Friday, April 30, 2010

Long Week On Elm St.: Part 8: Freddy Vs. Jason



I have been accused of undervaluing the "fun" entries of The Nightmare On Elm Street series. And to a certain extent that’s true. I can’t help but hold these movies to a higher standard. I can’t enjoy them on the same level that I enjoy say Friday The 13th 1-5 (That’s right 5) because Friday The 13th has never produced an objectively good movie. Oh don’t get me wrong they’ve made some incredible enjoyable ones. But never have they come close to the resonance great horror provides. To borrow a phrase from Stephen King, they give the gross out. They don’t achieve Terror. A Nightmare On Elm Street at its best, achieves terror. So yeah perhaps I have been a little hard on the “fun” Nightmare films.

But then how can you explain the absurd amount of affection I have for this beautifully dumb little movie? Maybe its easier to accept Freddy as fun when he’s hacking up an undead backwoods mongoloid, as opposed to weeping begging teenagers. Its not perfect by any means, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun and its just as epic of a smackdown as you could hope for (Yu’s directed some great Kung Fu films and brings a real sense of geography and choreography to make the final duel improbably exciting).

Pulling together the two titans for a kaiju beat down, Freddy VS. Jason is a delicious slice of 80’s horror smack dab in the middle in the aughts wasteland. And I unabashedly kind of love it.

It’s a movie where even the flaws work in its favor. The cast is fodder, even by slasher movie standards. And with damn good reason as far as I’m concerened. When one watches a movie entitled Freddy Vs. Jason, its not for psychological realism. Its two watch two unholy monsters do what they do best as a prelude beating the shit out of eachother. And the film delivers in spades.

But that’s not even doing the movie justice. As I’ve said what bothered me most about the other Nightmare films isn’t their light tone but their utter lazyness, Freddy Vs. Jason fits in some clever ideas that harken back to the series. Basing the premise on the hypnocil subplot in Dream Warriors in a way that’s actually, dare I say, clever (I mean come on, they even thought enough about it to presuppose what could go wrong) alongside a nice turn on the ending of part one. The concept of having Freddy and Jason end their battle using their opposite’s signature weapons is kind of brilliant. And There are all sorts of shout outs to both sides of the series including the return of the DREAM GOAT!!!

The film even manages to fit in some genuinely creepy moments, the First dream that gets Freddy back in the game, with the eyeless little girls is genuinely creepy. And on the other end of the spectrum Jason gets in some giddy kills that rank among his best.

Everything is played broad here, but its a lot of fun. The “Oh Shit” Face Freddy gets when he realized he’s been pulled into the real world and must now deal with an eight foot tall, three hundred pound undead mongoloid whose mother he insulted mere moments prior, is worth its weight in gold.

The only compaint here are for fans of the fedora’d one. The plot to bring the two together (not a bad one actually) necessitates that Freddy be kept on the sidelines for most of the on goings. He really gets in one kill, and his defeat at the hands of Jason, after dominating for most of the battle, feels like a cheat.

Really though, watching these all in close proximity made me feel a little less sorry for Robert Englund, who apparently took his ousting from the series hard. Sure, it’s a shame he’s not happy. But he got to do serious Freddy one last time in New, and Goofy Freddy one last time in this. Even if he didn’t want to leave the stage, he got in two pretty fine bows.

10 comments:

Emily said...

I echo your thoughts on this film, and the F13 series in general. This is a FUN movie, made for that reason and pulling it off well. I remember seeing it opening night and just having an absolute blast.

The Film Connoisseur said...

Watching this movie in theaters, it was as if I were watching a Rocky movie, with people shouting at the screen "Freddy!" "Jason!" and clapping and hollering. It was a great experience!

I of course was rooting for Freddy Krueger! There is that awesome sequence when Freddy emerges from the water flying...awesome!

And that scene where Jason kills a teenager with a flaming machete? One of the best on any Friday the 13th movie.

I love this one, its fun as hell. Except for that blonde chick, who is so annoying. I hate it when she says "Freddy vs. Jason ladies and gentlemen, place your bets!" I hated that line.

I also didnt like one scene where suddenly everybody starts explaining things by making assumptions, that they quickly take for true. "But what if Freddy can cross over to our world...and what if...and sure that must be it!"

But still, its an enjoyable flick, the fight in the end is legendary, and very satasfying in terms of gore!

That Freddy wink in the end, so cool.

Emily said...

You know what's funnY: I loved the "Place your bets!" line in the trailer and my friend promised that when we saw the movie, she would shout "8-1 on Freddy!" in the theater, but then the line wasn't in the theatrical cut! Pissed me off royally.

Also, I loooooved the part when they're sitting in a circle and totally figure out the exact plot rules based on past movies they never saw. Absolutely hysterical stuff.

Elwood Jones said...

My main gripe with this film, was just that Kane Hodder wasn't Jason, as it would have been so good to have seen the two horror icons, which are Robert Englund and Kane Hodder in the same movie.

Still the fact that at one point they were going to cram "Pinhead" into this movie, really says how much it was about cashing in on the two names. Still I would have loved it if they had gone with thier test idea of having three diffrent end reels with one were freddy won, one were Jason wins and the one which would have worked out like the ending we got. The trick being that the reel would constantly change, so audiences wouldn't have a clue who would win.

Then of course there is my final reel, were the foot of Godzilla comes down and stomps on them both, as the words "Flawless Victory" appeared on the screen....well I can always dream.

Bryce Wilson said...

@ Emily: See Phrenship back on track!

@FC: Sounds like a blast. But that's interesting about "The Place Your Bets" line. I think Puerto Rico must have gotten a slightly different cut then we did. Wonder how often that happens with no one knowing.

@Elwood Jones: I agree its a shame Hodder was ousted from the series. I guess the reason is that Yu wanted a really TALL Jason, and I must admit the effect is a good one.

Its funny you bring up the multiple endings, and The Godzilla foot, because one ending was somewhat similar. Apparently like you said they wanted to bring Pinhead into it. The gag would be that Freddy and Jason go running at eachother one last time, but just before they hit, Chains come out of nowhere wrap them up and Pinhead emerges to ask "Now Gentlemen, what seems to be the problem?"

That would have been awesome.

Planet of Terror said...

Dammit, they need to do more of these? What are they waiting for? Such a fun movie. As a matter of fact, I'm putting it on right now....

Planet of Terror said...

SOooooo didn't mean to put a question mark with that first statement.

Simon said...

I love this movie, okay? It's big and stupid and epic and heads are severed and it's glorious!

Bryce Wilson said...

I'm with you both.

David Robson, Proprietor, House of Sparrows said...

I recall reading that Yu cast Ken Kirzinger as Jason because he had more soulful eyes. The decision paid off.

This is absolutely one of my favorite films in either series, and yes, much mroe a bloody fantasia than a horror movie. I love that Jason's climactic, flaming rampage through a field of ravers is but the end of act I.