Robert Englund - Freddy Krueger
Ken Kirzinger - Jason Voorhees Monica Keena - Lori Campbell
Jason Ritter - Will Rollins
Kelly Rowland - Kia
Brendan Fletcher - Mark Davis
Katharine Isabelle - Gibb
Christopher George Marquette - Linderman
Lochlyn Munro - Deputy Stubbs
Year - 2003
Score - 3.5 Howls Outta 4
If you'd ask anyone who ruled the horror film genre in the 1980s, two names would probably quickly come to mind: Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger. Respectively, the FRIDAY THE 13TH and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchises made monster business for Paramount and New Line Cinema as moviegoers couldn't get enough of these two pop culture horror icons. FRIDAY THE 13TH was for the campy [no pun intended] and fun fan in all of us, while A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET brought us gore with a bit of supernatural intelligence included. Back in 1987, Fangoria had ran a story that had horror fans of both creaming in their shorts - a possible FREDDY VS. JASON film. Friends were already debating who was better and/or who would win between the two characters. Would Jason's brute strength destroy Freddy? Would Freddy's mind games be too much for the slow Jason to compete against? Fans were hoping these questions would be answered if a film showcasing a battle between the two were to ever see the light of day.
However when egos clash, nothing can ever get done.
Paramount Studios and New Line Cinema, who had talks about crossing over their characters for a single film where both studios would gain a lot of money from, couldn't agree on the specifics on-screen and off. Paramount obviously wanted Jason to win the battle, but New Line Cinema wanted Freddy to be the victor. Plus, there were issues of money and contractual disagreements between both parties, pretty much destroying all hope for a FREDDY VS. JASON film. Instead, Paramount released FRIDAY THE 13TH VII: THE NEW BLOOD and New Line Cinema released A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER - both doing decent business. However, fans still wanted FREDDY VS. JASON.
In the early 1990s, that hope came right back.
Paramount, who pretty much got tired of making Jason films, sold the rights back to creator Sean S. Cunningham. Looking for another studio to continue the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise, he found an investor in New Line, who bought it from Cunningham. With both Jason and Freddy living under the same roof, that monster film became more of a reality. It took New Line over ten years to get the right script, crew members, and actors for this monumental horror film to be produced. But in the summer of 2003, New Line Cinema finally released FREDDY VS. JASON to theaters, bringing fans old and new back to watch Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees have the showdown of all showdowns. And being the most successful entry in BOTH respective franchises, FREDDY VS. JASON proved that the two horror characters still had some juice left in them.
Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is stuck in limbo hell. He's lost alot of his dream power due to the fact that people have forgotten about him, therefore no longer fearing him. Needing someone to make people remember, Freddy decides to mess around with fellow Hell roomie, Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger), by invading his dreams, disguising himself as Jason's mom, and telling him to go to Springwood and kill some teens and scare them again.
Jason arrives in Springwood, ending up at the house that Nancy Thompson used to live in. Lori Campbell (Monica Keena) now lives there, hanging out with friends until Jason breaks in and murders one of them. Lori overhears the secretive cops whispering Freddy's name, making her wonder who he is and talking to her friends about him - therefore giving Freddy a much needed boost in power. At the same time, her ex-boyfriend Will (Jason Ritter) breaks out from Westin Hills Asylum with buddy Mark (Brendan Fletcher), being forced there due to their knowledge of Freddy and given Hypnocil to suppress their dreams. Realizing that Lori's friends are being murdered, Mark and Will start to figure out that Freddy may be making a comeback. As Jason continues his massacre, Freddy gains more and more power until he starts invading people's dreams again. But when Freddy is tired of Jason hogging all the glory and taking all of his victims before he has the chance to kill them himself, Freddy decides to stop Jason from ruling his horror kingdom. And so the battle between Jason and Freddy begins...
FREDDY VS. JASON is one of the horror films in recent years that has not disappointed me at all. I paid to see this one in the theater, being a fan of both, and loved every single minute of this movie. You got cool dream sequences, nice kills and gore, decent characters, and an all-out slugfest between two horror icons that us horror fans had salivated over for almost 20 years. What more do you want from a film called FREDDY VS. JASON?
A lot of fans were worried as to how a story that pitted Freddy and Jason against each other would work. Does Jason sleep? Is Freddy in the real world? Would it completely take place in Hell or some kind of otherworldly place? Apparently, it was decided that Jason DOES sleep [I guess as a zombie, you're sleeping since you're dead, huh?] and Freddy would manipulate him by playing Pamela Voorhees [nice touch there]. Not rocket science and it makes sense. The story could have really benefited one of the characters and gave the other the short end of the stick [many felt Freddy was gonna have the spotlight since he was a New Line Cinema original] but honestly, both characters get to shine and do their thing. Sure, the film feels more like a NIGHTMARE film until the end, but who didn't get a kick when they saw Jason walking on Elm Street and standing in front of house 1428? Or Freddy invading people's dreams and actually scaring them instead of making them laugh? Or that opening segment with the Freddy montage with a more demonic Freddy narrating it? It's fuckin' awesome! Same goes to the latter half of the film, which feels more like a FRIDAY THE 13TH film when Freddy steps foot onto Crystal Lake and we see what really happened to Jason when he "drowned" as a little boy. Plus it's silly, fun, and campy - just like the great FRIDAY THE 13TH films used to feel. It's the best of both worlds and the screenwriters really do a great job bringing this monster film to life. It honestly shouldn't have worked this well.
This film reminded me how cool Freddy and Jason are. This isn't the silly, funny Freddy from THE DREAM MASTER, THE DREAM CHILD, or FREDDY'S DEAD. Freddy is a mix of the scary Freddy from the original and the sarcastic bastard from DREAM WARRIORS. In other words [again], the best of both worlds. I really enjoyed Robert Englund's protrayal of Freddy here as he got to say "bitch" alot and be pretty freakin' devious to all the characters including Jason. He wasn't playing games with people here. He pretty much got to the point. And that's the Freddy I love. As for Jason, I think Ken Kirzinger did a good job as well. Even though people still love Kane Hodder as Jason [I'm a fan as well], I thought Kirzinger brought a softer, more sympathetic side to the character that Hodder probably wouldn't have been able to pull. I do think the fight sequences would have benefited if Hodder was in the role, as that heavy breathing bit Jason does would have totally made my day as he whooped Freddy's ass. Jason was almost Michael Myers-ish in this film [more subtle than being a force], which isn't too bad. But after watching Jason being a total badass in the last few films, it seemed a bit weird at times. But I dug it and it all worked for me nonetheless. They were the obvious stars of the films, even though the supporting teen characters got more face time. And as cliched and somewhat annoying as some of those characters were, it didn't really matter because this film was about one thing: FREDDY VS. JASON.
Director Ronny Yu, who pretty much revived the CHILD'S PLAY franchise with the very cool BRIDE OF CHUCKY, does really well behind the camera. The pacing is great, the film moves quickly, the crazy angles and slow-motion bits work, and we get a lot of red and blue filters that give the film a modern horror feel. Plus he doesn't cut away from nudity or gore. This dude rocks. This is an R rated film indeed, as limbs fly and roll onscreen everytime one of the two [or both] are on the screen. It's a total horror gore fest that Yu is proud of giving us fans. He was one of the people rumored to direct the next HALLOWEEN before the reboot was announced and given to Rob Zombie. Too bad...I would have loved to have seen what Yu would have done with that franchise. After what Busta Rhymes did to Michael, it couldn't have been any worse. Kudos, Mr. Yu.
The SFX team, Cinesite, did an awesome job on this film. Yeah, there's a lot of CGI but it's great CGI. The dreams have never looked better. The gore effects are yummy. Freddy displaying his powers is impressive. I mean, the scenes with the Freddy shadow and Freddy jumping out of Crystal Lake over Lori and looking demonic as hell always make me smile. And the makeup for both are right on target. Jason looks like his backwoods self [no Uber-Jason here], and Freddy looks like the burnt motherfucker I remember from the first three NIGHTMARE films, with a bit of NEW NIGHTMARE mixed in. Lot of respect given to both franchises in one swoop. Quite honestly, both franchises have never looked better.
The acting was decent, but this wasn't meant to be an acting showcase. Monica Keena does well as Lori, the virginal girl who we all know will survive this onslaught. She's not the best actress in the world but she didn't annoy me. Plus she had big knockers and lips that can...um...yeah. And she's as much of a virgin than Paris Hilton. Look at her! I'm just sayin'. Jason Ritter, the son of the late John Ritter, was good as Will. There were some instances where the acting didn't really work for me but mostly, he was on his A-game. His best moment was definitely that Lori dream where he wanted to tie her up as bait for Freddy and Jason. That shit had me rollin'. Kelly Rowland was actually not bad as the token black girl, Kia. Not sure why they casted her but she was definitely appealing and quite likeable. Her exit is probably the most memorable of the film. If only Busta Rhymes had gotten that same treatment in HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION. Katharine Isabelle, better known for her role in GINGER SNAPS, did okay with her role. She kind of annoyed me with her whining but I guess that's how the part was written. I heard she wasn't too happy with her portrayal in this film. Lochlyn Munro had a blah part as the cop. He's a good actor and he should have been given a meatier role. Oh well. Christopher George Marquette was pretty funny as the token geek. Not a bad cast at all. None of them outshined Englund or Kirzinger, which was the right move.
One, how come these characters knew about Freddy AND Jason so quickly? I understand the film is only 96 minutes long but they seemed WAY too smart for horror characters. They pretty much got what was going on right away without even questioning it. What happened to the stupid horror characters that were nothing but cannon fodder? Damn, I miss the 1980s.
Two, when is Jason all of a sudden frightened by water? Sure, he drowned when he was a little boy but he survived it and has been in water lots of times since then without hesitation. Didn't he live in Crystal Lake between JASON LIVES, THE NEW BLOOD, and JASON TAKES MANHATTAN? And now he's afraid!? It just didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. I guess they needed a counter for Freddy being afraid of fire. But at least that one made sense.
Three, the film really isn't that scary. It's more of an action film atmosphere than it is a horror atmosphere, which probably turn some horror fans away from this one. While I don't necessarily have a problem with this myself, the film doesn't give you that horror jolt fix we've been wanting lately from modern horror. Plus the film moves so fast that we kind of lose any attachment to characters, atmosphere, mood, and such. It doesn't turn me off, but I can understand why it does for others.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE REJECTING EVERY INVITATION TO RAVE AT A CORNFIELD
1. Freddy's pissed that everybody's forgotten about him. I think we should do the same to Paris Hilton. Maybe she'll finally go away. Forget...forget...
2. Hot chicks like to swim naked in large bodies of water. Not because it's a horror staple, but because the water is so polluted that it'll kill off unneeded crabs.
3. Crystal Lake is right next to Springwood. Nice to see Jason took that left turn from Haddonfield.
4. The abusive boyfriend got machete'd by Jason. I thought that kind of penetration was only possible in prison!
5. Jason cut some dude's head off. Not the kind of head most men want or look for, but at least Jason's trying.
6. Don't ever party in Springwood. It'll be a rave to the grave. And like that RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD sequel, it'll suck.
7. Gibb is afraid and vulnerable against Freddy. If there was a full moon, this shit wouldn't be happening. Oh GINGER SNAP(S)!
8. Deputy Stubbs got electrocuted along with Jason. I think he was just shocked that Jason was in a good movie for a change.
9. Freddy threw tiles into a machete that impaled Jason. Someone's been playing old school Legend of Zelda...
10. Kia was forced to give CPR to Zombie Jason. I guess she finally proved to me that she's a survivor.
::10 Minutes Later::
Oops, I take that back.
THE FINAL HOWL
FREDDY VS. JASON is a horror fan's wet dream. Pitting two icons in one film where they pretty much kick the crap out of each other and others to see who's superior? It doesn't get any better than that. Some people probably were disappointed that it wasn't perfect, but you know something? It could have been a lot worse, especially in this day and age. I would have sworn that this film would have put life back into both franchises due to its massive success, but apparently with both having reboots coming out in 2009, I guess I was wrong. Too bad...I was hoping for another round between these two with another horror icon in the mix. Ash [in non-comic book format]? Michael Myers? Pinhead? Chucky? It could have been cool. Oh well.