributes to my enjoyment of this particular instalment. It is definitely a guilty pleasure of mine, and in my opinion, it is certainly a more satisfying watch than the letdown that was Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993), where the infamous hockey masked killer hardly appeared in the movie.
In the near future, Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder) is being held captive by the government at the Crystal Lake Research facility, in an attempt to uncover the secrets of his cellular regeneration. Vorhees eventually escapes and kills several people. A female scientist named Rowan (Lexa Doig) manages to lure Jason into an “ice” pod and freezes him, but not before Jason ruptures the device with his machete and freezes Rowen, too. 445 years later, Earth is a barren, polluted wasteland, unable to support life. A group students led by Professor Brandon Lowe (Jonathan Potts) arrive on the desolate planet as part of a field trip. They explore the abandoned Crystal Lake facility, where they soon discover the frozen bodies of Jason and Rowan. Realising they’ve got themselves a precious and historical find, the group decides to take both Jason and Rowan aboard their spaceship, The Apache. But when Jason suddenly awakens from his cryogenic sleep, all hell breaks loose on the ship…
Produced on a budget of $11 million, Jason X came about due to the proposed Freddy vs. Jason lingering in development hell. This was a premise which fans had debated over since the mid 1980s and it really began to take shape after audiences witnessed Freddy’s claw burst out of the ground and grab Jason’s hockey mask at the end of Jason Goes to Hell. But, in the meantime, producer Sean S. Cunningham decided to make another Friday the 13th movie in the hopes of keeping Jason’s legacy alive, which had started to dwindle with sub-standard entries such as Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989).
Jason X saw the directorial debut of the late James Isaac, who had previously worked as a special effects artist on Gremlins (1984), Enemy Mine (1985), House II: The Second Story (1987), Look Who’s Talking Too (1990), Virtuosity (1995) and eXistenZ (1999). Isaac has always cited fellow Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg as his mentor and idol, saying “David knew I wanted to direct and it was my goal. He let me into his world and I could ask him any questions I wanted on what he was doing. I’d ask, ‘Why did you block it like that,’ or ‘What were you thinking here?’ He really allowed me to pick his brain.” First time screenwriter Todd Farmer wrote the screenplay after impressing producers with his zany pitch. Farmer would continue to write horror with credits including The Messengers (2007) and the remake of My Bloody Valentine (2009). The music was composed and performed by Friday the 13th regular Harry Manfredini, whose dramatic style of scoring blended with chilling electronic sounds, would help launch the franchise into the 21st Century.
The cast is largely forgettable, with the exception of fan-favourite Hodder as the silent stalker. The former stuntman turned actor is more than comfortable in the role with this being his fourth outing as Crystal Lake’s most famous son. But, unfortunately, Jason X would spell the end of Hodder’s reign as Jason Vorhees, as he was never given the opportunity to star in Freddy Vs. Jason (2003) alongside Robert Englund’s Freddy Krueger.
The movie is extremely hit-and-miss throughout. Acting is pretty damn awful to say the least, which is a well-known cliché in slasher movies. Special effects are not bad for a “low-budget” movie, but do resemble the kind of quality you would find on the Syfy Channel. Jason transforming into an armoured Uber-Jason is both laughable and cool at the same time. But, to its credit, Jason X does have some great death scenes, especially one involving liquid nitrogen. Plus, it doesn’t mind poking fun at its own franchise, with a scene involving Jason and a hologram of two naked hotties trying to tempt him with beer and weed, only to be bashed around in a sleeping bag for their sins.
Also, taking a beloved horror character from their natural environment and placing them amongst the distant stars isn’t exactly a new concept. Other famous characters in the genre have also ventured into the depths of the cosmos, such as Pinhead in Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996) and the title fiend in Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996). So you can’t really blame the filmmakers of Jason X for wanting to take an ambitious approach to bring something diverse to a franchise that was dying on its feet. Hopefully the new Friday reboot planned for 2015 will breathe new life into the slasher icon.
Jason X was released in the US on 26th April, 2002, months after other countries such as Spain, Brazil and Argentina, and performed dismally at the box office, only managing to gross a little over thirteen million, making it one of lowest-grossing films in the franchise. But, despite its disappointing box office returns, the film gained positive reviews in the UK from magazines such as Empire and Total Film. Jason X is pure B-Movie fun and shouldn’t really be regarded as a Friday the 13th movie because its so disconnected from previous entries. It certainly isn’t a great movie, but if you want to be mindlessly entertained for ninety minutes while drinking a few beers, then it’s definitely worth a watch.
After awakening from cryogenic sleep aboard The Apache, Jason soon claims his first victim in outer space.
- 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.
- This is the least-censored film in the series by the MPAA, with only a few brief seconds snipped.
- 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 first film in the Friday the 13th series to rely on digital effects for death and gore shots.