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