Jason Goes to Hell/Jason X review by The Grim Ringler

Jason Goes To Hell – Jason X

Remember when movies used to be fun? When you went to lose yourself for an hour and change and just wanted to be entertained? Sure, sometimes the movies were weird, sometimes they were silly, and a LOT of times they idea of logic was never even considered when writing or making the film, but you didn’t care. You just wanted to forget the world for a while. And what better films were there then the Friday the 13th films? Were there better films? Of course. Were there scarier films? Again, of course. But none summed up the fears and anxieties, the very images and ideas of the generation gap that the Friday the 13th films did. Dark morality tales with an unstoppable boogey-man, they were fast, grim, fun, and showed you a monster that was something we knew we’d never have to see on the street, at school, or at work. Now of course these films have been accused of everything from making people want to be violent, planting the seeds of violence in weak-minds with no impulse control, to killing the very Art that films were based in part on. Because how could Jason and his stupid movies co-exist with the works of Hitchcock, Scorsese, and Kurosawa? What people never got was that the people making the films KNEW they were making pulpy horror films with no greater purpose than to scare the audience and to entertain them. Movies made for the fans, I have heard the makers of these films say. And I agree. Good? Not generally. They are always JUST shy of being very smart and very interesting, but they are FUN. Will they change the world, open minds, show us things we have never seen but should have? No. But then not all movies have to. Some movies are made to be just fun. And it is not for us to judge what someone deems as fun. I have no interest in church revivals but a lot of people find them fun, so be it. So I guess it’s a bit disingenuous when reviewers review movies like the Friday the 13th films and pan them and be-rate them and ask the gods why they must exist. Hell, I ask the dark gods of films why Adam Sandler is such a star but ya know what, it ain’t for me to worry over. Not really. So here we have the DVD editions of the two most recent Friday the13th films, taken as they are and as nothing else.

Jason Goes to Hellis easily the series’ most daring entry, even more daring than the most recent, space adventure. And its risks, are, to me, a gain for what was becoming a very stagnant and predictable series. There is not a lot you can do with Jason. He doesn’t speak. Doesn’t grow. Doesn’t change. He is Jason. And while that’s fun to a degree, it limits what you can do with the films. Enter Jason Goes to Hell. JGTH BEGINS with Jason’s death, raising the stakes from the get-go and changing the formula from the start. But Jason is not so easily killed – even if he is surrounded by several FBI agents and blown up – and what we soon learn is he is not quite what he appears. Indeed this is the first film in the series to take a shot at deciding why he kills – demons that seem to live within what remains of his body – and sure, it isn’t exactly the most original idea, but at least it’s something. And so it is that Jason’s heart, while during an autopsy done on his body, is devoured by the coroner, thus infecting another person with the evil that inhabited Jason. And essentially this is the movie – the evil that had dwelled in Jason is no free to find a suitable host to give Jason – presumably the ‘ultimate killing machine’ – a new lease on death. But alas, no body can hold our boy for long before it begins to rot and degenerate, so Jason needs someone special to host his twenty-four-hour murder party, and the perfect host is family. Seems Jason had a sister that was never mentioned and she is the one Jason is after in this one, after until he kills her of course, thus making her infant granddaughter the next best candidate.

Confused? Well, don’t be, this is a Friday film and while they have actually tried to rustle up a plot, it isn’t a new or wholly original one. But it is interesting. Essentially what we have is Jason – seen as basically a demon out for revenge and almost biblical punishment , his family – an aspect never really ruminated on but that has always made one wonder about them, a bounty hunter – a mystery man that seems to know Jason inside and out and that wants nothing more than to finish him, and the boyfriend/hero – our sad-sack fella that will do anything it takes to make sure his ex and her child aren’t snuffed by old five-hole. But in the end does it work? Yes and no. The is pretty well made, though, as usual, the script and a lot of the story are cheesy, but it’s sincere, which buys it some cred. And you have to give it credit for trying something different. Sure, it’s generally the same old same old, but Jason proper isn’t in the movie really until the very end, making that character more interesting in that, it isn’t just a big body and a hockey mask but a methodical movement and look, a stance and motive. Looked at as a fun, simple slasher film that really wants to please its core and that throws in some new twists, it’s pretty darn good.

The disc is thankfully unrated and boy did they take advantage of it, presenting the fans the first over-the-top gore outing from Jason. So gory is it that during the wonderful commentary you can hear the filmmakers marveling at how depraved they were to do many of the things in the film. Which brings us to the commentary, which is an absolute joy to hear. Here are two men that love the Friday films and wanted to pay tribute to them and to try to do something new with them as well. And they take the movie as it is, and comment on it in that manner – not making fun of it per se, but seeing it for what it is and going from there. Had they acted as if this was a serious, important movie, well, I would still be cleaning the vomit from my carpet. The other big feature on the disc is the inclusion of the extra footage they shot for the television version – which, frankly, why on earth they did this is beyond me, though they also did it with Goodfellas, I guess it’s for the people that really like the godawful Reader’s Digest Condensed versions of things – which is pretty interesting. Nothing to revelatory, but it’s neat to see some of the angles they were taking with characters and moments that they never really followed through on in the movie proper.

All said and done, Jason Goes to Hellreally does stand as one of the better, if not the best, of the Jason movies. It’s heartfelt, it’s honest, and while it may not wholly succeed, it tries to add substance to a character and franchise that gave up on such things by the third movie. Well done.

Jason Xis to Friday the 13th what Halloween III is to that franchise – a stand alone – ‘what if’ scenario that pretty much ignores most of the other films and what they were. In Jason X Jason has been caught, tried, convicted, and punished for his many, many murders but cannot be killed (though it strikes me as funny that they never tried to burn him or dissect him, or even dumped him in the ocean, when they realized he could not be killed via conventional methods) so the great minds of the government decide to observe him and see how he ticks – seeing how he can regenerate so niftily. Well, as usual, Jason gets free and slaughters all his keepers save one scientist and during their battle of wits both end up cryogenically frozen until someone can find them. Which of course happens when a class of students and their teacher land on the long dead Earth and find these two perfectly preserved samples and so take them back to their ship. The woman is mended and brought back to life, only to learn they are far in the future, in a ship headed for what is called Earth 2, and that Jason is also on board. Jason seems dead, but of course all that changes when two of the teens begin having the sex and up he rises, a five-hole messiah, ready for some killin’. And there ya have it. This newest entry mixes Aliens and any number of sci-fi romps with the same old shenanigans of Jason, and generally, it works. I think the big issue I have with it all is that they tried to add humor, but not enough to make it really that funny, and it isn’t serious enough that it’s that serious. So you get a weird melding of the two that sorta works and sorta doesn’t. not that it takes away from the film that much but ya know, it just makes it all not work so well. But I have to say that this is the best shot of the series, easily, and the effects look great, so kudos to everyone involved on that end. And the acting is not bad at all. It won’t win any awards but it ain’t half bad either. The movie is interesting, pretty, is fast paced, and plays with Jason, and the idea of what he might look like if created now, in a cyberpunk age, and that’s fun, but as usual, the movie is half and half. Half fun and brutal and neat, and half mediocre, making you wish that someone would just come in and write a really good script and then be done with the old prick for once and all.

The extras on this disc are pretty fun, topping out in a badass doc on the ‘many faces of Jason Voorhees’, which is essentially about the films and the people behind them. Funny, interesting, and full of pretty neat insight, this is really reason enough to buy the disc, even if the movie was dreadful. The other doc is the run of the mill – this is how we made it – piece and it’s ok, but ya know, it’s a Jason movie so who the hell really cares, ya know. Haha! And the commentary was, well, commentary, nothing mind-shattering, but it’s interesting.

In the end it’s the most ambitious Jason movie and the best made one, but as usual, there just isn’t a lot of thunder in paradise, and I guess by now, that’s what we should expect. It’s a nice try, and a fun movie overall, but ah to get my one perfect Jason movie, which, alas, shall never be.


7 out of 10 Jackasses

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