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The combining of popular movie horror icons to make a quick buck is a time-honored tradition in Hollywood. Anybody remember Frankstein Meets the Wolfman? But the idea that a razor-finger gloved serial killer who preys on slumbering teens via their dreams and a machete-wielding hockey-mask-wearing superforce who stalks very much alert and sexually active teens in more tangible environs — including summer campgrounds, Manhattan Island, and even outer space — could encounter one another is, well, moderately insane. No, wait, I take that back. It’s incredibly insane.
Yet the insanity persists throughout the hack-n-slash grudge match Freddy Vs. Jason, a deathly dull, alarmingly violent corpuscle-spouting merger of two modern and moldy horror franchises.
Watching Freddy Vs. Jason in all its super-charged revved-up, camped-up glory, one can’t help but think back, with a certain degrees of fondness, to the original films that spawned all this absurdity — 1980’s creepy but compelling cheapie Friday the 13th (which featured a young Kevin Bacon) and 1984’s marvelously inventive and chilling Nightmare on Elm Street (which featured a young Johnny Depp). They were almost quaint by comparison. And they were certainly scarier than anything that passes before your eyes in this latest — and probably not last — incarnation.
Both series have become a bit of a joke, and pitting Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund, yet again) against Jason Voorhees (stuntman Ken Kirzinger replacing Kane Hodder) doesn’t aid in dispelling the self-parody. Like a starved vampire, director Ronny Yu (Bride of Chucky) goes for the jugular, to the point where he drains the movie of any possible fear factor. Every set-piece is bigger than life, every character — and I mean EVERY character — completely, utterly, entirely expendable. No one comes out of the experience unharmed, least of all the audience, who have ponied up cashola for a bit of “entertainment ” that redefines the term “mindless. ”
Monica Kenna and Kelly Rowland
I don’t feel I’m giving away anything by revealing the key plot points. But if you’d rather be kept in the dark, then you probably should just skip to the last paragraph.
Freddy, it seems, is miffed that he’s been forgotten by the residents of Springwood, rendering him powerless in dreamland. So he implores Jason to rise from his grave (yet again) and slash a few teens in the hopes that the murderous mayhem will reignite the feeling of fear on Elm Street. Since Freddy feeds on terror, he’ll grow stronger, reenter everyone’s dreams, and do a little slicing and dicing with those Kitchen Magician digits of his.
So far, so good. But after Jason refuses to stop his own silent rampage, Freddy gets mad (it seems there aren’t enough teenagers to go around for the both of them) and decides to put an end to He Who Wears the Hockey Mask, drawing Jason into his nightmare world for a battle royale.
It doesn’t end there. Though it should. Four resourceful teens who have not been gutted like product at a fish market revive Jason from a industrial-strength tranquilizer-induced sleep and then lure Freddy into the real world where a SECOND battle royale ensues.
Yes, it’s two, two, two matches for the price of one!
There is no tension to be found anywhere in Freddy Vs. Jason. But there is a gallon or two (or three or four) of blood, particularly in one especially crimson-soaked scene where Jason does a little machete dance at a cornfield rave. And there is only one inventive death — something the Friday the 13th series is known for — as a particularly obnoxious, sex-crazed guy is scrunched up in a stowaway bed. A few Nightmare trademarks are included as well, though there’s only one truly interesting incarnation of Freddy — as a hookah-smoking caterpillar straight out of Alice in Evisceraland.
The film is a case study in requisites: There’s the requisite heroine, the requisite hero, the requisite nerd, the requisite tough black babe, and the requisite inept police force. There’s the requisite hacking of limbs, and the requisite shot-put toss of virtually every major character. Nostalgia fans will enjoy the requisite trip to Freddy’s Furnace and the anything-but-tranquil requisite journey back to Camp Crystal Lake, which lies in ruins, and yet for some odd reason has a stockpile of full propane receptacles. The better with which to requisitely burn everyone alive.
“Why won’t you die? ” a frustrated Freddy shrieks at Jason, who keeps getting up and coming back for more punishment. We, of course, could ask the same of the series. But then, we know the answer to that already: it’s purely a matter of financial gain. And considering Freddy Vs. Jason‘s highly lucrative opening weekend, it’s unlikely New Line will let the franchise die anytime soon. In fact, they may just invite more players to the table. Can’t you just see it?
Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Michael Myers Vs. Chucky Vs. The Masked Guy From Scream Vs. Alien Vs. Predator Vs. The Borg Vs. Christopher Lee Vs. Rosemary’s Baby Vs. Pauly Shore Vs. Ebert & Roeper Vs. Harry Knowles. Okay, now I’m REALLY scared.