Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
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Jason X: Slasher in space: Latest sequel is a yawner



Jason X makes a pervasive argument against the theory of evolution. Box office prospects in Kansas look huge. After a nine-year sabbatical between sequels, what we have here is Friday the 13th, Part 10. If you've forgotten: the killer is Jason Voor-hees, and he wears a hockey mask. Since 1980, he has been rendered in 3-D and has vacationed in New York. Now he's in space. Seriously. He's fatter, but he's in space, which, incidentally, means he's also lighter.

Here's my favorite scene in this wonderful film, and by wonderful, of course, I mean dumb: Jason is fooled into thinking he's back at his old hunting grounds, Camp Crystal Lake. He looks around at the trees, the water. He listens to the crickets. And his one eye that hasn't been ripped out of its socket, moistens.

How does he make it into space? In 2010, he's frozen during a fight with a hot scientist babe, who is also accidentally frozen. Centuries later, they are thawed out by a group of students (I'm not making this up) on a research space vessel and Jason goes about his work. The hot babe scientist is informed that Earth is dead and Earth 2 has been founded. She's also told the year is 2455, and so as she struggles to hold a chain-mail blanket over her naked body, hot scientist babe has a revelation:

"That's over 400 years."

The cast is a veritable who's who of early-1980s slasher movie morons who all but arrive onscreen with helpful toe tags, providing their fate and description: There's the professor (dead), the backwoods guy (dead), friend of the backwoods guy (dead), the grunt (dead), the slut (dead), the comic relief (dead), the nice guy (possibly dead), the brain (dead), the hysterical girlfriend (dead), the boyfriend of the hysterical girlfriend (dead), the wisecracking girl (dead), and the half-naked campers (dead).

And because this fine episode is not content to be merely derivative of the previous nine Friday the 13th movies, Jason X provides the following stock characters from two decades of horror films set in space: the cowboylike pilot (dead), the Space Marine (dead), the other Space Marine (dead), and the Space Marine different from the other two Space Marines (dead), and the human-looking robot (unplugged). They have names, too: Kicker, Fat Lou, Waylander, Dallas (an Alien homage), Stoney.

I'm not saying stupid names is reason enough to kill off characters with giant screws, chainsaws, machetes, corkscrews, spears, shards of glass, hard surfaces, wires, and liquid nitrogen, but let's say it doesn't help their case.

Incidentally, we learn in Jason X that Jason has "amazing regenerative powers." And while I can accept that he could have survived the previous films, despite being split in two, blown up, hanged, set on fire, electrocuted, disintegrated, and express-mailed to hell, I find it hard to believe his hockey mask could have stayed mostly intact.

In short: Nothing to see here, folks. What's curious is a feeling that the filmmakers have given up. Like George on Seinfeld deciding to wear sweatpants all day. They've provided a new setting, yes. And there's production value this time. There's self-referential humor swiped from Scream that wasn't in previous editions. (Translation: Teens say something ironic, then die.) But does anyone remember this is supposed to be a horror film? Jason X is so lazy, it doesn't try to be scary.

I think that's the minimum you should expect, even if the series was created to capitalize on John Carpenter's chilling 1978 hit, Halloween. But the cast doesn't look surprised by what's happening. The characters never jump. You never cover your eyes. The sense of humor is nice, but who can laugh when every gag alternates with a knife slowly sliding across a throat?

Not to mention, when there's no way to stop a bad guy, and the filmmakers have forsaken suspense, how can you care what happens? Killing, itself, becomes the star. Near the end Jason turns into a meteor, burning up on re-entry to Earth 2's atmosphere. He's vaporized ... right? When Jason freezes over, girlfriend.

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