In the grand tradition of “Friday the 13th” films, there are none as maligned as “Jason X.”
Granted, the Rotten Tomato scores for all of the films hover around a 30 percent “Fresh” score (except for the truly abysmal “Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan,” which somehow holds a 9% “fresh” rating), but “Jason X” regularly is regarded as the worst for a number of reasons. For one, it technically killed the original franchise dead. Filmmakers spent most of Jason’s existence trying to stamp him out. After all, “Jason X” comes a whole six films after the supposed “Final Chapter.” “Jason X” came to life as plans for the horror crossover “Freddy vs. Jason” stalled. Not only that, but “Jason X” came almost ten years after the previous film in which Jason went to Hell and encountered Freddy’s glove.
Critics at the time of the film’s 2002 release were not kind whatsoever. Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe said:
“The movie is concocted and carried out by folks worthy of scorn, and the nicest thing I can say is that I can’t remember a single name responsible for it.”
Damn, Wesley! Rough. Melanie McFarland of the Seattle Times clearly hadn’t seen “Jason Takes Manhattan” with this review:
“The 10th installment of the Friday the 13th franchise is, hands down, the worst of the worst.”
Despite these awful review (and trust me there are a lot of them), I’m here to take a stand for “Jason X.” Is it the “Friday the 13th” you know and love? Of course not! But it’s Jason! In space! Let’s look at some choice moments from “Jason X”
The face-smashing scene
Probably the most famous moment of the film. In the year 2445 (just go with it), Jason is frozen but still alive, and some boneheads decide to bring him on their space ship for later analysis. In a truly shocking turn of events (/s), Jason comes back to life and immediately sets out to make a statement. Our titular hero grabs Adrienne, a member of the space crew, and shoves her head into what appears to be a sink filled with liquid nitrogen. After pulling her now-frozen head out, Jason smashes it on the counter. The scene was famous enough to inspire a test by the geniuses of Mythbusters which, unfortunately, revealed the kill to be nothing more than fiction. I guess that means everything else in the movie might be realistic?
The David Cronenberg scene
“Jason X” is one of few films I can think of that the sheer quality of a cameo alone is enough to bump the respect levels of the film itself. Famed horror director David Cronenberg appears at the very beginning of the film as a scientist hoping to keep Jason alive to study his bizarre regenerating body. We all know how this ends: Cronenberg and his goons all meet the end of a machete. As a director, Cronenberg has created multiple films now in the Criterion Collection, so this begs a question: when will “Jason X” become a Criterion classic? The world continues to wait.
The virtual reality scene
This scene more than others completely blurs the line between comedy and whatever attempt at “horror” that the filmmakers were going for. After being completely blown apart, Jason emerges again near the end of the film as “Uber Jason,” basically an even-more insane future-tech Jason. As the remaining crew members scramble to fix their ship, they attempt to trap Jason in a hologram room, projecting a scene of classic Camp Crystal Lake around him. Two hologram women attempt to ply Jason with promises of alcohol, drugs and premarital sex. The scene jumps back to crew members celebrating their success before jumping back to Jason whacking one girl in a sleeping bag with another girl in a sleeping bag. The whole scene is completely ludicrous and cartoonish in nature, which probably makes it the most telling scene of the film.
Obviously, there are better and more “classic” “Friday the 13th” films to enjoy today. However, the next time you hear some sorry loser badmouthing “Jason X” (which I’m sure happens all the time to you), have the courage to speak out on behalf of this fine slice of film. And if you happen to run into David Cronenberg, tell him to push a little harder on the Criterion board.