Jason X

Jason X
Director: Jim Isaac
Screenplay: Todd Farmer
Stars: Lexa Doig (Rowan), Peter Mensah (Sgt. Brodski), Lisa Ryder (Kay-Em 14), Chuck Campbell (Tsunaron), Jonathan Potts (Prof. Lowe), Melyssa Ade (Janessa), Todd Farmer (Dallas), Melody Johnson (Kinsa), Derwin Jordan (Waylander), Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees)
MPAA Rating: R
Year of Release: 2002
Country: USA
Jason X DVD Cover

Despite going to hell in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday back in 1993, Jason Vorhees has been resurrected ... again ... in a tenth installment of the obviously never-ending Friday the 13th series that wore out its energy and imagination a long, long time ago. Since the series entered the stage of parody as early as the sixth installment, it has already worn out its legs as potential comedy, too, which is perhaps why first-time writer Todd Farmer and director Jim Isaac (House 3) play the movie so straight for so long.

The movie opens with the infamous, hockey-mask-wearing Jason chained up in a futuristic research lab (the Crystal Lake Research Facility—ha, ha). He is about to be cyrogenically frozen because everyone in the movie has finally come to the obvious conclusion that is evident to anyone who has ever seen a Friday the 13th flick: This guy is unkillable. Some scientific mumbo-jumbo about cell and tissue regeneration is briefly floated, director David Cronenberg (under whom Isaacs got his start) makes a cameo appearance as a gruff scientist, and Jason is successfully frozen, although not before wrecking some havoc and trapping a lovely young scientist named Rowan (Lexa Doig) in the chamber with him.

Fast-forward 450 years, and the Earth has become inhabitable. A group of student researchers in midriff- and bicep-bearing clothing unearth the cyrogenic chamber, bring both Rowan and Jason aboard their ship, and thaw them out. Jason gets ahold of sharp instruments, and we basically have a sorry rehash of the sci-fi/horror blendings of Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986), but with slightly less intelligent victims. There's an android (Lisa Ryder), although this one is a sexy woman who can be reprogrammed into a character from The Matrix at a moment's notice, while the sneaky, money-obsessed Paul Reiser character from Aliens is a snake of a professor (Jonathan Potts) who's into S&M and wants to keep Jason alive because he is apparently worth a lot of money. There's an entire squad of military commandos who are just about as dumb as everyone else on ship, although they don't get have to sex, only impaled on things.

The stalk-and-slash formula is not given much life by setting it aboard the gleaming metallic interiors of a spaceship, rather than shadowy forests and camp cabins. The inspiration is sadly lacking, despite the film's aspirations to be a fan geek's dream of genre blending and techno-updating (when Jason emerges near the end of the movie as a sort of reborn cyborg, it is a let-down). For the first two-thirds, Isaac seems to be under the delusion that he is making a legitimate horror film, although he leaves plenty of room for bad quips and puns (when a character is discovered impaled on a giant drill, another characters says, "He's screwed"—ugh).

But, then, in the last 10 minutes, something bizarre happens, and the whole movie almost seems to have been worth it. Like a short in a computer, the movie suddenly goes haywire, giving us truly weird scenes like Jason being distracted by a three-dimensional hologram of Camp Crystal Lake circa 1980 with two nubile female campers taking off their clothes and screeching about their love of alcohol, pot, and especially premarital sex. There are explosions, Jason flying through space, and a last-minute save from a character who truly flies out of nowhere. It's an astounding series of scenes that are perhaps the very essence of the guilty pleasure—so truly bad they're good.

Other than that, though, Jason X is truly a last-gasp effort, although it is conscientious in leaving the door open at the end for an 11th installment if anyone is up to it. Jason Vorhees transported back in time to the Old West, perhaps? Or maybe back to Caligula's Rome? The possibilities are truly endless, you see ...

Jason X Platinum Series DVD

Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Subtitles English
DistributorNew Line Home Entertainment
Release DateOctober 8, 2002

1.85:1 (Anamorphic)
While Jason X was shot on film, it was scanned frame-by-frame into high-definition digital for editing and effects work. The transfer on this DVD is actually a digital-to-digital transfer, with no celluloid involved. The resulting anamorphic widescreen image is absolutely pristine, with a bright, shiny image free from almost any digital compression artifacts and, since there was no film involved, any scratches or dust. Celluloid purists will note that the image is just a little too crisp and processed-looking, but it suits the movie’s futuristic storyline. Jason X is certainly the most colorful movie in the series, and all the colors are nicely reproduced here with strong, well-saturated hues. Some scenes come off as a little too dark, thus losing some shadow detail, but overall the detail levels are consistently high.

English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
English DTS 5.1 Surround
English Dolby 2.0 Surround

Since Jason X is unlike any other Friday the 13th movie, taking place as it does in space, its soundtrack is also unlike any other. Both the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and the DTS 5.1 surround are expansive and clean, excellent in reproducing the movie’s elaborate soundtrack, which is filled with roaring spaceships, thunderous explosions, and gusting windstorms, in addition to the usual gooshy sound effects of crushed skulls and impaled bodies. The surround channels are frequently active, and the low-frequency effects channel rumbles effectively when needed.

Audio commentary by director Jim Isaac, writer Todd Farmer, and producer Noel Cunningham
If you’re interested in the making of Jason X, you’ll get to hear all about it in this screen-specific audio commentary by the film’s director, writer, and producer, all of whom take themselves quite seriously and feel free to dis on the series’ earlier entries. They talk quite a bit about how the project came to be (it originated out of work on a Freddy vs. Jason project, which is still in limbo), the various changes to the script, and what their overall conception for the project was. They also get off on a few tangents, including Isaac going into a longwinded, but quite interesting discussion of his views on violence in the media.

“The Many Lives of Jason Voorhees” retrospective featurette
This is a well-done 29-minute featurette that traces the more-than-two-decades history of the Friday the 13th series. Unfortunately, New Line doesn’t seem to have been able to secure the rights from Paramount to show clips from the first eight entries, so, with the exception of a few still images, everything comes from Jason Goes to Hell or Jason X. The lack of good clips is almost made up for, though, with the wide range of interview subjects who pop up, including cultural critic David Del Valle, Fangoria editor Tony Timpore, “Ain’t It Cool News” critic Drew McWeeny (aka Moriarty), New Line CEO Robert Shaye, Jason Goes to Hell director Adam Marcus, Jason X writer Todd Farmer, and, of course, the man who started it all, the original producer/director Sean S. Cunningham. The hilarious drive-in critic Joe Bob Briggs also offers his ten cents (always worth hearing, although he looks awfully pale and thin here), and American Movie’s Mark Borchardt and Mike Schank show up to offer a few verging-on-the-nonsensical comments. However, the highlight of the whole thing is certainly when Kane Hodder, the only man to play Jason more than once, reveals to the camera that he has the word “KILL!” tattooed inside his lower lip. I guess that’s what happens when you star as Jason Voorhees four times. Presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1).

“By Any Means Necessary: The Making of Jason X
This 17-minute making-of featurette is a thorough look at the movie’s production, offering some nice behind-the-scenes footage and a good deal of detailed information about the creation of the various digital special effects and the filmmakers’ decision to digitize the entire movie in high definition in order to save money. The featurette includes a gaggle of interview subjects, including producers Sean S. Cunningham and Noel Cunningham, director Jim Isaac, writer Todd Farmer, visual effects supervisors Kelly Lupkowsky and Dennis Berardi, editor David Handman, production designer John Dondertman, costume designer Maxyne Baker, director of photography Derick V. Underschultz, makeup effects supervisor Stephan Dupuis, and actors Lexa Doig and Kane Hodder. Presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1).

Original theatrical trailer
Presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1).

Jump to a Death
For those just looking for the gore and not wanting to waste time with the exposition in-between, the disc offers this feature which allows you to go straight to any of the death sequences in the film. They are conveniently labeled by both victims and instrument of death employed (hence, you can go to “Adrienne, Shattered Skull” and know exactly what you’re getting). It also offers a “Random Kill” option if picking a specific death scene is too much decision making for you.

Copyright © 2002 James Kendrick

Overall Rating: (1.5)

James Kendrick

James Kendrick offers, exclusively on Qnetwork, over 2,500 reviews on a wide range of films. All films have a star rating and you can search in a variety of ways for the type of movie you want. If you're just looking for a good movie, then feel free to browse our library of Movie Reviews.

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