Horror review: Freddy vs. Jason

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 21, 2003

I think I’ve seen every Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street movie ever made. I’m not proud of that; in fact, I’m kind of ashamed. As the Straight’s on-call horror reviewer, I’ve had to view some of these films as part of the job, but in the ’80s I’d actually watch them without the incentive of a freelance cheque.

Back then, there was something taboo about seeing a movie that the high ’n’ mighty B.C. film classifier had branded as “completely concerned with gory violence”. Also—in 1980 and ’84, respectively—Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger were newcomers to the slasher scene, so there was still the distinct possibility that they could be offed at some point, which kept things semi-interesting.

This was before they became established as unstoppable killers who’d return to theatres again and again, 17 times between the two of them.

At the end of 1993’s Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (yeah, right), the familiar razor-fingered glove of Freddy bursts out of the ground to snatch away Jason’s trademark goalie mask. That year, New Line Cinema bought the rights to the Friday the 13th franchise, and the studio was quick to drop hints of a matchup between Voorhees and its own dream-stalking madman, Krueger. A decade later, that idea has finally been realized with the Vancouver-shot Freddy vs. Jason.

But does anybody care anymore?

First-time screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift manipulate the back stories of both series to create a hokey scenario where Freddy (who’s in hell) resurrects Jason (who’s “sleeping” in a graveyard) by slipping into his dreams and sending him on a murderous mission. Much machete-induced carnage ensues, leading to the titular showdown, but along the way you’ll shake your head in disbelief at the nonsensical plot machinations and idiotic character motivations required to bring the two terror titans together.

There are some pretty cool visuals on display, though, like when a torched Jason (local stuntman-actor Ken Kirzinger) tracks a victim through a cornfield, spreading a swath of flame, or when Freddy (Robert Englund) springs from underwater to menace the foxy heroine (Dawson’s Creek’s Monica Keena) on a lakeside pier.

The movie was directed by Ronny Yu, whose Hollywood horror credits include the impressive Child’s Play sequel Bride of Chucky. Too bad he didn’t just go ahead and make Freddy vs. Jason vs. Chucky, so we could have seen that freaky little doll hacking away at the other combatants’ ankles with his trusty butcher knife.

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