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JASON X (2002)

This sucks on so many levels!





  Director:
 
Jim Isaacs

  Starring: 
Kane Hodder, Lexa Doig, Chuck Campbell, Lisa Ryder, Peter Mensah, Melyssa Ade, Derwin Jordan, Phillip Williams, Jonathan Potts, Kristi Angus, Melody Johnson, Phillip Williams, Dov Tiefenbach, Yani Gellman, David Cronenberg

  Screenplay: 
Todd Farmer

Synopsis:  In the year 2010, Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder) is held in chains at the Crystal Lake Research Facility, prior to being put into cryogenic suspension. The project head, Dr Rowan (Lexa Doig), is horrified when Dr Wimmer (David Cronenberg) tells her that instead, because of his powers of regeneration, Jason will be used as a research specimen, and shipped to another facility for that purpose. But when Wimmer and the military men supporting him enter the chamber, it is already too late: Jason’s guard hangs dead in his discarded chains. Jason attacks, slaughtering the soldiers and Wimmer. With a combination of trickery and force, Rowan traps Jason, who is armed with a machete, in a cryogenic chamber. But even as she peers through the window at her captive, Jason slams the point of his machete through the wall of the chamber, impaling her. The breach causes the door of the outer chamber to seal automatically, and the mortally wounded Rowan, along with her adversary, is cryogenically frozen..... More than four hundred years later, a team of students led by Professor Lowe (Jonathan Potts) find the frozen bodies in the basement of the abandoned research facility. When Kay-Em 14 (Lisa Ryder), a knowledge matrix android, examines Rowan, she announces that it might be possible to revive her. The researchers struggle across the desolate surface of the planet Earth to their shuttle, carrying their discoveries, and fly back to their research ship, the Grendel. On the way, news of the finds is radioed to Sergeant Brodski (Peter Mensah), who is in charge of the mission’s security. Back on board, Lowe has one of his senior students, Adrienne (Kristi Angus), begin an analysis of Jason. Two junior students, Stoney (Yani Gellman) and Kinsa (Melody Johnson), are assigned to help her, but they are only interested in each another, and in irritation Adrienne send them away. Meanwhile, the rest of the team succeeds in resuscitating Rowan. Although stunned to learn that more than 400 years have passed, Rowan’s first thought is nevertheless of him.... Lowe reports the team’s findings to a contact on the Solaris research station, and learns that although Rowan is worthless, if the unit marked “Voorhees” is the infamous Jason Voorhees, there might be a great deal of money to be made. In Kinsa’s room, she and Stoney are having sex. At the same instant, unnoticed by Adrienne, the figure on the examination table stirs.... Suddenly, Adrienne is seized from behind. She screams and struggles in vain, until Jason forces her head into a vat of liquid nitrogen, then smashes her face upon a bench. Then he claims a surgical saw and stalks off through the spaceship.... Lowe feigns ignorance of Jason’s identity, leading Rowan to explain his history, including the numerous failed attempts to execute him for his crimes, and the disastrous decision to use him as a research subject. Rowan is then introduced to more of the crew, including Kay-Em 14 and her programmer, Tsunaron (Chuck Campbell), Janessa (Melyssa Ade) and Waylander (Derwin Jordan), who to Rowan’s horror is carrying Jason’s machete. It is then that Rowan learns that Jason is also on board the Grendel....

Comments:  And so, while Freddy Vs Jason travelled through the nine circles of production hell, Sean S, Cunningham decided that the way to fill the gap was to give us yet another chapter in the many lives of Jason Voorhees, this one set not just in the future, but – in space. Because really, if you needed to apply defibrillator paddles to a flatlining franchise, how better could you do it than by copying the Leprechaun films?

Jason X did finally, and somewhat mystifyingly, receive a theatrical release in 2002, but the film was completed at least two years earlier. In fact, it is remarkably easy to date the period of its production: even aside from the accidental freezing of Rowan, there is a “comic” arm severing and reattachment sequence here that is a dead rip-off of a mishap once suffered by Philip J. Fry. Sadly, although we know that the makers of Jason X were watching Futurama, they certainly weren’t learning anything from it. The film makes nothing of its setting, either geographically or chronologically. All the Grendel is, is an excuse to have lots of ooh-ahh explosions along with all the body parts.

Reminding your audience of something they'd rather be watching? Always a good idea!

But the real problem with Jason X – and boy, I’m getting sick of typing this – is that it is yet another modern horror film that instead of putting a bit of effort into its screenplay, decided that it was easier to try and cover up its shortcomings with wisecracks and smartarsery. In this, Jason X’s nearest relative is Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives; and indeed, my initial reaction to this film was very much the same as that provoked by the earlier one, a right brain/left brain sort of thing: while one side was having, granted, a reasonable amount of goofy fun with some aspects of Jason X, the other side was busy calculating exactly how much damage the film was doing to its own franchise. In that respect, however, I am more prepared to forgive Jason Lives, simply because there the jokiness was at least a deliberate and reasonably well-executed choice on the part of its makers. Here, the “humour” is just another example of stupidity and laziness masquerading as “post-modernism”. Oh, you’re not supposed to take it seriously! Yes, thank you, Scream; thank you so very bloody much.

When Jason X opens, we quickly learn that none of the events of Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan or Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday actually happened. It is – THE FUTURE!! – 2010, to be exact, and Jason Voorhees is in government custody, presumably having been fished out of Crystal Lake sometime after the events of Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood. (There is, however, no sign of Tina Shepard’s undead daddy.) The section of – ahem – the “Crystal Lake Research Facility” that we see is one enormous and ill-lit empty floor, at one end of which is Jason himself, under permanent sedation and swathed in chains. One eyeball is still very active, however; enough so to bother the single guard – man, these guys just never learn, do they? – left in charge, and he finally tosses a dirty concealing rag over Jason. We will later learn that, having tried and failed to execute Jason by all conventional legal means, The Authorities have now decided to put him into cryogenic suspension until they can think of a plan ‘B’. This, of course, implies that The Authorities felt compelled to avoid anything cruel and unusual when dealing with everyone’s favourite serial slaughterer, an inexplicable and unwise piece of restraint, as we shall shortly discover. Frankly, in the same situation, I think I would have voted for a trip to the crematorium and a quick scattering of the ashes.

(If nothing else, this outcome would have provided an opportunity for the F13 franchise to undergo a real change of direction, starting up again with a re-make of Return Of The Living Dead. Or better yet, of Zombie 3.)

 

The American tax dollar at work.

Anyway, as – ahem – “project leader” Dr Rowan prepares for Jason’s freezing, she is interrupted by one Dr Wimmer. Immediately we know we’re in trouble, as Wimmer is played by David Cronenberg. (Jason X’s director, Jim Isaacs, did the effects work on a number of Cronenberg’s films. If this cameo was payback, I think we may consider the debt well and truly cancelled.) Wimmer tells Rowan that instead of being frozen, Jason is to be the subject of a study into his “powers of regeneration”, for which purpose he will be moved to another facility. Uh, why? What was the Crystal Lake Research Facility built for, anyway, if not precisely that? Rowan argues, Wimmer smirks, money, eee-vil guv’mint sp00ks, you know the drill. Wimmer and his military escort go in to claim their prize, only to find the guard hanging dead under the dirty rag. Oh, surprise. Then Jason gets to work with his machete.

And where, I wonder, did he get that?

Rowan arms herself with a weapon from a dying soldier, cat-and-mouses Jason downstairs to the cryogenic storage area, and manages to force him into a cubicle. Having sealed it, Rowan stupidly draws near to peer through the glass at her captive. Jason reacts by slamming the tip of his machete through the wall of his cubicle and into Rowan. The breach causes the door of the outer chamber to seal itself automatically, and the dying Rowan is frozen along with her adversary....

(I just gotta say, I love that automatic door! It must have been designed by the same guys who came up with the airlock from hell in Westworld.)

We then jump forward 445 years – despite what the script says – to the year 2455. Earth, we learn, has long since been destroyed and abandoned, with the remaining population moving to “Earth Two”. A group of students – what of, they never do bother to clarify – led by Professor Lowe enters the remains of the Crystal Lake Research Facility and discovers the two frozen bodies. Evidently, after Jason slaughtered a whole army unit and two leading scientists, the government just locked the front door and left everything as it was. Oh, and never told anyone what happened, either, since Jason is later averred to have “disappeared without a trace”.

The permanently-beaming android, Kay-Em 14, announces that it may be possible to revive Rowan, and both frozen bodies are collected for transport. (The arm-severing happens here, but it’s hardly worth dwelling on.) The group returns to its shuttle and flies back to the research ship Grendel, in a sequence that, visually, is one of the really nice things about Jason X. (We gather that humanity has learnt precious little from the destruction of “Earth Prime”: space is full of floating garbage.)

 

Brain-dead sex-crazed morons of....THE FUTURE!!

And then we get our first good look at what we might loosely term our cast of characters. Evolution, we learn here, is to play a particularly cruel joke with the human race: although its technology will advance to the point where, as the saying goes, it is indistinguishable from magic, the people in charge of that technology will degenerate mentally in a way that makes the characters in the earlier F13 films look like Rhodes Scholars in comparison. On the Grendel, Lowe puts the examination of Jason into the hands of a senior student named Adrienne – for Adrienne King, I assume – assigning her the assistance of two juniors, Stoney and Kinsa, who are our traditional Brain-Dead Sex-Crazed Morons. In fact, these two evidently find being in close proximity to a partially defrosted (and, you’d think, rather pungent) dead body so arousing, they start making out right in the laboratory. A rightly nauseated Adrienne decides she can do without their, uh, assistance, and sends them off to do the only thing they’re good at. This turns out to be a decision that won’t do her one bit of good. Thankfully, it won’t do Stoney and Kinsa any good either. Ordered to “salvage what you can from the optic cortex”, Adrienne responds by digging out Jason’s left eyeball with a pair of forceps tongs and dipping it in a large tank of liquid nitrogen that just happens to be sitting wide open in one corner of the lab.

Gee, I wonder if we’ll be seeing that again?

Elsewhere, Rowan is being revived by being totally immersed in techno-babble. Her first action on coming to is to punch Lowe in the face. She must be psychic. Her second action is to beg to be told they got him. Lowe then breaks the news of her cryogenic nap, and Rowan is so stunned that she fails to alter her facial expression one iota. One curious thing is the moment when Lowe tells Rowan that she is on “a class four transport catamaran”. She doesn’t react to that, either. I can’t speak for Rowan, of course, but as a fellow denizen of the early twenty-first century, if someone said that to me I think I’d take it to mean I was on the ocean. If this is the moment when Rowan realises that she’s in space, well, you sure wouldn’t know it.

And then Professor Lowe decides to sign his own death warrant by contacting someone on the research station Solaris – groan – and asking how much money Rowan might be worth. None, he’s told, but that other specimen marked “Voorhees”, now....

Meanwhile, for reasons best known to herself, Adrienne is cutting off Jason’s mask by slicing around it, rather than by just cutting the straps. We get one gross-out look at the remains of Jason’s face, and then the mask is put back in place. Well, thanks for that. Jason really starts to ooze bodily fluids here, which spill off the examination table and run all over the floor. Charming. Evidently in – THE FUTURE!! – the containing gutter will be a thing of the past.

 

Protective laboratory clothing of....THE FUTURE!!

Now---- At this point we have, simultaneously: (i) kinky sex between Professor Lowe and Janessa; (ii) ordinary sex between Stoney and Kinsa; and (iii) Kay-Em 14 modelling her new detachable nipples for Tsunaron. The combined erogenous energy of all this acts like a atomic-powered alarm clock on ol’ Jason, who sits bolt upright on his examination table. Remarkably, his mask fails to fall off. Adrienne is oblivious to all the thawing, dripping, twitching and sitting up going on behind her, and so pretty much deserves it when Jason grabs her, swings her around, shoves her head into the vat of liquid nitrogen – wow, didn’t see that coming, did you? – and then shatters her face by slamming it on a counter top.

Well. It’s different. I’ll give ’em that.

And I’d never be so churlish as to point out that liquid nitrogen tanks are customarily kept sealed. Particularly, I would have thought, on a transport ship on which the supply would necessarily be limited.

And at what point in his many lives, I wonder, did Jason become familiar not merely with the properties of liquid nitrogen, but even with its existence?

Anyway, alert and refreshed, Jason proceeds to arm himself from a tray of surgical instruments, one of which just happens to be the biggest, nastiest surgical saw you ever did see. And the game is on.

And sadly, it is now, with Jason up and around, that Jason X becomes a real chore to get through. We’ve been carried this far by the novelty of the setting, but from hereon in the film will become yet another tiresome Aliens re-tread – until, that is, it mutates to become yet another tiresome Terminator re-tread. And there’s more than a hint of Starship Troopers here, too – or maybe Logan’s Run – inasmuch as the “space marines” in charge of security on the Grendel, who will provide most of the material on which Jason will exercise his talents, look like they were recruited by the eugenics squad. At least in Starship Troopers this was part of the joke; here, these baby-faced body-baggers are about the one thing in the film that isn’t played for laughs.

 

Like a kid in a candy-store....

Lowe takes Rowan to meet the rest of the team, and she is appalled to see one of them casually carrying Jason’s machete. Lowe assures her rather patronisingly that Jason is “very dead”....which is the cue for the discovery of Adrienne’s body. Marine Sergeant Brodski then takes charge, putting the ship on lockdown. Stoney responds to the signal more quickly than Kinsa, unfortunately for him: Jason is standing on the other side of the door. He shoves his saw through Stoney’s gut, spraying Kinsa with his blood, rips it out again, and drags the dying boy away.

(Apparently, it isn’t “Kinsa” screaming here, it’s Melody Johnson – the fake blood burned her eyes. Which explains why the traumatised and grieving Kinsa stops to wash her face before she joins the others.)

The students and Lowe lock themselves into one of the labs while the grunts creep around the ship looking for Jason and, well, you can write your own script on this one: you’ve seen it all a thousand times before. And as usual, we have the inference that while everything else will become smaller and more streamlined, weapons of – THE FUTURE!! – will become ever more cumbersome and weighty. (I’m told that the guns the grunts are carrying here are taken from the early PC game Doom, where they are known by the acronym “BFG”. If you ask me, they’re PFS.) These juvenile jarheads, almost staggering under the weight of their armoury, wander around in the dark allowing Jason to pick them off one by one. (In order to facilitate this, the Grendel is ridiculously huge and empty.) One moment almost sublime in its idiocy is when Brodski learns that half his team has been slaughtered, and promptly orders the rest of his crew to split up!! Otherwise, this is a dispiritingly unimaginative series of neck-snappings and machete-wavings. The single exception is when one grunt is dropped from a height upon an exposed metal coil and, after being impaled through the gut, rotates gently down its thread. And yes, one of his sensitive colleagues does announce this death with the line, “He’s screwed.”

(And it’s a girl! One of the few truly interesting things about Jason X are these moments of gender inversion: Rowan never gets a first name; girls act with callous disregard, and die in shock cuts; boys get stalked and/or punished for their sexual misconduct. It’s progress of a sort, I guess.)

Soon Brodski is the only one left standing, and that not for long. As he gets too close to a wall, Jason slams an arm through, grabs Brodski by the throat, then runs him through with a metal spike. “It’s going to take more than one poke in the ribs to put down this old dog,” grits Brodski. So Jason runs him through with his saw. “Yep,” concedes Brodski, “that oughtta do it.”

You know, this is probably a sign of encroaching old age, but I wish we could occasionally have an act of violence that isn’t accompanied by an alleged witticism. I mean, is that really so much to ask?

 

"Do you feel as foolish as I do?"

As the collegiates quiver in their laboratory, Jason makes his way to the flight deck – and the pilot. This is just as the Grendel is approaching Solaris. Maintaining travel speed, the Grendel plows straight through the research station, which goes up in the inevitable fiery and noisy explosion. Remarkably, the much smaller Grendel comes through this, if not unscathed, at least in one piece. As Kay-Em 14 calmly reports on the damage, Lowe tries to convince the others that they’re in a high traffic lane, that there’ll be another ship along in a minute, that everything is just fine – which of course is the cue for Jason to start pounding on the door. Everyone shrieks in terror and, well, even jerks can have a moment, and Lowe’s comes when he shouts angrily, “SHUT UP!!” – and they do. There is a drawn out sequence in which Rowan creeps ever closer to the door that Jason is supposedly behind – some people never learn – and then Jason comes flying through a glass wall at the other end of the room. More shrieking and a stampede – although only Kay-Em 14 has enough sense to lock the various doors behind them. And then they realise that Lowe isn’t with them.

No, for some reason he’s still back in the lab, with Jason stalking towards him. As Lowe babbles about the fame and fortune that could be theirs, Jason reaches past him to reclaim his trusty machete....and then uses it.

So the others put their minds [sic.] to the problem of getting off the ship, and eventually remember the shuttle. Crutch, the engineer, reluctantly agrees to do the pre-launch from the bridge; Waylander volunteers to go with him. The others head off – and split up. Tsunaron and Kay-Em 14 head for the supply hold, the others – Rowan armed with a BFG – head for the shuttle. As Tsunaron packs explosives and ammunitions, Kay-Em 14 cheerfully calculates their odds of survival as 12%....until the two of them lock lips, and she upgrades it to 53%. It probably wasn’t intentional, but this bit puts me in mind of the proposal scene in the original Get Smart: “Why didn’t you think of a plan before I asked you to marry me?” “I didn’t have as much to live for then.” And, hey! – who knew that androids have saliva!?

Meanwhile, the three girls have found Brodski – still alive. I guess even two pokes in the ribs weren’t enough. Janessa wants to go on without him – she’s dead – and Rowan insists on helping him – thus earning herself a Heroine’s Death Battle Exemption©. She sends Janessa and Kinsa on ahead and goes for Brodski, and there is an idiotic bit where she has to squeeze herself past one of Jason’s bloody spikes, still sticking through a wall. Hey, brainiac: try ducking. Up on the bridge, Crutch cleans the dismembered remains of Lou the pilot off the control panel and gets to work. At the shuttle, Janessa and Kinsa begin their part of the launch procedure. Rowan arrives to ask for assistance in moving Brodski. Hearing this over the radio, Waylander leaves the bridge to help, but when he reaches the spot, Rowan is there but Brodski is not. On the bridge, Crutch realises that he “has company”, and as his cries echo around the Grendel, Kinsa has a panic attack and seals the door of the shuttle – with everyone else on the outside. Janessa tries to talk her into opening it, but as her persuasions consist mostly of furious shrieks of, “Open the goddamn door!!”, she is unsuccessful. Waylander and Rowan appear, and Rowan takes her own shot at it, a soothing, “Kinsa, honey, Kinsa, sweetheart”, which is ultimately no more effective. Kinsa tries to take off with the shuttle still attached via its fuel lines, and – KA-BLAMMO!!!!

 

This had better not be a woman driver joke....

And then Jason finally reappears. He advances – slowly – and then Tsunaron appears, calling him “Slappy” ("Slappy"!!??) and threatening him with----

----the newly reprogrammed Kay-Em 14 battle droid – who proceeds to kick his ass.

Okay: right brain/left brain.

Right brain: hey, this is a cool sequence, fun in the way that Tina Shepard psychokinetically chucking furniture at Jason towards the end of The New Blood is fun!

Left brain: oh, for fuck’s sake! What, he just took that walking computer and instantaneously reprogrammed it into a back-flipping ass-kicker, did he?? And can we please, please, just once have something resembling an action film sequence that doesn’t feel compelled to rip off The Matrix!!??

Anyway, Brodski mysteriously reappears and distracts Jason when he has Kay-Em 14 at a disadvantage. She recovers and, blazing away with both guns, shoots a Jason-shaped silhouette in the wall behind Jason; and sure enough, Jason is soon sent slamming backwards through that silhouette, flying into one of the laboratories. (So....Underworld ripped this off!? I don’t hate that film nearly enough!) Kay-Em 14 then blows off one of his legs....and then a chunk of his torso....and then his head. And then she impales him with his own machete.

The others emerge cautiously, staring in incredulous relief at what’s left of Jason. Rowan and Waylander are supporting Brodski – who isn’t doing too badly for someone who’s been impaled twice through the gut – and they take him to the undamaged laboratory to patch him up. But even as the survivors celebrate Brodski’s recovery, a shudder runs through the ship, and Waylander must report that the hull has been compromised. But just at that moment, another ship picks up the distress signal sent out earlier by Tsunaron. And again the celebrations prove premature, as the potential rescuers are at least forty-five minutes away, and Waylander calculates that the Grendel will have a core implosion in less than thirty. It takes Rowan, who of course knows nothing about the structure of the spaceship, to suggest removing to the opposite section of the Grendel and severing the connections between that area and the damaged part of the ship.

And so off they run to collect explosives with which to blow the walkways, not even glancing at the mess still lying in the lab next door. On the treatment table in the lab next door. On the treatment table in the lab next door that is about to get an unexpected electrical charge, as another wave runs through the damaged spaceship....

DNA SOURCE LOCATED.....INSUFFICIENT TISSUE FOR NANOTECH RECONSTRUCTION.....ABORT DENIED.....SEARCHING FOR SYNTHETIC CELLULAR REPLACEMENT.....

Ladies and gentlemen: Uber-Jason.

My right brain has nothing whatsoever to say about this. And my left brain just walked out in disgust.

 

"NIXON'S BAAAACK!!"

Uber-Jason – or the J-1000, as we should more properly think of him – advances, and Kay-Em 14 tries to take him on – and promptly gets her head knocked off her shoulders. Tsunaron flies in to scoop it up, the others fly in to rescue him from Uber-Jason, and Waylander ends up getting the worst of it. Janessa gets the door open and calls the others through. Brodski cries out for the charges to be blown....but Waylander, left behind, has the trigger.

Poor Waylander.

The walkways go up, severing the two halves of the Grendel. The explosion dies away, and the survivors realise, somewhat incredulously, that their dangerous plan seems to have worked. Just at that moment, the rescue ship appears on the scene. And then Uber-Jason slams his arm through the hull of the demi-Grendel.

They try to run, and most of them make it; but Janessa is closest to the breach and she is caught in the suction. She clings desperately to grill in the floor but it rips off, one sheet settling over the hole in the hull. Brodski and Rowan form a human chain and try to pull her back, but Janessa cannot get hold of Rowan’s hand. And as her own grip begins to fail, Janessa utters what just might be the defining line of dialogue in the entire F13 franchise:

“This sucks on so-oo-oo many levels!”

And then she lets go. And flies towards the breach in the hull. The breach with the metal grill covering it.

This was probably meant to be a spectacularly gruesome moment. Unfortunately, the budget of Jason X didn’t stretch to “spectacularly gruesome”. So it’s just kind of....icky.

 

"A few of you will be forced through a fine mesh screen for your planet...."

Anyway, the others do escape and make it into the next section. Uber-Jason, who politely kept out of the way while Janessa was struggling for her life, now rips through the hull and re-boards the Grendel. Brodski, Rowan and Tsunaron – and Kay-Em 14’s head – run through the ship, closing all the doors they can behind them, and make it to the evacuation port, which their putative rescuers are approaching. The lifeline is attached and pressurised....and then the doors won’t open. This leads poor Brodski to do an EVA to try and fix them. Meanwhile, realising that the internal doors aren’t going to hold Uber-Jason for much longer, Tsunaron decides that they need a diversion. “You’re the expert on this guy, right?” he says to Rowan.

Ah! Yes, I was wondering if Rowan was going to contribute anything to this film....

So Tsunaron hooks Kay-Em 14’s head into the computer mainframe and puts Rowan’s specialised knowledge of Jason’s career to use, so that when Uber-Jason finally does tear his way into the control room....

....he finds himself in the middle of a computer simulation of Camp Crystal Lake....

There is a lot I could say about this – a LOT I could say about this (yes, yes, left brain, it’s all right, you’ll get your chance!) – but for now let’s just move on.

 

And they say you can't go home again....

Uber-Jason wanders slowly through his home environment, looking around in a stunned sort of way – as well he might – only the simulation isn’t quite good enough, and he catches a glimpse of Tsunaron. As Uber-Jason stalks his way, Tsunaron tries another ploy – “Prepare variations using data file Crystal Lake 1980!” And there before Uber-Jason materialise two nubile girls, one drinking, one smoking pot.

“Hey, wanna beer? Or do you want to smoke some pot?” they chirrup. “Or we could have premarital sex! We love premarital sex!

And then they pop their tops.

Oh, man.

Oh, man, oh, man.....

Anyway....

Giggling vacuously, the girls climb into their sleeping bags. And then Uber-Jason re-enacts one of the more memorable moments of his past by beating one of the bagged girls to death with the other.

This “diversion” succeeds in its purpose and Brodski has time to divert the power and open the evac doors. But just at that moment a series of explosions rips through the Grendel. Shouting for Brodski, Rowan and Tsunaron stagger up the lifeline towards the rescue ship. Tsunaron is injured, so it is Rowan who has to go back for Kay-Em 14’s head – well, fair enough, I suppose: she is the closest thing this film has to a Final Girl. As “Crystal Lake” shimmies and vanishes, Uber-Jason stalks towards Rowan, who flees back up the lifeline; but as he tries to follow, its doors slam in his face.

It’s Brodski. And as the rescue shuttle counts down to its departure, he and Uber-Jason face off.....

The rescue shuttle flies off, the Grendel goes up in yet another bright and noisy explosion – and Uber-Jason comes flying straight for the shuttle. Then, as Tsunaron and Rowan stare in frozen horror, Brodski swoops....and carries Uber-Jason off through space. The two struggling bodies hurtle towards and into the atmosphere of Earth Two, catching fire on entry, and finally the little that is left of them, just a mask, really, falls into....

....a certain familiar lake....

A lake. Yes.

The construction of “Uber-Jason” is an act of stupidity that I won’t dignify with discussion. But that computer simulation---- How do we even begin to deal with that, and with what it says about the devolution of the horror film? Many critics have welcomed the Crystal Lake sequence of Jason X, on the grounds that, Well, no-one could possibly take these films seriously any more. I don’t know about that. I think they could....only it would take some actual effort on the part of the film-makers to bring that about, and most of them just can’t be bothered. It’s a sad, sad journey we’ve taken. I mean, say what you like about the early F13 films, and heaven knows I have, at least they were meant to be frightening or upsetting. At least their acts of violence were more than just an opportunity for a joke.

To understand the magnitude of the misstep taken here, you only have to compare the Crystal Lake sequence to an earlier franchise moment, when this sort of thing was done right: the scene in Jason Goes To Hell when Stephen Freeman asks, “Planning on smoking a little dope, having a little pre-marital sex, and getting slaughtered?” – only to have those listening to him recoil in horrified dismay at his topical tastelessness. There, the film-makers have their cake and eat it too: they get their joke in, while at the same time highlighting the threat and the horror that is Jason Voorhees. Or that Jason Voorhees ought to be.

You do have to wonder---- Did Sean Cunningham realise, when he approved the simulation sequence, what he was doing to the very franchise he helped create? Did he intend to damage it this much, as some sort of obscure revenge? In those few brief minutes, the entire twenty-two year history of Jason Voorhees is reduced to nothing more than a pathetic shaggy dog story. The F13 films may not be art – okay, they’re about as far away from “art” as it’s possible to get – but I think they deserved better than that.

And if the films themselves have undergone a long, strange journey, my own has been even longer and stranger. When I first took on this franchise I was happy to be a smartarse, and to sneer and jeer and ridicule with the best of them; yet here we are at the end of the road, and----

I’m quite sure that this wasn’t the intention of the makers of Jason X, but their computer simulation did have a very profound effect upon me. I never dreamed that this could happen, but as I stand here at the conclusion of this franchise, I find myself longing for those early films. I am....I am homesick for Crystal Lake. For the company of Alice, and Ginny, and Trish; hell, even of Chrissie. For a simpler time; a time when an undead serial killer with a machete was an object of terror, and not just an excuse for one more sick joke.

Want a second opinion of Jason X? Visit 1000 Misspent Hours - And Counting. 

 

I have absolutely nothing to add here.

 
 
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----posted 02/09/2007