Remember back in March of 2005 when Bloody-Disgusting officially declared Freddy vs Jason vs Ash dead? What followed was our exclusive look at the astounding treatment (download it here) that was near-greenlit over at New Line Cinema. Written by Jeff Katz, the project almost took flight until Sam Raimi bailed at the last second only to announce a remake of The Evil Dead, which looks like that will never happen. It was devastating to me personally as I was a huge fan of the treatment and thought that it could have been one hell of a sequel. Here we are two years later with some big news, Freddy vs Jason vs Ash is now coming… as a comic book! Read on for the skinny.
And the best news about the miniseries? It’s not some new take a meeting between the three. Nope – the six issues will tell the story of the movie that was could have been. One more thing that makes this whole deal interesting? That original treatment for the Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash movie that the miniseries will be pulling from? Written in 2003 by a guy named Jeff Katz (formerly at New Line and now at Fox). Yep – the same Jeff Katz that’s currently co-writing Booster Gold with Geoff Johns for DC.
Things just have a way of coming around, don’t they?
While we’ll be talking to Kuhoric later this coming week, we sat down with Katz to talk about the secret origin behind the story, the movie that could have been, and the comic that will be.
Newsarama: Jeff, let’s start at the start – this wasn’t a blind pitch at first was it? This was going to be a movie when you started on it, right?
Jeff Katz: Exactly. What you’re going to be getting in this miniseries, barring whatever creative choices the writer makes in terms of adapting is what New Line was planning on Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash to be. That was always the plan.
NRAMA: And how did you get involved with it all?
JK: When I started as an intern at New Line, my two goals were to work on Freddy vs. Jason and to bring Evil Dead back. Sam Raimi and Bruce and all of those guys went to the same high school that I did in Detroit, and Sam’s family were my next door neighbors growing up, so there was just that connection that I had to the property. It all made a lot of sense. So even before Freddy vs. Jason coming out, I was in their ears talking that if they did a sequel, they had to get Ash involved.
Frankly, it was a bit of a pipe dream. The movie came out, performed really well, and they started talking about a sequel, and from the get-go, we were all saying, “It’s Ash time.” I did about a thirty page treatment for the potential sequel, turned it in, and they all backed it. Negotiations were started – I met with Bruce and Rob Tappert [Evil Dead Producer] and we came close to a deal two or three times.
NRAMA: So what happened?
JK: The everyday realities of deal-making in Hollywood, sadly. It just never got done. Had those deals all closed, this was going to be the movie. After some time passed and the Ash thing had gone away, we kind of all knew it couldn’t happen, and by that time, the treatment had made its way to the internet, so the idea of this movie was out there, really, being supported by the fans for years.
Somewhere in all of that, the New Line licensing guys started talking about doing it as a comic book. So it had been bandied about for a couple of years while I was at New Line, and I was trying to encourage it along as best I could, knowing that was the only way it was going to see the light of day. I’m a fanboy for these franchises, so I wanted to see it produced in some form or another as much as anybody, and lo and behold, here it is.
NRAMA: In terms of where it died at New Line, it was still just a pitch, right? It wasn’t that it had Sam and Bruce officially attached?
JK: Bruce was in. We thought we were very close to making a deal on a couple of occasions, and just ultimately, we couldn’t get it done. That’s just the nature fo Hollywood. You’ve got to get numbers to work. In this case, they were going to be bringing in three franchises that, because of the way they’re set up and the people involved, just made for a very tricky deal, ultimately. That was just the business reality of it.
Creatively, while I can’t speak for Sam and his guys, we were all on board and ready to rock at New Line. There was a lot of enthusiasm for it. To their credit, this was something that everybody at New Line “got” very early. Not to mention that there was enthusiasm from the international end, because Evil Dead has recognition overseas. Literally, we tried to make this happen over the course of a couple of years.
It was disappointing at the time not to get it done, but at the same time, I was very proud of the fact that, as a guy who grew up as a fanboy for these things, such a fanboy movie that was really a great big “thank you” to the fans of all the franchises got that close to being made. Now, when I see the comic book – I’m just really proud that it’s finally getting out there.
NRAMA: Were you involved with New Line looking to turn it into a comic book?
JK: I think they had always talked about using my treatment as a launch pad for the comic, and at one point – after the Booster Gold stuff started to happen, it was very much the idea that I would write it, but then ultimately, my Fox negotiations were gong on, and it was a victim of my move more than anything. So again, the project was kind of hit by the reality of deal making in Hollywood, I guess. But I think it’s wonderful that they’re moving on and getting it out there. It’s very fulfilling to see it get out there, and I think it’s very true to the spirit of the three characters.
NRAMA: On that note, and with the caveat that James Kuhoric and some other cooks will be in the kitchen on the story, give us the broad strokes – what was your story about, and how would they eve meet up in the first place?
JK: The thing that gave us our “in” was the film that brought Freddy and Jason together in the first place, which was Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. It’s a pretty well known thing among film geeks that there’s a scene in that movie that has a couple of big Easter Eggs in it. In the scene, you’re in the basement of the Vorhees house, and the crate from Creepshow is down there, there’s a dagger from another movie down there, and the Necronomicon from Evil Dead is in the basement.
So it makes all kinds of sense – Ash is after the Necronomicon, the Necronomicon has the power to revive Freddy and Jason, and it makes a ton of sense that the three of them would come to loggerheads over the same thing. And for Freddy, coming off of Freddy vs. Jason, he’s trapped inside Jason’s subconscious, hanging on by a string, so the Necronomicon is his ticket out, and not only out, but his ticket to being more powerful than ever before.
I’m not sure if it will be in the comic itself, but I put a beat in the treatment which was a total Watchmen rip-off where Freddy details his whole plan, and the heroes tell him how they’re going to stop him, and he says, “Stop me? I did it ten minutes ago.” A total Ozymandius play. I will completely cop to that.
NRAMA: You’re coming close to creating your own classification of nerd…
JK: It’s a wonder I’ve ever had a girlfriend in my whole life.
But yeah – the Necronomicon was there, and existed in the continuity of the films, so it made perfect sense that these guys would face off over it. And the cool thing is that Jason is being manipulated for a good portion of the story by Freddy, but in the same way, you’re going to see a certain level of wish-fulfillment on the Jason end – because of the powers of the Necronomicon – which will prove interesting. The Necronomicon really gave us a really large way to be able to bring these worlds together and create the big action that fans wanted to see.
From there, for the treatment, it became a matter of what are the Easter Egg moments that we could give the fans? Watching Ash fight the jump rope girls, for example. There’s Ash versus Jason in the S-Mart sporting good department. The hand from Evil Dead 2 putting on Freddy’s glove and chasing Ash. Basically, Ash has come to Crystal Lake under the guise of an S-Mart employee coming to work at the Crystal Lake S-Mart.
NRAMA: And that itself is following the whole rebuilding of Crystal Lake which was needed after the fight in Freddy vs. Jason…
JK: Right – they were remaking Crystal Like into Forest Green in Jason 6 – they’re trying to move away from the whole “Crystal Lake” stigma, but yeah – after the fight in Freddy vs. Jason, Crystal Lake was pretty much done. Now they’re redeveloping it to make it a palatable place for people to live, and Ash has chased the Necronomicon there after all of these years, and is going in under he guise of Ashley Williams, S-Mart employee to finally end this once and for all – only to find that he’s got the two biggest, baddest icons of horror standing in his way.
And hijinks ensue.
NRAMA: What was the tone that you were going after with your treatment? After all, all of these franchises started as straight-out horror, and only introduced black humor or campy humor in their later installments…
JK: It has doses of everything – it’s a pretty straight, epic horror match up. A three-way dance, so to speak, between these guys. But – you can’t have an Ash movie without Ash’s one-liners, and I think everyone wants to see Ash and Freddy talking smack to each other. That’s too good an opportunity to pass up. At the same time, one of the things that Freddy vs. Jason did well was return these guys to the roots of what made them scary in the first place – we certainly didn’t want to lose that. So the violence and the stakes are very real and very big, but at the same time, it’s a lot of fun and crazy, with some over the top action.
By the time these three guys are going at each other in the end on an ice-covered Crystal Lake, all hell has broken loose.
NRAMA: Going back specifically to the treatment – how do you end a story like this?
JK: The whole ending was folded into a larger plan that Ash was going to “kill” these two characters and drive off into Evil Dead 4. The whole point was how to justify putting these characters to rest, and the only way that fans would ever accept it is if they’re killed by an icon of equal measure. There had been a debate as to whether or not we should have gotten Michael Myers to fight Freddy and Jason, and have the ending go out with all three of them dying, but we all came to the conclusion that the fun of it was having the hero take the guys out.