Movie Review: Jason X

Jason XJason X (2001)

Starring Kane Hodder, Lexa Doig, Chuck Campbell, Peter Mensah, Melyssa Ade, David Cronenberg and Beka Valentine.

Directed by Jim Isaac.

I think I’m going to have to add Jason X to a couple of my movie lists. The first would be the “Guilty Pleasures” list: bad movies that I love to watch. The second list needs a name, but the only other movie on it right now is Predator. I think I’ll call this my “Shut your eyes, Marion. Don’t look at it!” list. These are movies that I can’t seem to help watching whenever they happen to be on television.

Jason X is the tenth installment of the Friday the 13th series, and I guess someone decided that it would be cool to put the main character in a spaceship. This seems to be a trend with horror series, as evidenced by Leprechaun 4: In Space and Hellraiser: Bloodlines. I don’t know how well it worked for the Leprechaun franchise, but Pinhead in space was a bit of a letdown. Oh, and let’s not forget Dracula 3000, which … well, sucked.

Sorry.

Jason X is an interesting beast, because once you put Jason Vorhees on a spaceship you can’t really call your movie “horror” anymore; it’s some kind of weird action/comedy hybrid with a heaping helping of gore and a dash of pseudo-suspense thrown in for good measure.

The plot is pretty straightforward: In the mid-25th century, nosy people find Jason Vorhees frozen in carbonite a cryogenic chamber and do what anyone with half a brain who finds a huge, hockey mask wearing, machete wielding lummox in a block of ice would do: they thaw that sucker out! Four centuries of cooling his heels hasn’t exactly had a mellowing effect on Jason, and he soon goes on a murderous rampage, finding rather inventive ways to kill the various occupants of the space vessel in which he is being transported to “Earth II.”

Doesn’t that sound like a fun movie? Well, it is. Jason X is far more enjoyable than it has any right to be, as long as you set your standards fairly low. It’s not as genuinely scary or suspenseful as a couple of its earlier predecessors, and I doubt anyone is going to lie awake at night, unable to sleep because they are afraid Jason Vorhees will freeze their face with liquid nitrogen and smash their head against a table. The Friday the 13th franchise—like its sister series, A Nightmare on Elm Street—has become what I call “novelty horror.” Rather than trying to actually scare us, the filmmakers have decided to see how clever their villains can be when dispatching their victims.

Jason X works for me because it has a good blend of goofy science-fiction and over the top action. Lots of stuff blows up, lots of people die, Jason gets “upgraded” and then even more people die. Plus, there’s a sexy android who totally kicks Jason’s ass (pre-upgrade). Oh, and the ending has “Jason XI” written all over it.

For an example of novelty horror that doesn’t work, check out the train-wreck that is Freddy vs. Jason. Frustrated because people aren’t afraid of him anymore, Freddy Krueger recruits Jason Vorhees to help him give people nightmares. That’s right, Freddy can’t get his fright on anymore, so he needs Jason Viagra to help him out. Only things don’t go according to Freddy’s (inane) plan and Jason turns on him (hence the “vs.”), resulting in a showdown that should have been worth watching, but turned into a big disappointment. Someone must have liked it, though. I just read today that Robert (Freddy Krueger) Englund is talking about a sequel: Freddy vs. Jason vs. Michael Myers. Throw Don Knotts and the Mystery Machine in the mix and we’ve got next summer’s big blockbuster.

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