“You got what you wanted… you pulled Freddy out and now he’s fighting Jason… what more do you want?!” – Will to Lori, Freddy vs. Jason.
On this day 15 years ago, horror’s most epic battle spewed blood all over the big screen.
The seeds for Freddy vs. Jason were planted in the minds of horror fans back in 1993, when Jason Goes to Hell united the two horror icons on the big screen for the very first time. In the epic final moments of Adam Marcus’ film, Jason is literally dragged into Hell by Freddy (both characters played by Kane Hodder!), which made perfect sense given that Freddy had just been sent back to Hell two years prior in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. At long last, the two were shown to exist in the same universe, and New Line held the keys to both castles.
And then we waited. And waited. And waited some more.
In the 10 years that followed Jason Goes to Hell, countless different scripts were penned for a potential “Freddy vs. Jason” fight flick, but it wasn’t until 2003 that the battle promised in its unforgettable final scene was finally delivered. With a script penned by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, and Ronny Yu in the director’s chair, Freddy vs. Jason finally brought horror fan dreams to reality on the weekend of August 15, 2003. And the decade of waiting paid off in a big way, with a final fight that delivered the gruesome carnage we had been waiting for.
The concept for Freddy vs. Jason was a pretty ingenious one, with Robert Englund’s Freddy losing his dream powers due to the Elm Street kids no longer fearing him. In an attempt to restore that power, Freddy literally raises Ken Kirzinger’s Jason Voorhees from the dead, using him to do his bidding. Jason’s Elm Street murder spree does indeed imbue Freddy with his murderous powers once more, but he realizes that there’ll be nobody left for him to kill if Jason continues slashing up everyone in town. And so, the fight to rule Elm Street begins.
Throughout much of Freddy vs. Jason, Freddy and Jason are kept separate, but it’s when our group of intrepid heroes bring Freddy out of the nightmare world and into the physical reality Jason inhabits that they finally collide proper and deliver on the promise of the mash-up film’s title. For the last 20 minutes, Freddy and Jason tear each other apart.
With intense heavy metal raging in the background, the fight between Freddy and Jason begins in a fiery Camp Crystal Lake cabin, with Jason absolutely dominating his significantly smaller adversary. To Jason, Freddy is nothing more than a burnt-up ragdoll, and he tosses him all the way through the roof of an entirely different cabin. The fight picks up shortly thereafter in a different area of the campground, with Freddy starting to use his size, speed and smarts to his advantage. He feverishly slashes at Jason with his razor glove and then weaponizes air tanks by cutting off the ends and turning them into torpedoes, catapulting Jason into a nearby construction area. There, things get *really* bloody, with Freddy temporarily locking Jason in place by driving metal bars through his body and straight into the ground.
But it’s when the fight moves to the dock that Freddy vs. Jason truly delivers the goods.
It’s an all-out war on the dock, and Ronny Yu gleefully spills so much collective horror icon blood that it literally starts to paint the air red. Jason repeatedly hacks away at Freddy with his trusty machete, opening the dream demon’s body up like a gory sprinkler. But just as he’s about to deliver his final death blows, Freddy uses his glove to cut Jason’s fingers off, grabbing hold of his machete and giving him a taste of his own medicine. Freddy hacks and slashes Jason with both his glove and the masked maniac’s own machete, before digging his claws into Jason’s eyeballs. Jason gets the upper hand once more, however, tearing into Freddy’s chest with his bare hand and then ripping his right arm completely off with ease.
With Jason holding Freddy’s ripped off arm in his hand, the two get in their last licks; a one-armed Freddy stabs away at Jason with the machete, blood oozing out of both monsters.
“Holy shit,” I remember thinking to myself in August 2003. “This… is… everything.”
The battle culminates after an explosion sets Freddy and Jason ablaze and shoots them off into Crystal Lake. Freddy eventually emerges first, still brandishing the machete. Right before he’s able to kill Monica Keena’s Lori, Jason triumphantly surfaces, stabbing Freddy through the chest with his own severed freakin’ arm. Lori then beheads Freddy with Jason’s machete.
Of course, nobody actually emerges from the bloody battle victorious, with Freddy’s severed head winking at the camera in the final moments and reminding that though he and Jason may have just torn each other apart, they’re both immortal maniacs who will live on no matter the damage they sustain in any given film. But watching the two most popular horror icons, from two entirely different franchises, at least *try* to kill one another remains one of the coolest things I have ever seen on the big screen. A thing that, up to that point, I never expected to see.
Fifteen years ago, it actually happened. And it was once-in-a-lifetime AWESOME.