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