Halloween Scene: Jason X (2002)

jason-x-poster 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.

Halloween Scene: Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

I really can’t tell you how much I want to LOVE Jason Takes Manhattan. I’ve seen it a few times now, but this was probably the most dissapointing time ever. Why? Well, because I worked in NYC for a few months and there’s nothing I’d like to see more than a slasher taking apart all the assholes I had to deal with on a daily basis from the people who stopped at the top of escalators in the middle of Penn Station to the people who stopped every three feet to take a picture of some huge building that no one cares about, even my 15 minute walk to work from Penn could be a nightmare depending on who else was around. Those are the kinds of people you want to see Jason tear into in a movie called Jason Takes Manhattan. He should be in the middle of Time Square just annihilating everyone from the people trying to get smoking taken out of all movies to the tourists who put their cameras on the table and jump in the air at just the right time for a family photo. Mind you, I used to love walking to Time Square just to swim in the sea of humanity, but that’s exactly what makes it the perfect horror attack spot.

Anyway, as most horror fans know, the F13 8 script was greatly truncated to fit the budget which allowed for more scenes on a cruise boat and less scenes in Madison Square Garden. I will admit that the stuff on the boat is pretty creepy, like the guitar chick down in the guts of the boat getting killed by her own guitar, but the movie really suffers from Jason’s inexplicable tracking and teleportation skills. One minute he’s behind you, then you run down and away from him, then he’s in front of you? Wait how did that–SMASH. You’re dead. All of this gets way worse when the remaining people finally get to NYC and proceed to get annihilatied by a Jason who seems dead set on killing only a handful of people instead of tourist trap fodder and a subway car filled with innocents who deserve his specific brand of supernatural crazy person justice.

See, that’s my other big problem with the movie. Why doesn’t he kill any of those New York people? It’s not like the Crystal Lake kids on the boat did anything specific to him, so he should just be burning off that anit-fun, -drugs, -drinking, -sex thing right? Well you shouldn’t be able to walk a millimeter in NYC without fulfilling that urge to kill, masked man. Instead he zeroes in on the poor kids who have already seen their friends mutilated and murdered.

There is one interesting scene where a kid gets to fight back. We see that he’s a boxer earlier in the flick so he gets  to make it to New York and box Jason on a rooftop. Now, don’t get a Rocky image in your mind as Jason–for some inexplicable reason–allows this kid to pummel him for minutes and just takes it. That is until Jason punches the kid’s head off. It’s a weird little scene that I assume is supposed to seep hope out of the audience, but really just makes you wonder when the brash kid’s gonna get the axe.

Aside from that brief moment of fighting back and some pretty cool kills, the overall movie feels like a complete misstep. If you don’t have the money to really set the movie in NYC (and a brief scene in Times Square and some alley and subway scenes do not cut it), then just keep the movie on the boat and go all out. This is the one movie from the original series that I’d like to see get remade the most because there could be nothing crazier or scarier then a full on supernatural slasher movie in the middle of a major city. I know slasher movies aren’t in vogue right now aside from mostly-shitty remakes, but this is the next thing I want to see. Slasher vs. City. Someone needs to make it happen. If you’re interested, I have a few pitches in mind.