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Ah, shit. Rest in peace James Isaac

tn_jasonxI’m sorry to have just read that James Isaac, director of one of our favorites around here, JASON X, has passed away at only 51. Isaac was an effects guy who got his start working on creatures on RETURN OF THE JEDI and GREMLINS. After working on THE FLY and NAKED LUNCH for David Cronenberg he wound up running shit special effects-wise for eXistenZ, which is something to brag about. That’s how he got Cronenberg to cameo in JASON X.

Isaac also directed THE HORROR SHOW, SKINWALKERS and PIG HUNT.

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27 Responses to “Ah, shit. Rest in peace James Isaac”

  1. Wow, never heard of the guy before now but based on his resume I damn well should have. Naked Lunch is one of my favorites. Shit, most of those movies are ‘one of my favorites’!

    Damn. That sucks. I’m gonna watch eXistenZ tonight. That movie rules.

  2. Skinwalkers isn’t actually so bad. It’s got a lot of energy to it but it was clearly highly damaged by its forced PG-13’ness. But its pretty charming. I’d love to see a non-butchered cut.
    Jason X is a hell of a lot of fun too.

    I wish I had something more sophisticated to say rather then just how much this sucks. But it really does, this guy delivered fun, unpretentious movies and its a shame that a guy who clearly enjoyed his work and I’m assuming his life doesn’t get to live it anymore and it sucks that we can no longer enjoy the fruits of his labor.

  3. Wow, what a bummer. I really do not like any aspect of SKINWALKERS, but JASON X and all the other cool stuff he worked on, make up for that.
    RIP, man.

  4. gee, that’s a shame

    the practical FX in eXistenZ were amazing

    it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen Naked Lunch, but I remember the practical FX being amazing (and disgusting) in that one too

  5. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    May 8th, 2012 at 3:32 am

    Dayum. Not heard of this guy but I gotta give credit to the man who gave us “Jason X”. I frankly hated”existenz” but the effects were good, even if the movie wasn’t.

  6. That is a shame. And Pig Hunt was a real fun movie too, loved it.

  7. Somebody had to say it, so it might as well be me: This sucks on so many levels.

    I’m sad to say that I didn’t see his other directorial efforts but JASON X is one of my personal favorites. I can put that movie on when-the fuck-ever and it always satisfies. It walks that fine line between ridiculous and awesome that so many movies shoot for but never hit. That’s pretty much the line I live on so Mr. Isaac’s legacy is pretty much secure with me.

  8. Jason Isaac brought into my life much joy, most of it encapsulated by Vern’s awesome choice of mini screen grab here.

  9. R.I.P. Mr. Isaac and thank you so much for bringing so much joy to the world in the form of JASON X. It’s one of those movies that made my pitiful life as a late 20’s & broke college student worth living with every rewatch.

  10. That sucks. RIP.

  11. The man had certainly built himself a worthwhile résumé. Rest well sir.

  12. I take a little bit of bittersweet pride that I was the last guy while James Isaac was still alive to bring up & praise JASON X on this websight, on the THE CABIN IN THE WOODS thread.

    I hope he understood how grateful we are for that one.

  13. Knox Harrington

    May 8th, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Damn, man. Just the other day I was saying that a great Friday the 13th film, like Jason X, will probably never get made again. This news just makes the future of slashers seem even bleaker.

    I’m not gonna try to argue that Jason X is the best of the Jason movies, because I’m sure all the other Friday the 13th fans will have something to say about that, but I will stand by my opinion that it is certainly the most rewatchable. I can watch that movie over and over again and never get tired of it.

  14. Knox Harrington – It’s not my favorite in the FRIDAY THE 13TH series but I can’t even knock that cause JASON X is infinitely superior to the 2 movies that featured Jason before it and the 2 that featured Jason afterwards. No question.

  15. Man, I got a chance to meet Isaacs on the JASON X press junket. Too many people near 50 dying this week. Perhaps Isaac is the Gary Winnick of horror movies. Greatly appreciated, maybe never got a chance to realize his full potential, will be missed.

  16. Very sad to hear. I’ll admit that I couldn’t have named the director of Jason X off-hand — when I think of that film, I mainly recall Todd Farmer’s involvement, based on the films he’s since written — but it’s terrible to hear of anyone passing at that age. I’ll check out Pig Hunt tonight; it’s been on my to-watch list for a while and this news has inspired me to watch it.

    One of the reasons I love your site is that it’s the only place I’ll see a eulogy for a guy like James Isaac and clue me into his work. Thanks, Vern.

  17. I guess we’ll never get to see Freddy or Michael Myers in space. Not in an awesome movie anyway.
    Very, very sad.

  18. I remembered watching behind the scenes from Jason X, and this guy and Todd Farmer seemed pretty cool and steeped in the Jason lore. You can tell they were fans. At this point, the series was just totally running on creative fumes, so you have three choices: (a) make another forgettable, crummy, paint-by-numbers sequel; (b) reboot the whole thing and try to put the scare lightning back in the bottle; (c) just self-reference and camp it way the hell up. They went for (c), which I’ll definitely take over (a), and since I’m not sure (b) is possible, (c) was probably the best option. I remember this felt like a syndicated television show, which may have been because they pretty much boosted the bulk of the cast of some syndicated sci fi show on hiatus (Farscape, maybe).

    The frozen face smash and virtual reality scenes will go down in the annals of great Jason moments. Uber-Jason, too, I guess.

  19. tawdry hepburn

    May 10th, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    I saw the R-rated cut of Skinwalkers; it’s unwatchable in any form.

    I remember being in the 6th grade and reading an extensive front page interview with Isaac about directing Jason X. I remember it mainly because he had a great bit about how awkward it was to tell his mentor, David Fucking Cronenberg, that he had finally gotten his first studio directing gig and that he was really excited about it…and that it was Jason part 10. It was a really good interview because Isaac understood that Jason X seemed like he was ‘slumming it’ but that he was still 100% dedicated to making the best, most strange movie he could. Basically, he was following Vern’s advice and striving for excellence. It was kinda like Shallow Hal. Everyone else saw Friday the 13th part 10, Isaac saw free reign to go H.A.M. with special effects and goofy humor.

    Jason X is probably my favorite Friday film, honestly. It’s the only one I don’t have to fast forward through significant portions when I watch it sober. The rest of his directorial output was fairly mediocre, but dude fuckin’ WENT for it with Jason X, and for that, he has my respect.

  20. tawdry hepburn

    May 10th, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I think that Jason X was the first film ever to shoot on digital, which is also kinda interesting.

    Also, Jason X is exactly the kind of movie that Robert Rodriguez thinks he makes, but can’t.

  21. It was the first to use a digital intermediary in the editing process.

  22. Agree w/ Tawdry, here. I just love how they really went for it here. I also thought Freddy-vs-Jason turned out well and was a fitting way to end them both. People are talking about what a miracle it is that Avengers worked out so well, but I think FvJ was really a miracle. Not that it stands as a great film in its own right, but the production values are good, the blending of the two universes came off about as well as it possibly could have, the battles are pretty great, and the ending is a lot of fun. And it still kind of shocks me that it was a considerable hit at the box office when both series had been pretty much toast since the late 80s. Really, nobody came out to see New Nightmare or Jason X.

  23. tawdry hepburn – “Also, Jason X is exactly the kind of movie that Robert Rodriguez thinks he makes, but can’t.”

    So fucking true.

  24. Naw. Digital intermediary was developed for either pleasantville or o brother, where art thou? One developed it, the other made it to market first, iirc. The first digital movie was either star wars episode 1 or session 9…or Jason x

  25. Then apparently the special features lied to me. Again.

  26. I think JASON X took well over a year to get released so it could’ve been first DI but not first to release.

    FVJ has really grown on me. I was disappointed in it at first thinking it took the material too seriously and didn’t embrace the ridiculousness of it. I’d read some of the many potential scripts which may have just been fake anyway. Of course many of us wanted the story to be Freddy was a counselor at Crystal Lake who molested Jason and they didn’t go there.

    Now I watch it and agree with skani that it’s amazing a slasher mashup turned out so well. Freddy with impotent dream kills, using Jason to restore fear, then getting mad Jason is getting all the kills. That’s brilliant stuff. And the theatricality Englund plays is truly legendary performance.

    If they’d gone with Freddy molesting Jason it would’ve just made you feel sorry for Jason. Nobody needs to get that real in Freddy vs Jason. I do wish they’d done Freddy vs Jason Vs Ash. I respect Raimi’s reasons but it’s not like producing a remake is respecting Ash any bettet (except for not remaking the Ash character I guess
    )

  27. One thing I really liked about FvJ was the way they did Freddy. I think they actually struck a nice balance between dark Freddy and comic Freddy (and Demon Freddy at the end even felt a bit like New Nightmare Freddy), so that felt like a good way to send him off. Also, although there was a ton of backlash, I thought Ken Kirzinger cut a mean figure as Jason. Just such a giant. I don’t think it’s a great film, but it’s satisfying to people who are invested in either the Freddy or Jason universe. At least it was for me. I barely made it through the Bay F13 remake and haven’t even bothered w/ the ANOES remake.

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