A transcript from a recent Cavalcade of Schlock editorial meeting:
Micah P: Tom, I’ve read your review for Freddy vs. Jason.
Tom: Yeah, I’m feeling pretty good about it. I think I nailed it.
Micah P.: …
All you wrote was “Greatest Movie Ever.” 500 times.
Tom: I know! Hook me up! <Raises hand for high five>
Micah P.: <Stares blankly. Walks away.>
And now, a “real article” explaining the glory that is Freddy vs. Jason since Higgins will not let me back in the Cavalcade of Schlock building.
To understand: in August 2003, I was sitting in a packed movie theater on a Friday night. It had been twelve years since Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) and ten years since Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993). The lights dimmed. The New Line Cinema logo appeared on the screen and the familiar piano theme from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) filled the speakers followed quickly by Friday the 13th’s trademark “Ch Ch Ch Ha Ha Ha.” From a crowd of fans that did not care about whether Neo would free the humans or if Middle Earth was going to burn the ground came a wave of applause and cheering erupted and did not stop for the next 97 gore filled minutes!
Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) has been stuck in Hell since the events of the aforementioned Final Nightmare. Krueger hatches a plan to reawaken the now officially unkillable Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger) and have him kill teenagers on Elm Street in order to inspire fear in a new generation and regain his own powers. Jason proceeds to do just that. However, he will not stop killing, going so far as to kill teenagers that Freddy was going to kill himself. And, thus, a battle royale begins between the two horror icons for the privilege of killing the unsuspecting teenagers in the Ohio/New Jersey area.
Director Ronny Yu and writers Damian Shannon and Mark Swift did not have the easiest task putting these two characters together in one film. The production history on the film alone could fill up three articles. While both characters started as straight slashers, Freddy’s films took a different, more effects heavy direction in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors (1987) when director Chuck Russell started to take more advantage of the possibilities in attacking a person in one’s dreams. In addition, the victims in Freddy’s films have traditionally been marginally more intelligent than Jason’s. Elm Street kids tend to pick up on the fact that they are being picked off more quickly even if they do not know how or why. Crystal Lake campers tend to have two disadvantages: inebriation and Jason’s brutal efficiency. Jason usually kills 90% of the film’s victims in a 24 hour period before anyone knows what’s going on. As a result, FvJ plays more like a NoES film with Jason guest starring. However, this is balanced by Jason having the majority of the kills and having those kills be quintessentially Jason.
There is an impressive amount of gore and creativity in this film. Both Freddy and Jason’s style of murder are given equal spotlight. “Crafts-matic Adjustable Death” is a particular favorite. But this is all prologue to the titular fight and what a fight it is. Yu and company do not cheat the audience. We came to see Freddy fight Jason and what a fight we got to see! I have timed it, it lasts a solid half hour. The fight is equal parts WWE and Looney Tunes and never stops being fun.
There is so much Jason and Freddy violence that not even the deplorable acting by our teenage cannon fodder, excuse me, I mean, “victims” cannot even get annoying. But, they do try their damnedest. Jason Ritter, in particular, makes Keanu Reeves look like Laurence Olivier. Overall, this is a silly movie that is equal parts 80s slasher and Abbott and Costello monster film. FvJ is a great send off for two slashers that have given us so much joy.