Screened at Phillips Place Cinema, Charlotte, NC, April 22, 2002. Spoiler-Free The Friday The 13th series has never been popular with critics or movie lovers who claim to have loftier tastes than the rest of us, yet it has survived a whopping ten entries since 1980. Granted, the films aren't high art but there's something about them that endears the demented child inside of me. Jason X is the newest, and most radically different installment in its 22-year history. Those expecting a blood-splashed romp in the woods are the only ones likely to be disappointed. Instead of trees, leaves, and campgrounds, this one is mainly confined to the cold, blue, steely trappings of space. Two previous sequels in the series have utilized the word "final" in their titles to put Jason at rest. Proving to be most resilient psycho-killer in film history(not to mention lucrative), perhaps the producers have given up trying. After all, our heroine Rowan(Lexa Doig) speaks of countless failed execution attempts. I suppose no one in the movie world has thought of chopping off his head and tossing it into a woodchipper. Picking up in the distant future with no obvious connection to the past few installments, Jason X begins with the big guy chained and bound at the Crystal Lake Research Facility, where, naturally enough, he is being studied by greedy military types. Having been nearly ten years since the last entry, screenwriter Todd Farmer wastes little time getting Jason back in action. After making short work of his captors, Jason sets his sights on Rowan, who traps him in a cryogenic chamber just before he punctures the door, causing them both to be frozen for the next 400-odd years. As far as the victim line-up is concerned, X pretty much stays true to the F13 formula, the majority of them being young students who've brought the frozen bodies of Rowan and Jason from the ruins of Earth during a training expedition. Even in a chilly-looking environment, they sure don't go out of their way to cover much more skin than your average camp counselor. Like victims before them, they soon face Mr. Voorhees' wrath following a quick thaw, including a "crowd-pleasing" kill involving liquid nitrogen. Jason X is easily the slickest, most polished-looking film in the series. Shot on a budget of $14 million(quite low by today's standards), director James Isaac puts every dime on the screen and effectively makes it look like a $60 million movie. It's not Star Wars, but it doesn't have or want to be. Unlike other horror sequels(Hellraiser: Bloodline, for example) that have gone to space, there's not a cheap moment to be found and I think this a key element to win over moviegoers who wary of the idea. As great as this movie looks, it still had to begin with a good script. Todd Farmer's screenplay blends horror, sci-fi, and humor without collapsing into parody. His characters, though most of them die horribly, are smarter and more three-dimensional than their predecessors. The casting of young actors who can actually act is icing on the cake. The intimidating Kane Hodder is also back for his menacing fourth turn as Jason. I have only a minor complaint. Being the gorehound that I am, I would preferred a little more grue, perhaps Savini-style. Jason X doesn't really match the splatter quo of some of the original movies, but I'm not going to complain. I'm just happy to have my favorite maniac back on the screen. I'm not saying Jason X is a great movie. To fully enjoy, it does require one to check their brain at the door. But for those of us who enjoy this madman's mayhem, it's a terrific, action-filled stalk-a-thon made by filmmakers with the same passion. It's the perfect bloody popcorn summer movie, pure and simple. Screw E.T.. Jason X makes me feel like a kid again.