FREDDY VS JASON
The memory of Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) has been systematically erased from the once terrorised Springwood. Unable to invade the dreams of terrified teenagers and exact his grisly revenge, Freddy has languished ineffectively in hell for ten years. In a moment of inspiration Freddy decides to resurrect the indestructible madman Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger) and turn him loose on Elm St. The plan is effective at first but when Jason refuses to step aside and let Freddy do the lion's share of slaughtering, a battle erupts between the two homicidal maniacs. Meanwhile, virginal teenager Lori (Monica Keena) and her boyfriend Will (Jason Ritter) attempt to stay alive long enough to expose the conspiracy of silence around Freddy.
Review by Richard Kuipers:
The teaming of horror icons Freddy "A Nightmare On Elm St" Krueger and Jason "Friday the 13th" Voorhees has taken ten years to hit the screen since it was first announced. It's comforting to know that a slasher film can still command "event picture" status, even if the final result falls short of the dream date in hell all horror buffs were hoping for. Directed by Ronny Yu - who has been hard at work on disreputable pictures like this and Bride of Chucky since he departed Hong Kong in the mid-90s - Freddy vs Jason is really two films in one. The first hour is more or less a rerun of any Nightmare on Elm St or Friday the 13th instalment you'd care to choose. Apart from a few background details for younger viewers, there's nothing much to distinguish proceedings as pizza-face Freddy lures hulking hockey-masked humongous Jason out of hell and lets him loose among the usual collection of beer-drinking, pot-smoking, sexually precocious teens living near 1428 Elm St. In a nod to older fans of both series who have bought tickets for nostalgia rather than genuine scares, the bloodletting is more graphic than we're used to seeing in the teen-oriented horrors of today.
Body-count enthusiasts will not be disappointed by the final tally and creative methods of disposal. As expected there's a busty blonde virgin babe (an impressive Monica Keena) in the middle of it all and a complete absence of logic surrounding the means by which the deadly duo are brought together. It's a pity more effort wasn't put into the script because some very intriguing ideas are touched upon. The notion of an entire town conspiring to eradicate a demon from its collective memory is far creepier than the vaudeville antics of old scissor fingers Freddy but this element of gothic horror is never properly exploited. What has been a fairly pedestrian stalk and stab exercise suddenly leaps to life in the final half hour when the battling bogeymen finally get down to business.
Ronny Yu shows his Hong Kong flair as fantasy, reality and some pretty good scares are blended into an entertaining extended finale. It doesn't make any sense of course but who cares when we have the sight of Freddy turning Jason into a human pinball in his boiler-room headquarters followed by Jason lopping off Freddy's limbs like the dismembered knights in Monty Python and The Holy Grail? There's real imagination at work in these sequences and it almost makes up for the lack of excitement in the first two-thirds. Horror movies like this have become redundant in the post-Scream age and it's almost impossible to be scared by Messrs. Krueger and Voorhees any more - especially when we know that as long as there's a buck left in the franchise these two will be back to fight another day. Who knows - maybe New Line Cinema (whose head honcho Robert Shaye has a cameo here as the school headmaster) will buy the rights to the Halloween characters and we'll be treated to an all-in brawl with Michael Myers in the bloodstained corner. For Jason Voorhees this is a big improvement on Jason X (90 minutes of grass growing would have been) and for Freddy the K it's about on par with a mid-ranking effort like Nightmare...Part 4: The Dream Master. It'll do for now but unless Freddy creator Wes Craven takes charge again it's safe to say the best work of these bad boys is decidedly behind them.
Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
After shocking the world in their first few instalments of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, Freddy and Jason films (respectively) have become straight-to-video B-movie fodder. With so many silly sequels (Jason has 10 and counting; I'm not sure about Freddy), the films are followed only by slasher flick aficionados and fans. So it makes appropriately silly sense, I guess, to combine the two most unkillable of horror movie franchises into one almighty bogeyman bloodbath.
And Freddy Vs Jason is good fun. It thrills, frightens and amuses without making you think. Screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift make only the feeblest attempts to meld the respective series, moving quickly between characters until the hilarious hack-fest climax. And why would they? Freddy's films come with their own trademark sadistic wit, as the kiddie-killer makes as many wisecracks as he does kills. Jason movies have a much darker repressed milieu, with the hulking, machete-wielding Robo-killer getting slower and crustier with each undead instalment. Director Ronny Yu keeps things simple here, using nice visual effects to bounce between worlds. Is it silly to make a movie essentially based on the question; "Who would win a fight between Freddy and Jason?" Yes, it is. And it's amazing to think that of all the possible franchise fusions racing to be greenlit in Hollywood (Alien Vs Predator is underway, Superman Vs Batman has been squashed), this made the big screen first.
But something about the decision was spot on, for Freddy Vs Jason was a surprise number one box office hit in the US and stayed there for two weeks. With that success, one can only imagine the franchise fusions to come. Charlie's Angels Vs Starsky and Hutch? Austin Powers Vs Darth Vader? As separate franchises, Freddy and Jason movies aren't worth half a movie. Put them together, and you almost have a whole.
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RONNIE YU INTERVIEW by Andrew L. Urban
FREDDY VS JASON (M15+)
CAST: Robert Englund, Ken Kirzinger, Monica Keena, Jason Ritter, Kelly Rowland, Katharine Isabelle.
PRODUCER: Sean S. Cunningham
DIRECTOR: Ronny Yu
SCRIPT: Wes Craven, Victor Miller, Damian Shannon, Mark Swift
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Fred Murphy
EDITOR: Mark Stevens
MUSIC: Brad Kane, Graeme Revell, Corey Taylor
PRODUCTION DESIGN: John Willett
RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 23, 2003
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: January 21, 2004
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