I should have solid, deep, fond memories for the first time I saw Jason X, but I’m sad to say I don’t. I remember enjoying the movie, thinking it was more tongue in cheek and funny than straight-ahead scary, but I can’t recall the specifics around actually seeing it. Usually none of this would be a big deal, but I’m fairly certain that Jason X was the first old school slasher film I saw on the big screen. It came out in April of 2002, so I would have been down at Ohio Wesleyan towards the end of my freshman year of college. A lot was going on, but I know I saw it in theaters. As a horror fan, my timing is pretty crappy because I was a young kid for most of the good slasher movies in the 80s and was only able to see entries like this one, Freddy Vs. Jason and some of the remakes in theaters. To be fair, though, there was a nice little horror revival that kicked off around the time I turned 16, so that was good timing.
Anyway, I know a lot of people don’t like this film, but I’m not one of them. I completely get being disappointed by the movie’s tone after waiting nearly 10 years between Friday The 13th films and getting this one. Add in the fact that the previous entry was the terrible Jason Goes To Hell and that the entry before that was a let down by not living up to its title and you’ve got a fanbase that was itching for some classic Jason and didn’t feel like they got it.
Jason X also fell into that strange subcategory of horror sequels that take a lead character and inexplicably put them into space. It happened with Hellraiser and with Leprechaun and then it happened with Jason. Luckily for me at the time, I hadn’t seen any of those other movies and probably wasn’t all that familiar with the Alien films either, so a lot of this stuff was relatively new to me. I’d also probably only gone through a few of the original Jason films once, maybe twice each, so I didn’t even have that good of a Jason knowledge or fandom to disappoint. Basically, when I watched Jason X in 2002, it was the perfect storm of what I thought was a fun movie with pretty great kills mixed with an almost complete ignorance of what this movie was following, referencing and commenting on.
Even today, though, after seeing a lot of those movies, I can still enjoy this film and not on a completely nostalgic level either. I love that this movie actually pits Jason against soldiers and shows that he can take out even well-trained people and not just half naked teenagers. I also enjoy how they get him on the ship even if the initial escape makes little to no sense. Hell, I love that there’s a friggin’ warrior robot in this movie! Oh, and cyborg Jason? Yeah, I like that too. Before he got his upgrade you actually thought they might be able to kill him forever by shooting him into the sun or something, but now the already scary guy who can’t die has technology working on his side which makes him even more difficult to defeat!
Again, though, I get why people don’t like this movie. Even though it’s set in the future, everyone looks super 2001. The sets are fairly well done, but still look like something out of a Si-Fi show from that era. While Jason is portrayed perfectly by Kane Hodder, there’s not much more in the way of depth when it comes to the rest of the cast. Uneven dialog delivered by so-so actors does not a great film make.
I’ll tell you what, though. There’s still some pretty great moments like anytime Jason appears in a corridor and the kids scatter. There’s just something about that presence bursting into a well lit room that still gets under my skin a little bit. It almost makes it more realistic. And how can you not love that bit with Jason smashing the sleeping bag against the tree in the VR room? I laughed pretty hard at that the first time (maybe I do have some memories ratting around in my head) and I didn’t even get the specific reference at the time. I’ve since watched Part VII several times including once in the past few weeks and like that gag even more.
At the end of the day, I know that Jason X isn’t a good movie and yet, I can look past the bad and just enjoy the good. Plus, this movie has one of my all time favorite kill scenes and it comes pretty soon after Jason wakes up on the ship. That bit with the head in the super cold water or ice or whatever still gets me! Plus, even for a guy with a faulty memory bank, there’s still a lot to be said for nostalgia.