Thursday, October 31, 2013

Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

Freddy vs. Jason follows in the schlock tradition of classics like Dracula vs. Frankenstein and King Kong vs. Godzilla, pitting two movie monsters and pop culture icons against one another. The way it introduces the two villains is actually an effective and fascinatingly concise distillation of their basic natures (Freddy haunting kids' dreams, and Jason stalking vice-ridden campers). The intro for Freddy, in fact, is excellently creepy, and better captures his delicately perverse nature than any of the other Nightmare movies (with the possible exception of the remake).

The premise is actually pretty clever (at least confined within the rules of these series): Freddy and Jason both being sort of dead and/or "in hell", Freddy haunts Jason's dreams to trick him into returning to life (because he's just immortal that way), to travel to Elm Street, and strike fear into the hearts (and dreams) of the kids there - because it's fear that Freddy lives off of. And with the Springwood Slasher and the Crystal Lake Killer on the loose, you're not safe asleep or awake. But, of course, once the villains are both back to "life" and hunting the same kids, it's inevitable that a rivalry will develop.

The fundamental question is, who will win, and whose side are you on? Personally, I'm a Freddy guy. At least when he's taken seriously, he's the scarier figure, with the creepier back story - let's be honest, Freddy is actually an intelligent creature with twisted morals, whereas Jason is basically a brainless old testament avenger out to punish sinners. Plus, Freddy's got the whole dream thing going on, which is fantastically imaginative. And, simply put, the original A Nightmare on Elm Street is a much better movie than the original Friday the 13th. But that's not to say that I don't like Jason - I'm particularly fond of the summer camp atmosphere, and there is something about that mask of his - but if we're playing favorites, Freddy's got my vote.

Smartly (and could you really imagine it any other way?), the movie doesn't alienate either fanbase, and actually does a good job of emphasizing each character's strengths and advantages in different environments (namely, between dreams and the real world). Frankly, as cheesy as the very idea of it is, it's exciting to see two such iconic figures together in one movie. And the cross-pollination of the series' imagery and cliches (Friday the 13th's partying youngsters, and the dream-haunted youths of Elm Street) - the pinnacle of which involves a low-life feeling up a girl who's passed out at a party (brilliant!) - is, frankly, quite amusing (in the macabre sort of way). It's a tongue-in-cheek crowd-pleaser, but by those standards, it's pretty good fun. And, honestly, it's considerably better than the worst of either the Friday the 13th or the A Nightmare on Elm Street sequels. If you're a fan of either or (especially) both of these characters, this film can't be missed.


  1. Just rewatched this one... still love it. Villain vs. villain is such an underused concept, and one that I find limitlessly more intriguing than yet another group of hapless kids getting massacred. To me there're few things more satisfying than seeing a true battle between equals, it's an awe-inspiring thing. They really should have done a Freddy vs. Jason 2, it'd be better than any of the remakes.

    Watching this made me realize why I like Freddy so much.... the dude has personality. He's just that much more charismatic. I understand the appeal of Jason and Michael as these enormous, stoic killing machines, but... I just need there to be more on the table than that.

    You know they originally considered bringing Pinhead in for the ending?

    There's also a Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash comic or something but.... no thanks, bringing in Ash ruins the dynamic. One of the things that is so great about a battle between villains is, it's not bound by the typical hero tropes. Let's face it, there's never going to be a Nightmare movie where Freddy kills all the kids, takes over Earth, and lives happily ever after mutilating children. That's just not going to happen. But between villians... it's so exciting because anyone could win, there are no rules. But then ugh, you add Ash into it and you get the same tired old tropes. Gee I wonder who'll win that one. >_> Boooooooooooooring.

  2. I read a comment about that comic on IMDb. I guess it sorta makes sense given the appearance of the Necronomicon in Jason Goes To Hell, but then, I thought that was a misguided direction for the Jason mythos then, too. Pinhead would have been a much better choice, given his iconic pop culture standing, and the fact that the Hellraiser series became a sequel factory just like Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Although I consider Hellraiser to be a horse of a different color, and if it did come to blows, I would want to see Pinhead torture the crap out of both Jason and Freddy. At the end of the day, though, the strength of the movie relies on how well they can blend the mood of the different series, and they did a fantastic job combining Nightmare and Friday. I don't know how effective they'd be throwing another one into the mix.