It’s Friday the 13th for the second time in 2 months. As Ohio is still in the thralls of winter, the threat of Jason stalking me is minimal. However, if fans get their way, the next Friday the 13th film just may be a winter themed classic. I understand the aesthetic appeal of a winter F13, but what is it really going to add to the series (except instead of a twig snapping…we’ll hear snow crunching!!!)? Of course, anything will be better than the rumored found footage route that was and is still being touted by studio execs.
A bout of insomnia woke me up early today, and it just felt like a Freddy vs Jason day. FvJ seems to be one of the most contentious films in either character’s series. Some fans love it. Some hate it. But most fans can agree on one thing: It emotes a strong reaction one way or the other. I happen to come out on “Love It” side, and I have to ask…Why such hate for Freddy vs Jason?
Freddy vs Jason was a mere dream of fans in the 1990s, and a complete nightmare for studios in the 1980s. The Nightmare on Elm Street series concluded on a sour note in 1991. While horror fans mourned, the rest of the world agreed the series had gone stale. In fact, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare was horribly acted, written, and left the audience wondering how such a larger than life character could meet such a horrible finale (Freddy was killed by being pulled from a dream into reality…a concept explored in the original). The Dream Master and The Dream Child had completely diffused this option as Freddy hunted in reality and dreams in both of those films. It seemed like the lines were already being blurred between the two states by some force, so why go back to the original? Why not go into some realm where the residents of Springwood were in a perpetual nightmare area? Yeah…it would have felt like an episode of Buffy probably, but that show proved that thinking outside the box can really be memorable….just look at Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.
Jason met a similar fate in 1993. When fans showed up to see Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, they nearly choked on their popcorn when Jason’s body was completely torn apart by an FBI grenade…before the credits were five minutes old. We were subjected to watch forced heart transfusions through mouths while Jason was delegated to appearances in the mirror (while some actor did his/her best impression of copying his movements and demeanor). It, too, was not warmly received…but it’s ending scene was: A dog uncovers Jason’s trademark mask and Freddy’s glove pulls it down to hell!
Now, let’s rewind a bit: New Line and Paramount had been trying to make a Freddy vs Jason movie as early as 1987. However, both studios wanted creative control with characters so negotiations kept faltering. Due to the box office flop of Jason Takes Manhattan, film rights went back to its original producers (who promptly sold them to New Line). But Wes Craven,by making New Nightmare, pushed everything back. Had Craven not made New Nightmare, Jason Goes to Hell may never have been made. New Line did it to retain rights on the franchise. As production continued to be stalled, Jason X was commissioned to bide time as well.
It took 15 years for the studio to finally start production on Freddy vs Jason. Because of the box office failure regarding Jason X, the President of Production resigned and the franchise was considered dead. But like the slasher villain, you just can’t keep him down…
If you really want to have some fun this Friday the 13th, go back and read some of the script drafts for Freddy vs. Jason. (You can find many here.). Jason was always the character more fans identified yet. In most versions, Jason is almost given a pass for his past transgressions. What is most prominent in all of these scripts, however, is the complete misunderstanding of canon…for either franchise. Luckily, that is when writers Mark Swift and Damian Shannon came up with theirs.
Let’s take a look at what we got in Freddy vs Jason:
- FvJ ignores the “finale” films and sets up both characters in believable fashion: Freddy has been forgotten. Jason is lying in a bank of Crystal Lake (sleeping). In fact, the entire set up and reason the two end up fighting it out makes sense.
- One of Jason’s most memorable kills happens right out of the gate: Trey is folded in half after being repeatedly stabbed. And then…Jason just goes on a killing spree for the first half of the movie. His body count is higher in Freddy vs Jason than any other F13 film.
- Freddy has been reimagined into a more demon-like being. While he only gets credited for one kill, he chews up screen time while reverting back to the “not-too-over the top” Freddy we loved earlier in franchise. He’s more cunning, and lives for the kill.
- We get a dream fight and we get a real world fight. Both are just about everything we wanted and dreamed about. Freddy gets to wield Jason’s machete, while Jason wields Freddy’s arm. It’s appropriate, and well appreciated.
Now, while I do love the film and find it to be one of the most re-watchable films in the series, it does have it flaws:
- CGI- Ugh. Everything is CGI. It’s distracting. I understand it for the dream sequences, but blood spatter should ALWAYS be real.
- Freddy gets one kill, and it’s CGI! I understand the idea behind the shot, but I want to see Freddy slashing and a shot of the body afterward.
- Freddy’s powers are inconsistent. He pulls off Kia’s nose in a dream but the nose is still there in reality. However, when he attacks Blake moments before, his hand passes through him without effect. He may be getting stronger, but Mia’s nose scene feels out of place.
- No Kane Hodder. Jason was replaced for this film due to Kane’s height, but it was reported he was given an initial draft of the script before Ronny Yu cast Ken Kirzinger.
Check out Chewie’s review of FvJ – Freddy Vs. Jason (2003) – Horror Icons Face Off