AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Jason X (2001) review

Posted in Friday the 13th, Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, Jason Vorhees, movies, nostalgia with tags , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2016 by Paxton

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Yesterday for my “greatest hits of AWESOME-tober-fest” week, I looked at the novelization for the movie Jason X, of which I am a fan.  I thought maybe for Fangoria Movie Friday I should revisit the movie itself and see if I do still, in fact, enjoy it.  A 15 years later retrospective on a very maligned movie.

In the late 90s, when Freddy vs Jason was still in “development hell”, Friday the 13th creator Sean Cunningham wanted to make another Jason movie to continue fostering interest in the character. Writer Todd Farmer pitched “Jason in space” and develpment began on what would become the 10th Friday the 13th movie, Jason X.

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The movie starts off in 2010. Jason has been captured by the government and kept in the Crystal Lake Research Facility. They have been testing his ability to regenerate tissue and stay alive. After several failed attempts to kill him it is decided to put him in cryo stasis, but certain other shadowy government departments want him for further study so they prep him for transfer to another facility. However, Jason escapes and kills nearly everyone. One of the researchers, Rowan, traps him in the cryo chamber, but Jason pierces the chamber with his machete and both Jason and Rowan are trapped in cryo sleep as the facility goes into lockdown mode.

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Over 445 years later, a scientific team stumbles upon the two and transports them to their ship. The crew revive Rowan from cryo sleep with nanotechnology and just as she is about to warn them about Jason he revives and starts killing all of the scientists. Rowan and the few survivors must figure out a way to stop Jason and get off the ship before it is destroyed.

That’s the elevator pitch, there’s a little bit more to it. But not much.  Getting this out of the way, the movie is ultra low budget.  Especially for being in space.  The actors are mostly unknowns but the lead girl, Rowan, was on Andromeda, as was one other cast member.  The cast is as good as any other standard Friday the 13th.  The kills are pretty good.  One of the more infamous being the “liquid nitrogen head smash”.

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For the characters, Rowan is pretty good as the female lead. The other “lead” if you want to call her that is an android a la Data from Star Trek: TNG named KM-14. You also get the typical smattering of other character types; “the tough military sergeant”, “the computer dork” and “the outspoken one with loose morals”. They work as well as any of the other F13 movies. Certainly no worse than Jason Takes Manhattan or New Beginning.  But saying “they work as well” and “they are good and interesting characters” are two different things.  They do what they need to do but they aren’t great.

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As far as the story goes, I like the idea of the government wanting to test the captured Jason’s supernatural healing abilities. He has this ability to regenerate after nearly 100% damage. Of course the government is going to want to study him.  I also like the idea of trapping people on a spaceship with a hunting Jason. You can tell the premise of this movie was “borrowed” from Alien. As a plot device, for me, it works.  What also works for me is the idea of Uber Jason.  Towards the end of the movie, the android character gets “an upload”, becomes Rambo and “kills” Jason by shooting off his leg, part of his rib cage and part of his head.  And despite the fact that Jason hasn’t died from some seemingly fatal wound at least 5 times before this, everyone assumes he’s dead.  Then the damaged medical station thinks Jason needs to be fixed so it takes over and rebuilds Jason.  As a cyborg.

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And so is born the best thing in this movie, Uber Jason.  We get precious little time with Uber Jason.  He’s awesome and should have been onscreen more than 20 minutes.  He’s relentless and kills gloriously.  The movie really picks up and seems more fun once Uber Jason is on the scene.  Here’s a nice gallery of Uber Jason pics.

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At one point they trap Uber Jason in a simulated 1980 Camp Crystal Lake environment.  He gets to kill two simulated co-eds by smacking their sleeping bags against a tree.  It’s a pretty great homage to past movies (the sleeping bag stunt was done back in Part VII).

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So, is this a great movie? No, not really. But it’s fun. It has fun with the concept of Jason and the idea to move him into outer space and turn him into a futuristic cyborg Jason was a clever idea. Did everything 100% work? No, of course not. The budget is uber cheap and you get what you pay for with the actors. But I had fun with what the filmmakers were trying to do and I still say I enjoy this movie.


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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Jason X movie novelization by Pat Cadigan

Posted in books, Friday the 13th, Genres, horror, Jason Vorhees, movies, nostalgia, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2016 by Paxton

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Back when I did Movie Maniacs in 2012, I reviewed several 80s horror movie novelizations.  They are pretty rare out there in the wild, so it was a treat to be able to cover several of them.  If you’re curious, check out my reviews of Nightmares on Elm Street (Parts 1-3), Friday the 13th Part III and Friday the 13th Part VI.

While I’m a fan of both Freddy and Jason franchises, I probably gravitate towards Jason as my favorite overall. And being a fan of Friday the 13th, I’m telling you that Jason X is a very polarizing entry in the franchise.  Many people hate it.  I’m not one of them. I see some potential in this movie. It goes mostly unfulfilled, but there’s potential there.

Anyway, in 2005, about 5 years after the movie was released, during the media blitz for Freddy vs Jason, Black Flame books got the license to print Friday the 13th novels.  They would do two series, one of them being in the original timeline and another series in the Jason X timeline.  There would eventually be about five books in the Jason X series and it started off with a novelization of the movie by Pat Cadigan.

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Picking up this book I should tell you it’s hefty for a slasher movie novelization.  The general rule for movie books is about 1 page per 1 minute of action.  So a 90 minute movie would generally be about a 90 page book if it was a straight translation.  Give or take some flourishes by the author.  Well, this book is over 400 pages long.  Jason X the movie is 92 minutes long.  So there may be one or two flourishes by the author.

I have lots of hopes for this extra 300+ pages of content.  I want the futuristic world fleshed out. They barely mention what the future world is like aside from “the Earth has become uninhabitable”.  And who are the members of the crew that find Jason?  Are they scientists?  Explorers?  Archeologists?  What?  It’s not really explained in the movie.  And lastly, I’m hoping I get more action and murder with Uber Jason.

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So, I’ve read the book, did it meet any of my expectations? Was it any good?  The easy answer is yes, it was good.  If not great.  As a fan of the movie, I also enjoyed the book.  Unfortunately, the page count is due to the author fleshing out existing scenes with more exposition and not creating brand new scenes or subplots not in the movie. Well, the main character, Rowan, is given a definite romantic interest with Brodski who has a larger part in the book.  But, it ultimately goes nowhere because he meets the same fate in the book as he does in the movie.

So what new stuff is there?  Well, the author does add some very interesting content in the form of character backstories and many ruminations on the nature of Jason Voorhees.  We also get a good description of what the universe is like 4.5 centuries in the future which we don’t get in the movie.

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Per the book, after Rowan and Jason were frozen together, the Army did go to the facility to help, but found the entire complex on lockdown and decided to leave it alone as they finally had Jason contained and the world was starting to have bigger issues like food riots and global warming.  Things got so bad martial law was declared.  One hundred years after Jason is frozen the Earth starts to burn starting at the equator.  Surviving humanity escape to biospheres in orbit and we eventually contact alien life and trade them for the blueprints to a “hyper drive”.  Rowan and Jason were left on Earth, cryogenically frozen and forgotten for the next 3 centuries.  And I guess the power grid stayed “hot” for that long as well since the system stayed on lockdown and frozen for that long.  Eventually, using the alien “hyper drives”, humans settled on an Earth II.  Earth I would be studied in colleges as history and one college, New Harvard, would send field trips back to the original Earth led by Professor Lowe who is considered the foremost authority on Earth I.  It is one of these field trips, populated by the Professor, a team of military escorts and a group of students that discover the frozen and forgotten Jason and Rowan.

So the group that discovers Jason is just a class field trip?  I did not pick up on that.  Anyway, the other new things Cadigan adds includes lots of insight into the nature of Jason.  We learn that Jason’s existence is elemental.  He’s not evil per se, but anti-life.  An anti-life elemental.  Living things had many purposes but the basic one is life itself.  By contrast anti-life had one purpose.  Cancel out life.  KILL.  We also get a kind of explanation to why bawdy teenagers set Jason off.  Life stimulates survival instinct in many ways, one of which is sex.  Sex makes humans feel more alive and it helps create more life.  This is what Jason, as an entity of anti-life, is drawn to.  This is why Jason’s urge to kill becomes more apparent when these things are happening.  I like how this book is trying to explain some of the nature of Jason’s existence.  It doesn’t go too far, it goes just far enough.  I like it.  Cadigan also describes Jason’s senses and how he hunts his victims.  He has a “life radar”.  He can sense the life around him.  Once someone gets on his “radar” he can track them.  Again, I like these types of explanations.

Another thing I like about this book is it deals with Jason being captured and studied scientifically.  It makes sense the government of course wants to figure out how Jason does what he does.  And it makes sense the government would want to weaponize those talents.  This movie sort of touches on those ideas.  We see Jason being tested in the beginning but we also see lots of cell testing on the space ship Grendel after he’s been taken out of cryo-freeze.  I don’t want the government to figure anything out, I want them to think they have everything under control, see results of their “tests”, get confused and then Jason “unexpectedly” comes alive and ruins all their plans by killing everybody.  That’s what I want.  And we get that here.

So, yes, the book delivers as a solid adaptation of the movie itself.  It fills in some holes and adds some interesting back story to many of the characters.  If I have to say anything against it, it does feel a bit long.  Four hundred pages is a lot for a slasher novel and it kind of feels long.  But I was rarely bored.

Like I said, this novelization was the beginning of a series of novels based in the Jason X universe. The novels sound interesting, but all of them are around 400 pages which is a little too long for a Jason Voorhees novel. However, Pat Cadigan did followup the Jason X novelization with the next book in the series, Jason X: The Experiment.

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The gist of the plot involves the government using skin grafts from Jason to create a super soldier who then goes rogue. It sounds kind of cool having Uber Jason vs a super soldier. It seems the other four books in the series also deal with the government’s attempts to weaponize the unnatural abilities of Jason Voorhees.  I liked this novelization enough that I would consider reading Cadigan’s followup book.

Unfortunately, this book series is pretty hard to find. Actually, all of the Friday the 13th books are pretty hard to find.  I got lucky when I found this particular book on PaperbackSwap.com several years ago. I’ve only ever seen one other book in the series in the wild. It was the third book, Jason X: Planet of the Beast by Nancy Kilpatrick.  I found it in an old used bookstore in Auburn, AL back in early 2010.  But I’m always on the lookout and hopefully someday I’ll find that second Pat Cadigan Jason X book.


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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: The Ghost Busters episode 10 – The Vampire’s Apprentice (1975)

Posted in Dracula, Halloween, holiday, horror, monsters, pop culture, TV shows, vampires with tags , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2016 by Paxton

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Today, I finally get to talk about the old live action TV show, The Ghost Busters, from 1975.  I talked a bit before about this show back in 2007 when I discussed the difference between The Real Ghostbusters cartoon and the Filmation Ghostbusters cartoon.  As I said earlier, I actually like the old Filmation Ghostbusters cartoon so I was excited to finally go back and check out the TV show that spawned the cartoon.

The show first aired in 1975.  It lasted for one season of 15 episodes.  It starred Forrest Tucker, Larry Storch and Bob Burns as bumbling paranormal detectives who use a “ghost dematerializer” gadget to send said ghosts back to the netherworld.

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The show made use of several famous monters in its 15 episodes including Jeckyll & Hyde, Dr Frankenstein and his monster, the Red Baron, Billy the Kid and, in the episode I’m about to look at, Dracula and his wife.

Here’s Dracula and his wife.  Since this show is a comedy, the duo are characterized as very slaptick and goofy.

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It’s interesting, the episode several times mentions that they are the GHOSTS of Dracula and his wife, which doesn’t really make a whole hell of a lot of sense.  They interact as if they are corporeal vampires, but in the beginning and the way they are dispatched in the end seems to suggest that they are ghosts.  Weird.

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The whole episode is weird and the humor is…eh.  At one point, Larry Storch’s Spencer is turned into a vampire. To ward all the vampires off, Forrest Tucker’s Kong hands them a “wooden steak” (Haha! Get it?).  Of course the vampires look at it oddly at first and then they theatrically recoil in horror when they realize it’s a “wooden steak”.  That’s the level of hilarity throughout this episode. Plus, there are constant jokes about how Dracula can’t remember anything because he’s getting old and he’s constantly running into walls when he turns into a bat.

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When it’s finally time to dispatch the vampire “ghosts” Kong grabs the “ghost dematerializer” and disintegrates Dracula and his wife back to wherever the hell they came from.

So I’ve finally watched this show.  It’s not great.  Definitely a product of the time, but the concept is solid.  I’ll check out a few of the other episodes with other more famous monsters.  I’m really interested in checking out the episode with Billy the Kid’s ghost!


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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Angel vs Frankenstein (2009)

Posted in comic books, Frankenstein, Halloween, holiday, horror, monsters, TV shows, vampires with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2016 by Paxton

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Back in 2011, when I did Dracula/vampires for my theme, I covered the appearance of Dracula in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  This included several comic book appearances with Buffy and Spike.  So, I thought I should next cover another Buffy character teaming up with another classic monster.  Let’s see if this one fares any better.

In 2009, IDW released a one-shot called Angel vs Frankenstein. It was written and drawn by the great John Byrne.

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The story takes place after Mary Shelley’s novel, which we get a brief recap of in the comic. It also takes place before Angel is cursed by the gypsy to have a soul.  So, after Frankenstein discovers Victor dead in the arctic at the end of Shelley’s novel, he decides to return to his home to claim the right as the last heir of Frankenstein.  However, the monster realizes he can’t do it alone, so the monster hires Angelus to return to Castle Frankenstein with him to help. However, Angelus has different ideas and throws the monster out of the stagecoach and over a cliff.  He then goes to the castle to claim the fortune for himself. But the monster didn’t die, and it makes its way back for his revenge. Queue Frankenstein vs Angelus fight.

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It’s a pretty good story. I like the setup. I love Byrne’s art. I enjoyed reading it. It’s only a one-shot, so it’s short, but Byrne makes the most of it.

Then in 2010, IDW released a sequel called, appropriately, Angel vs Frankenstein II.  This one-shot was also written and drawn by John Byrne.

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This takes place many years after the first comic. Angelus is now just Angel. He’s in America and working as a janitor at a mental hospital. He discovers the monster bound up in a hidden set of rooms in the hospital. Angel tries to sort out the mystery of how the monster got there but when the monster sees Angel, he goes off on a rampage thinking it’s Angelus and Angel has to stop him from tearing apart the city. We also learn a few secrets about the nature of this Frankenstein monster.

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Again, this is a good, if a bit more understated comic story. It’s another one shot, but Byrne makes good use of the characters and his art is great. I like the wrap up of the Frankenstein monster here. I’d definitely recommend these comics to a fan of Angel.


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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Cavalcade Comics #13 Halloween Edition!!

Posted in comic books, Halloween, holiday, monsters, pop culture, vampires, werewolf, werewolves with tags , , , , on October 24, 2016 by Paxton

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Here we are, the final week of AWESOME-tober-fest. It’s this week the last few years that I’ve started a tradition to diverge from my overall theme to do a sort of “greatest hits” of my previous topics.  So instead of more mummies, I’m happily going to be doing other things like vampires, werewolves and movie maniacs.

Another sort of tradition I’ve started to debut during this week is a brand new Cavalcade Comics vintage throwdown cover. Last year I did the Dell Monster Squad featuring three of Dell Comics’ monster superheroes.  I was actually pretty proud of that cover.

This year, I’m going a little bit more generic but still featuring 2 of those monsters in the form of Werewolf vs A Planet of Vampires!

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It’s poetic that I’m debuting issue #13 of these covers during my Halloween celebration.  I love that it worked out like that (no, I didn’t plan it that way).  Also, this particular cover was actually developed very early on when I started this feature.  It was probably the fourth or fifth cover I actually did but for some reason I just sat on it until I decided now is the time to reveal it.

The werewolf part of this cover in the background is taken from Werewolf by Night #19 (1974).  One of my favorite covers from that series. The vampire and his victim in the foreground are from Atlas Comics’ Planet of Vampires #2 (1975).  However, the Planet of Vampires logo is actually from issue #3.

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I still have several other covers done that I haven’t released yet. One of them is actually the second cover I ever did and just never released it. We’ll see when, or if, that one ever comes up.


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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Fangoria #182 (1999) – Mummy Mania issue

Posted in Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2016 by Paxton

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Time to dip down into my stack of old Fangoria magazines to see if there are any cool mummy issues.

Oh look!  Found one.

Check out Fangoria #182 from May 1999. It’s the Mummy Mania issue with a cover story about the new Stephen Sommers directed The Mummy remake.

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The issue features lots of other mummy based articles.  The one I want to look at today, though, is an in-depth blow by blow of the history of the mummy in cinema. It’s called “Show Me the Mummy”.

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It’s a more straight forward historical account of the birth and proliferation of mummy movies than that Starlog invisible man article from last year that tried to write the history of the invisible man in popular culture into a weird, narrative story that presumes invisibility actually exists.  Essentially turning movies and TV shows with invisible people into “historical documents”.  This article, is a nicely researched account that doesn’t just list out mummy movies but gives some background info into some of the bigger releases.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: I Love Mummy (2002)

Posted in Halloween, holiday, monsters, mummy, nostalgia, pop culture, TV shows with tags , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2016 by Paxton

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Okay, I went back and forth on several mummy TV shows to feature today, but I think I found a good one. And by “good one”, I mean it’s terrible. Let’s check out I Love Mummy, a UK-Canadian production from 2002.

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A family inherits an old house which inexplicable contains the sarcophagus of a 3000 year old Egyptian prince in the attic.

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The young son unwittingly opens the sarcophagus and out pops the wrapped up prince.  And a chase around the kitchen table ensues.

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After lots of screaming and the aforementioned chase around the kitchen table, we find out the prince is sort of a spoiled royal brat. We even flashback to ancient Egypt to see proof of his bratty behavior.

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After he died while surfing down the exterior of the Sphinx, he became stuck in purgatory. He’ll have to stay stuck in purgatory until he completes a list (on a scroll, of course) of things he has to learn on his own.  I wonder if this is where the idea for My Name is Earl came from.

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Obviously the family is reluctant to take this responsibility on, but the young son has become “attached”. So he doofuses his way into making the family “keep” the undead pharaoh. Because, let’s not forget, he is undead.

The show is, in a word, awful. I didn’t expect any better, to be honest. But there are two things that make this show interesting.  First, the daughter, Stephy, played by Kelly Turner, is crazy hot.

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Second, the mummy, Nuff, is played by Elyes Gabel. You may not recognize that name, but he’s currently the star of that CBS show, Scorpion.

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And after seeing both shows, I don’t think there’s that much a difference in quality between the two.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.