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Freddy finally reveals the strong
case of "slasher envy" he has over
Jason's handy work.
Freddy vs. Jason
Review written by: Alex Sandell
A Freddy vs. Jason film has been rumored at for so long now; it's become an equal to its slasher anti-heroes in the department of urban legends. I first heard rumblings of the movie in 1986, when both titular titans of teenage terrorism had reached the horrific heights of their popularity. People were placing bets on which bodily butcher would win this bloody battle long before many of Freddy and Jason's newer fans had even been conceived. Yet, the film never came. Fogies old enough to have watched the original movies when they were released in the theaters in the 1980s junked the concept and left it to rot in the same trash-bin as the infamous rumor that there would be thirteen Friday the 13th films, and that Ozzy Osbourne would star in the last of them. Nearly 20 years later, and Ozzy was starring in his own MTV reality show, Jason was stuck in space and Freddy was crammed in creative limbo. Things weren't looking promising.
And then it was announced.
New Line Cinema didn't just buy the rights to the character of Jason Voorhees from the tepid Paramount (where are those special edition DVDs, Paramount?) to create sort of crappy semi-sequels such as Jason Goes to Hell and Jason X. They really did buy the seminal slasher to have the machete-wielding maniac fight the fuck out of New Line's own flagship fiend, Freddy Krueger. Suddenly, all was right in the universe. Freddy vs. Jason was suddenly Freddy vs. Jason. Yes, it was the official title. It was a real movie. It was being made. Better late than never, I've never said, but will most likely say at some point in this review.
Okay, let me get this out of the way: Freddy vs. Jason was well worth the wait. Any fan of Freddy (Robert Englund) or Jason (Ken Kirzinger) claiming to dislike the film are full of shit or too old to remember why they liked these sorts of movies in the first place.
The movie begins with a foreboding moment featuring a pre-charcoaled Freddy Krueger killing a young girl. The actual murder is off-screen, but it manages to be pretty disconcerting, nonetheless. Not more than a couple of minutes into the picture, and it's been reestablished that Freddy is a prodigious prick, rather than a pun-puking comedian (although he does still manage to produce a few puke-worthy puns). Krueger even looks nastier. He's been given filed down fangs for teeth and spooky ass eyes that would do Marilyn Mason proud. Freddy's got his edge back. His finger-knives haven't been sharper since the original A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Unfortunately for him, Krueger can't use those sharpened knives. Freddy's power to navigate a nightmare comes from fear. Due to elderly members of his old haunting grounds successfully eliminating almost all traces of the once ignominious nocturnal hacker from teen trepidation, Freddy is powerless (you must ignore Nightmare 6 and 7 to believe this newfangled theory). Therefore, in all his infinite Freddy wisdom, he conjures up Jason and gets the hockey-masked machete hack to take a trip to Springwood, to terrorize the Elm Street kids to the point where Freddy can, once again, be the man of their dreams. After receiving orders from his mother, Pamela (Paula Shaw, so convincingly mimicking Betsy Palmer's performance as Jason's mother in the first two Friday the 13th films, that I actually thought she was Betsy Palmer), Jason isn't a hard sell. Of course Freddy was busy manipulating behind the scenes, but Jason was "never a very good swimmer." Apparently he was never a very good "thinker," either.
So Jason leaves Camp Crystal Lake for Elm Street, and does what Jason does best ... slice, dice and slaughter the living hell out of horny adolescents. What a job he does. For the first time in over a decade, Jason is actually scary again. Sure, diehard fans of the genre won't find much to give them a start, but horror greenhorns are provided with plenty of splat, slashing and plunge to keep them on the edge of their seats. The audience at the screening that I attended was popping out of their chairs so often that the auditorium looked like a jam-packed box of old-fashioned Mexican Jumping Beans.
What's left for the diehards? Hardcore action and gore. Enough of both to fill at least two movies. Only a few weeks ago I announced my astonishment over Bad Boys II upping the ante of "acceptable" R-rated raunch. Freddy vs. Jason calls the Bad Boys' bluff and ups them to a point approaching impossible. There is blood-spurting in this film that is literally at an Evil Dead level. There are a few scenes which have obviously been tampered with by the MPAA, but the film still gets away with murder ... about 20 times. This is quite easily the goriest Friday the 13th film since the fourth in the series, and no A Nightmare on Elm Street film has ever been this grisly.
Ronny Yu, director of Bride of Chucky, and the man at the helm of Freddy vs. Jason, brings the twisted camp he brought to the Child's Play series to the Nightmare and Friday films. This is Yu's pièce de résistance. The man grasps the fine balance between comedy and terror. He's able to juggle eerie scenes of dread with wild comedic battles between the hateful horror hellhounds in an almost seamless fashion. It's hard to imagine anyone could pull off the high-energy cinema-rush that is the battle between Freddy and Jason, but Yu pulls it off in spades. You'll never be able to guess which one of the two comes out the victor. It's high-speed, intense and everything you expected but more than you ever wished for.
Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, writing their first screenplay, manage to make Freddy vs. Jason faithful to both the Nightmare and Friday series. They provide the blueprint of humor, action and scares that Yu brings to life on the screen. There isn't much in the way of character development or story, but Shannon and Swift knew that this movie was about Freddy and Jason. This movie was about a killer battle between two unstoppable killers. The screenplay dishes it out faster than someone refilling an "all-you-can-eat" buffet during a "Now Leaving Weight Watchers" convention.
I dare you not to have fun watching Freddy vs. Jason. It's is the most entertaining film of the summer, the best slasher flick in years, and one of the best pictures released in 2003. I've waited a long time for my two favorite horror heroes to make a comeback. Now they finally get the chance. It turns out that the old adage was true: It definitely is better late than never.
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Text ©(Copyright) 2003 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].