Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Why I like Freddy Vs. Jason

Why I like Freddy vs. Jason

1) I first asked Kane Hodder about Freddy vs. Jason while he made an appearance with Linda Blair at some local Halloween carnival. I'd just gotten into horror in a big way, and Jason Voorhees was my big heeeero. Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday had just come out an the film ended with Freddy Krueger's gloved hand reaching up from hell to retrieve the iconic hockey mask. I was all of eleven years old and a lifetime of superhero books engrained a love of the superfight. Hodder said that the film was in development, but it didn't come out until well after I graduated high school.  I wasn't disappointed.

2) I'm ultimately a Jason guy. Jason is my Frankenstein. He's ultimately pitiable, if you're willing to be reaaaaally generous about his origin story. Freddy is fun, but he's a harder guy to like. He's the bully. The whole child molestation thing also doesn't help much.

3) I got really into following the development of the movie on the internet. Multiple scripts had been written, some with really farcical ideas on how the two characters should battle. They finally turned in a script that made neither slasher the "good guy" but gave them plausible reasons to come into conflict. The movie ultimately feels more like a Nightmare film than a Friday film, but it works, in it's own overly complicated way.  It's perhaps a little too invested in tying the mythos of both movies together, but it also understood Jason's appeal. They knew he has a big, dumb, lost kid gone bad. 

4) Freddy vs. Jason isn't particularly scary per se but it has some astonishing nightmarish images, in particular Mark's nightmare visit from his dead brother. The film bears the distinct touch of legendary Hong Kong director Ronny Yu. I got into pre-takeover Hong Kong action cinema after seeing John Woo's Hard Boiled and I loved Yu's wild fantasy film The Bride With White Hair. Yu works in vivid colors and operatic fights, which made him ideal for the FvJ comic book battles.

5) A lot of the plot is actually pretty clunky and the lead characters come off as more weird than anything else, but the set pieces are cool. Krueger's boiler room looks like a nightmarish hellscape, the flashback scenes of Camp Crystal Lake establish the brutality we've long suspected was part of Jason's childhood, and the portrayal of Freddy's corruption of Jason's mother all flesh out the mythology of both characters brilliantly. 

6) Say what you will about everything that came before, the final fight between Freddy vs. Jason does not disappoint. It's one part pro-wrasslin', one part superhero battle, with a dash of Hong Kong wire work for flavor. They ditched Hodder, the best Jason actor, over stuntman Ken Kirzinger. Kirzinger towers over Robert England, and they make a great visual contrast. The battle nearly tears Crystal Lake in two, and the addition of the nearby construction site gives them a bunch of stuff to hit each other with. 

7) Jason wins. I don't care about the final knowing wink to the audience, there's one guy walking out of the lake at the end of the movie. 

Conclusion: It's often said that the death of a monster is either parody or fighting other monsters. Freddy vs. Jason obviously falls into the grand tradition of all the great Frankenstein/Dracula/Wolfman mashup. Both Freddy and Jason had their final pre-Platinum Dunes hurrah and it fulfilled every boyhood dream of mine.         


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