Thursday, October 25, 2012

Jason X Movie Review

Just like with the previous film in the series eight years earlier, I only watched this for a sense of completion. Technically I shouldn't have even included it in this October series as it's meant to be a personal journey through my childhood memories of horror films, but I also wanted to list out all the deaths in the Friday the 13th series. Also, it just seemed wrong to leave this out. My friend and I rented this ten years ago and had good fun with it.

Click here for a list of all other films reviewed and considered for this October 2012 series of horror reviews.

I’m trying to imagine how the idea for Jason X was pitched to New Line Cinema in such a way that they were willing to give it a green light. Not only that, but it actually got a theatrical release. How do you think they sold an idea for Jason Voorhees to be frozen and then thawed out 450 years in the future so that he can continue his killing spree aboard a space ship? “Get this: Jason in space,” is the only phrase you would need, I suppose. And if that’s how it was presented, it’s no wonder that what came out the other end of production was the mind-blowingly bad film I just watched – for the second time! Yes, I watched it on a lark with a friend many years ago. How could we not? But I had blocked most of it out. Readers, I assure you that this is a true stinker with one minor – very minor – saving grace that I still found hysterical.

In the near future from the film’s release date of 2001, Jason is cryogenically frozen (but not before killing six soldiers and a doctor played by David Cronenberg). Centuries later, after the earth has become inhabitable, a salvage ship happens upon the chamber and takes him and his presumed final victim on board as scientific specimens. Of course he thaws out and starts taking out the crew. Allegedly screenwriter Todd Farmer wrote the story as an homage to Alien, but director James Isaac forgot to bring the scary and left out all suspense.

The characters on board consist of a security team whose sole job is to be killed first and quickly to demonstrate once again to the audience that Jason is basically indestructible. There’s a professor of some kind who’s in hock to debtors and sees Jason as a valuable find (thankfully one of his contacts has information at his fingertips about the Voorhees horror). He has a team of students on board who are there to look pretty and act stupid. Finally there’s the woman thawed out along with Jason whose presence is defined only by the story she can relate to the crew. I wasn’t quite sure movie acting could get worse than some of the bad horror movies I’ve watched recently, but then Jason X went and surprised me. Actors often say than a large part of acting well is listening. I had never actually ‘heard’ actors simply waiting to deliver their next line in a dialogue scene, but that’s how most of the conversations are delivered.

The production design is simply bizarre and without a lot of thought having been put into it. The costumes, for one, are a shambles of odd fashions thrown together with no attempt at a vision for the future. The interior of the ship contains dangling chains and precariously placed gigantic drill bits. This should come as no surprise given the budgetary restraints, but I think back to classic science fiction of the 50s and 60s and films with limited budgets that at least had vision. Because this film was made so long after the last in the series, there’s obviously a lot of CGI employed for the visual effects. No special effects look worse than CGI done on the cheap. The old Friday the 13th films may not have had blockbuster budgets, but they always made the most of it in terms of gore, makeup and set design. Jason X seems to have blown its entire budget on the spaceship set and then relegated the job of creating special effects to someone’s teenage son. The overall look is cheap and boring.

The good news is they got Kane Hodder back in the hockey mask. The bad news is that everyone involved was really plumbing the depths to find new ways to kill people. Admittedly, however, there are some pretty good deaths here. I especially liked when an annoying kid has his back broken over Jason’s knee and the technician whose face was plunged into liquid nitrogen and then smashed to pieces on the counter. And there’s a single moment of near greatness when they distract Jason in a “Star Trek” style Holodeck by placing him in a summer camp setting while two half naked women smoke weed, drink beer and attempt to seduce him into premarital sex. This is just a single moment of respite in a drearily bad horror film.

Deaths (with my rating out of 10)

Total deaths:   24 (4 off screen)
Average rating: 2.667/10
Highest rating: 9

Ratings are based on my personal reaction to the killing taking into account factors such as shock, surprise, and fear, as well as the creativity involved and how graphic it is.

1.       Private Johnson is killed off screen and chained up (2).
2.       A soldier is clubbed on the side of the head (2).
3.       A soldier is choked and thrown (1)
4.       A soldier has a chain thrown around his neck and choked (2).
5.       A soldier is clubbed on the head (1).
6.       Dr. Whimmer has a pole thrown like a spear from across the room that pierces his torso (6).
7.       Sgt. Marcus is thrown through a metal door (1).
8.       Adrienne gets her face frozen in liquid nitrogen and then it’s smashed on the counter (9).
9.       Stoney is stabbed in the stomach with a machete (4).
10.   Azrael gets his back broken over Jason’s knee (6).
11.   Dallas has his head smashed twice against a wall (2).
12.   Sven has his neck broken slowly (1).
13.   Condor is knocked from a ledge and impaled on a giant drill bit (3).
14.   Geko’s throat is cut from behind (3).
15.   Kicker has the bottom half of his body cut off with a machete, he dies slowly (7).
16.   Briggs is killed off screen. His body is seen later impaled on a giant hanging spike ball of some kind (2).
17.   Lou is slashed, but we only seen blood splatter. The death is off screen, but his body is seen in pieces later (1).
18.   Professor Lowe is decapitated off screen (1).
19.   Crutch gets electrocuted (1).
20.   Kinsa explodes in the shuttle because of a stupid accident (1).
21.   Waylander blows himself up to save the others (1).
22.   Janessa gets sucked into space through a grating leaving little bits of flesh behind (4).
23.   Brodsky floats off into space and burns up entering the atmosphere of Earth 2 (2).
24.   Jason floats with Brodsky and presumably dies… (2).

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