WARNING: THIS BLOG CONTAINS BODYCOUNT. HIGH RISK OF SPOILERS. ENTER IF YOU DARE.

Friday, May 13, 2016

A Friday the 13th At Elm Street: Freddy VS Jason (2003)

Freddy vs Jason (2003)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring:  Robert Englund, Ken Kirzinger, Kelly Rowland


My children... from the very beginning, it was the children who gave me my power. The Springwood Slasher, that's what they called me. My reign of terror was legendary. Dozens of children would fall by my blades. Then the parents of Springwood came for me, taking justice into their own hands. When I was alive, I might have been a little naughty, but after they killed me, I became something much, much worse. The stuff nightmares are made of. The children still feared me, and their fear gave me the power to invade their dreams, and that's when the fun REALLY began. Until they figured out a way to forget about me. To erase me completely. Being dead wasn't a problem, but being forgotten, now that's a BITCH. I can't come back if nobody remembers me. I can't come back if nobody's afraid. I had to search the bowels of Hell, but I found someone, someone who'll make 'em remember. He may get the blood, but I'll get the glory, and that fear is my ticket home...

It's been years since Freddy Krueger ultimately bit the dust in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare and he isn't loving it. Stuck in Hell and desperate to reclaim his glory as a feared and unstoppable madman, he somehow found his way into another slasher's personal hell, wherein a masked juggernaut methodically and repeatedly murders those he deems worthy of punishment.

Said juggernaut is Jason Voorhees, a silent hulk of pure hate and undying vengeance, dragged to into his own eternal forest in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. Thinking Jason is the perfect pawn for his little plan of spreading fear and confusion in Elm Street, Freddy manipulates the giant's soft spot for mum and orders him to visit the town and slaughter a few teens. It was all going according to plan as the youths dwindle down and the adults grow paranoid of the possibility that Krueger is returning, but it all went too far when Jason crashes a rave and massacres anybody he can grab.

Realizing that he needs to stop Jason before the big guy kills off all of his kids, Freddy decided to finish off Jason but only to find out that they might be too evenly matched and the battle between these two horror icons may not be that easy to win.

All the while, Lori, an Elm street teen, finds herself and her friends caught in between the two madmen's clashing. When it appears that they are the only people with some idea of what's going on, they decided that Jason is the lesser evil and must aid him to keep Freddy at bay. When secrets are revealed and more lives are taken, the fight between these monsters may become more personal for Lori.

Ah, Christ. Where will I begin?

I was 13 when Freddy vs Jason came out and at first, I was unmindful of it until my dad pointed out that Freddy was his childhood movie monster and I then realize that Jason was the "boogeyman" I saw on my old TV one time when I was just five. (or so) It seems that these two horror icons were, at some point, a part of my family's pasts and it kinda makes me cherish these baddies even more as I grow older and slightly mature in recent years, for not only giving me something else to bond with my folks, but also for reinvigorating my love for horror movies and making me a bit aware of the existence of slasher flicks. (I only became a full slasher fan after I read my first HorrorHound magazine while transitioning to college. The issue that listed their top 20 underrated slashers.)

So, personally, this is one of the many movies that withstood my test of time thanks to the point that it's really just an easy-to-remember slash-a-thon. Freddy vs Jason is too much of a popcorn movie to be forgettable for its outrageous set-up, cheesy compose, over-the-top violence, and a few shreds of dark moments to keep everyone interested and the tone grim when needed.

One thing I really came to like about this movie, however, is that it managed to bring out the best of the two franchises as we are treated with some pretty decent nightmare sequences that actually felt terrifying despite their slightly cartoonish and often surreal takes, and too loads of gore and humanly impossible murders courtesy of the man behind the mask. Interestingly, it seems that the two franchises have to give up something to make way for the other, in turn, such as Freddy's killcount (disappointingly just one, not the counting flashbacks) and that the plot seems to focus more on Mr. Krueger while Jason is just there to cut up some teens (and the occasional adults) and be the more sympathetic monster among the two.

Curiously, Jason here was given more personality than any of the earlier Friday titles; we actually get to see him react at the presence of his "mother", one moment silently following her orders, then seen standing seemingly ashamed that he disapproved his mum. Then we see him grasping his machete in rage as he realizes that Freddy duped him and, hell, we even find out that despite the many times he ventured through lakes and even the friggin ocean (See Jason Takes Manhattan), Jason is actually afraid of the water and was nearly defeated thanks to this fact.

Fan favorite Jason stuntman and actor Kane Hodder didn't wore the mask for this one, much to many fan's dismay, but I will risk saying as I think I like Ken Kirzinger's take the most from the Friday movies. Yes, this version's felt and look more like a lumbering oaf than a brutish hulk but I believe Kirzinger's got the size right and the slow deadness to his portrayal just added the unpredictability to the monster's brawn and mayhem.

Freddy, in turn, is opportunistic, exploitative and slightly more terrifying here seeing that he is a calculating maniac. We get a good look of how much of a sicko he is as he takes great pride of his child murders, bullies Jason into a world where the big guy re-lives his terrible childhood, and actually molests one of his victims in a rather unsettling display. Robert Englund, thankfully, gave it all to this last and scariest take on the bastard son, successfully making me feel more for some of his victims and, of course, rooting for his grand defeat should it ever come.

The way I see it, this is New Lines trying to bring back Freddy's glory days as a nightmarish monster that meant to be feared (and, for all honesty I think they got it made here), while giving Jason, their newly adopted movie monster, an opportunity to try and connect with the audience as the more rootable villain despite the likely fact that he will have the equal chance of slaying the cast. In a way it works, as both slashers gave something for their fans to cheer upon and they eventually dish out all they could at one another.

And dish out they did; thankfully, the movie paces itself nicely enough to smooth through some of the more building moments, giving us a chaotic rollercoaster of slasher murders and violently disturbing dreams until we finally get to all the punching, elbow drops, beatings, trapping, slicing, dismembering, eye-gouging, and even a decapitation as the two icons spared little time to give the other a fighting chance, or at least make sure that the other is covered head to toe in gore and blood.

In fact, even before the fights, Freddy vs Jason's other winning aspect had to be the gore. It is phenomenal may it be CG or practical, and it actually gets better with each dead teenager, though starting the movie with perhaps Jason's best kill (and the first murder he committed in Elm street) was just genius. However, I will admit that the ultra-violence might also be the film's own flaw as the good multitude of it had dumbed down the characters and the plot itself, leading to some laughable blurbs and head-scratching questions.

For example, if Freddy manipulated Jason to just simply "wake up" and kill, why not just pose as Mama Voorhees again and simply tell Jason to "go home" or "go back to sleep" instead of fighting him to the death? Freddy saw how much will Jason has to just come back to life, what's not to say he would have done the same when he is ordered to stop and rest again whole posing as his deranged mother? Then there's the rushed backstory as to why Lori's boyfriend was locked in a clinic and the plothole of Freddy killing an adult if he was only after kids. This said, it is safe to say the movie was made for the fans and maybe some decent horror aficionados out there, but it is definitely not for everybody, especially for those expecting more than just a dumb slasher.

As the casts are pretty forgettable if not for their death sequences, and Monica Keena's Lori seems too dazed to do anything Final Girl-worthy (Though her cleavage seems to get my attention. What? Don't tell me only Freddy and I noticed?), Freddy vs Jason really is Freddy versus Jason. Upstaging against the other by doing what they do best, may it be toying with their victims and spewing one-liners, or simply hacking and slashing in silence.

Still, production looks impressive (despite some hokey CG effects and a few goofs) and the energy of it all is simply enthusiastic, so I think all was never lost. I believe it is best to just view this with all our noggins switched off and just enjoy two gladiators of horror try to dismember the other, all for the sake of our cheesy entertainment and gruesome mayhem that had been on the works for two friggin decades. Will it hold up? Hell, it's Freddy vs effin' Jason! If your childhood self can stomach Tom and Jerry cartoons, then I don't see how two slasher legends cannot be of your cup of tea? (Unless you're not into blood and guts. If that is so...what the hell are you doing here?)

Bodycount:
1 girl had her eyes gouged offcamera (flashback)
1 male burned to death (flashback)
1 female impaled to a tree with a machete (dream)
1 male seen with a missing eye (dream)
1 female seen with a throat cut (dream)
1 male repeatedly stabbed through with a machete, folded in half
1 male found beheaded
1 male slashed with a machete
1 male and 1 female skewered with a rusted pipe
1 male had his head twisted
1 male impaled by a thrown flaming machete
1 male slashed with a machete
1 male slashed with a machete
1 male slashed with a machete
1 male gutted with a machete
1 male slashed with a machete
1 female slashed with a machete
1 male seen with wrist slits (dream)
1 male burned, face sliced with a razor glove
1 male crushed by a metal door
1 male electrocuted via current
1 male sliced in half with a machete
1 female stabbed with a razor glove (dream/flashback)
1 male hits a shelf bracket, bled to death
1 female hit by a machete, crashes against a tree
Total: 26

(c) Google Images

3 comments:

  1. Happy Friday the 13th everybody! >8D

    ReplyDelete
  2. We rate this the same. Yay us!

    PS - somebody asked me to recommend a site to review their film and I nominated you, but they need an email address for you.

    Hud

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My first screener? Yay!

      If they're interested, it's hkertez@gmail.com .

      Delete