Entertainment Magazine

13 Things You May Not Know About Jason X

Posted on the 05 April 2014 by Weminoredinfilm.com @WeMinoredInFilm

Paramount is going to release what will be the 13th ever Friday the 13th film next year.  So, we’ve been looking back at the prior Friday films in search of trivia and answers to long simmering questions: Friday the 13th, Part 2, Part 3, The Final Chapter, A New Beginning, Jason Lives, New Blood, Jason Takes Manhattan, and Jason Goes to Hell (to browse the prior lists head here).  Now, it’s time for Jason X (2002), aka, the one in space:

[My sources from this point forward are: Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th documentary & the companion coffee table book of the same name]

1. It was made because Freddy Vs. Jason was stuck in development hell

Sean Cunningham only ever returned to Friday the 13th to set up Freddy Vs. Jason at New Line, and though he had to settle by producing Jason Goes to Hell in 1993 he just wouldn’t let Freddy Vs. Jason go:

friday the 13th hell freddy cameo

But, still, no dice.  Cunningham and New Line poured millions into developing Freddy Vs. Jason throughout the 90s, but all they had to show for it were a bunch of un-produced screenplays.  By 1999, Cunningham lost his patience, and said yes to what he’d been turning down for years: just make another dang Friday the 13th movie.  The person who finally got the “yes” out of Cunningham was Jim Isaac, a special effects coordinator for David Cronenberg who had previously worked with Cunningham a decade earlier as the director of The Horror Show.  Since that time, Isaac had yet to get a second go in the director’s chair.  He just proposed doing another Friday sequel because he really wanted to direct something again.

2. Where did the idea for “Jason in space” come from?

Director Jim Isaac’s original vision for the film was of Camp Crystal Lake during the winter with imagery like Jason standing on a frozen pond and red blood on white snow.  However, that was just one of many ideas thrown out there during the development process between Isaac, producer Noel Cunningham (Sean’s son), and screenwriter Todd Farmer.  According to Cunningham, “We kicked around different scenarios.  Jason in the hood, Jason in the snow, Jason underwater.  We had him fighting gangs in L.A., in the arctic, on safari, in space, the NASCAR circuit-everything.  We did want to shut anything down.”  The NASCAR circuit?  Oh, why oh why was that movie not made?

“Jason in space” was Farmer’s suggestion.  He loved sci-fi, but he also knew Freddy Vs. Jason was on the way, and that it’d be best if Jason X was just set after the events of that epic battle.  So, they needed to jump into the future, and going into space certainly did that.  They were a little scared of doing a horror sequel in space [see: Hellraiser, Leprechaun, and Critters.], but they thought it could be fun to do a mash-up of Ridley Scott’s Alien and James Cameron’s Aliens  with not one but two strong Ripley-type females on a  ship of bad-ass space marines hunted by Jason instead of xenomorphs.  Farmer punched out a rough draft of a screenplay in a couple of days, Isaac leveraged his special effects contacts to commission some quick concept drawings and matte paintings, and they pitched it to Michael De Luca at New Line, who was blown away.

3. The idea for UberJason came from a discarded Freddy Vs. Jason script

friday13th X jason again

One of the things which won over everyone to the concept of Jason in space was the idea of the kids seemingly killing Jason halfway through only for him to be recreated into something even scarier via futuristic technology.  The mechanism of this change ended up being nanotechnology, which screenwriter Todd Farmer recalled seeing in the film Virtuosity.  However, the actual idea of a UberJason predates Jason X.  According to Noel Cunningham, ”It was kind of a leftover from one of the Freddy Vs. Jason script attempts because in one of them there was a scene where Jason breaks into a sporting goods store and there’s a goalie display and one of the mannequins is wearing a big chrome hockey mask.  Jason kind of looks at it and switches masks.  That was the genesis of the whole UberJason concept.”

4. Lexa Doig & Lysa Ryder had to be released from Jason X by a certain date to start on Andromeda

Lexa Doig

Lexa Doig as “Final Girl” Rowan

jason-x-voorhees-lisa-ryder2

Lisa Ryder as butt-kicking fembot Kay-Em 14

Doig and Ryder auditioned for Jason X and the sci-fi series Andromeda around the same time, since both productions were based out of Toronto, Canada.   They had the good fortune of being cast in both projects, particulary Andromeda since it ended up running for 5 seasons on the Sci-Fi Channel.  Oddly enough, it’s kind of like they flip-flopped roles between movie and show.  Doig went from the plucky survivor of Jason X to the sexy avatar of the ship on Andromeda while Ryder went from the sexy, PVC-clad Stepford Wife-like android in Jason X to a plucky, Starbuck-like crewmember in Andromeda.

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Lexa Doig and Lysa Ryder in Andromeda

The only way Jason X was allowed to use them was if the producers agreed to release the actresses from production by a certain date to free them up to begin work on Andromeda, and the agreement didn’t even allow them the wiggle room to go over schedule by just a couple of days.  Once the agreed upon date hit, Doig and Ryder became the property of Andromeda.  Suck it, Jason X.  Fortunately, they didn’t go over schedule.

5. They were constantly re-writing the script throughout production resulting in a product which satisifed no one

Jim Isaac wanted the movie he directed to be funny, Todd Farmer wanted the script he wrote to have cool sci-fi and gung-ho action, and Noel Cunningham wanted to produce something that came in on time and on budget.  Sean Cunningham just wanted a dang Friday the 13th movie.  So, as Executive Producer he went over all of their heads, and had the script re-written.  If Isaac had his way, this is how the movie would have started:

“The kids end up falling through this floor into the space where Jason is in cryo-freeze and all this stuff.  During this search, one of them finds an old condom which has a shelf life expiration date printed on it.  This is a Friday the 13th movie, right?  So, the smartass kid should say, ‘Cool, let’s test it out.’  To me that’s like a no-brainer-they should start having sex right there.  Then that’s what would make the whole floor fall out, and bring them to Jason and put them in jeopardy.  And you get a beautiful actress to take off her shirt.  I thought that was a fun way to start the movie.  And a sexy way-it gives what everyone wants.  But Sean said, ‘Finding a condom is not going to make them want to have sex.  It doesn’t make any sense.’  So, he made us cut the whole scene.”

Isaac also wanted to do a party scene where all the kids are getting high and drunk and having sex but doing so in a zero gravity bubble, which would be used to device some clever kills for Jason.

It was Sean who pushed to make the teenagers more like Star Trek cadets.  Sean also brought in Lewis Abernathy to performs rewrites, just as he had with Abernathy on Jason Goes to Hell.

997TNC_Lewis_Abernathy_002

Remember this scruffy dude from Titanic? That’s Lewis Abernathy

Then literally one week before the start of filming Abernathy made the following statement to Isaac, “Okay, Jim.  Here’s what I want you to think about: space pirates.  All these kids are on this ship out to rob and plunder, and then Jason comes on board and wreaks havoc!”  So, Jason vs. Firefly?  Isaac said no f’n way to that noise, at least not one week before principal photography.

6. Several of the characters owe their names to EverQuest

Everquest

It’s not surprising considering Jason X‘s scene of two characters playing a virtual reality game, but screenwriter Todd Farmer was playing a lot of video games when he wrote the script.  In fact, he named the characters Weylander and Tsuarnon after characters from EverQuest.  Heck, Farmer even cameos in the movie as one of the guys killed during the virtual reality game:

46126-25790

7. They actually rehearsed for a month

Rehearse?  For a Friday the 13th movie?  Um, why? Because Jim Isaac wanted the acting in his film to “blow every other Friday movie out of the water.”  The associate producer videotaped the rehearsals on a camcorder for Isaac, who would view them afterward to get ideas from seeing his characters in action.  The problem was with all the scripts re-writes a lot of the time Isaac didn’t even know if what the actors were rehearsing was still going to be in the movie (most of it wasn’t).

8. Rowan was supposed to have a male love interest, but the character was cut from the film 4 days into rehearsals

Latter-era Friday the 13th films have an odd habit of not simply featuring a “final girl” but a “final girl” and her boyfriend.  Jason X originally meant to double that by having two couples survive – Kay-Em 14 (well, her head at least) and her creator, Rowan and her love interest.  However, 4 days into rehearsal they looked at the script and realized they had no real use for Rowan’s male love interest character even though they’d already cast someone to play him.  So, they took the poor actor aside (whose name they won’t divulge), and gave him the “it’s not you; it’s us” speech to explain why his ass was fired.

9. Neither the Casting Director nor the Director initially wanted to do the virtual reality scene, i.e., the best thing in the entire film

jason_x_1

Among fans, the Friday the 13th sequels are often simply distilled down to one or two memorable sequences whereby even if the film is total and complete shite you can never take away how awesome that one scene was.  For Jason X, that honor belongs to this:

friday13th X we love premarital sex

“You want to drink, smoke marijuana, and have premarital sex with us?”

However, neither the casting director (Robin Cook) nor the director (Jim Issac) initially wanted any part of it.  Cook was so adamant the scene was nothing but gratuitous nudity that she refused to cast the roles of the two topless girls, relegating those duties to her casting assistant.  Isaac agreed that it was clearly just nudity for nudity’s sake, and the only way he could personally justify it is if they had fun with it and made it really silly.

10. Director David Cronenberg cameo was done a favor, but also because he wanted to get killed on screen

david

Canadian-born Cronenberg, the sick, twisted mind (in a good way) behind body horror classics like The Fly (1986), essentially loaned his normal Canadian-based production crew to former protege Jim Isaac for Jason X.  In exchange, he very much so wanted to cameo as a character who gets killed on-screen. So, he ends up the unlucky recipient of a spear through his back.  Vintage Friday, really.

11. Mythbusters disproved the liquid nitrogen head smash kill

friday13th X frozen face

They just had to go and ruin the fun, didn’t they?  In 2010, Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters actually tested out Jason X‘s liquid nitrogen head smash kill.  It turns out it doesn’t quite pass the smell test:

12. It’s the first feature-length film ever to be completed entirely in the digital realm.

nolan

You hear that, Christopher Nolan? The digital revolution you so despise began with Jason X.

Jason X was shot on 35mm film, and then transferred to high-definition video to aid in the creation of its extensive and elaborate visual effects shots.  This made it the first feature-length film ever to be completed entirely in the digital realm.

13. It sat on the shelf for 2 years

0079404351602_500X500

Damn you, Little Nicky, and you’re astonishingly high $85 million budget

Jason X wrapped filming in April of 2000, but was not released until April 26, 2002.  Why?  Because New Line’s President of Production Michael De Luca was fired in January 2001 after years of controversy and a string of box office duds like Little Nicky (remember that movie where Adam Sandler was the son of the devil?  You didn’t just make that up; that happened) and 13 Days.  De Luca was the only person at the studio who actually believed in Jason X, and his replacements didn’t know what to do with it.  So, they let it sit on the shelf, unwilling to write it off a direct-to-video release but unwilling to put it into theaters.  Unfortunately, in the interim Jason X leaked online meaning by the time it hit theaters the hardcore fans had long since had the chance to see it already if they weren’t against some illegal downloading.

The final damage?

  • Body Count: 24
  • Box Office: At $11 million, Jason X cost 3 times as much to produce as any of the prior Friday films, but it became the lowest-grossing entry in franchise history, ending with  domestic gross of $13.1 million.

You can watch all of Jason X for a couple of bucks on YouTube.

Next time, we’ll switch gears.  We can’t get to Freddy Vs. Jason without first discussing Freddy, can we?  So, the next list will be about the first Nightmare on Elm Street movie.

Jason Vs. Kay-Em:


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