In honor of Jason's big DVD day, I thought I'd pull out my old review of the lunatic's only science fiction massacre. Call me nuts, but I think it's a stupidly fun film.
How much you enjoy the more "disposable" forms of entertainment (horror comic books, video games, "Jason" movies) generally depends on how high your expectations are. These pieces of "brain candy" are usually considered somewhat 'lowbrow' affairs, so the key here is not to base your opinions on anything higher than a visceral level. Is Jason X a cleverly-plotted, masterfully-directed and emotionally challenging film? Absolutely not. Does it deliver the gory goods for the loyal fans with a minimum of inadvertant stupidity? Surprisingly, yes. (That's the key in a movie like this: if the 'stupidity' is intentional, much can be forgiven.)
"Jason in space." OK, it's a stupid idea. As someone who's spent a lot of his childhood with uber-slasher Jason Voorhees, I was a bit skeptical about the idea of my favorite stalker being transplanted into an outer-space setting. But with the leaps in logic, sense, and simple good taste we've come to expect from this unending horror series, I suppose the deep-space setting* is not that big a leap. We are, after all, talking about a villain who's been killed a dozen times, hitched a boat-ride to New York City, and even got turned into some slimy alien creature. So if you're going to argue the "logic" of Jason in space, you may be better off skipping Jason X entirely.
The plot reads like a C-grade Alien retread, and that's mainly because it is a C-grade Alien retread. After some slick opening credits, we have a bloody prologue in which a platoon of soldiers is messily dispatched by our favorite boogeyman. After a brief chase, Jason and one of his potential victims are trapped in a bio-chamber and placed in suspended animation. We flash forward to the distant future, where a massive surveying ship is visiting the decrepit old Earth.
A few explorers discover the cryogenically frozen 'corpse' and his quarry. The two newcomers promptly thaw out about the massive spaceship, and the chase is on. Jason has a grand old time slashing his way through youthful scientists, gung-ho soldiers, and officious supervisors. There are a few minor surprises for the fans along the way, the gore is delivered in enjoyably sloppy fashion, and there's an extended Battle Royale between Jason and an alluring female cyborg.
I never said it was Hamlet.
Simply put, Jason X should please fans of low-rent colorful horror movies. Perahps only someone familiar with the non-stop avalanche of obscure straight-to-video "horror flicks" may be able to appreciate the charms of Jason X, but I had a pretty good time with this one. The Friday the 13th formula is adhered to closely enough, while the infusion of various sci-fi elements succeed in most cases. (I got a kick out of Jason being accidentally responsible for destroying a massive space station, thereby upping his lifetime "body count" by an astronomical degree.) It would be a lengthy (and unnecessary) project to list all the movies that Jason X borrows from, yet it still manages to be a bloody good time with a handful of good jolts and a healthy sense of humor. (The humor is self-referential without going overboard, aside from a great sequence near the end involving two cyber-campers borne of Jason's subconscious. Trust me, it's funny.)
To my fellow Friday the 13th fans: This one ranks right in the middle; not as good as The Final Chapter or Jason Lives - but much more fan-friendly than true dreck like A New Beginning or Jason Takes Manhattan.
* The 'horror sequel in outer space' is of course nothing new, as both Leprechaun and Hellraiser have had their own interstellar entries. To that, I'll simply offer Jason X some faint praise indeed: it's a better film than both Hellraiser: Bloodline AND Leprechaun: In Space...for whatever that's worth.
(Review reprinted from eFilmCritic.com -- April 23, 2002)