Saturday, November 29, 2014

Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

In the 1980s, movie fans united as one as a voice to the ever-present and deafening winds of Hollywood, crying out for a crossover film between Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees. Film studio executives, being perceptive as fuck, waited until 2003, long after both characters were past their primes, to give fans this crossover. And so now, for all the people too nerdy to watch pro-wrestling, we have Freddy vs. Jason.

Director: Ronny Yu
Starring: Robert Englund, Monica Keena, Jason Ritter

Apparently the idea for this production goes all the way back to 1987, and possibly even before. Like all great films, this went through a rotating carnival circus of new production studios, script drafts, writers and everything else under the sun before finally surfacing as what we have before us now. Apparently one of the old script drafts involved Freddy at one point being a camp counselor at Camp Crystal Lake who molested Jason.

...I wonder how that would have gone. Freddy would be like "Hey, Jason, I once touched you in a bad place!" Jason would be like “....” and then would keep slashing. Only then the audience would just have a very uncomfortable picture in their head, which is important to avoid in a movie about two serial killers hacking up teenagers. So I guess they concluded that plot wouldn't have been very eventful.

Another draft included a cult called “Fredheads,” which sounds more like devotees of a bad 90s pop boy band member. In this draft, there would be a cult based around Freddy Krueger trying to sacrifice a little girl. Her older sister would put her dead boyfriend's heart in Jason's body so he could fight Freddy. This sounds better than the other idea, but it still raises a few problems. How would that whole 'dead boyfriend's heart' thing go? That's gotta be awkward.

“Kristy! What are you doing?!

“Cutting John's heart out! It's okay; he got a stroke last week after eating too many Hot Pockets! I figured putting his heart in a serial killer would be the best way to honor his memory!”

“You need help!”

There was also an ending in which Pinhead made an appearance. I guess they ditched that one because they figured that while Freddy and Jason were washed up has-beens at the time, they were at least better than fucking Pinhead in terms of film quality. I mean even Jason X is better than most Hellraiser sequels.

Well, I think that about sums up everything I need to talk about in regards to this thing. I think it's clearly established now that the finished product is by far superior to all the other ideas that almost happened. So what now? Oh, I know. Let's actually do the really stupid part of all my blog posts where I go through what actually happens in the movie. Ugh. It's my least favorite part of every review, too. I feel your pain.

We start off with Freddy Krueger where he deserves to be, in hell – or rather, a metaphorical extension of the shitty scripts bin in Hollywood studios. He's angry because nobody remembers him anymore. It's okay, dude, you'll be played by Jackie Earle Haley in the remake a few years from now. That will really revive your character.

I know, dude. I, too, feel your pain.

He gets the idea to summon Jason back from the dead too, to go kill a few teenagers in Springwood to make them remember Freddy. Which is really kinda a stupid plan, when you think about it – I think if you have a big hulking abomination in a hockey mask cutting people in half, that will really only make them afraid of him and not you, you weirdo dream-monkey, you.

Then we get our main characters Lori and Kia, who think it's totally cool to talk in normal-volume voices about how much Lori hates the guy Kia is trying to set her up with, when he's right around the corner in the next room. I'm sure you guys are the catches of the century. I'm sure he won't be offended by this at all – which I guess he's not, seeing as he rather creepily puts his arm around her within like a second of meeting...

"Please, allow me to invade your personal space. PLEASE LOVE ME!!!"

Then two of the others, Gibb and Trey, go upstairs to have sex. Afterward, to prove he's hip to all the new fads for what to do after sex, Jason shows up and stabs the fuck out of him. Kind of a buzzkill, but hey, different strokes for different folks.

Kind of a turn off, according to 9 out of 10 victims. The 10th one was just a real freak.

Gibb, in the shower, doesn't see anything that unusual about the blood on the floor, but it's only when she actually sees him dead that she freaks the fuck out.

Lori, in the police station, falls asleep for a few minutes and then wakes up and is baffled at how she missed the fact that the police station was actually doubling as a stage for the fall production of Jacob's Ladder everyone was putting on:

So I guess the backstory here, if you want to call it that, is that when they were kids, Lori's boyfriend Will disappeared, and he hasn't been seen her since then. It turns out he's been put in the worst mental hospital since 12 Monkeys, as we clearly see when they just leave the TV on to the news when a grisly series of murders has just happened – not only would that make them agitated, but in this case, it's also the exact same case of murders that the hospital was trying to protect the kids from in the first place! Safety shmafety. Just let em run wild with firearms and knives if they fuckin' want to. They're all adults, after all!

Will and his friend break out, and go to the high school to try and find Lori. They just break in with no consequences, and Will's buddy tries to talk to them by doing the whole Freddy “one two coming for you” song – which of course freaks everyone out, because Will's buddy has the social skills of a drunk migrant worker on cocaine.

"You can also find me in the drunk tank at 3 a.m. or outside my next serial killing victim's window at 5 a.m."

Will, not to be outdone, merely shows his face and causes Lori to faint and lose consciousness. Wow. What a guy.

He's a real ladykiller.

The police decide now is a good time to act, springing up and chasing the two intruders off the premises. They hide in their super-cool van, which I'm sure they had plenty of fucking time to decorate while doing all this other important shit:

The next ten or fifteen minutes is all about discovering the backstory to Freddy and how the town covered it all up. One of my favorite dumb plot points in this is how all the kids apparently “heard the cops mention” Freddy's name after the first murders. Yeah, real good job there, guys – you spent years specifically trying to make everyone forget Freddy so he couldn't kill anymore, then at the first sign of trouble, you're blabbing his name all over the place like teenage girls gossiping about who they slept with. Come on. At least put in a little effort.

Aside from that, it's pretty much the same kind of stuff in every movie – they discover that Freddy is America's favorite pedophile, who was burnt alive years ago and now comes back to haunt peoples' dreams. Yawn. 3/10 for storytelling factor by way of the fact that I've heard it all before.

Another prominent main character is Linderman, a nerdy, skinny guy whose apparent mission in life is to get Lori to notice his existence. That's difficult, though, because Lori's friend Kia is apparently the ultimate cock-blocker. She compares Linderman to “one of those frou-frou dogs that keeps humping your leg,” because having tact and politeness is her strong suit. I guess, to be fair, she IS right though – the kid's pretty desperate.

The first real action scene of the film comes when the students do the most logical thing when it comes to mourning the deaths of their murdered friends – have a corn-maze rave in their honor. You know, the traditional middle-America send off. It's the Viking Funeral of...well, funerals.

"So are you really just the compilation of every nerdy geek stereotype in the world?"
"Yeah, I guess so."
"That really sucks."
"You're still not going to have sex with me even out of pity, are you?"
"Not a chance in Hell."

At the rave, Gibb gets really drunk to mourn her dead boyfriend and then goes and passes out in the cornfield. She wakes up in a dream, finding Freddy's boiler room in the windmill – you know, the windmill. Where all boiler rooms are located, really. She wanders around for a bit, gets chased around by Freddy, and then locks herself in a locker. I think it really shows my age, though, that when I watch this now, the scariest part of the scene is the glow-stick wearing fuckwad trying to rape her in the real world:

Without the glow-sticks it would be tragic and despicable. But WITH them it's now hilarious I guess...or maybe not. Maybe it's still despicable.

Fortunately he gets shiskebab'd by Jason shortly after. Freddy is angry because Jason stole his kill and Freddy needs those kills to come back to life! I guess it was kind of a dumb idea to let another serial killer loose in your town, then, huh genius? Really not sure what you expected to happen otherwise. I guess this is the reason Freddy Krueger isn't a shining example of entrepreneurship. Maybe he was in that bargain-bin hell for a fuckin' reason after all.

What follows after this is the only true example of the Burning Man festival:

It's not your parents' Burning Man - though, your parents were the same generation that gave us Jason Voorhees to begin with...hmmm....

He kills a bunch of people, but the main characters get away. They just kind of drive home, without any of the shock, awe or reverent fear-of-God terror you'd normally have after seeing a seven-foot tall psychopath in a hockey mask slaughter several of your classmates. Seriously guys – I don't think you really fully comprehend what just happened! But it's okay. I'll assume you're just in shock.

Lori's father is apparently an older, fatter version of Liam Neeson, who gets mad when Lori is driven home by Will, and promptly has to hold back any speeches about how he has a very particular set of skills and will find and kill him.

Here we finally get some of the backstory, as Will tells Lori that he saw her dad kill her mom years and years ago, and that's why he got shipped off to that mental hospital. Lori's dad tries to keep her from leaving, but she runs to join Will. They make it over to his friend's house just in time to see his friend get murdered by Freddy. What a cheery scene indeed. We also see Freddy has been working on his tattoo artwork since we last saw him. I sure am glad he's taken up that hobby.

He loses points for using a Comic Sans-ish font though.

The gang ends up breaking into that mental hospital to steal some drugs that can prevent them from dreaming and, by extension, prevent Freddy from killing them. We see the hospital is engaged in some truly legal things like this, where they have a bunch of patients catatonic hooked up to machines after experimenting with drugs:

They get the drugs, but the problem is, the random stoner character they brought along for no reason gets possessed by Freddy somehow – did he fall asleep while walking? I guess the conservatives were right: marijuana is evil. Anyway, he dumps the drugs down the drain after seeing a vision of a talking slug, and then gets cut in half by Jason. What a way to go, I tell you. My grandfather went the same way.

And no I don't feel like going through the convoluted explanation for all of these seemingly random events.

They then drug Jason with tranquilizers and load him into the Mystery Machine (yes, that's what it's called, even if it's just something I made up). I guess their plan is to wake him up once they drag Freddy into the real world and let them fight. Why do I get the idea the movie's producers were devil-whispering in their ears? “This is the reason you've been put on this make this ridiculous match-up fight happen and MAKE US MONEY!”


So then we get the big fight. It's actually pretty fucking awesome. It's full of machete-slashing, throwing each other into walls and cutting off limbs – it's pretty much like what you'd expect from a Freddy and Jason mash-up, and why wouldn't it be cool? For all the flaws these characters' worst films have, this fight is pretty damn entertaining.

It is. It features moments such as Freddy taking cues from the Knights of Ni: Freddy's terrible aim as he tries to impale Jason with a bunch of strategically-placed construction objects and still can't seem to get the big lunk to stay down: Jason's triumphant Rocky-esque rise from the water after Freddy's discrimination. All it needs is Eye of the Tiger and it's complete.

In the course of this fight, all of their friends die. Afterward, Will and Lori just sort of go off and it's supposed to be a happy ending. I assume the next day they wake up and realize 90% of their class including most of their friends are now dead and that they watched them horribly murdered the night before. Then they probably get sent back to that mental asylum Will was trying to escape from in the first place and spend the rest of their young lives on an alphabetically organized lexicon of prescription drugs.

Yup. Sounds like a happy ending!

Freddy vs. Jason is a modern day epic on-par with the best adventure stories of all time. It is a timeless struggle and conflict in the mode of many Greek tragedies. That must have been why most of the characters died at the end, as it's clearly trying to emulate the bittersweet and bizarre nature of a Greek tragedy. Freddy and Jason, to that end, are obviously homages to the great gods of Greek mythology. If superheroes are our new mythological figures, well, obviously slasher villains are our new mythological monsters. But it's better, because it's Freddy and Jason, and they had twenty years before this to set up their characters and what not. So it has to be better, and my logic is infallible. Don't challenge me!

Well, maybe I was exaggerating about all those parallels to Greek myth. Except I wasn't.

Images copyright of their original owners; I own none of them.