Face-Off: Jason Goes to Hell vs. Jason X

Since we're building up to a Friday the 13th, of course this week's Face-Off would have something to do with my favorite franchise, the one that was directly responsible for me getting into horror nearly thirty years ago. With many entries in the series to choose from, there are many FRIDAY THE 13TH Face-Off options, but this time I decided to pit the least popular installments against each other.

Many F13 fans are like me in that they love every one of the movies, to varying degrees, but when fans make their "favorite to least favorite" lists, there are two that stand out as the recipients of the most hate. JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY and JASON X. Both movies tried to do something different from what had come before, and the attempt wasn't widely appreciated. So let's put these maligned sequels head-to-head and see which one comes out the victor.

Although still set in Crystal Lake, JASON GOES TO HELL strays far from formula. When Jason Voorhees gets blown to pieces in the beginning, we learn he has a major insurance policy: in the form of a demonic slug, he's able to possess people, passing from host to host on the way to a specific goal. If he possesses a blood relative, he will be reborn. A blood relative is also the only person who has a chance to destroy him for good, by sending him straight to Hell with a magic dagger.
JASON X stands out from the pack with its setting. After Jason is cryogenically frozen in a research facility, he's thawed out aboard a space ship in the post-apocalyptic future of 2455. As the ship makes its long journey back to Earth II, Jason gets back to business and sets out to kill everyone on board. Since this happened to be an interplanetary school field trip, there are plenty of teenagers on the ship, but there is also a team of Marines and an android for Jason to tussle with.
Jason does very little in his own badly damaged body, bookending the film with an opening chase and a climactic fight. Both of these sequences are a lot of fun, and although Jason's look in this one is divisive, I've always thought it was awesome. For most of the film, Jason is inhabiting various different bodies, so the possessed get most of the bloody action, and they rampage quite well.
Here we have a look for Jason that I don't like at all. Not only was the odd decision made to cover his head with a frizzy hair-do, the iconic hockey mask also received a poor re-design. One of the film's major selling points was that, near the end, Jason is once again blown to pieces and this time rebuilt with nanotechnology into the cybernetic Uber Jason. A cool concept, not realized in a cool way.
Jason may have been the only child of Pamela Voorhees, but apparently Mr. Voorhees also fathered a daughter, Diana. Diana had a daughter of her own, Jessica, and Jessica becomes the heroine of this film, teaming with her ex-boyfriend Steven to keep their infant daughter Stephanie out of Jason's clutches. Steven and Jessica are actually a great pair of unlikely heroes, stepping up to do whatever it takes to put an end to Jason's evil - including having fingers willingly broken or wielding a magic dagger.
The primary protagonist in this film is a woman named Rowan, who was frozen along with Jason - thanks to him shoving his machete through the cryogenetic chamber - and also gets thawed out on the space ship in 2455. She is the character who has to tell the people of the future that they have no idea what they're dealing with. She's meant to come off a bit like Ripley in ALIENS, but she never quite reaches the level of being an impressive hero, she gets overshadowed by other characters, like the ass-kicking android and a hard-to-kill Marine named Brodski.
Put on the unrated version of JASON GOES TO HELL and you will be treated to some of the greatest, most grotesque special effects in the entire franchise. Gory gunshot wounds, a compound arm fracture, brains popping out of a squeezed head, a person melting into a puddle of goo after Jason's soul leaves their body. A girl getting split in half with a fence post mid-coitus is one of the best kills in the series.
JASON X also has one of the best kills in the entire series, this one concerning a face dipped into a vat of liquid nitrogen. That's one of the first kills, and although there is some good slashing to follow (machete impalements, a character cut in half, another dropped onto a large drill), there are also several rather underwhelming kills in the mix. We do get to see Jason hack into a giant VR alien, that's pretty neat.
It's right there in the title, the big guy gets sent to Hell. With a magic dagger planted in his heart, Jason is suddenly frozen in place by a mystical light show and pulled into the ground by massive hands made of rock. When the dirt settles, the only trace of Jason left behind is his hockey mask... Which the razor-gloved hand of Freddy Krueger, killed off two years earlier in FREDDY'S DEAD, later bursts out of the ground to claim, setting up a crossover that would take a decade to reach screens. As goofy as the concept of Jason getting dragged to Hell is, I like how it was pulled off.
Uber Jason is so relentless in his pursuit of potential victims that even getting launched into space isn't enough to stop him. Unfortunately, he's intercepted by the spacesuit-wearing Brodski and taken off course, toward Earth II. In a spectacle of silly looking effects, Jason burns up in the planet's atmosphere and is destroyed once and for all... Or is he? A shot of Uber Jason's metal mask settling to the bottom of a lake seems to tease the possibility of sequels set on Earth II. Sequels that will never actually happen. It's not a great ending, but it's fitting.
JASON X is an enjoyable film in its own right and going into this Face-Off I really expected it to put up a bit more of a fight. I had no idea which would come out on top, but as I delved into the categories JASON GOES TO HELL began to emerge as the clear winner. It strays further from the established formula than JASON X does, despite X's drastic change in location, but still manages to work better for me on nearly every level.

Do you agree with the outcome of this Face-Off, or do you find Jason's trip to space more entertaining than his body-hopping journey toward Hell? Let your opinion be known in the comments below. If you have any ideas for Face-Offs that you would like to see in the future, I would be glad to hear them. You can send them to me at [email protected].



Latest Entertainment News Headlines