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Director Jim Isaac on JASON X... and Beyond

The filmmaker discusses the latest FRIDAY THE 13TH film, plus the possibility of FREDDY VS. JASON

By SCOTT COLLURA     May 01, 2002


Director James Isaac with JASON X star Kane Hodder
© 2002 New Line Cinema
Now that Jason Voorhees has returned to the big screen after a nine-year absence, slasher movie fans can rest easy. While JASON X, the tenth film (duh!) in the never-ending FRIDAY THE 13TH series, didn't make the huge splash at the box office on its opening last week that some had hoped for, it did rake in a respectable amount of changeapproximately $6.6 million dollars, roughly half the cost of the tightly budgeted picture. And that's just in the first weekend.

So for horror film pundits, the question is: did JASON X do well enough to inspire New Line Cinema to greenlight the long wished-for FREDDY VS. JASON film? Will we finally get to see two of the meanest of movie killers, the wisecracking Freddy Krueger and the inestimable Mr. Voorhees, go mano a mano? Only time will tell, though JASON X's director, Jim Isaac, has his thoughts on such a project.

In the distant future, teens from another planet discover a cryogenically frozen Jason and inadvertantly unleash a new breed of terror in JASON X



"That's been batted around for years," he says when asked about such a teaming. "I'd love to be involved with JASON VS. FREDDY. That would be fun. And I'd be interested in JASON 11. From what I understand, FREDDY VS. JASON will be made before any JASON 11my feeling is, you have to go all the way to at least 13."

Makes sense that the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise should go to 13, but Isaac points out that he doesn't think the FREDDY/JASON teaming would fit into the FRIDAY series proper.

"The thinking here at New Line is that it would be a stand-alone film," the director continues. "And Jason will do his own thingmaybe there'd be new ones. I think that if [FREDDY/JASON] is good, if the story is interesting, then it will work. If it's just throwing the two characters together to say we did it, it won't work. It would feel like you're making fun, and you are desperately trying to revitalize the franchise. But that's not the feeling at New Line. I think they really want to make it work because they think it's a cool idea. There has to be a reason the two of them are together in the same place in a movie together. If it feels forced, I think they'll be in trouble."

The notion of the two teaming up is very exciting, and would certainly change both franchises forever. One thing that hasn't changed, however, when it comes to making a slasher movie is concerns over getting past the MPAA, the all-powerful ratings board that can make or break a picture before it even opens. Surprisingly, JASON X passed the board with flying colors.

"We were able to get away with everything," he says. "When we showed it to the MPAA I had a whole list of things I was prepared to cut out, but they apparently had a great time at the screening. I had to take out a few minor things; when [one of Jason's victims] falls onto that big screw he kind of went around on that forever. We really milked that, knowing that we'd have to trim it. They said, 'Hey could you trim a few frames of that?' And we were like, 'Yeah.' And the guy who was cut in half? I didn't think we'd ever get to show that, so we covered it with a lot of reaction shots to play the drama of it, but they didn't say a word about that.And when [filmmaker and cameo player in JAXON X] David Cronenberg dies, there was a little too much blood, but I added the blood CG, so we just took it out."

The hunter becomes the hunted in JASON X



Just as the lack of MPAA interference was a strange concept for a Jason movie, so was the filmmakers' decision to utilize humor in the picture. True, the sixth film in the series, JASON LIVES, took a fun slant with the Voorhees concept, but not quite like JASON X. For Isaac, the humor was an integral part of the process on this particular movie.

"It was definitely important to me," he says. "My goal in this film was to do something different and fun with Jason. That's how I approached it with [creator] Sean Cunningham and how I approached it with [then New Line production boss] Mike DeLuca. We've seen Jason a certain way a number of times. What if we were to do things a little differently? With a little sci-fi, with a little action, with a little humor. Would that work? For me personally, it's more of my taste. You've done it nine times the same way, let's try something new."

At the same time, the filmmaker didn't want to alter the Jason legend; rather, he was interested in returning to the roots of the franchisealbeit in his own way. Setting the film in outer space, and some 500 years in the future, was one way to accomplish this goal...

"I wanted to come back to Crystal Lake," says Isaac. "I wanted to stay true to Jason. I didn't ever want to make fun of Jason, I just wanted to have fun with it. Space has a bad wrap when it comes to horror... I was a little worried about that at first. Everyone's first reaction when I said 'Jason in space' was 'OH GOD!!!' But I thought the opportunity [was there] to go into space with toys and intelligent kids who aren't just at a party by the lake. A story where the kids are trying to do something. They're trying to get home. They're not just partying around a lake, having sex and dying off, where no one knows what's happening to everyone else and it ends with one girl running around and tripping over carnage. We do have a set of rules in JASON X. The kids have to be killed off, but we want to do it in an interesting way."

Director James Isaac with JASON X star Kane Hodder



Isaac also was intent on working with Kane Hodder, the actor-stuntman who has played Jason for the last several FRIDAY THE 13TH films.

"I wanted to work with Kane because Kane knows Jason, he is Jason," says Isaac. "He thinks he's Jason, which is really, really scary. Kane has 'kill' tattooed on his bottom lip. That flashes through my head all the time when I talk to him. Kane's been Jason four times. He takes it very seriously, so I took him very seriously. I spent a lot of time talking to him. He knows what Jason would and wouldn't do in a situation."

One of the highlights of the film involves a climactic moment when the surviving teenagers distract Jason by luring him into a holographic depiction of Camp Crystal. Once in his old stomping grounds, Jason can't help but take to massacring a couple of distinctly '80s-looking sexy chicksholograms though they may be, they look like they were taken from the original FRIDAY THE 13TH, with Farrah hair, nude scene and all!

"My idea of the VR sequence was to bring it back to his roots in Crystal Lake at the cabin and the girls seemed to be the obvious thing," recalls Isaac. "Back to the original with the teeny-boppers and 'take off your shirt.'"

The director reveals, however, that he had an even better idea for the virtual reality/holograph sceneone involving Betsy Palmer, the actress who played Jason's mom in the first film.

"Originally Kane was going to pull up Betsy in the lake, 'Help me, Jason! Help me!' And when he pulled her up she was going to be half VR and wire-frame and all this... [but] we couldn't make it work."

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