Jason X

You have to respect a killer so dedicated to his craft that he tries never to kill the same way twice. At least, not twice in one movie. And if today's technology provides some limitations, the only logical move is to go into deep freeze and wait for it to catch up with you.

Actually, the deep freeze isn't exactly Jason Voorhees' (Kane Hodder) choice. As scientist/cop/hottie Rowan (Lexa Doig) explains to their future rescuers, they "…tried hanging him, shooting him, gassing him, nothing worked." With Jason's amazing regenerative abilities, the only solution is to put him on ice until something can be guaranteed to kill him. Of course, unscrupulous scientists (led by horror film director David Cronenberg) want to study him first, a move that can only end in tears. And violent dismemberings.

As a result, Jason and Rowan end up frozen together, past the time that Earth becomes unlivable. Archaeology students from Earth 2 discover them while on a dig. Even 450 years in the future, young people in horror movies follow the rules of stupidity. When a frozen Jason still manages to slice off gawky Azrael's (Dov Tiefenbach) arm, the students don't take the hint that this thing would be best left to the cockroaches.

Being as it is the future, such ignorance may be forgivable. Jason's hockey mask is of great interest, as the sport was outlawed in 2020. No doubt these kids have never actually seen a splatter movie. But they have mastered cellular regeneration, replacing Azrael's arm and reviving Ripley. Whoops. I meant Rowan. They consider Jason's body too far gone, little realizing that all he needs is a little time to himself.

From here on out, any and all resemblance to the Alien series is purely intentional. The filmmakers just hope that we won't notice. Instead of dangerous super-bugs, we've got an unstoppable killing machine. And frankly, this way is more fun.

We learn very little about the culture of the future. People are still horny (thank heavens, else what motivation would Jason have?). You can even program your own robot mate, in this case super-vixen Kay-Em 14 (Lisa Ryder), complete with magnetic nipples. Savor that a moment. Videogames utilize holographic technology, but then, Star Trek taught us that. And money still rules.

Just as in Aliens, the guy running the operation, Professor Lowe (Jonathan Potts), is far more interested in keeping the killer alive. Some government somewhere can use a super-psycho-soldier, and will pay handsomely for it. Too bad Lowe hadn't seen any splatter movies, either; he'd know that only the noble survive. Sometimes not even them.

Jason X plays by all the rules, and thankfully with a sense of wit, even revisiting the killings of an earlier Friday the 13th movie. (It involves sleeping bags, and taken out of the Crystal Lake context, it's pretty funny.) With a mute killer, it falls on the rest of the cast to drop snide bon mots, which they do. But one-liners never overpower the action or feel out of place.

As for the violence, most of that plays out cleverly, too. For a seemingly single-minded killer, Jason has an artful sense. I've seen one of this movie's killings done as a magic trick by Melinda, Mistress of Magic, in Las Vegas. Melinda survived. Jason's victim doesn't.

Most of the film, by the way, does not need the amped-up super-Jason that the advertising campaign promises. Though the upgrade does happen, it's in the last quarter of the movie. Don't get tense waiting for it. Jason X is cool (no truth to the rumor he was originally known as Jason Aqua), but Jason Classic gets the job done just as well.

The actors themselves deliver the biggest surprise. Most of them don't suck. They could have, and it wouldn't have mattered. But still they actually come off believably, especially Doig. In a couple of scenes, everyone seems strangely relaxed, but that seems more an effect of awkward scripting or directing than an actor's choice. Even when the other characters believe they have Jason beaten, Rowan never loses her underlying edge.

It's not great art. The ships and space stations all look a bit cheesy. On the interiors, the corridors and rooms have a suspicious sameness to them. And in the wake of all the real violence we've seen in the last year, it's hard to take something like this too seriously.

As Fat Lou the engineer (Boyd Banks) says after seeing the remains of the ship's pilot, "of course, I've seen worse." But if Jason X does well, we might finally get to see that long-rumored Jason vs. Freddy movie, especially with both franchises in the hands of New Line Cinema. If we don't, at least this one has breathed some new life into a dead franchise.

But then, Jason can't die, can he…?

What's It Worth? $6

Derek McCaw

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