Review by J.T. Johnson
ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: August 15, 2003
DIRECTOR: Ronny Yu
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Fred Murphy
WRITERS: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift
MUSIC: Graeme Revell
In the 1980s, both Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger were the reigning champs of ‘80s horror films with movies from both franchises coming out pretty much every year of the decade. Paramount Pictures owned the “Friday the 13th” series while the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” series was done by New Line Cinema. It was actually as early as the ‘80s when New Line and Paramount both thought to have their monsters come face-to-face, harkening back to the old Universal Monster films when their characters would crossover.
The problem was that the two studios could never come to an equitable agreement over the film. Both studios wanted too much control over the project (especially Paramount, which was the bigger studio of the two) and eventually negotiations just fell apart. Things changed after 1989’s “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan” when New Line Cinema was able to acquire the rights to the Jason Voorhees character from Paramount.
The first film to come as a result of the purchase was “Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday”. New Line had already killed off Freddy in 1991 with “Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare”. However, they teased something very interesting at the end of “Jason Goes to Hell” when Freddy’s gloved hand burst through the ground and dragged Jason’s helmet down below, presumably to Hell itself.
This led to the belief that “Freddy vs. Jason” would soon come to pass, but after several attempts at writing a script, the film entered development hell. Eventually, screenwriters Mark Swift and Damian Shannon read all the previous scripts that were written before throwing them all into the garbage. Instead, the two writers decided to focus on what made both films appeal to fans in the first place and on August 15, 2003, we finally got “Freddy vs. Jason”.
I had just graduated high school and had been patiently awaiting this film ever since I originally saw “Jason Goes to Hell” with my dad in 1993. At the time, it was well worth the wait because all I wanted was for Freddy and Jason to beat the shit out of each other. This is a film that definitely delivered on that front. The question is whether or not the film is still entertaining 15 years since its initial release.
The movie states that Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) has been forgotten by the kids of Springwood, Illinois. The adults have made sure that it’s stayed that way because without the fear of Freddy, he has no powers to invade their nightmares and kill them. After searching Hell, Freddy comes across Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger) and sends him to Springwood in order to kill the teenagers so that the town will think that Freddy did it.
This plan works when a young woman named Lori Campbell (Monica Keena) overhears one of the cops talking about Freddy after a brutal murder. This begins to give the dream stalker more strength and eventually, he’s back to his full powers. Unfortunately, Jason doesn’t want to stop killing and Freddy decides that he has to take out Jason in the dream world. In the meantime, the teenagers need to figure out how to take care of both Freddy and Jason.
The movie came out in 2003 and in a couple of spots, there is some shoddy CGI work. In addition to that, there is also some extremely shaky acting, especially from Kelly Rowland as Kia, Lori’s best friend. She is absolutely annoying in every scene that she is in and I honestly couldn’t wait for her character to finally die.
Beyond that, though, the movie contains a cast of characters that pay tribute to both franchises. There are the dumb kids who just want to party and have sex, making them the perfect targets for Jason. Meanwhile, the smarter kids such as Lori try to figure out how to beat the far more intelligent Freddy.
If the plot sounds absurd, that’s because it absolutely is. The movie’s whole premise of bringing Freddy and Jason together to duke it out is already absurd, but it is the fun that the filmmakers have with this movie that makes it work. There are some gruesome deaths for all the “Friday” fans and it is always great to see Englund as Freddy.
There are two major fights in the film, one taking place in the dream world and one taking place at Camp Crystal Lake. Both sequences are just fun as hell and it makes since that they hired “Bride of Chucky” director Ronny Yu to bring the film to life. Both fights are appropriately insane and this fits with the already insane premise.
The movie is definitely dated with the CGI elements and the shaky acting mentioned above. Also, if you don’t already like the idea of bringing these two horror icons together, then you obviously won’t like the movie. However, if you realize that the filmmakers just wanted to create a fun movie and something that fans of both franchises could appreciate, then you might find that you’ll have a lot of fun with this utterly crazy idea of a movie.