‘Freddy vs Jason’ (2003) a retrospect
Back in 2002 horror fans around the world were preparing themselves for a wet dream of Vesuvius proportions. Best of all this euphoric event was going to be a real motion picture, not some fan made Youtube effort. Two of horror’s biggest and most fetishised icons were to appear in the same film at the same time for a slasher first. Freddy Krueger of The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise and Jason Voorhees of the Friday the 13th series would go head to head in the aptly titled Freddy vs Jason (2003). Up until this point these two heavyweights had amassed seventeen cannon movies between them in the space of 23 years. Pitting horror idols against each other as an excuse for another franchise entry and a quick buck is nothing new; Frankenstein, The Wolfman, and Dracula have been at it since the 40’s whilst King Kong and Godzilla were bitch slapping each other around Japan in the 60’s. However modern horror cinema offers two delightfully irresistible factors that make crossovers hugely attractive to producers: A huge adult fanbase with a loyalty other genres can only dream of and, importantly, ever relaxing censorship regulations when it comes to good old blood and guts. So it was finally time, almost 30 years after Ali and Foreman squared up in Zaire, Krueger and Voorhees would finally meet on the shores of Crystal Lake.
Much like that Don King spectacle, Freddy vs Jason would enjoy a similarly lavish marketing campaign, complete with Las Vegas boxing style (staged) press conference and weigh-in. Violence expectations were high and the New Line marketing department was earning its crust. And it wasn’t just Freddy and Jason coming to pre match blows, fans of each camp were discussing the merits of a winner on forums across the web. Horror fans, as mentioned earlier, are a loyal bunch, and discussions do get heated, and yes there are firm fans of not only F and J, but also the other title suitors like Myers, Pinhead, Leatherface, and Candyman. Opinion was split, it was indeed a case of irresistible brains (Krueger) vs immovable brawn (Voorhees).
As the lights went down we, the paying audience, were treated to far too many teen characters with boring backstories and teased with brief flirts as Freddy and Jason exchanged handbags. But after some 75 minutes ‘it’ happened and boy was it was joyously bloody. The crimson good stuff spouting from severed limbs, gouged eye sockets, torn open chests, and severed extremities. The makeup and effects team left no blood squib unexploded. A separated arm was even used as a body piercing spear. Oh how we watched with our testosterone makers in one hand and a beer in the other. What appeared to most as a middle aged genre actor in heavy prosthetics and a stunt man in a hockey mask wobbling through heavy choreography was to the horror fan their very own Super Bowl and Ballet rolled into one. A smackdown to end all beatdowns. After a quick fake-out as to the identity of the victor the two titans, exhausted and ruined, fell side-by-side into the murk of Crystal Lake and we waited with baited breath for a winner, for the answer, for franchise bragging rights. Ladies and gentlemen, your winner by knockout and undisputed billy-big-bollocks of horror…., Jason Voorhees…., No wait it’s a draw.
After all of that emotional investment we were shafted with a tie. But what did we really expect? After all New Line own the rights to both characters. They were never really going to belie one of their hottest properties were they? No of course not. That final reveal can be combed over and debated as much as you want, ‘but Freddy was decapitated!’, ‘ah yes but was that a Freddy induced dream sequence?’ It was indeed a draw. So was New Line’s bank balance the true winner? No way. Come my fellow horror nerds, we were and are the true winners. Yes it was stupid and cheesy with too much time spent on Kelly Rowland and not enough on smoking hot camp counselours, but come on, admit it, it was super sweet. And if it’s the only one we’ll ever get, even though we’d all make changes, we’ll take it and bore countless visitors to our homes with repeat viewings and skip to fight scenes on the DVD menu when we’re drunk. Freddy vs Jason was a 93 minute joygasm to be proud of.