Freddy vs. Jason
Studio: New Line
Film Length: 98 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen (2.35:1) and P&S (1.33:1)
Audio: Dolby Digital EX 5.1, Dolby Digital Surround
Subtitles: Spanish, English
Retail Price: $29.96
Horror fans have always had icons going back to Universal with Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man and The Mummy. During the 1980’s Paramount delivered the Friday the 13th series while New Line offered up A Nightmare on Elm Street. Fans of the two series would battle over who was better for years but in 1993 we got a tease in Jason Goes to Hell with a shock ending that said a battle between the two was coming.
It took ten years for that battle to arrive but Freddy vs Jason was finally released and became a huge hit amongst fans of both series plus the mainstream crowd got into the fun as well. Being a longtime fan of both series I had my reservations about teaming the two. There were ninety-nine ways for this film to bomb yet they were able to find the one way for it to work. Return the series to the 1980’s and we get that during an opening scene where the director doesn’t hide away from a beautiful girl showing off her beautiful naked body to the crowd only to be slaughtered minutes after.
Jason (Ken Kirzinger) is dead, safely in hell burning where he belongs. Freddy (Robert England) is a lot worse off in the fact that he is forgotten in the town, which he struck fear in by molesting children only to later kill more in their dreams. Since Freddy is forgotten there’s no way for him to strike fear and enter new dreams so he decides to terrorize Jason’s dreams and unleash him onto Elm Street to slaughter pretty teens.
This here leads us to being introduced to a new set of meat including the leader of the group Lori (Monica Keena) who is your typical teenager suffering a broken heart from an old boyfriend and worse off is that her mother was recently killed. While at a party one boy is slaughtered by Jason but the police think it’s the work of Freddy. Lori overhears this name, which is unfamiliar to her due to the town putting a ban on his name so that no new kids will know it. After a little research the friends discover who Freddy is and what he can do. However, Jason is stalking the streets killing anyone who gets in his way but by doing this he is putting Freddy out of a job. With nothing else to do, Freddy and Jason battle it out to see who gets to kill everyone.
I doubt we’ll see Freddy vs. Jason winning the Best Picture award at the Oscars but that’s not why us fans are watching this film. We are looking for a fun time and the movie certainly delivers on that level. However, I was rather shocked at how much smarter this film was compared to previous Friday the 13th films, which were pretty mindless in their execution. A Nightmare on Elm Street always relied on a story, which is why it was more serious than the gore soaked Friday. After New Line bombed with the “stories” of Jason Goes to Hell and Jason X, it’s good they finally got it right here.
The way the two characters are brought together is very interestingly done and how they end up fighting is even better. Jason pretty much plays a supporting role in a Nightmare sequel but this works wonderfully because we get to see the maniac do his typical killings yet this time there is something bigger than him out there. The added story to Jason makes things a lot more interesting as well because he is an actual character and not just a killer with a knife. The added scenes of his youth and death are very well done and explain a lot about why he is a killer.
Don’t worry because this isn’t a Bob Dylan driven story full of character development and heartbreaking stories. The current wave of horror films were pretty much striped of every naughty thing that was in the 1980’s horror films. The first thing cut out was the nudity, which always played a big part during those early slashers. Teenage boys showed up at the theater to see naked women and that’s what they got then and here with this film. The film isn’t shy about showing women in the buff, which is part of the appeal of these films. Yeah, these nude scenes to add anything to the story but what member of the audience doesn’t want to see this?
Another thing Freddy vs. Jason brings back is the graphic killings and gore. The film is full of non-stop violence with victims being lined up all over only to be mutilated in various formats. The best moment occurs when Jason breaks up a field party and gets plenty of action swinging his machete around. The ending is also full of gore as the two icons battle to the end with blood coming out in every direction imaginable. Body parts are flying off and that’s just the beginning. If you want the gore then you won’t be disappointed here and thankfully all of it is tastefully done.
Two icons in a gore soaked battle with naked women is what slashers of the 1980’s were all about. Freddy vs. Jason brings the two icons home with their fans as well as new members of the mainstream who might be seeing them for the first time. The film is a lot of fun but I’m sure some will complain that more ideas weren’t used. I’m not sure about anyone else but I’m sick of the bad girls dying off. Why not have one of these bad girls show the icons who’s the boss? Why must it be the typical “save myself for marriage” girls who gets to the ending?
Freddy vs. Jason is also full of problems ranging from horrid acting to some stupid plot holes but if you think I’m going to complain about this then you’re wrong. If you’ve seen the previous seventeen films in these two series then you’ve come to expect this type of thing. Fans of the slashers want gore and nudity and the film delivers on both levels. The story dealing with Freddy’s town is very interesting and it’s fun seeing Jason in this new ground. As for the final battle, well it was certainly worth the ten-year wait.
Universal teamed up their monsters in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and later had an all out bash in films like House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula. I’m sure New Line will continue this trend and make a sequel to this film but I wish they wouldn’t bother. However, if you’re a fan of the series then you damn well know that if a film makes money then a sequel will follow. Even worse, if a film is a huge hit than many inferior copycats will follow. Freddy vs. Jason will probably turn out to be a blessing and a curse.
VIDEO---The film is shown widescreen (2.35:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. New Line outdoes themselves again delivering another reference quality transfer. Right from the opening scene in Freddy’s boiler room you can tell that you’re in for a real treat. The colors are extremely livid and full of detail bringing out every little blood soaked stain on the floors to the Barbie doll, which gets thrown into the fire. Camp Crystal Lake also looks wonderful with the lake sparkling and the moon shining bright. All of this looks so natural that you can’t help but thing you’re at the actual location. There were a few brief moments of edge enhancement but nothing major. A P&S version is also included.
AUDIO---The sound is Dolby Digital EX 5.1 and it qualifies as one of the best tracks of the year. At the start of the film we are introduced to the opening of Nightmare’s music score, which rings from one speaker to the next and this here sets you up for what’s to follow. Like the video quality, the sound mix gets a very good workout during the opening sequence in the boiler room where Freddy’s narration is coming from clear from the center speaker but the Surrounds are perfectly used for the various sound effects ranging from the fire to screams and the wonderful blades of Freddy.
EXTRAS---On disc one is a “Jump to a Death” option, which allows you to (duh) jump to any death scene in the movie. This isn’t the first disc to offer this and while it’s somewhat no different than a chapter stop, I’m sure horror fans are happy to have it included. Also on disc one is an audio commentary with director Ronny Yu and stars Robert England and Ken Kirzinger. Fans of the series will be very happy with the track, which is full of wonderful chatter between the two actors playing the villains plus the director tells some wonderful stories about earlier scripts that were out there. You can tell all three are very happy with the way the film turned out and there are a few hints about a follow up.
Disc 2 is where we find the rest of the extras, which are broken down into various categories. The Production[/b] starts off with two written text articles from Fangoria Magazine, which covered the start of the film and then the follow up about the final film. For those fans who haven’t already read these, they are a lot of fun and certainly worth going through. Up next is Production Featurettes[/b], which starts off with “Genesis: Development Hell[/i], which lasts ten minutes and features interviews with director Yu, Robert England, Sean Cunningham and various others. This segment deals with the history of trying to get the film made. Apparently this film was originally to have been made back in the late 1980’s but the two studios (Paramount and New Line) couldn’t reach an agreement. Earlier versions of the script are also talked about. “On Location: Springwood Revisited” runs fourteen minutes and has all sorts of behind the scenes info. We are taking to the sets where we are shown how the film was created and best of all we get to see Freddy and Jason talking to one another before filming starts. “Art Direction: Jason’s Decorating Tips” runs eleven minutes and is perhaps the best part of the documentaries. Here we get the director and the production designer talking about the sets and the actual look of everything. We are told why the look of the film was so important and how the final decision was made. “Stunts: When Push Comes to Shove” lasts twenty-one minutes and is very interesting. Once again the director explains how all the stunts where done and it’s also interesting to hear that the guy doing the stunts had previously worked with the director on various action films so the two certainly knew how to work together. “Make-up Effects: Freddy’s Beauty Secrets” runs right at six minutes and we see various scenes of Freddy behind the camera getting ready for the day’s work. The make-up artist also talks about the new look of Freddy that he came up with.
Next up is Visual Effects Featurettes, which is broken down into twelve segments. All the segments are less interesting that the production stuff but I’m sure fans will find plenty to enjoy here. On segment called “Blood Drops” shows how it’s fairly hard making small blood drops show up on camera and we get to see how it’s pulled off. Up next is a “Galleries” section, which is storyboards broken down into eleven categories. I’m not really into storyboards but what we’ve got here is still pretty fun to look at. Up next is a Publicity and Promotion segment, which is full of goodies. Up first is the July 15, 2003 Pre-Fight Press Conference, which was held in Las Vegas. This is certainly a stupid little bit of promotion but it’s still a lot of fun. Up next is the original theatrical trailer, which did a brilliant job at showing off the fun to the film. After seeing this it’s really no wonder the film became such a huge hit. Up next are eight television spots and this also features a “play all” option. There’s also a music video, which isn’t too interesting but I’m sure fans will overlook one lousy extras. Up next is “My Summer Vacation: A Visit to Camp Hacknelash”, which is a wonderful little segment. New Line held the world premier in Austin, TX at a massive outdoor screening and that’s exactly what we get to see. The clip is shown like a home movie but it’s fun to see the fans reaction to the most anticipated film in over a decade.
Finally we get to the most wanted extras but I must say you should throw all your hopes right out the door. In the final section we are greeted with eighteen deleted scenes, an alternate opening and the infamous alternate ending. The deleted scenes aren’t really anything special and most of them are just added jokes, which were thankfully cut out. Most of these deleted scenes only run a matter of seconds so don’t expect anything major. The alternate opening is certainly worth watching but I still prefer what was used in the film. Now to the alternate ending, which is without a doubt the biggest letdown. Various horror boards were reporting all sorts of strange endings but the one we have here is so incredibly stupid that we should all thank the director for removing it. There were rumors of various endings being shot but none of them are included here. What we have is something that happens after the fight so the “winner” in the film is no different here.
OVERALL---After a ten-year wait horror fans finally got the match-up they had been waiting for and New Line and director Yu certainly delivered. I know a few fans were unhappy with the film but I think the majority found the charm and excitement of the two legends. This is certainly the best Jason film since part 6 and Freddy has never been more devilish. As for the 2-disc DVD, New Line once again delivers a top-notch product. The video and audio could get my vote for the best of the year and the extras are all a nice welcome. A perfect four stars all around for one of the best discs of 2004 (and it’s such an early release).
Release Date: January 13, 2004