Freddy vs Jason
I was going to hold this one off until I re-watched a Jason film or two, but decided to just go ahead and watch it. This is a movie slasher lovers had been waiting for for well over a decade (and had been in production hell for even longer), ever since the end scene of Jason Goes to Hell where Freddy’s gloved hand pops out of the ground.
Pictured: Spoilers and the most interesting part in that whole mess of a movie.
While the movie has both main antagonists in it, I’ve always felt that this particular film had much more of a Friday the 13th vibe to it. Perhaps it’s all the gratuitous nudity, sex and drug use which, after having just watched all the Nightmare movies back-to-back, wasn’t nearly as prevalent an element in the Elm Street films. Actually, now that I think about it, all three of those elements are actually pretty minuscule as far as the Nightmare films are concerned. Most of the nudity is relegated to one particularly pervy teen, the sex is mostly implied, and I only remember one stoner in the entire series. So yeah, this totally feels more like a Friday the 13th outing. Anyway, other than that, the film does a pretty good job of combining both series mythologies together into one film. Jason is still lumbering around with his machete and his mommy issues, and Freddy emulates the persona he had by…. Oh, I’d say the 3rd installment: Still scary but with a healthy dose of the sadistic humor he’s become known for.
The movie starts off with a good introduction. The parents of Springwood have finally gotten their ever-loving shit together and found a way to make Freddy a thing of the past: by quarantining every child that’s come in contact with him from the rest of town by shoving them in the loony bin and giving them experimental drugs to prevent dreams (Hypnosil, to all you Elm Street fans. Which is the same drug first introduced back in Dream Warriors, so yay for continuity.)
Freddy is none to pleased about this. His power is based on fear (Established in the 1st Elm Street) and if nobody fears him he’s stuck in hellish limbo with no one to torment. Freddy’s solution to this dilemma is to use Jason to instill fear back into the populous, knowing that the parents’ fear will assure he gets the credit. So Freddy, using the visage of Jason’s mother, interrupts Jason’s own murderous dreams…
…and resurrects his slumbering corpse, sending him off to Elm Street (I would have preferred it if they had sent him off to Springwood since who knows how many Elm Streets there are, but I’ll get to that in a minute) to wreck some havoc. Of course, Freddy wrongly assumes that Jason will just knock off a couple of teens, presumably enough for Freddy’s name to re-enter circulation, and then just lumber home. This of course means that Freddy didn’t do his research and nicely sets the scene for a final confrontation between the two.
This brings me back to my previous complaint. Being a slasher fan, I love this movie. I know the back stories and can appreciate it for what it is. Unfortunately it seems somewhere in production the target audience was somehow shifted from Elm Street/Friday fans, to Elm Street/Friday/Everybody Else. Just about every scene that doesn’t feature someone getting hacked to death….
Admit it. You wanted him to die and fast.
…is loaded with exposition. And I mean LOADED with it. There’s enough expository dialogue in this movie to choke a crowded theatre with. I know it had been a while since the last installments for both series were released, but give me a break. The writers seem to be assuming the audience is stupid and completely overlook that most horror fans will know who these two characters are. Hell, they were the ones who had been clamoring for this showdown since the 80s. The people who are really going to want to watch this don’t need a constant re-cap of what’s going on.
Why is he on fire? Who cares! It’s Jason! He doesn’t need a reason to be on fire or have a flaming machete!
Another small problem I have with the movie is that Jason is made out to be ‘the good guy.’ The writers do their best to make him a sympathetic character. Sure, he was tormented at camp, thought drowned when neglectful camp counselors weren’t watching him, watched his mother get beheaded after she lost it, and grew up in the backwoods alone. I mean, I know the writers probably figured they had to make you root for someone, and I’ll readily admit that Freddy is the more evil of the two and thus more difficult to deal with, but the forced sympathetic slant strips the character of much of his menace. Sure, lets forget all the death and destruction he was responsible for in previous films and all the innocent people he ruthlessly murdered. Whatever. We need a hero. So now he’s a pathetic creature we’re supposed to root and feel sorry for.
Aren’t you ashamed of yourself
If it weren’t for the excellent fight sequence at the end that I thoroughly enjoyed, I wouldn’t like this movie as much as I do.
In the end though, I think this movie probably turned out about as well as it was going to. In the time between Jason Goes to Hell and Freddy vs Jason, there were over 10 scripts and 18 writers all attached to the project within a span of a decade. Yes, that’s how long it took the film studio to figure out a way to conceivably get these two mass-murderers together just so they could stare menacingly at each other and kick each others ass. Along the way the movie exes fielded a variety of ideas, including thoughts of adding Ash from Evil Dead or even Pinhead from Hellraiser in, just for funsies, but I’m sure the very thought of the licensing fees required for some of those ideas gave the members of the New Line Cinema accounting department hives and ulcers, so those ideas were scrapped. Some notable writers were also attached to the film at some point in time, including the likes of David Goyer, Guillermo del Toro, Blade director Stephen Norrington, and Ronald D. Moore, who would later go on to successfully reboot Battlestar Galactica. Even Joss Whedon’s name was thrown around in the mix there at some point. In a lot of those drafts, Jason’s resurrection remained rather consistent, but there were also ideas like a cult of Freddy worshipers dubbed “Fred Heads” included in that bunch, and suddenly I’m happy that some of those script ideas were allowed to slowly rot in a drawer and die. Though I’d be lying if the various other names attached doesn’t make one wonder about the alternate treatment the film could have received. But even with the flaws, what we ended up getting didn’t turn out to be all that bad. It was a film that was solely made to have two supernatural killers fight one another, after all, and it ended up being released long after the prime of both series had long past. There was no way in Hell that this was going to end up being some kind of horror masterpiece. But for fans of both series that the film was initially meant to appeal to, it fulfills it’s purpose of being a fun horror mish-mash with an entertaining fight scene. But for your average horror fan it’s probably going to feel like a lot of same-old, same-old.
As a side note, the film actually did fairly well at the box office, so there were once talks in place to do a sequel. The first one would have involved Ash from the Evil Dead series, which would have involved combining yet another series continuity into the two existing films. But those talks fell through. The second involved a straight sequel, without any additional characters, but would have utilized the characters and actors from the films two respective reboots, Friday the 13th from 2009, and Nightmare on Elm Street from 2010. But considering how poorly fans reacted to those films, it’s probably for the best that that idea was left to rot and die.
Though we did eventually get a Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash story-line thanks to a limited run comic book treatment that began in 2007. So if you like the film and find yourself hungry for a sequel, there’s always that to look forward to.
Freddy vs Jason is available on a variety of streaming services.
Freddy vs Jason is also available on DVD and Bluray.