When a long-running franchise reaches the point where the idea of “In Space” seems to be the only viable option it may be time to cash in the chips and call it a day, and this was the problem New Line Cinema was facing after the disappointing fan reaction to Jason Goes to Hell, yet they were ready to try anything to keep the franchise alive and when screenwriter Todd Farmer suggested that going to space was the only direction left they quickly greenlit the project.
The 1998 film Jason Goes to Hell ended not only with the titular character being dragged down to Hell but also a tease that Freddy Krueger would be the next antagonist facing off against Jason, sadly, this was not to be the case and that particular idea was to postpone it for almost a decade, instead, we got Jason X, a science/fiction horror film that was a far from Crystal Lake as you could get. The basic plot of the film is that the government had somehow managed to capture Jason and due to everyone involved being an idiot Jason is allowed to escape, but before he can put the finishing kill on everyone a government scientist named Rowan LaFontaine (Lexa Doig) lures him into a cryogenic pod and activates it, but he ruptures the pod with his machete, stabbing her in the abdomen. The escaping cryogenic gas fills the room and our good doctor is frozen alongside Jason until they are found by a school field trip 400 hundred years in the future.
“Ranger 3 and its pilot, Captain William “Buck” Rogers, are blown out of their trajectory into an orbit which freezes his life-support systems, and returns Buck Rogers to Earth, 500 years later.”
Of course, this is far from the first time horror and science fiction has been blended but this is no Alien, hell, this thing barely qualifies to be in the same category as something like Moon Trap, and this cast of characters is about as one dimensional as to be found in any of your standard slasher films. The sci-fi setting doesn’t really add much to the franchise, you can add all the nano-tech and holograms you want but if the bulk of the film consists of idiots splitting up and being murdered one by one you’re not going to be accused of originality. There was certainly no danger of that as the premise of a female waking up from cryo-sleep in the future, where she must deal with space marines who underestimate the monster they are dealing with, is pretty much the plot of Aliens and we don’t have anyone as cool as Ripley or Hicks to bail us out. The film does have a couple of inventive kills, a head frozen in liquid nitrogen being shattered against a table was pretty badass, but even Jason becoming a full-on cyborg wasn’t enough to make this entry all that interesting.
• Wasn’t Jason in Hell? This film’s opening credit sequence gives us images of what could be considered some form of Hellscape but then it cuts to Jason being held prisoner in some government facility but there is no connective tissue or explanation as to how this came to be.
• The Government wants to study Jason because of his supposed regenerative ability, but he doesn’t really regenerate damage, does he? He’s a walking corpse with all the damage he’s taken over the years still quite evident.
• Apparently, in the year 2024 hockey will be outlawed, well, I guess that’s something to look forward to.
• Onboard this spaceship we have an android with nipple envy, yet she looks completely human so the exclusion of nipples in her design makes no real sense and exists only so we can have a lame gag involving magnetic ones.
• The Colonial Marine knock-offs in this movie are pretty damn bad at their job, they would look more at home playing laser tag.
The film’s only saving grace is that it does manage to poke fun at itself a couple of times, I particularly liked the moment when Jason gets his original machete back and Professor Lowe (Jonathan Potts ) gasps in relief, “Guys, it’s okay! He just wanted his machete back!” That scene and the wonderful meta-moment where they use a holographic Camp Crystal Lake to distract Jason with two virtual teenage girls who offer Jason drugs and premarital sex, but these are about the only real clever parts in this movie and other than those brief flashes of self-awareness there really isn’t much to offer fans of the franchise…well, when the android (Lisa Ryder) gets her Space Dominatrix upgrade that will please a certain core demographic.
With a 14-million dollar budget, I will say that on the production side of things, every dollar spent is up there on the screen; the interior sets for the spaceship were top-notch, the model work and optical effects were quite good – that scientists in the future wear half-top shirts may have been a stretch – but the overall look of the film was more than one could expect from a “Jason in Space” movie, and if they’d gone either full meta like Scream or embraced the darkness of Ridley Scott or James Cameron’s films this could have been really great entry, as is Jason X will always be a bit of the Red-Headed Step-Child of the series
Jason X (2001)
Movie Rank - 6/10
One surely can’t really expect too much out of the tenth entry in a horror franchise but all Jason X promised audiences was “Jason in Space” and that is exactly what they got, for good or ill.