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review added: 10/7/02



Jason X
New Line Platinum Series - 2002 (2002) - New Line

review by Robert Smentek of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVsEncoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

Jason X: Platinum Series Film Rating: D

Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): B/B

Audio Ratings (DD/DTS): B-/B+

Specs and Features

93 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at ???), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary (by director Jim Issac, screenwriter Todd Farmer and producer Noel Cunningham), By Any Means Necessary: The Making of Jason X featurette, The Many Lives of Jason Voorhees featurette, theatrical trailers, DVD production credits, "Jump to a Kill" scene selection, DVD-ROM content (including screenplay and weblinks), scene access (26 chapters), language: English (DD 5.1, DD 2.0 Surround and DTS 5.1), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

Now, I don't know about you, but I find a certain comfort in the fact that Hollywood still releases steaming piles of crap like Jason X. Since the demise of the drive-in, it looked like Tinsletown was going to send all their Z-grade movies straight to video shelves. With Jason X, however, New Line Cinema has elected to send this cinematic atrocity to space.

Yes, that's right... if you haven't heard already, Jason X is the film that sends everyone's favorite mongoloid serial killer into outer space. Hey, it worked for the Leprechaun and Pinhead, right? Now, instead of hacking up idiot, over-sexed young adults at a summer camp, Jason Voorhees has the opportunity to hack up idiot, over-sexed young adults on a space ship.

Jason X begins in the year 2010, and Jason Voorhees is imprisoned, hockey mask and all, at the Crystal Lake Research Facility. The Feds or police or someone (it's never quite clear) are planning on cryogenically freezing the maniac, since several execution attempts have failed. However, a daft scientist (played by director David Cronenberg) decides to delay the freezing in order to study Jason's remarkable ability to "regenerate damaged tissue." This distraction proves to be the break Jason was looking for, and before long, the masked man minces Cronenberg and about 10 cops. However, Rowan, a hottie scientist (played by Andromeda's Lexa Doig) manages to trap Jason in a freezing chamber. But before he gets turned into a Jasicle, hockey-boy machetes the door, thereby causing a malfunction that freezes the hottie scientist also.

Flash forward 500 years. A group of students are exploring the remnants of the long-dead planet Earth, and uncover the remains of the Crystal Lake Research facility. There, they uncover the frozen bodies of Jason and Rowan. The bodies are quickly brought aboard the spaceship Grendel and unfrozen... and then the fun begins. Once unfrozen, Jason is up to his old bag of tricks, only this time, he has some new, futuristic methods of murder. One highlight is when Jason submerges the head of a scientist (who is dressed like a Frederick's of Hollywood model) in a sink full of liquid nitrogen and then shatters it on a counter. Although, I have to admit that I find it amazing that Jason, who is established as retarded in the first film, has no trouble adjusting to life 500 years in the future, and knows EXACTLY what liquid nitrogen can do.

Midway through the film, Jason X becomes a bad imitation of the Alien films. In no time at all, a group of heavily armed space marines are dismantled by Mr. Voorhees, leaving a few remaining students and scientists. Fortunately, there happens to be an android aboard, who does a convincing impression of Aeon Flux, and literally blows the madman to pieces. But leave it to that damn nanotech science to revive Jason, and basically turn him into Robo-Psycho.

Man, Jason X is one wacky movie. While the filmmakers should get kudos for attempting to rework a formula that was used for NINE movies (and yes, the ridiculous Jason-is-actually-a-demon theory is ignored), all they've done is make the same movie in a new setting. The characters are basically identical to the pot-smoking teens of a million slasher movie: there's a brain, a slut, a jock, a burnout, a dork and, of course, the plucky heroine. Basically, every character virtually wears a sign that says "dead meat." Furthermore, Jason X doesn't have a single moment of suspense. Director Jim Issac doesn't even give us the satisfaction of a good "cat scare"... you know, when a cat jumps out during a tense scene and startles the protagonist and the audience.

Jason X does have a couple of positives, though. The CGI effects and production design are pretty good for a film with an obviously low budget. While I truly believe that they must've fired the script editor to free up the effects budget, there are some moments of nice cinematography. Also, there is some gratuitous nudity and kinky sex, which is something sorely lacking in today's PC horror movies (ah, the 80s...).

The New Line Platinum Series DVD of Jason X is pretty loaded. The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen, with excellent picture quality and similarly good audio (available in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Surround, as well as a DTS 5.1 option). The disc is also stacked with considerable extras, including audio commentary with the director and producers, two new documentaries, and the sick "Jump to a Kill." There is also the standard trailer, and ads for other New Line horror flicks. The two documentaries are the highlight of the disc. The first, By Any Means Necessary: The Making of Jason X offers interviews with producer and Friday the 13th director (and series producer) Sean Cunningham, screenwriter Todd Farmer, the special effects crew and Jason himself, actor Kane Hodder. Much of this featurette is basically "An Idiots Guide to Digital Filmmaking," but it's mildly interesting and is far better than the behind-the-scenes shorts that are included on most discs. The best part of the Jason X DVD is the half hour documentary, The Many Lives of Jason Voorhees. This short film gives the origins of the Friday the 13th films, and takes a look a Jason as a pop-culture figure. Interviewees include Joe Bob Briggs, Tony Timpone (from Fangoria), Sean Cunningham and Mark Borchardt and Mark Shank, the two guys from American Movie (which is a must see!).

Jason X is bound to appeal to a certain collective of horror/slasher film fans. But don't let this reimagining fool you. Whether it's a summer camp, a boat to New York, or outer space, a Jason movie is a Jason movie. Don't get me wrong, I'm not completely opposed to the idea of blasting evil into space. After all, isn't that why they want to put that kid from N'Sync on the space shuttle?

Robert Smentek
robertsmentek@thedigitalbits.com




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