I have to admit I’m not a fan of slasher flicks. A good scare is worth a lot, and I can appreciate anything from John Carpenter’s The Thing to Se7en.
But buckets of blood provoke a visceral reaction in my guts, and though that has faded over the years, it’s a big reason why I never saw more than a few in those hallmark eighties series, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. I’ll take Dokken and DJ Jazzy Jeff and leave it at that for my Freddy Krueger nostalgia.
However, given their dubious mark on the North American subconscious, and the resurgent popularity of horror flicks thanks to Scream and Blair Witch, it was perhaps inevitable that someone would say, “Hey, let’s have Freddy and Jason tag-team a whole new crop of kids.” Thus, the ultimate horror team-up, Freddy vs. Jason.
The movie is a bit more than a sequence of evisceration possibilities. It plays on the amnesia of its expected audience, the current teen generation, and winks at oldsters who remember the orignals. Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) introduces himself and tells the story of how he became the “dream demon” who caused so much grief for the kids on Elm Street. The problem, he reveals, is that as long he is forgotten by his victims, they can’t dream about him, and thus he is powerless. What to do?
Well, naturally, what is needed is an invulnerable hockey mask-wearing machete murderer, on a quest from his dead mother to “punish” (read: disembowel, behead, de-limb) naughty teenagers. Freddy co-opts Jason to visit terror on the Elm Street gang, so they will start dreaming of Freddy again. Makes sense, no?
Well, mayhem ensues, as the new youngsters are stalked by both killers: one who just enjoys hacking ‘em up, and another who keeps pushing them to say his name so the urban legend — and nightmares — will sprout up again.
For any who remember the old movies, there are a lot of jokes at the characters’ expense — they have no idea who they’re dealing with, and the thirty-somethings in the audience can chuckle in a “kids these days” way. “Back in the eighties, we knew better than to challenge the killers. We just ran screaming!”
Freddy vs. Jason
- Directed by Ronny Yu
- Starring Robert Englund, Ken Kirzinger
- Three stars out of five
Originally published in Uptown Magazine, August 15, 2003