in The Vault

Jason X (2001)

I remember seeing a cardboard display for Jason X in the lobby of a Regal Cinema when I was eleven-years-old. I hadn’t seen any of the films but I was familiar with the character. My immediate reaction was “Wow, that’s dumb” followed by laughter. Even as a child Jason X seemed like a bad idea and it is a bad idea. I actually ended up renting it with my dad on home video—that’s what we called it—however many months later. I remember thinking it was just so terrible and then falling asleep.

Looking back, I think I was a little hard on Jason X. Too much preteen angst, perhaps. Then again, preteen John hadn’t sat through nine other Friday the 13th movies beforehand. Because in the grand scheme of things, Jason X is one of the most entertaining installments in the series. Yes, it’s a terrible idea with cliche characters, cheesy effects, and flat story, but it’s fun. The action is solid and there are a few genuine laughs. Jason X, like Piranha 3DD, is a movie that knows exactly what it’s supposed to be. It never tries to be more than dumb fun and on that note, it succeeds. On other notes? Oh god is it bad.

The film opens with CGI Hell, the CGI is passable, mostly in part because it’s used sparingly throughout the film. We pullout from Hell into a blood stream as the credits play. We pull out further and we realize we are inside of Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder) himself. “So, he’s like made of Hell?” Guess that explains all the evil. The year is 2010 and Jason Voorhees is being held captive in a secret research facility in Crystal Lake. In fact, it’s so secret they refuse to mop the floor or turn on a single light. Jason is chained up standing in place with the only guard being a Justin Long-esque nerd. The nerd puts a blanket over Jason’s scary mask and we cut to a group of government guys.

“Who leads the government guys?” David Cronenberg. That’s right. I don’t understand, it’s not like David Cronenberg ever made slasher films. Could they not get Wes Craven or John Carpenter? Though it’s not like any of them can act (despite the fact they all have at some point.) At least Cronenberg has an evil-Harold Ramis vibe. As the head scientist, Cronenberg and his staff are confronted by a terrible actress (Lexa Doig) who warns them that transporting Jason could lead to his escape. Cronenberg says it’s worth the risk and says they want to study Jason’s ability to regenerate. “You mean, like Wolverine?” Well, at least it’s an explanation.

The government guys enter the room and pull the blanket from Jason’s face to reveal Jason has switched places with the nerd. Not sure how he managed that one and I’m not sure why there are no cameras in this facility and why only one guard? Not to mention the only thing containing Jason were regular old chains. Even David Blaine can escape chains and I’m sure he’s killed just as many people with his sorcery.

Jason kills everybody in an entertaining hack and slash sequence. The terrible actress, Rowan is her name, flees and draws Jason into the cryogenics lab. Through trickery, she knocks Jason into a cryogenic chamber where he is frozen, but Jason retaliates by stabbing his machete through the chamber, fatally wounding Rowan. The whole room enters lockdown and the two end up frozen for 445 years. Seems like a weird number but it doesn’t matter.

In the future, a group of science students and their professor discover the icy room and retrieve the bodies of Jason and Rowan, but not before Jason’s frozen body falls forward and chops off a shitty teens arm. I laughed at that one, despite the implausibility. We learn that Earth was at some point abandoned from pollution and everyone lives on Earth-Two now. I’d introduce the characters but there are so many of them it’s hard to keep track. The important ones are the group’s professor, Braithwaite (Jonathan Potts), a science geek, Tsunaron (Chuck Campbell), a girl who dresses slutty, Janessa (Melyssa Ade), a tough army dude, Brodski (Peter Mensah) and an android, Kay-Em 14 (Lisa Ryder). You heard me right, an android. It’s that kind of movie.

The students take the two bodies back to the spaceship where we are also introduced to nanobots. Apparently, in the future, everyone is all about nanobots. The shitty teen gets his arm repaired with nanobots, Rowan is healed with nanobots, and they appear near the end of the film in a big way. Of course, Rowan exists to give everyone the backstory of Jason but they’re all ignorant cause in the future everyone is an asshole. There are a lot of lame jokes as well. My favorite being someone not knowing what Jason’s mask is to which the android states it’s a hockey mask “a sport outlawed in 2024” not looking forward to that.

Naturally, there’s a ‘lil sexin’ go on, but not as much as you would expect considering everyone is a shitty teen wearing slutty future clothes. One of the weirdest sequences is the head professor wearing negligee doing an S&M routine with one of his students. Though really, the characters aren’t terrible. I enjoyed the friendship between Tsunaron and Kay-Em 14. If you haven’t noticed everyone in the future has a stupid future name. I would also like to take this time to point out that there is a sweet hologram future game people play on the ship where you fight CGI demons. It’s kind of like the Holodeck from Star Trek and yes, it plays into the film.

After Rowan is awakened, we cut to Jason being examined in a lab. A woman takes his eye out and we get a peek under Jason’s mask. He’s looking pretty gooey in this one. Meanwhile, dumb teens are doing the sex and Jason comes back to life. I like the idea that Jason only feels the need to rise and kill when teens are having premarital sex. Jason sneaks up behind the woman doing the autopsy and pushes her face into liquid nitrogen. Her face freezes and he smashes her against a table. It’s one of the best death scenes in any Friday the 13th.

The rest of Jason’s kills are more traditional machete slayings. The exception being we’re on a spaceship instead of at a summer camp. My second favorite kill is when a shitty teen and an older guy (played by Todd Farmer, the film’s screenwriter) are playing in the Holodeck and Jason appears. They think he’s part of the game only to realize he’s real and he slices one guy down from the shoulder all the way to the waist. Ouch.

Eventually, the crew wises up. Tsunaron equips Kay-Em 14 with a shit load of guns and Matrix moves. She beats the crap out of Jason, sends him flying, and blows off his limbs and head. Hurray! Though instead of disposing of Jason’s body in the vacuum of space they just kind of leave him there… in the medical bay. A bunch of nanobots show up and turn Jason into a cyborg known as “Uber Jason” which sounds like the name to a German porno.

Kay-Em 14 tries to fight back but is no match for Uber Jason. Her head gets knocked off and the crew runs for their lives. They come to the decision to blow up part of the ship, which will only work if they can keep Jason in one place. So they lure him to the Holodeck and recreate Camp Crystal Lake where two hologram sexy teens distract him. Jason is blown out into space, tries to fight back, Brodski intercepts him and the two burn up in the atmosphere of Earth-Two. Jason becomes a shooting star over Earth-Two and his charred mask drops in a lake. No surprise ending. It’s over.

I rewatched a few clips before I wrote this review and I was amazed how terrible this film looks. Yeah, it’s fun, but it has the aesthetic appeal of an episode of Power Rangers. It has the maturity level of an episode of Power Rangers as well. But Hell, if I didn’t have a much better time watching this than the confused slog that is Jason Goes to Hell.

Though one thing that puzzles me is why this movie was made. It seemed like Friday the 13th creator Sean S. Cunningham (who produced this film as well) was dying to make a Freddy vs. Jason movie. Of course, New Line had different plans and made Jason Goes to Hell to end the series. Nine years pass and they decide to resurrect the series like this? Was it just a slow day at the New Line production offices? Did they just REALLY love this script? Where’s Freddy vs. Jason?

Part of me wonders if they only made this movie because it was the tenth one. Which means they could give it the sweet title of Jason X. I forgot to point out in my last review that although New Line had the rights to make Friday the 13th movies they couldn’t use the “Friday the 13th” name. But “Jason X” there’s an edgy title to fill seats. I honestly can’t think of any other reason.

Nonetheless, I’m glad they made it. It’s one of the best bad films of its time and I would gladly watch it again with friends, pizza, and enough beer to forget what we just watched. Stay tuned when next week I’ll be talking about Jason’s murder brother from another mother. I think you know what I’m talking about. Sweet dreams.

Above is the trailer for Jason X. Note the music at the 1:18 mark. Hell yeah.