Thursday, October 05, 2006

Jason goes from hell to space, and into our hearts

This is it. The virtual end of the Friday the 13th franchise. Sure, Freddy vs. Jason is forthcoming, but I'm still about seven movies away from that.

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday neither features Jason going to Hell (at least not for long), nor is it the final Friday. The plot of this movie is a little wacky (at least wacky compared to the tried-and-true series formula). Jason does not exist in corporeal form for 9/10 of the movie. Instead, his spirit possesses various Crystal Lake citizens until the perfect host body can be found. This is facilitated by a coroner eating Jason's heart--which, really, makes a whole lot of sense when you think about it.

Despite the plot, Jason Goes to Hell is a welcome return to form. The MPAA must have backed off from the creators, as the kills are much more gruesome and satisfying in this film than in any of the last four. Somebody gets a car door slammed on their skull. A guy has his arm broken at mid-forearm in a welcome bit of gore. The best kill is one I had been hoping for since I started watching the series. Finally, somebody got the axe while they were in the act of dirty, premarital sex. Not only that, but it's the best kill in the film. The woman (riding cowboy, for those interested) is cleaved in half. Hot-dog style, not hamburger-style. That's some good shit.

Jason Goes to Hell was the first Friday movie released by New Line Cinema, meaning that they were welcome to include elements of some of their other horror franchises. The Necronomicon from the Evil Dead series appears in the old Voorhees house. Infamously, Freddy Krueger's glove pulls Jason's hockey mask down to hell--a moment that inspired a geekgasm in 1993 and a spin-off in 2003.

Before I move on to the next movie: I'd feel loathe if I didn't mention the best dialogue thus far in the entire franchise.
Reporter: I'm going to say a couple of words to you and I want you to say the first thing that comes into your mind.
Creighton Duke: Okay.
Robert Campbell: Jason Voorhees.
Creighton Duke: That makes me think of a little girl in a pink dress sticking a hot dog through a doughnut.
In the long history of cinema, Jason X may be a high point. I mean, after they put a zombie serial killer in space and make him a cyborg, WHERE ELSE IS THERE TO GO?

It's important to note that even in the year 2455, sexy teens make up ninety percent of the universe's population. Even the team of battle-hardened space commandos includes buxom babes in both blonde and brunette styles. Jason X features, probably, the most gratuitous nudity of any of the Friday movies. A girl's shirt is torn off as she is attacked. One couple has sex. The robot shows off her new, metal nipples. Giggling hologram babes take off their shirts and invite Jason into their sleeping bags for premarital sex and some marijuana. On the boobies scale, this movie gets a nine out of ten.

The ten years between entries in the franchise made quite a difference. The gore is ramped up to levels previously unseen, and the setting allows for some inventive kills that just can't be done in a 1980's lakeside summer camp. In fact, when making notes on kills I left more "awesome kill" asterisks than not. A soldier gets sliced in half at the waist and is left to drag his torso across the room. Another is impaled on a giant corkscrew--gravity does the rest of the work as his body spins down to the hilt. A woman's entire body is pulverized and squeezed through a fist-sized hole in the wall due to a loss of cabin-pressure. The two topless teens mentioned in the previous paragraph each crawl into sleeping bags (in a call-back to The New Blood) and are beaten to death in a similar (but much more gruesome) way. The best kill, though, takes place early on. A busty, scantily-clad scientist has her face dipped into liquid nitrogen. Then, the frozen noggin is smashed against the wall, shattering into a million pieces. Joy!

Of course the movie is shitty. I could whine about how Jason becomes a robot that rivals Super Shredder in cheesy-monstrousness. There are technologies that don't make a whole lot of sense. The dialogue is flat. However, to complain that this movie is shitty seems kind of pointless--I mean, it's the final, shitty entry in a series that is built (and loved because) of shittiness. What a great ride.

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