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Jason and the Astronauts

jasonx

JASON X

3 Stars  2001/15/93m

“Evil gets an upgrade.”

A.k.a. Friday the 13th Part X

Director: James Isaac / Writer: Todd Farmer / Cast: Lexa Doig, Lisa Ryder, Chuck Campbell, Peter Mensah, Kane Hodder, Jonathan Potts, Melyssa Ade, Derwin Jordan, Melody Johnson, Kristi Angus, Dov Tiefenbach, Phillip Williams, David Cronenberg.

Body Count: 24 (+4 virtual reality kills and a load of people in a space station…)

Dire-logue: “Hey, do you want a beer? Or do you wanna smoke some pot? Or we can have pre-marital sex? We love pre-marital sex!”


Cinema’s apex-predator returned after an eight year absence (nine, if you count the delay in releasing the film) and renaissance of the genre he ruled throughout the 1980s. Evidently, the ‘final’ trick used (for the second time) in Jason Goes To Hell cannot be believed again and thus here comes the dumbest hack n’ slash film to emerge in thirty years!

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In 2010, at the convenient ‘Crystal Lake Research Center’, Jason is chained up, having survived various attempts to kill him (heroine Rowan notes they tried to electrocute, gas, shoot and hang him) and his “amazing ability to regenerate damaged tissue” has attracted sleazy government types who want to exploit it. Naturally, several grunts fail to do the job and, along with David Cronenberg’s doctor, end up dead. Rowan manages to shut Jason in the cryogenic chamber that was being prepped as the next crack at disabling him, but Jay’s machete is powerful enough to rupture the casing, putting them both into stasis…

455 years later, intergalactic explorers happen upon the site and take both Jason and Rowan back to their ship. Led by Professor Lowe, who is keen to benefit financially from Jason’s fame, there’s a healthy number of nubile teenage ‘students’ along for the ride. Rowan is brought out of stasis by the crew, who believe Jason is beyond saving and before she can convince them to dump his body into outer space, he’s up and hewing his way through the crew.

jason1

With evident debts to Alien, Jason X smartly goes down the comedic route, making the most of the Scream crowd’s awareness and playing up to the cliches. Meanwhile, cartoon-level violence sees a face cryogenically frozen and then shattered on a table, people chopped in half, impaled on giant screws plus the usual throat cuttings, impalings and decaps.

The onboard military personnel all fail to survive (let alone stop Jason) and so it’s down to the other crew members, who call upon droid Kay-Em 14 to do some damage and she takes him on Buffy style, eventually blowing him into several pieces. The damage sustained by the ship inadvertently releases the regenerative ‘bugs’ that repair injuries and rebuild Jason with synthetic extra parts. Yes – it’s Super-Jason!

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Weird to think back to the sack-headead B-movie axe-murderer from 1981.

Uber-Jay proves more of a match for the dwindling crew members than his previous incarnation and things go from silly to ridiculous in the final few minutes, but it is punctuated by the film’s best scene, where Kay-Em ‘builds’ a virtual reality around Jason of Camp Crystal Lake in 1980, complete with chirping cicadas, the gentle lake, a full moon and a couple of easy campers (see Dire-logue) and a recreation of Kane Hodder’s favourite kill from Friday VII.

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Jason X is a real contender for the “least good” entry in the series (I don’t say worst as I like all 12 films). It’s a step too far down Cheesy Street; Freddy vs. Jason may have been equally as daft but made up for it with some nostalgic setpieces and a respect for the roots of the series that are (the a fore mentioned scene aside) all but absent here. This opinion was accentuated by virtue of the fact that it’s also the poorest performing Friday film so far, barely breaking even; the producers later admitted that they chose the wrong script. In this sense, the 2009 ‘reboot‘ is helpful, the origins having been re-set, rumours of that sought-after Crystal Lake in the snow scenario becoming a reality and back-to-basics stalking and slashing instead of gimmicks and in-jokes.

Blurbs-of-interest: Sean S. Cunningham produced; his son, Noel, co-produced and was one of the campfire kids in the original 1980 film. James Isaac also directed The Horror Show (a.k.a. House III); Todd Farmer later wrote My Bloody Valentine 3D and the 2012 Halloween III. Harry Manfredini once again contributed the score. This was Kane Hodder’s fourth and final turn as Jason.

Ranty Monday: I watched TWILIGHT

Maybe this should be under ‘Today I HATE…’

twilight

Rarely, will you find me taking such a vitriolic stand about a bad film – hey, I liked Jason X - but this… Jesus wept, why has this franchise become so inexplicably popular!? I wouldn’t normally waste precious bandwidth on a non-slasher film but I was kinda angry!

The “story” concerns a girl called Bella, who moves to a new town. Bella is moodiness personified: sullen, glum, dull as the weather in her new town and yet a vegetarian vampire falls in love with her…because he cannot eat her. Other vampires want to eat her, so her love-vamp, Edward, hides her to protect her (God knows why, she’s so damn boring), kills bad vampire. The end.

Vegetarian Vampires? Someone call Buffy… NOW!

So, not only does the “story” in fact feature no story, indeed in a two hour film rarely has so little actually happened, but it’s just so insultingly inoffensive, tip-toeing around issues of sex and violence, raping vampire lore by having them freely wander around in the daylight and observe their own reflections – it’s an absolute affront to be included in the horror genre at all.

A bland, banal, upsettingly sub-mediocre story that has somehow struck gold on the book front, now it’s set to poison the box office too… Pass me a razor, I’m going to need to self-harm if I want to see any excitement.

November Knockdown: Sexy Psychos

Have you ever watched a slasher film and, when the murderous fiend is unmasked, thought, “I’m strangely attracted to that person?” As you’ll see, it happens to me a fair bit. Are we as demented as they, or is there just something a bit sexy about a knife-toting loon? Here’s my Top 13:

MAJOR spoilers follow…

SEXY PSYCHO #1

sexy1Film: He Knows You’re Alone (1980)

Name: Ray (Tom Rolfing)

Story: Seemingly jilted by his girlfriend, he kills her on her wedding day and then proceeds to stalk brides-to-be. Needless to say I was on his side fairly early on.

Why-so-sexy? Brooding loner type, nicely cropped hair. Hates weddings.

SEXY PSYCHO #2

terrirandallFilm: The Initiation (1983)

Name: Terri Randall (Daphne Zuniga)

Story: Terri is heroine Kelly’s evil twin. How freakin’ cool is that? Answer: so cool. Anyway, she’s mental but has decided she wants to kill Kelly and become her to go travelling and stuff. Quite reasonable really…

Why-so-sexy? Just look at that cute face! Even with no make-up she’s adorable! Works a good gardening fork too.

SEXY PSYCHO #3

howardFilm: Silent Madness (1984)

Name: Howard Johns (Solly Marx)

Story: incarcerated for nail-gunning a group of sorority girls in the 60’s, Johns is released in an administrative error (John Howard was the patient they should have released – duh!) and so returns to the sorority house to kill. In 3D.

Why-so-sexy? Premature balding aside, those green eyes are quite nice, as is his mutedness. No office talk to bore you over dinner. Has mother issues though.

SEXY PSYCHO #4

mickeyFilm: Scream 2 (1997)

Name: Mickey (Timothy Olyphant)

Story: Mickey is Randy’s film student friend, who films a lot of things, thus enabling me to guess his identity two thirds of the way through. I didn’t get Mrs Loomis though. Bad times. Anyway, he likes killing people, no more, no less.

Why-so-sexy? The QT-lite hair aside, intense stares, lots of film quotes could get annoying though. Nice meaty arms. Straight-up loon, no prissy motives here!

SEXY PSYCHO #5

brendaFilm: Urban Legend (1998)

Name: Brenda (Rebecca Gayheart)

Story: Brenda is fake-best friend to heroine Natalie (Alicia Witt) but secretly hates her for being present at the accident that killed her boyfriend, David, despite it really being someone else’s fault. Now she wants Jared Leto all to herself.

Why-so-sexy? “Looney-psycho-bitch” Brenda is a real smouldering femme fatale once revealed as the killer. Super big hair that would’ve made the hood she donned difficult to get over her head though… Probably wouldn’t take her home to meet Mum.

SEXY PSYCHO #6

larsFilm: Psycho Beach Party (2000)

Name: Lars / Larry (Matt Keeslar)

Story: Lars pretends to be a Scandinavian exchange student but is secretly killing people with disabilities or exterior health problems. He murdered his family because they were freaks. So he thought.

Why-so-sexy? When the glasses come off Lars becomes Larry, all confidence and homicidal intentions. Points gained for Keeslar being in Scream 3, then lost for only racking up 4 murders.

SEXY PSYCHO #7

jeremyFilm: Valentine (2001)

Name: Jeremy Melton / Adam Carr (David Boreanaz)

Story: He’s the geek-turned-sex-god, transforming himself from weedy Jeremy who was humiliated at his school dance into sexy – but alcoholic (understandably) – Adam, boyfriend of the final girl, the only one he doesn’t hate.

Why-so-sexy? It’s Angel for one thing. He hath touched Buffy. But contrary to what Denise Richards says, he is capable of an intricate revenge plot, passing the blame to an innocent party and doing it all looking hot.

SEXY PSYCHO #8

frankFilm: The Pool (2001)

Name: Frank (John Hopkins)

Story: Revealed to be the machete-wielding nut at the end, Frank is just mental and forgot to take his pills. He blames girls for everything and wants to kill them.

Why-so-sexy? It’s never a stretch to peg the British guy as the villain, must be our evil sounding accent. He’s buff and sweaty but loses points for resembling Simon Cowell.


SEXY PSYCHO #9

hellbent_devilFilm: Hellbent (2004)

Name: Killer (uncredited)

Story: ??? He just turns up at Mardi Gras in West Hollywood (a.k.a. Halloween) and scythes gay blokes for no apparent reason. Maybe the sickle is phallic?

Why-so-sexy? It’s all to do with the physique: not many slasher movie killers go to work in nothing but spandex pants and a devil mask. Thus, he lures in his horny victims by looking so good.

SEXY PSYCHO #10

leslievernonFilm: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

Name: Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel)

Story: Les is a typical guy-next-door who happens to be planning a murder spree at an old farm and invited reporter Taylor (Angela Goethals) and her film crew along to document it. They can’t help intervening and it becomes clear Leslie has thought things through more than they have…

Why-so-sexy? The boy-next-door image notwithstanding, like Hellbent man, Leslie is nicely buffed and that little under-lip beardy thing is nice.

SEXY PSYCHO #11

mandylaneFilm: All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006)

Name: Mandy Lane (Amber Heard)

Story: Killer final girl Mandy reveals herself to be a loon just like her patsy, Emmett, who gets the blame for it all while she rides off into the sunset with man-toy Anson Mount. Who knows what’s up with her? Being beautiful and popular obviously has consequences to consider.

Why-so-sexy? She adheres to the blonde, boobular thing without fault. Plus she’s nicer than the other bitchy girls who go on vacation with her. Who’d ever think she was a psycho, eh?

SEXY PSYCHO #12

fentonFilm: Prom Night (2008)

Name: Richard Fenton (Jonathon Schaech)

Story: For some reason Mr Fenton was obsessed with terminally-dull heroine Brittany Snow, kills her family and then breaks out a few years later to stalk and kill people at Snow’s senior prom. Yawn.

Why-so-sexy? Designer stubble, good athletic build, full lips. He kills boring teenagers freely but bloodlessly.

SEXY PSYCHO #13

jensenFilm: My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009)

Name: Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles)

Story: Tom caused an accident, which caused cannibalism, which caused homicide then more homicide and so on and so forth… He went mad over a decade and returned to town to kill people for absolutely no reason, thus exposing how crap the script for this film was.

Why-so-sexy? All-American good looks as per subjects Fenton, Vernon and Melton, impressive biceps when shown and evidently so angered by lack of substance of plot that he wants to kill all associated with it, especially scribe Todd Farmer.

VICTOR: It’s probably best to pick your own winner this month. Alone. In the privacy of your room.

October Opposition: Mike Myers vs. Michael Myers

Friends of my folks have a son called Michael Myers, so this could have been a ménage a trois of sorts… Anyhoo, never since the prospect of Chris Evans (sexy Hollywood star) versus Chris Evans (gorky UK radio dweeb who spent most of the 90s with his head wedged in the Gallagher brothers respective arses) has a big-hitter of the namesakes been so exciting. For me, anyway. Maybe you have more exciting things to be excited about, excitoface.

So, let’s start with Myers, the older, MICHAEL:

michaelmyersHere he is then, the first of the seminal slasher movie boogeymen (unless you want to count Leatherface), born in 1957 (ironically the same year major rival Jason Voorhees ‘drowned’ in Crystal Lake), stabbed big sis Judith at the age of six, locked away for fifteen years before escaping, returning to hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, to stab lil sis Laurie. Underestimates Laurie’s ability to survive said stabbing and goes into coma for a decade. Returns time and time again throughout late 80s and 90s before being wiped clean by Hollywood, losing his head, regaining his head, wiped again and reignited as a white trash shadow of his former self…

And MIKE…?

mikemyersBorn in ’63 (the year other Mike stabbed sis), but in the land of pleasantry that is Canada. Did not dress up as a clown to kill sister and was not, as far as his biog states, locked up at Smith’s Grove for a decade and a half…

Instead, Myers went to Saturday Night Live, created the character of Wayne Campbell, spun that into a movie, spun a sequel outta that, languished in a bit of a non-place for a few years before becoming ultra-starry from the Austin Powers films and as the voice of Shrek.

INCARNATIONS

Michael started out as a cute clown, quickly became a creepy clown, killer creepy clown, and was then unmasked as six-year-old killer creepy clown.

michaelclownHe then donned a bleached William Shatner Halloween mask for the look pictured above, only until Laurie managed to pull it from his face on the solitary occasion we’ve ever seen Michael unmasked (with the possible exception of Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, which I haven’t seen yet).

michaelunmaskedWhat a good looking young man he almost coulda sorta been if, y’know, he wasn’t a mute psycho obsessed with knifing his bloodline to death for reasons never really explained, unless you’re into that Thorn crap they tried to palm us off with in Halloween 6.

After that, for sequels H20 and Resurrection, Michael was given a slightly smoothed out look and then, when Rob Zombie was charged with re-starting the entire franchise, he became White Trash Michael in need of shampoo. Sad times.

remakemichael

In a slightly sunnier part of the universe, Mike Myers started out as geeky-metaller Wayne Campbell who, with best bud Garth Elgar, presented Wayne’s World, which was made into a film called, uh, Wayne’s World about the show being picked up by evil big-shot Rob Lowe and exploited. Nothing much happens but the film makes me piss myself with laughter 17 years after I saw it at the movies, largely remembered by all for the time I pulled a bendy straw out of a sipper-flask during quite a silent moment, thus resembling a kind of thunder-fart in the cinema…

wayneWayne and Garth returned for a not-as-good sequel in 1993 before vanishing for good. Rumour was that Myers and Dana Carvey could not agree over who got the best gags and fell out.

Still, for Mike there was hit-and-miss comedy So I Married an Axe Murderer, which almost sounds like a slasher flick. But isn’t. Then four years later he returned as James Bond-wannabe Austin Powers, British, dentally-challenged, 60’s trapped spy for MI5/6/7/whatever, to save the world from the arguably funnier Dr Evil…drevil

As well as playing the Blofeld-lite role of Dr Evil, Mike also played Scottish assassin Fat Bastard and Dutch big-bad Goldmember.

After three Austin Powers films (with a fourth in the pipeline), Myers voiced green ogre Shrek for the Disney franchise and attempted to kick-start a new character in 2008 with The Love Guru, but nobody seemed to care about it.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

Michael: can never be dethroned as the original stalk n’ slasher, amassing (across the original set of films) a staggering 69 victims, plus another twenty or so in the remake.

Mike: The Austin Powers films were phenomenally successful, turning Myers into an A-lister, but Wayne’s World will always be my favourite of his!

LOW POINTS

Michael: Halloween III didn’t involve Michael at all. Halloween 5 was boring and the remake (and probably its sequel) may well have ruined his appeal for good.

Mike: Goldmember wasn’t very funny. Did anyone actually see The Cat in the Hat?

FUTURE PROSPECTS

Michael: A “third” (albeit eleventh really) Halloween film is planned for a 3D release in 2010. What this will add to the crumbling towerblock that once was the greatest slasher series going is unknown, besides 3D boobs. As it’s going to be written by Todd Farmer, odds are it will make next to no sense and be riddled with plotholes and contrivances. See Jason X or My Bloody Valentine 3D for evidentiary support.

Mike: if Austin Powers 4 happens, it’ll doubtlessly be huge, as will the inevitable next Shrek outing, but otherwise things are looking a bit quiet in the Myers’ yard of late… Hmmm.

VICTOR: For the first time, I’m going against my slasher loyalties and giving it to Mike Myers as Michael has been reduced to a trailer park caricature of his once great self thanks to corporate greed and lack of imagination. But it’d be nice if Mike Myers took up a cameo in the next Halloween outing…

Balboa vs. The Bad Man

d-toxD-TOX

2 Stars  2001/18/92m

“Survival is a killer.”

A.k.a. Eye See You; The Outpost

Director: Jim Gillespie / Writers: Howard Swindle & Ron L. Brinkerhoff / Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Charles S. Dutton, Polly Walker, Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Fulford, Robert Patrick, Jeffrey Wright, Tom Berenger, Stephen Lang, Angela Alvardo Rosa, Courtney B. Vance, Robert Prosky, Sean Patrick Flanery, Dina Meyer.

Body Count: 13


Based on writer Swindle’s book Jitter Joint, D-Tox was shot in 1999 and then denied a release until the beginning of 2002, when it briefly appeared in a few choice locations. Seemingly a vehicle to relaunch the waning career of its star, there’s little that aids the cause.

Sly is Jake Malloy, a fed chasing a cop-killing maniac who also does away with girlfriend Meyer and evades capture yet again. Unable to cope with his loss, he is admitted to a remote Wyoming once-asylum-now-rehab-clinic for traumatised cops, which is run by ex-officer Kristofferson. Shortly after Malloy’s arrival, the “suicides” begin. Of course, the genre congnoscenti knows better and the cast eventually catch on and realise the cop-killer is among them. But which of the many characters is he?

While the identity of the loon isn’t glaringly obvious, the outcome is totally unimaginative and anti-climactic, indicative of the whole Hollywood ‘villains can’t be Americans’ issue.

d-tox 2001 sylvester stallone

Violence is toned down to an almost PG-level – the powerdrill in the eye murder sounds more interesting than it is – and most of the characters run around wearing thick winter Parkas reminiscent of those first seen in Urban Legend. Stallone moves away from his usual action persona with just enough charisma to carry off his role as the mourning drunk but the rest of the cast are strictly conveyor-belt fodder with the usual tragic histories that make them plausible suspects, which is a bit of a waste when you scan the impressive cast roster.

A good and not overdone finale wraps things up nicely but much of D-Tox is a waste of its great setting and it ends up as a second-gear action/slasher fusion that’s already been forgotten about.

Blurbs-of-interest: Jim Gillespie also directed I Know What You Did Last Summer and Venom; Dina Meyer was later in Crazy Eights.

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