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          Freddy Krueger is in Hell - literally! And like an inmate with a life sentence, Freddy's been plotting a fantastic revenge... all he needs is a little help. In comes Jason Voorhees, the equally iconic madman and perfect means for Freddy to once again instill fear on Elm Street. As the bodies begin to pile up, it becomes clear that Jason isn't willing to step aside.

"Hey Freddy! Go to Hell!"
                        - Lori Campbell

          As I watched the opening of Freddy vs. Jason I was immediately struck by how much things have changed since I first watched the original Friday the 13th. That's because this 2003 film opens with a naked woman. So much for teenagers sitting around the table playing a game of strip poker that never gets anywhere. Besides the explicit sex is nothing compared to the upgrade on the violence, blood and gut quotient and as I watched the rest of the film I was also struck by how strange it was to watch a splatter flick with production values this strong. Part of the charm in the old days was the cheap effectiveness of these low-budget movies. Those days are clearly gone, which is evidenced by a montage in the film's prologue that takes some of the choice moments from previous films in the Nightmare series, all of which suffer in comparison to what they came up with for this one.
          It seems to me that there had been talk of a film throwing together the slasher icons from the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises for about a decade, which is about how long Jason and Freddy had been in mothballs. When New Line acquired the rights to both franchises we eventually ended up with a script by first time scriptwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, directed by Ronny Yu (Bride of Chucky), with old hand Robert Englund back for the umpteenth time as Freddy Krueger and oversized stuntman Ken Kirzinger as the new Jason Vorhees. 

          It is not that the script is original, but it does set up an interesting idea with regards to the "rules" of the two series. The problem is that everyone on Elm Street has forgotten all about Freddy, which is a fate worse than death, because he cannot enter the dreams of kids who no longer remember him. So Freddy resurrects Jason to do his dirty work for him. When Jason shows up on Elm Street and starts slicing and dicing, the locals remember Freddy and the game is afoot. The only problem is Jason continues to kill the kids that Freddy thinks of as "his." 
          This sets up the films two battles between the title characters. Not surprisingly, one takes place in Freddy's nightmare world and the other at Jason's old haunts at Camp Crystal Lake (kill, kill, kill...kill, kill, kill...). This makes for two rather different fights since Freddy's powers are much more impressive on his own turf. At this point the film also has the advantage in that Freddy and Jason ripping each other apart is not exactly a bad thing, when compared to what the two arch-fiends have been doing to teenagers for the first two-thirds of the film. 

          Caught in the middle are Lori Campbell (Monica Keena), Kia Waterson (Destiny's Child's Kelly Rowland), Will Rollins (Jason Ritter), and Charlie Linderman (Christopher George Marquette) as the teenagers who have a 50-50 chance of making it to the end of the film alive. Of course these teens have twice the problems of most kids in splatter flicks because they have to not only set up Freddy and Jason so that one of them will take the other one out, but they need to be able to take down which ever one is left standing on their own.

          The first half of the film is rather standard fare for a splatter flick as the body count escalates, which is really just setting the table for the point when Freddy and Jason start going head to head (more machete to body and razor blades to face actually). Since these are pretty much indestructible killing machines the kid gloves are really off with the violence, and things that would make you close your eyes if done to a "real" human being are now the splatter flick equivalent of a championship fight. There is a tendency to see Freddy vs. Jason as a modern day version of the old Universal monster fests that brought the Frankenstein monster, Dracula, and everybody else in the studio stable together for a romp. But none of those films delivered the big confrontation the way this one does.

          The title along will tell you whether or not you have the stomach for this one. I have missed a lot of the films in each of these series, losing interest after the first several films, but those gaps in my knowledge of the cinematic histories of Freddy and Jason did not hurt my enjoyment of this film, which succeeds on its own level. Freddy vs. Jason does not really attempt to be a great splatter flick, it only wants to satisfy the fans of these two monsters. You might think that is setting the bar a tad low, but this film has no problem clearing that particular hurdle. 

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          - Veteran Friday the 13th actor Kane Hodder wanted to reprise his role as Jason Voorhees in this film, but was denied the role. Ken Kirzinger, who won the role of Jason Voorhees, played a New York cook and was also the stunt coordinator in Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

          - Katharine Isabelle was originally cast as a no longer existing character named Jenny, while Lauren Lee Smith was cast as Gibb. But when the Character of Jenny was erased from further re-writes, Katharine Isabelle took over the part of Gibb, and Lauren Lee Smith was no longer in the film. 

          - Jason Bateman was originally cast as Will, but was replaced by Jason Ritter. 

          - During test and advance screenings, the ending was not added to the film. Instead, a black screen came up saying. "See the conclusion of who wins on August 15th, the release of the film theatrically." 

          - The call letters of the news station shown on the TV in the hospital are KRGR, obviously a reference to Freddy Kruger. It is also the name of the radio station that Glenn (Johnny Depp) is listening to right before he dies in A Nightmare On Elm Street

          - Freddy's "how sweet, dark meat" line is a variation on the line "how sweet, fresh meat" in A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

          - Westin Hills is Freddy's birthplace and was featured in A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

          - The goat seen in Blake's early nightmare sequence is a reference to Tina's nightmare involving a goat in the original A Nightmare On Elm Street

          - Ronny Yu originally turned down the directing job because the script didn't indicate who won. He agreed to take the job when Robert Shaye told him he could make that decision himself. 

          - Robert Shaye the producer of all the "Nightmare" movies (including this one) appears as "Principal Shaye". 

          - The bag placed over Jason's head in the Crystal Lake nightmare is a reference to the bag Jason wears in Friday the 13th: Part 2 before he started wearing his trademark hockey mask. 

          - Gibb ('Katherine Isabelle') is always shown wearing a red baseball hat. This is an reference from Carrie, where P.J. Soles' character would always wear a red baseball cap. Isabelle co-starred in the TV remake of Carrie in 2002. 

          - During the final fight at Crystal Lake, Freddy says, "Hey Asshole!" to Jason. That line is usually said by the "hero" of the other Friday the 13th movies. 




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