6 Days of Friday: Day 5
Welcome back to “6 Days of Friday!” Today we will be looking at Jason Goes to Hell and Jason X, the first two Jason films to be produced by New Line Cinema, who would take over the rights of the character from Paramount. Let’s see what this new team has in store for the angry goalie…
Jason Goes to Hell (1993) ——————————————————————————————– 1.5/5 Stars
Synopsis: An FBI sting operation disguised as a standard opening to a Friday the 13th film results in Jason being surrounded by dozens of armed officers, shot excessively, and then exploded with a grenade launcher. Later in the morgue, the coroner mysteriously becomes obsessed with the killer’s heart and begins to eat it right out of the body, which then causes the masked-murderer’s spirit to possess him and lead him on a killing spree! From this point on, Jason’s essence hops from body to body murdering everyone he encounters, while a bounty hunter named Creighton Duke tries to find a descendant of Jason’s bloodline – who may be the only one that can send him to hell!
When Paramount decided to put a stop to the Friday the 13th films after the despicable Jason Takes Manhattan, the rights and ownership of the character Jason Voorhees was purchased by New Line Cinema, who moved forward with their own take on the character. The result is Jason Goes to Hell – a film that takes itself far more seriously than it has any right to, introducing a ridiculous body-swapping plot that turns Jason (or rather, the spirit of Jason) into a weird worm/snake thing that possesses various host bodies in an attempt to establish a full return to its hockey-masked form. This drastic change of tone from the original films approaches a creative self-awareness at times (like in the shocking opening sequence), but the film mostly just descends into a series brutal kill scenes after a while, with minimal emotional attachment holding anything together.
The actual Jason, for the few scenes that he appears in his authentic form, looks like his head is moulded out of ground beef. It is a messy and grotesque look that marks an enormous departure from the Jason of the original Friday films, and failed to win me over. Additionally, his lack of presence in the main narrative is quite upsetting; and by the time he is finally resurrected in his true form at the film’s climax (which involves some sort of lame magical dagger…), the novelty of the film’s bizarre plot has long since worn off. There’s certainly more gore and brutal killing here than in any other Friday film, but these scenes are pulled off with such a straight face that their grotesque and offensive nature becomes the focus, and any sort of fun is lost. The film’s most exciting moment actually comes at the very end, in the momentary set-up for a Freddy vs Jason film (which eventually happened, and will be covered in tomorrow’s concluding article). Like its successor Jason X, this film quite simply doesn’t feel like it belongs in this series, despite its courageous attempts to distinguish itself from everything that came before it.
Jason X (2002) ———————————————————————————————————- 0.5/5 Stars
Synopsis: In the not so distant future, Jason is captured by government agents and held at the conveniently titled Crystal Lake Research Facility, where it is decided that he will be cryogenically frozen. Unfortunately, Jason doesn’t go without a fight, taking out the entire team of agents/scientists except for one named Rowan, and the two end up frozen together for centuries. Fast-forward to 2455 where some students on an intergalactic field-rip discover the pair and decide to reanimate them. Not surprisingly, Jason begins murdering everyone aboard the spaceship immediately upon returning to life, forcing the students to fall back on their android KM-14 to stand up and engage the killer in a showdown which could prove to be his last! That is until Jason gets some upgrades of his own…
This is it Friday fans – the most embarrassingly stupid of all the cinematic adventures of Jason Voorhees, and the undisputed low point in this long and storied franchise. With the much-anticipated Freddy vs Jason film stuck in development hell, the producers at New Line Cinema (which ironically included Sean S. Cunningham, the director of the original Friday) began looking for another story to make in the meantime. The idea of “Jason in space” was suggested as a means of taking Jason into the future so that his “real world” continuity remained unaffected (as if that has ever mattered in the past). Even the fact that it was filmed largely in Canada, and involves a sexy female android who can kick ass failed to win me over.
The problem with Jason X is that it feels far too much like an awful made-for-tv movie that you would see on the Sci-Fi channel at 1am on a weekday. It’s so bad that it isn’t even fun to watch, and somehow feels like it drags on despite a brief 93 minute runtime. I would have given it a full-on zero rating, except that there is one kill that stands out as one of Jason’s all-time best, involving a victim’s head being frozen in liquid nitrogen and then smashed to pieces against a counter top. There is also a pair of ridiculous fights between Jason and the fully-armed fembot (KM-14), the first of which is won by the female android who literally blasts Jason to pieces. This scene marks a turning point in the film, as Jason is then reassembled by a computer and turned into a super-powered killer-cyborg, facing KM-14 once again in a rematch and defeating her with ease, punching her head clean off. The rest of the film is hardly worth mentioning in any detail. Despite its best efforts to offer some campy sci-fi/horror entertainment, Jason X just completely misses the mark and never once feels like it belongs with the rest of the series. In all honesty I like to just pretend that this movie doesn’t really exist, and I would recommend you all do the same.
Wow, it feels really good to get those two horrible sequels out of the way. Now that we have concluded our look at New Line Cinema’s first two stabs at the Jason franchise, we can move on to the far more satisfying and much-anticipated Freddy vs Jason mash-up, as well as the 2009 Platinum Dunes reboot, which looks to bring Jason back to his gritty (human) roots and make him legitimately frightening once again. Tune in tomorrow for all the gory details in the exciting conclusion to “6 Days of Friday!”