Jason X [Guilty Pleasure Film]: Jason in F**king Space!
It seems that if a franchise runs long enough eventually it will venture into space, don’t ask me why, but it is a bit of a trend. There’s Ice Age: Collision Course, Critters 4, Leprechaun 4: In Space, Hellraiser: Bloodline and even the latest installments of the Fast and Furious franchise F9 is hinting at a trip to the stars. It just seems inevitable that space will creep its way into a series after a while, and Friday the 13th is no exception with its tenth installment delving into sci-fi and bringing us the ‘so bad it’s good’ guilty pleasure film Jason X.
The ultimate 2000’s iteration of Jason propels him to the 25th century and places him aboard the ‘Grendel’, a spaceship occupied by a team of students, their professor and some commandos. Directed by Jim Isaac, written and pitched by Todd Farmer, this was how Jason was brought into a new decade. Jason X is one of the most ridiculous, and yet brilliant, entries in this iconic franchise. Panned across the board by most, it was ridiculed for it’s plot, dialogue and direction, yet there has been a growth in appreciation in recent years. For me it was one of the first Friday the 13th films I watched and has held strong in my horror loving heart since then, so I decided to give it a rewatch to check that it was still the same goofy, pure fun, sci-fi horror that I remembered. Spoiler alert, it is 100% still awesome.
Camp Crystal Lake underwent a revamp in the 2000’s. It stopped being the summer hang out for teenagers with good looks and bad intentions, and was taken over by the United States government and turned into a research facility. After some Rasputin style failed attempts at killing the masked machete wielder the decision is made to put Jason into cryogenic stasis to contain him. Unfortunately, money gets it the way, a theme that rears its greedy head again later in the narrative, and the government decides they need to explore his restorative abilities for their own gain. Of course this leads to them being dispersed of pretty quickly for their stupidity and forces our moral scientist, Rowan, to trick Jason into the pod whilst accidentally getting herself cryogenically frozen too.
“Between the weird sex, the unreal names and the ship’s android KM-14 trying on prosthetic nipples did anyone actually think this film was taking itself seriously?”
455 years later these two popsicles are discovered by a team of researchers exploring the now uninhabitable Earth (does this mean we can classify Jason X as an eco horror wrapped in a space slasher jacket?) and taken back to their spaceship. Rowan is thawed out and Jason is presumed dead so Adrienne, one of the student researchers, is ordered to dissect him. Unfortunately her two lustful assistants are being of no use to her so she send them off to indulge in one of Jason’s triggers…premarital sex! At the same time Professor Lowe and Janessa are engaging in some kinky shenanigans that seem to involve BBQ tongs and his nipples, it’s a strange date night but at least she passes her midterm. Unfortunately, all this sexual energy awakens Jason and has him hungry for the kill.
To make sure we know this is a Slasher we get our cast of super horny teens, just what Jason loves, supported by a few battle hardened commandos. Side note, the names of these characters are just ridiculous, Tsunaron, Kinsa, Azrael, I mean seriously the future is full of ludicrous names and I love them all. Between the weird sex, the unreal names and the ship’s android KM-14 trying on prosthetic nipples did anyone actually think this film was taking itself seriously? There’s a super fun level of self awareness to the character tropes and cliches that, to me, proves that this film knew exactly what it wanted to be, a goofy good time.
The next main ingredient to a Slasher is the creative nature of the kills. Each one has to up the ante, or at least bring a new twist to an old kill, and again Jason X nails this. Jason’s first kill of 2455 is probably one of the franchises most iconic. Straight after waking up on a medical table Jason attacks Adrienne before holding her face in liquid nitrogen and then smashing it to pieces like a bag of ice that’s stuck together in the freezer. Mythbusters may say it can’t happen but that doesn’t stop it from looking amazing. The killer corkscrew is my second favourite kill, plus it comes with its own cheese-tacular punchline, “He’s screwed.” It even brings back the infamous fan favourite sleeping bag kill from Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, but this time there are two unfortunate victims and it’s all done on a Holodeck.
There’s also no shortage of characters fighting back against the unstoppable monster. KM-14 gets a sexy cyber upgrade and goes Matrix style badass on Jason, essentially killing him after blowing off his limbs and dropping him with a head shot. Who needs nipples when you’ve got machine guns and a nice leather number to wear? Of course, this isn’t the end of Jason, that would be a disappointment. When it comes to Slasher series, especially these supernatural slashers, we want to see our reanimated, resurrected and unkillable horror icons bring us something new and interesting whilst not losing their unique brand. Jason X sticks to the formula set out in its predecessors, it doesn’t alter Jason to be anything but the ever stalking killing machine that we love but it allows him to grow and change in just the right way with the introduction of Ubër Jason.
After being ‘killed’ Jason is healed by the nanobots on the ship and gets a swanky metallic upgrade and becomes possibly the coolest version of himself, even if it’s only for the last twenty minutes. I could definitely get on board with more Ubër Jason. It also allows for Sergeant Bronsky to continue proving he is the MVP of this film and treat us to a mecha fight between the two. It’s not high art but it’s a whopping good time.
Jason X a self aware entry into this franchise. Nobody involved needs to be embarrassed or disown the film because I can’t imagine anyone went in thinking this was a ‘serious’ film. It knows what it is, a filler film before the long awaited Freddy vs Jason to keep interest alive and the rights owned. There’s a fine line between parody and homage and somehow Jason X treds that tightrope and lampoons itself, and other Supernatural Slashers, whilst still keeping the positivity of loving homage. The cast seem to be having fun, the effects are just on the right side of good cheese and the kills are some of the most entertaining ones of the franchise. Plus it’s the ever wonderful Kane Hodder’s last outing as Jason, so that’s got to give it bonus points. Sometimes an audience just wants stupid fun, the type of Horror you can throw on with friends on a boozy night and un-ironically love. Feel free to throw a few barbs its way, the film won’t judge you for saying them, because it’s in on the joke. Crack open a can, settle in and give it another go, you might find yourself loving it this time round.