Score adjusted on October 31st, 2005.
Most reviews don’t include an introduction but Freddy vs Jason is quite the exception. Back almost exactly ten years ago, on August 13th 1993, I was in a theater watching Friday the 13th 9: Jason Goes to Hell and to my surprise, Freddy’s glove popped out of the ground and grabbed Jason’s mask in the closing seconds. Now a decade later, after years of speculation, years of anticipation and years of rumors I was finally sitting in a theater waiting for what could and should be one of the best horror movies of all time. For most people, the wait has been nothing, but being a news reporter on a horror site doesn’t make it easy. Every day I was posting either rumors, or storylines, or new pictures. We all sat in anticipation for the website to go live and for the trailer to hit the web. For all that I’ve went through, I have never been so hyped in my life for a movie and now here I was in the theater awaiting New Lines present to the horror fans for all of our patients and support….
Where to begin, oh where to begin. Have you ever been so hyped up for something, it actually ruined the experience? I have numerous times, but when it comes to Freddy vs Jason, words cannot explain the shear joy I have just endured even after all of the hype. I was quivering with goose bumps nearly the entire movie! Ronny Yu has become a horror legend in my eyes, turning a seemingly dead Childs Play franchise around with his masterful work of Bride of Chucky and now this. Ronny Yu and New Line are perfect compliments to each other. New Line has become incredibly efficient at taking horror to the next level (ie. superior amounts of blood), while Ronny Yu has an eye of a fan and brings everything to the plate that makes a horror movie a horror movie.
First let me explain to you what’s going on in Freddy vs Jason, so you know how New Line brought these two horror icons together, showing the ten years of effort it took them to get things right. The basic premise is that the kids have forgotten about Freddy Krueger, and everything is well in Springwood. Freddy is still banished in hell after his real world demise in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare; that is until Freddy comes up with a gruesome plan. As you all know, Freddy gains his power from the “myth,” kind of like the Candyman. Freddy soon awakens Jason (I won’t say how), who is laying dead in his own hell, repeating his life on earth over and over again in his mind, and “tricks” him into killing the kids on Elm Street to invoke the fear within the kids of Springwood. Slowly but surely Freddy regains his power and Jason becomes no use to him. During the charades, Lori (Monica Keena), Kia (Kelly Rowland), Gibb (Katharine Isabelle), Will (Jason Ritter) and Tim (James Callahan) are out on the hunt for the secrets on why they’ve been drugged all these years and why the police are covering up all of these murders in Springwood. Things progress in an obvious fashion form there, but include many surprises along the way, keeping you entertained from start to finish.
I’m actually starting to get a little pissed with everyone knocking the hell out of the script and dialogue. I just saw the film for a second time and am starting to feel like Freddy vs Jason is Matrix: Reloaded. At first, the script seemed a little cheeseballish, but the second time it made a little more sense. One of the best lines of the movie is a flashback (re-shot) of Jason’s mother saying something along the lines of, “I gave you the power to kill anyone, and never die!” I love this because with this one simple line, everything I didn’t understand about the previous ten Friday’s, was explained. Another positive aspect are Freddy’s lines, right out of a Nightmare on Elm Street flick, “got your nose!” Jason has some great dialogue as well… ha ha just kidding. The film was filled with great one-liners, and excellent storytelling, and even when a line was thrown out that didn’t make sense, on a close look, it actually did. For example, there’s a scene where everyone is sitting around a table brainstorming on what the situation is, all of a sudden they are understanding completely and it sounds rediculous. Then pops in Lori’s line, “Jason died in water, Freddy died in fire, how can we use this against them?” While everyonee was cracking up, I was paying more attention, if you give it a second, that entire sequence ends up being a dream sequence and Freddy is manipulating Lori. Some more good news, the line “Freddy vs Jason, place your bets,” is NOT in the movie, thank god! There was also a line you can watch out for, which I thought was really well said, Freeburg says something along the lines of, “Start thinking outside the box, because this guy is breaking the fucking rules of reality!” I can’t remember the rest, but I remember liking what he said alot. There’s even some grat jokes thrown out by Freeburg, after the rave scene he says, “That dude in the goalie mask was pissed off!” But seriously, even if you think the dialogue is bad, do you see a horror movie for its highly intellectual and enriching plot and dialogue?
Delivery is key in a movie, and expecting the worst from a cheesy 80’s horror flick, made these acting jobs seem golden. Jason Ritter would have made his daddy proud (John Ritter Bride of Chucky) and Katharine Isabelle ohhhh man! Anyone who knows me around here knows how much I absolutely love her, and many of you agree. Well here’s some news you’ll find exciting, Freddy vs Jason marks her nudeless debut! Speaking of the nude, while we’re on the subject, as an opening joke for die hard horror fans, Ronny Yu takes a stab early in the film at 80’s horror flicks. He hits on almost every horror cliché’ right off the bat. They basically opened the movie with a bare chested model swimming in a lake, almost begging to die, classic! Anyways, back to the subject at hand, acting. What more could you want from Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund, interview here)? Robert Englund portrayed Freddy to the very best of his abilities and beyond. Freddy was sick, twisted, and darker than ever. Even within the realm of his jokes, you had chills down your spine from his wicked smile and sly remarks, this is truly the most twisted Freddy since the orginal Elm Street. As for Jason, I think I am the first person to understand Ronny Yus’ envisionment of this “new” Jason Voorhees. When I compare Kane Hodder to Ken, I see Kane (no offense) as wider and larger, kind of a fatter Jason. While Ken is just as tall, if not an inch smaller, but yet is fit and sleek looking. He looks a lot more energetic and looks as if he poses more of a threat to Freddy than a thicker Jason (Jason fans, please don’t kill me). All in all, this is the dawn of a new era of horror films.
When I speak of a new era, I am talking about everything you every wanted in a horror film plus a directing job that’s better than some of this big name Hollywood movies that have hit the big screen recently (ie. Spy Kids 3-D… ouch, don’t ask why I saw it). Finally an 80’s slasher flick filmed with the eye of a genius! Ronny Yu took my favorite film franchise, Childs Play, and just like a rubic’s cube, reshaped it into the ultra fun Bride of Chucky, without breaking the laws set in the first three films. Yu does the same with Freddy vs Jason, he takes all of the cliché’s and rules set from the Friday the 13ths and Nightmare on Elm Streets and blends it with his own vision of the pure evil that is Jason and Freddy. His camera shots and use of colors breathe new life into these icons lives. One example of his masterful camerawork is a shot of Lori walking out of a house. The camera pans left and then shift on a crane over her head, looking straight down on her, giving a very unorthodox view of Lori and the children singing “One, two Freddy’s coming for you…” His use of close ups and medium shots are well placed and mixed very well. He opens the film with a close up of a disgusting Freddy mouth as Freddy speaks about the situation at hand, its very dynamic in a sense; he also uses some awesome close-ups of Freddy’s evil eyes. Yu’s Freddy vs Jason is almost as precise as Gore Verbinski’s Ring remake (review), when things are slow, you can always count on his brilliant camerawork and use of colors to keep you on the edge of your seat. One fantastic example is a scene where Freddy gets really pissed off at Lori and jumps out of the water (ie in the trailer). The trailer is an unfinished cut of the shot, in the film there is a musty red background and Freddy is gleaming in the reflection of the moon as he floats out of the water and onto the deck. I hate using a word like this in a horror review, but it was beautiful! The use of colors were magnificent, very reminiscent of Oliver Stone’s work. His use of greens, blues, reds and yellows made me feel like I was watching something out of Natural Born Killers. The skies are a dark blue, while a house is luminated with the bright yellow lights on the side, only darkened at the door by the brightness, what lies behind these closed doors? The feelings you get watching some of his shots give me the creeps. During the cornrow scenes, Katherine Isabelle is wearing a bright red hat to compliment the green background. One last example is the first time Freddy and Jason face off, when Freddy is in advantage, the scenes are colored red, while when Jason takes over, the scene shifts to a green haze, only to be subdued by the color blue (you’ll understand why when you see the film).
When I was reading Fangoria’s Freddy vs Jason special magazine, Ronny Yu was quoted as saying, “I used the World Wrestling Federation as a model of what I was trying to do with the battles between Freddy and Jason.” I immediately freaked, thinking only of Blade 2 (review) and its ridiculous use of wrestling moves. After viewing Freddy vs Jason, I was very happy to see that nothing was used except for an elbow drop, which was used in a very funny way. The fight was incredibly well played out and shot. Freddy even goes Wolverine “berserker” style (X2) on Jason, clawing him like you’ve never seen before! The only thing that bothered me was how bad ass Freddy is in Freddy vs Jason vs how much of a complete pussy he was in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. The only explanation I could conjure up in my feeble little mind is that Freddy was being leanient on his daughter in Freddy’s Dead, while Jason is really making him mad. Suspension of disbelief works fine to, the battle was unbelievable!
Another great area of the film was New Lines decison to hire a new score writer named Graeme Revell (Blow, Idle Hands) over the usual choice Harry Manfredini. The one thing I hated about Jason X (review) was the awful score. It was like I watching the Sci-Fi channel, and it didn’t help any that the film took place in space! Revell knows what we need, and we need something simple, with quick cuts and a lack of cheese, finally some respect on the score, it’s time to get with the times! New Line also did a fantastic job of not using the soundtrack (now avaliable from Road Runner Records) too much, it was mostly pure score.
One last thing that makes this movie so friggin unbelievable is New Lines involvement in making Freddy vs Jason. I feel New Line has found the secret to the MPAA, and it’s so obvious, it was right under our noses the whole time. From what I understand, the MPAA allows certain things if they are “justified,” or “unbelievable.” For example, Mike Mendez’s Convent (2000) was originally rated NC-17 because Nuns were killed in the movie, but soon after discovering that these Nuns were actually monsters, it became OK and the film received an “R.” Now New Line possesses the secret and I’m going to share it with you right now… blood, lots of it, gore to the brim! They make movies so ridiculously bloody that the MPAA sees it as humorous and unbelievable. Remember how bloody Final Destination 2 (review) was? As you can now expect, Freddy and Jason ensue a blood bath only these two could make. New Line understands what the fans want, and we want BLOOD! From what I’ve read in interviews, New Line even told Ronny Yu to make Freddy vs Jason violent and bloody and he could make it, and this is toned down from what they wanted!
Besides blood, we want fun. Freddy vs Jason delivers on all ends, and makes this movie complete. A well stitched plot, tons of blood, great acting, and one of the best horror directing jobs since John Carpenter’s perfection, In the Mouth of Madness, make Freddy vs Jason my number three favorite horror movie of all time (behind Exorcist and In the Mouth of Madness).
Before I express my final thoughts, I want to point out a few things that bothered me or needed a quick mentioning. First, I’m sure you’re all thinking about continuity errors, do they exist? The answer is no, this script seemed flawless to me on first viewing. The old scripts had some of the most moronic ways of returining these characters to the screen. One script has a reporter writing an article on Freddy and sent it all over the internet, thus spreading his legend to great proportions, releasing him from his imprissionment. Another script had Jason and Freddy revived during a sacrifice from a cult, very lame as half assed if you ask me. The problem New Line had was the longer they waited, the more we expected, and they delivered! David Goyer and co did a fantastic job in making Freddy vs Jason take place after Final Nightmare and Goes to Hell and keeping the storyline intact. If anything was done to the history at all, it would have to be that they filled in some old plot holes. Speaking of something I found disappointing, Spoiler when Freddy gets super pissed off, he sort of morphs into this super cynical looking Freddy; more demonic. Yu only places this in the film once, I guess for emphasis, but I really would have enjoyed more of this super Freddy. End Spoilers. I really loved how the past movies where summed up during the opening sequence. Yu shows only Freddy’s mouth as he explains the situation at hand. The kills were fantastic, and very original. I was also pretty happy when I saw how Freddy causes Jason to dream (which we thought wasn’t really possible) until I read a point made by CHUD, which I counter. They made the comment, “…And at one point they drug Jason. If bullets tearing through his body don’t work, why, suddenly, does he have some kind of circulatory system that would allow drugs to shut him down? Ridiculous.” I ask CHUD, how do you know Jason feels no pain? HMMMM? Also, when Jason is regenerated at the beginning, his heart starts pumping, and what does that do? I think it pumps blood doesn’t it? Last but not least, I was also pleased with some of the plot that tied up loose ends in the past Friday films, which you’ll find out when you see this awesome flick.
When the credits rolled I was disappointed, why? Because I couldn’t believe it was over already! The movie is over an hour and half long and it flew by so fast. I have been sitting in anticipation for this film since I was 13 years old and there I was, sitting with my feet sticking in spilled pop and my shirt filled with popcorn pieces wondering if this was just a dream? Had I really seen the impossible, the unbelievable, Freddy vs Jason? I wonder how long it will take for reality to sink in that the wait is finally over and now all I have to look forward to is Jeepers Creepers 2 (blech) and Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
But my final thoughts are that if this were a serious movie, and I had not been a fan of Freddy or Jason, I’d probably give this film 3 out of 5 skulls, but I’m a fan boy, and this truly is a fanboy’s dream!
Mr. Disgusting’s DVD Review
I try to maintain a professional attitude as much as possible when it comes to reviews and such, but once I got my grubby little fingers on the Freddy vs Jason DVD, I went all super fanboy again. Anyone who didn’t like this bad ass flick has some serious explaining to do, because Freddy vs Jason is a fanboys dream, and the DVD is no exception! Not only does it rule, but also it gives you even more appreciation for the film, and Director Ronny Yu.
Being an avid horror fan, I find it very frustrating the way we usually get treated when it comes to DVD’s, but one company has always looked out for the fans, and that’s New Line Cinema. This two-disc platinum special edition comes jam-packed with goodies; there is everything from kick-ass behind-the-scenes features to really sweet Easter eggs (ones that are worth digging out).
Skipping disc one initial – since I’ve seen Freddy vs Jason ten times – and after dropping the second disc twice before I finally got it firmly planted in my DVD player, I found myself hyped up for this bad boy almost as much at the movie itself. After watching an ultra cool interactive menu opening, I was treated to a nice surprise – we were right after all, the DVD contains exactly 20 deleted/alternate scenes, not 19 like New Line reports! The scenes are mostly extensions from the theatrical cut, and most under a minute long, but they explain many of the questions we’ve been asking since the film hit theaters. The alternate opening is really cool, but I’m glad they cut it, unfortunately it makes no sense with the storyline whatsoever. There are some awesome scenes that contain FX that were cut like Mark (Brendan Fletcher) vomiting leeches or snakes of some sort. One scene that was actually better than it sounded, was the alternate ending, where Will (Jason Ritter) morphs into Freddy while making love to Lori (Monica Keena); the scene is reminiscent of a short portion of the morph scene in Nightmare on Elm Street 2. But there was one scene that made me sad they deleted, it was an extension of the fight scene in the real world. It kicks off with Lori yelling, “Place your bets,” and then the fights kicks into high gear, Freddy even kicks Jason square in the nuts – great stuff, shouldn’t have been cut.
After I finally got the 16 minutes of deleted scenes out of the way I navigated to the “Publicity and Promotions” section. The first item in this “tree” was the full footage from the “Pre-Fight Press Conference” in Las Vegas, which was held at Bally’s on July 15, 2003. It looked like a blast; with every Freddy comment tons of cheers and boos perspired, while when Jason talked, well he didn’t and Freddy ridiculed him for it! Great gag, great publicity stunt.
Also under this menu were the trailers and TV spots that were shown, they blare, “Freddy vs Jason – place your bets!” (Thank god that line was cut). Still a fun watch, and it brings back some fond memories of sitting in front of the computer and waiting for the website to go live.
Next under the Publicity menu was a video by Ill Nino entitled “How Can I Live.” I love the CD, and I love this single, and the fact that it’s in Freddy vs Jason makes it ten times better.
What do hot dog eating contests, wet T-Shirt contests, arts and crafts, kick ball, dodge ball, super short shorts, and beer have to do with Freddy vs Jason? An amazing event New Line threw for the release of the film was called “Camp HacknSlash.” The event was held at a camp in Texas, where fans could party all day and then sit under the moonlight and watch the premiere of Freddy vs Jason. One thing I regret, is not attending, it looked AMAZING.
Last on this menu were a few trailers for the films Butterfly Effect, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Freddy’s Dead, and Jason Goes to Hell.
But this is just the beginning!! At first I was thinking that the disc was just OK, but once I saw the branches in the “Production” menu, I knew I was in for a real treat. First they posted two 45-plus-page articles that appeared in Fangoria magazine before its release on August 15th (thanks Fango for giving away the entire freaking movie before it came out).
After skimming the pages of some memories that pissed me off (I mean come on, Fangoria ran a special issue that went scene by freaking scene until the end, that’s CRAP) I was treated to five “Production Featurettes.” The first was entitled “Development Hell,” and by god it was. The ten minute feature went into details about how Shannon and Swift’s script was “collapsed” by Blade writer David Goyer into a smaller film, from its originally timed two and a half hours. Also, Ronny Yu talked about making the film “raw” and back to the basics, which gives you a lot more respect for the man. You wouldn’t believe how much he cared about the fans.
Next up was “On Location: Springwood Revisited.” This 15 minutes feature talked about how Freddy vs Jason scared Ronny Yu, because he wanted to make the fans happy, and was afraid to fail them. It also detailed the entire bed scene and how it was actually shot really slot and then sped up, really cool stuff.
Then I headed into a 12 minutes feature on the “Art Direction,” where we watched them decorate Jason’s dream cabin, and discussed the intricacies of color use. They focused a lot on the real world vs the dream world, and how they needed to both feel “real” in order for it to work. This segment also had some interesting stuff on setting fires and how they didnt want to burn down the sets too fast.
But as I headed further into the special features, it just got better. We got a taste of the stunts, and saw how much Robert Englund and Ken Kirzinger did on their own. We get to see stunt men get prepped in fire for the corn rave scene and see how they achieved the vision of a car crash. All very cool stuff.
The “visual Effects” feature just added even more depth to the making of the film. We learn of the troubles in making blood drip on the ground, and how they were forced to use CGI. There’s a look at how they did the pinball scene, the nose clip scene, and how they had a little trouble with Jason’s closet and the floating victims. This DVD has EVERYTHING.
Heading into the clips from the film, I expected a bunch of stupid publicity photos but was treated to hundred’s and hundred’s of storyboards that were used in the films production! The artwork is very comic book like, which is what Ronny Yu envisioned the film to look like. But theres a surprise lurking around somewhere that involves a sketch, an Easter Egg you might call it. This Easter Egg has the writers talking about the original ending, where the lake swallows up Freddy and Jason, only there’s something NONE of us knew about! Ronny Yu had an even better idea, a hand the size of four houses comes out of the lake and drags them down to their battle in hell. It sounds stupid, but wait until you see this sketch!
Another Easter Egg I found while digging around was a FX preshot of the fight in the dream world with Freddy and Jason. It runs 16 minutes long and is really freaking cool. They arent hard to find, just do a little of that “left-right” stuff.
As for Disc one, there isnt much on there but a “Jump to a Death” feature, which pretty much explains itself and the commentary with Ronny Yu, Robert Englund and Ken Kirzinger. Just like in person (check out this interview), Robert Englund tells a tale that keeps on going. The man can speak for ever and tell you stories you’ll remember the rest of your life. Englund – you are awesome!
As for the look of the film, it looks fantastic, included are both 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and 4:3 full screen transfers. The colors are crisp and clear and couldn’t be better. Ronny Yu’s use of reds and greens and blues are visually stunning even on DVD.
Just when I thought it was over… I stick the first disc into my DVD Rom drive to get a screen shot of Freddy Jumping out of the water for my background when I find out the disc is loaded with extras! There’s an “Enhanced Mode” where both players have a power meter that changes throughout the film. You can also help a player by answering trivia questions throughout the movie. Another great feature in the script to screen comparison, which is always a cool feature, you can even print the whole script if you’d like.
On Disc Two, there’s a feature called “Cutting Room Floor” where I got to edit my own little clip, which was a disaster, ugh. Then there is also the “Sound bites” where you can mix and match Freddy’s infamous quotes to Jason’s kills.
After my long pleasurable night I was left feeling so grateful for New Line Cinema that i wish I could kiss them all! New Line Cinema, along with Lions Gate Films, knows who their fan base is, and delivers on all ends, always! This is one rare horror DVD, and I know I can’t wait for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (review) DVD now, because it’s just as jam packed as this bad boy. Pre-order it now by clicking the Amazon logo below, it’ll be worth it!