Highway to Hell: “Jason Goes to Hell” and “Drag Me to Hell”

words by Kevin Munley
| Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

"Jason Goes to Hell" vs. "Drag Me to Hell"

I’m not a big fan of Hell. It’s where the most feared serial killers and chronic masturbators go for an eternity of burning and Enya music. It’s where strung-out rock stars and drunken hookers live on for eternity ripping butts and drinking Pabst — sometimes collaborating on projects together. I’ll be damned if I want to end up there. It sucks.

The movies Drag Me to Hell (2009) and Jason Goes to Hell (1993) don’t explore the depths of the inferno. They are not interested in what is on the other side. They are interested in how you get there. In fact, they both end the same way (spoiler alert, sort of): with a multitude of non-human hands coming from the ground and dragging their main protagonists (as much as Jason can be a protagonist) into the underworld forever.

Drag Me to Hell is about the final days of loan officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) as she tries to reverse her Gypsy curse and avoid the fires of Hell, whereas Jason Goes to Hell is about finally ending the life of serial killer Jason Voorhees, whose demonic spirit has begun to jump from body to body. Blown up, shot, and decapitated, Jason is a real pain in the ass (and possibly a chronic masturbator). Basically, he is bugging the hell out of everyone in the vicinity of Crystal Lake and really needs to go to Hell.

The crux of the movie revolves around Christine Brown’s various attempts to escape the curse she obtained by selfishly denying a bank loan to a Gypsy woman, Mrs. Ganush (whose name sounds like a pierogi garnish). At one point, she attempts to purchase her way out of the curse with an expensive exorcism; later, she tries to return the accursed item given to her by the Gypsy, but in actuality just returns a liberty quarter.

Christine grew up on a farm, and while she is not a bad person, she desperately wants to be received in the world of status and money. Money is repeatedly stressed as being the central evil in Drag Me to Hell. If I didn’t know that Sam Raimi wrote and directed all three Spider-Man movies (and is thus a billionaire sell-out), I would accuse him of some serious socialist tendencies.

Unlike Jason, Christine is not an undead serial killer. At the ending of Drag Me to Hell, she meets her sophisticated and wealthy psychologist boyfriend at the train platform before they travel to his cabin in Santa Monica together. She dies in her new dress, dragged beneath the train platform surrounded by the capitalistic and socially elite environment that has led to her damnation. When you compare this with the similar ending in Jason Goes to Hell, you can see a dramatic change in environmental tones.

Jason has always been considered a force of nature. From the first Friday the 13th movie, where he emerges from the lake a deformed child covered in plankton, he was established as unstoppable, unreasonable, and savage. He is nature. He isn’t the evil of our modern world with loan officers and corrupt CEOs — he is the evil that is hidden in the dark woods of the country; the evil that lies in wait underneath the deep dark blue of the lake. Unlike Christine, he is dragged to Hell by earthy hands, back into the ground. There are no flames, and there are no recognizably demonic hands. Christine goes to the Hell we learn of in Sunday school. Jason just disappears into mud.

Both movies have dramatically different takes on how you end up in Hell. As for myself, according to the Bible, I’m totally fucked. Still, that was written years ago, and, like, translations are bad and stuff, right? Right? Based on Drag Me to Hell, if I just continue to be broke for the rest of my life (which isn’t a problem), I should end up somewhere pretty sweet after I pass on.

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