After years in development hell, New Line Cinema’s Freddy vs. Jason finally hit theaters on August 13, 2003. It was a monster success for New Line, whose identity was built around Robert Englund‘s Freddy Krueger and the A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise. The film ended with a wink to fans, lending credence that this was only the beginning for the two slasher icons. In fact, internally they had immediately begun discussing how to up the ante on a sequel. While there were multiple rumors of potential villainous crossovers – including Halloween‘s Michael Myers and Hellraiser‘s Pinhead – the only one that was legitimately in contention was to bring The Evil Dead‘s Ashley J. Williams into the horrorverse. With the support of New Line’s senior executives – including President and COO Toby Emmerich – Creative Executive Jeff Katz and Sr. VP Stokely Chaffin fought tooth and nail to pit Bruce Campbell‘s Ash against both Freddy and Friday the 13th‘s Jason Voorhees (played by Ken Kirzinger at the time). A treatment circulated internally (one that Bloody Disgusting leaked exclusively back in 2004) but ultimately the huge success of Sam Raimi’s The Grudge reboot in 2004 turned Ghost House’s focus to remaking The Evil Dead (which eventually happened in 2013 with Fede Alvarez at the helm) instead.
Katz reached out to Bloody Disgusting this weekend with a discovery that is going to blow horror fans’ minds. While packing up a few items he came across an old internal memo that he and Chaffin sent to Emmerich on October 30, 2003. The title of said memo: “ROUND TWO: FREDDY VS. JASON – ‘Why Ash Works‘”.
What we’ve shared exclusively below is this document that breaks down the internal pitch as to why Ash would work in the Freddy vs. Jason universe. There are all sorts of really big reveals hiding within the doc, including the confirmation that they had played with and discussed mixing in Michael Myers, Pinhead, Leprechaun, Chucky (Child’s Play), and even the Tall Man (Phantasm), only that the aforementioned horror icons “flat out [don’t] fit in the Freddy and Jason worlds,” adding the complexity of making a deal with other studios.
If that isn’t big enough news for you guys, the memo reveals the shocking revelation that Robert Englund had been growing tired of the Freddy Krueger makeup as early as 2003. In fact, there had been early conversations with Englund as to the fate of Freddy: “Per our conversations with him [Englund] in the past, he agrees that the fans will embrace and accept the idea of Ash killing off our burned villain for good, as opposed to their reaction should a 16-year-old virgin girl do the job (again).” Yes, Ash was not only to be the film’s hero but was also set to be the device that would end Freddy’s reign of terror once and for all. When they failed to make a deal with Raimi, New Line, unfortunately, remade the film in 2010 and recast Englund with Jackie Earle Haley.
It’s also interesting that Freddy vs. Jason. vs. Ash looked to take a budget cut, although Katz, a known horror fan, had been selling the idea of Ash adding value to the sequel to avoiding retread. (He also points to Halloween: H2O and Halloween Resurrection as how to hurt a franchise.) Even more intriguing was that making this movie would NOT have affected Raimi’s Evil Dead remake or New Line’s future plans with Freddy and Jason (which all failed to come to fruition anyhow).
We can only hope that New Line executives are reflecting back on this, especially with the rise of the cinematic universes across Hollywood. Freddy vs. Jason was ahead of the curve and Katz’s vision for Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash would have blown it wide open. Now, New Line is heavily focused on their Conjuring universe, and with the Friday the 13th rights reverting back to them at the end of the year, it’s highly probable we see a new universe created with both Freddy and Jason doing battle once again. As for Freddy and/or Jason fighting Ash, feel free to put money on it never happening.
No way in hell. https://t.co/paCVIQpHbT
— Bruce Campbell (@GroovyBruce) August 3, 2017
Note: Katz has donated the physical copy to Dark Delicacies in Burbank, CA