Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Freddy Vs. Jason

Who would have thought any life was left in these 20-year-old franchises? Considering the seventh NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET movie was released in 1994 and the tenth FRIDAY THE 13TH thriller, JASON X, grossed less than its $14 million budget just two years earlier, why would anyone believe that a battle royal between the villains of each would hit #1 at the U.S. box office? But it did, as FREDDY VS. JASON collected more than $60 million in its first two weekends in wide release.

Murdered child molester and supernatural dream killer Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund, of course) is ready to continue murdering teenagers on Elm Street, but can't, since adults in the intervening years since Freddy's last siege have covered up his crimes. Since today's teens haven't heard of Freddy's exploits, they can't fear him and are thus invulnerable to his sleep attacks. So Krueger resurrects hockey-masked slasher Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger, who replaced fan favorite Kane Hodder in a very controversial move by director Ronny Yu) and manipulates him into slicing up a few teenagers, striking fear once again into their vapid little hearts. However, once Freddy arrives to begin a new reign of terror, Jason refuses to leave. Since Elm Street is only big enough for one unstoppable killing machine, the stage is set for a pair of raging battles between these twin towers of evil, one in Freddy's dream "world" and another at Jason's old killing fields of Camp Crystal Lake.

FREDDY VS. JASON is probably the best "Freddy fights Jason" movie anyone could have made. Of course, the teenagers are insipid, plagued by boring dialogue by actors of limited resources, but aren't they usually in slasher movies? Monica Keena (UNDECLARED), she of the Hewittian knockers, and Jason Ritter (son of John), the young leads, are at least likable, which is more than I can say for the rest of the cast, including a blatant Jason-Mewes-ripoff stoner dude. Yu is the real hero here, crafting a surprisingly fun old-fashioned slasher movie with enough arterial spray and nudity to send my imagination back in time to 1983, back when exploitation movies actually contained exploitative elements. I still can't believe how much fun I had at this movie, especially the final half-hour or so, which is splendidly silly. I'm not exactly sure how New Line Cinema bribed the MPAA into bestowing an R rating, but I'm glad they did, since wallowing in the excessive gore and topless nudity provides most of the fun. And since FvsJ is so profitable, you can guess that New Line is already lining up its next monster mash. Hmmmm...the studio also owns the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE franchise. Could FREDDY VS. JASON VS. LEATHERFACE be next?

If you're curious in reading more about FRIDAY THE 13TH, go check out Final Girl's FRIDAY THE 13TH Blog-O-Thon and see what everyone else in the blogosphere has to say.

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