Freddy vs Jason [retro review]

“Dude, that f**kin’ goalie was pissed about something.”

The Scoop: 2003, directed by Ronny Yu, starring Robert Englund, Ken Kirzinger, and Monica Keena

Tagline: This summer, evil will battle evil.

Summary Capsule: Two of the worst murderers and best pop culture icons ever sort of team up for the first time to kill, despite turning out to “live” like 20 minutes away from each other.

Kyle’s Rating: More than just fodder for a MTV “best fight” movie award or two

Kyle’s Review: While there is a definite formula to slasher films, it’s the details and creative style that differentiate a Friday the 13th installment from one of the Nightmare on Elm Streets, and likewise for both series from their countless competitors and imitators clogging the rental shelves. I’m more of a F13 aficionado than a Nightmare guy, so I can say with authority that all of the Fridays are essentially the same story, they just have different characters and occasionally different locales to spice up each new sequel. I think the same is true for the Nightmares, though I think they tried a little more new and different stuff (with varying degrees of success). The point is, with these two franchises, unless you have an absolute favorite, there are probably elements of the whole series that you dig and kind of wish could be put together into a smorgasbord movie that could then be the “ultimate” Jason or the “ultimate” Freddy film, depending on which slasher you prefer. It wouldn’t be a movie to show to your square parents, or one that you would necessarily be proud to own, but it would be a lot of fun and provide mindless entertainment on dark and stormy nights.

You may or may not think the Freddy vs. Jason is the ultimate film for these two titans of terror. Personally, I think it’s the closest we’re going to get, and I seriously can’t wait to own it so I can see it again and again. Whether you know Jason better than Freddy (my particular case) or you’re a founding fan club president for both these very bad bad guys, I think there is a lot here to be enjoyed even if you’re just a occasional horror fan looking for fun times. There’s actual effort to construct a thoughtful story respectful to both title characters (gasp!), a great cast of likeable characters with the obligatory “I want him/her to die!” few thrown in (wheeee!), and a gas tanker’s worth of thick red blood (blargh!). Freddy and his trademarked glove o’ knives tears up plenty of flesh while he cackles and mind-messes with everybody, Jason and his trusty machete tears up plenty of flesh and hacks off an awful lot of limbs, and you actually sort of care about the 20-year-old “teenagers” that have a ton of sharp pointy metal objects figuratively and literally pointed in their direction. If making horror fans pee in their pants from thrills and pure awesomeness is cool, consider F vs. J Miles Davis. You know it!

Freddy, once a standard scummy child murderer who was burned to death by vengeful parents and returned as an otherworldly force to punish his killers’ children, wreaks havoc via the dreams of his would-be victims. But after seven Nightmares, the parents/adults of Elm Street got tired of burying eviscerated corpses of local kids and turn to drugs and censorship to eliminate any trace of Freddy, thereby robbing him of power. But Freddy has got a plan, and it involves plunging Elm Street back into fits of terror through a killing spree. And he’s got just the candidate: Jason Voorhees.

Jason is probably more than happy to help (it’s hard to read his emotions behind the hockey mask), especially since Freddy manipulates him rather expertly to send him from the watery depths of Crystal Lake to Elm Street (somehow I doubt Jason hitchhiked successfully, I envision more of a Forrest Gump-type marathon walking session), but when Freddy realizes that his murder spree is being infringed upon by Jason’s murder spree, bad guy will throw down on bad guy. Meanwhile, the only teens (un)lucky enough to have been affected by either or both killers and lived to tell about it try to figure out what’s going on and then try to figure out how to get these two wrongs to make a right, hopefully by making the two wrongs tear each other into bloody little pieces. I’d like to see the team of CSI sift through the body parts that are left strewn about and just try to figure out what happened after the fact. Yikes!

Man, this is fun stuff if you like this sort of thing, and it’s okay not to (it is all a little sick, you know?). Like I mentioned, the story actually makes sense and manages to include as much as possible of all 17 previous Jason and Freddy films while ignoring stupid needless stuff (Jason’s trip to the far future and space, Freddy’s interactions with Tom and Roseanne Arnold). Only 20% of the kids’ actions are head-slappingly bone-headed, and you can understand why adults are cut out of the equation in the assault on the baddies. Freddy is played to creepily-charming perfection by Robert Englund, while Jason (Ken Kirzinger) is just how I’d picture a mute hockey-masked killer with nearly 50 years of poor hygiene under his jumpsuit would look (try some beach sand on that blackened skin, dude: it’s a natural exfoliant!).

Monica Keena as the virginal lead is pretty good (though those might be implants, and her character doesn’t seem the type of girl who would have a tattoo like that), and I liked Jason Ritter as the mentally-tortured ex-boyfriend/white knight who comes galloping in from four years at a psychiatric hospital to help his beloved and never-forgotten girlfriend out. All the friends and compatriots are at least a notch above the standard slasher supporting fare, and in most cases you actually care about their fates! Katharine Isabelle gets the “friend who indulges in all the wrong vices that in turn mark her for death in a slasher movie” role, but I was rooting for her the whole time! I think I love you, Katharine Isabelle’s character (I was too entranced to figure out what her name was in the movie), whether you’re wearing the crazy red hat or not! Somebody give her her own horror heroine/ultimate survivor role, please!

If you’ve never seen a Friday the 13th or a Nightmare on Elm Street before, I don’t know that you’ll get too much fan glow out of this movie. Having said that, I think it’s self-contained and self-explanatory enough that going in totally cold you’ll still have a slashing good time with one of the most well thought out and sensible slasher plots I’ve seen. And if you are experienced, you’ll appreciate the in-jokes, smile as all the slasher high points get hit, and whistle inwardly (sure it’s possible!) at how deftly the two franchises get meshed together successfully and provide thrills, chills, and blood spills for both Freddy and Jason. For years they’ve talked about making this movie, and for years people thought it would be either awful or completely one-sided for one character or another, but the end result is a movie all horror fans can be extremely proud of. Now if we can get some sequels of this caliber going with either or both characters getting bloody again, I think all of us sick freaks will be very happy campers/streeters. Streeters? Hey, I’m trying to play to both camps, too! *all puns intended*


Justin’s Rating: For $19.95 you get all this… but wait, there’s more!

Justin’s Review: This is the stuff that 80’s slasher camp was all about: free-range breasts, girls tripping every five steps, corny pre- or post-kill quotes, gratuitous gore, people backing into things without looking, new and inventive methods of murders, scary masks, none of that Scream self-awareness, tons of shrieks, hapless teenagers, ignorant parents, and unkillable baddies. It’s surprising how many horror movies today don’t have the same spirit of “fun” that the last generation had — scares and jump cuts and freaky imagery is all well and good, but part of people’s love of horror is the imagination that can go into some of these movies.

While the whole concept of matching up Freddy vs. Jason is quite keen, it couldn’t have happened to two more different people. In high school, Jason played defensive tackle while Freddy did yearbook; their paths crossed only once in an ill-fated locker room wedgiefest. Little did they know that fate — and a studio looking to cross-market its most popular films into a giggly gimmick — would throw them together as murderers-in-arms.

Jason’s the strong, silent type, the horror movie’s unstoppable Terminator. His backstory (drowned due to camp counselor neglect) is a sad one, and his vengeance, mighty. He boasts a land speed of about three feet a minute, yet due to a trusty teleporter, is able to catch up with the swiftest of naked prey. His preferred outfit is a hockey goalie’s mask, his favorite weapon a machete, and his traditional pasttime is killing people so brutally that at one point, I’m sure he stabs someone with an entire house.

Freddy, however, is the chatty Cathy of the pair, the quotable Kindergarten Cop. Small and lithe, he comes from a background of child molestation and murder, capped off with a memorable evening of being burned alive. Favorite hobbies include dream analysis and learning about your most favorite fears. While his ensemble is not in season, the trademark brown hat, striped sweater, and Swiss Army knife glove is a welcome flashback to a kinder and gentler America.

When these two come together to party, woe to any snobby, whiny teenagers caught between! I think that Freddy vs. Jason might boast some of the most annoying teenage cast put in a horror film to date, but that only makes it that much sweeter the moment the rampage begins. The film scrambles to not only figure out some way to connect the two legends of Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, but also to tip the hat to many of the famous events of those series. It’s a wonder that someone in the scriptwriter’s room didn’t have a twitchy breakdown.

Jason’s brutality and Freddy’s eerie nightmares actually mesh well together, once the movie stops focusing on crying, shrieking, and “Lookit me, I’mma so bad, I’m an angry jerk” kids. It only makes sense that horror movie villains, as megalomaniac as they are, would have this level of alpha dog territoriality between them. Watching these two legends face off is a refreshing break from whatever lame horror baddies that are made today (Quick quiz: name a memorable and original horror villain from the past five years. The Tooth Fairy? Mr. Jeepers Creepers? Okie dokie, you just go on back to whatever lame convention you‘ll be appearing at.).

We always knew if these two were in the same room together, they'd do something we'd never expect...

Intermission!

  • Bladestarr writes, saying “Both movies feature a sheep, a symbol of the children of Elm Street themselves, blindly obeying and believing their parents. Freddy decided to be his own ‘shepherd’ if you will and cull the herd (down to nothing ). At several points throughout his history, Mr. Krueger has made it explicitly clear that the Elm street kids are ‘all his children now’, a declaration of him as a shepherd to the sheep.”
  • The call letters of the news station shown on the TV in the hospital are KRGR, obviously a reference to Freddy Kruger. It is also the name of the radio station that Glenn (Johnny Depp) is listening to right before he dies in A Nightmare On Elm Street.
  • Westin Hills is Freddy’s birthplace and was featured in A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
  • All the actors who are shown in clips from past Nightmare on Elm Street films during the flashback montage at the beginning the movie are thanked during the end credits.
  • Aaron writes, “Hey, the drug ‘Hypnocil’ that the parents in FvJ use on the kids is a throwback to Nightmare on Elm street 3, It’s used by Nancy (from NoES, the original) to keep Freddy out. She tries to get it prescribed to all the kids at Weston hills, but some evil nurse doesn’t let her, leading to the ‘Dream Warriors’ fiasco.”
  • The “ka ka ka” theme over the studio credits
  • Okay, whoever takes a nighttime swim — NAKED — in a lake is just asking for something horrible to happen to them
  • Note the excellent sparks coming off of Jason’s mask when the cigarette is flicked at him
  • Horror movie teenagers have not gotten any more likable or smart in the past thirty years.
  • It’s that insane guy from Dead Man On Campus as a cop!
  • The kids’ faces moving on the MISSING signs
  • That freaky sheep/goat is back
  • I love how schools never close when kids get brutally slaughtered in the community
  • The black girl is soooo annoying and really bitchy
  • GO nerdy boy with the insults!
  • Freddy mimics the smoking caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland.
  • There is an ending to this film, right?  Well, knowing those crazy horror filmmakers, I think there are approximately 200,000 alternate endings that exist in one form (filmed) or another (scribbled on napkins). Or not, it depends on what horror magazines and cast interviews you read. Will we ever see these endings on a DVD release? Maybe! Will they live in infamy for fans to talk about for the rest of their lives? Of course!
  • Veteran Friday the 13th actor Kane Hodder wanted to reprise his role as Jason Voorhees in this film, but was denied the role.  Ken Kirzinger, who won the role of Jason Voorhees, played a New York cook and was also the stunt coordinator in Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.
  • During test and advance screenings, the ending was not added to the film. Instead, a black screen came up saying. “See the conclusion of who wins on August 15th, the release of the film theatrically.”
  • New Line first attempted to make this film in 1987 when they tried to team up with Paramount Pictures and bill it as Friday the 13th VII, but there was never an agreement made.

The Simpsons Connection

This isn’t the first time Freddy and Jason teamed up to victimize poor saps; during The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror IX, F and J are seen waiting for the family during the opening credits, unaware that the family has already been killed. Robert Englund did the voice for Freddy.

Freddy: They should’ve been here by now!
Jason: Eh, what ya gonna do? [turns on TV]

Groovy Quotes:

Freeburg: Dude, that f**kin’ goalie was pissed about something, man.

Freddy Krueger: What’s the matter, Lori? Miss your wake-up call?

Freddy Krueger: He may get the blood, but I get the glory!

Lori: [Gibb is smoking] Gibb, what are you doing? I thought you quit.
Gibb: I did! I only smoke when I drink now.
Lori: You drink all the time.
Gibb: Yeah, well I’ll work on that next.

Freddy Krueger: Being dead…that wasn’t a problem. But being forgotten?! Now that’s a BITCH!

Freddy Krueger: I’ve always had a thing for the whores that lived in this house.

Freddy Krueger: [To Jason] Why won’t you DIE?!

Jason: . . .

Freddy Krueger: Don’t worry about my little errand boy…..the only thing to fear, is fear HIMSELF!

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8 Comments

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