FREDDY VS. JASON
***1/2 (out of 5)
August 15, 2003
Robert Englund as FREDDY KRUEGER
Monica Keena as LORI CAMPBELL
Ken Kirzinger as JASON VOORHEES
Kelly Rowland as KIA
Jason Ritter as WILL ROLLINS
Directed by: Ronny Yu
BY KEVIN CARR
In “Pulp Fiction,” Mia Wallace observed that people are either Elvis fans or Beatles fans. She asks Vince Vega whether he’s an Elvis man or a Beatles man. Similarly fashion, horror aficionados are either Freddy fans or Jason fans. The latest installment in the “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchises give people a chance to take this side.
I’ve always been a Freddy man myself. Sure, I’ve enjoyed the “Friday the 13th” films. The last one, “Jason X” was as crappy as ever, but it was still a guilty pleasure like the previous eight or nine films. However, there was always more to the character of Freddy Krueger than Jason Voorhees. The first “Friday the 13th” was a milestone in horror films (and was the only film that didn’t have Jason as the actual killer), but none of the sequels ever came close to matching it.
“A Nightmare On Elm Street” continues to be the best of the Freddy films. However, there have been some interesting twists and turns in the series, including a nifty comeback of Heather Langenkamp in Part III and a more serious turn in “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.” Plain and simple, Freddy Krueger just has more personality than any of the other slasher antiheroes, including Jason, Michael Myers and Leatherface.
Freddy Krueger is stuck in hell, trapped there because the kids on Elm Street no longer fear him because they no longer remember him. He has searched the underworld for someone to bring him back to life, and he found one – Jason Voorhees. Freddy visits Jason in a dream and urges him to go to Elm Street and start slaughtering innocent teenagers. Freddy knows that rumors of his own return will start circulating, and soon the Elm Street children will start to fear him again.
However, there’s a catch. Once Jason starts lopping off heads and arms, he just doesn’t want to start. Now, the two horror legends are competing for the same prey, leading them to go head-to-head in the ultimate match.
Oh yeah, there is a group of teenagers (including Bill Pullman’s sister from “While You Were Sleeping” who is now super hot, Destiny’s Child’s Kelly Rowland and a Jay Phat Budz ripoff), but no one really cares about them. If you’re seeing this film, you want to see Freddy and Jason duke it out.
“Freddy vs. Jason” is gorier and much more violent that I remember the previous films (with the exception of Johnny Depp’s volcano of blood from “A Nightmare on Elm Street”). Freddy doesn’t get to do much killing, which has minimized some of his potential for corny lines. But Jason slashes enough to make up for it, and director Ronny Yu doesn’t pull many punches. I wasn’t in on the MPAA rating process, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some discussions about some of the violence.
The real nice thing about “Freddy vs. Jason” is that it is actually a story about Freddy and Jason. Too often, movies are billed with a team that almost never share the screen. It goes all the way back to the original “House of Frankenstein” in the 1940s which featured Dracula, the Wolf Man and Frankenstein’s monster. However, Dracula only appears in the first act and never really interacts with the others.
When “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan” came out, I paid full price on a Friday night to see it because I thought it’d be a riot to unleash Jason on Times Square. But to my disappointment, most of the film took place on a private yacht and all the New York scenes took place in back alleys. “Freddy vs. Jason” actually delivers a story and eventual face off between the two characters. I’m sure it was tempting to do a movie about Freddy or a movie about Jason and just bring the other in at the last minute. I was very pleased to see that the screenwriting was actually pretty tight around this aspect, letting the characters interact and merging the stories pretty well.
The only really glaring problem with this film is the choice of the filmmakers to not use Kane Hodder in the role of Jason Voorhees. According to press reports, Ken Kirzinger was chosen because he had more sympathetic eyes and was a better physical match for Freddy. In watching the final product, I never saw the need for Jason’s sympathetic eyes, and the filmmakers spent a lot of energy to make Jason look bigger by shooting him at a low angle and forcing perspective. I would have much preferred to see Hodder reprise his role again.
If you don’t like slasher films, you’re gonna hate “Freddy vs. Jason.” It’s a slasher film, after all. It ain’t high art. But if you happen to be a fan of these types of horror flicks, you should get quite a kick out of “Freddy vs. Jason.” It’s a franchise battle that fans have been waiting for since Krueger’s hand swiped Jason’s mask at the end of one of Part IX, and it pays off big.