Freddy Vs. Jason!

Posted by drew On August - 14 - 20103,432 views

In honor of today being “Friday the 13th” I figured it was a good time to roll out my thoughts on this here flick. My stance on this much-hyped, highly successful but critically panned monster mash is fairly controversial. Not only do I think it’s one of the better moves in either of the represented franchises, but I think
it’s one of the better horror films of the last decade. A darkly comic update of old fashion monster rallies, Ronny Yu’s film is the “junk culture” film at its finest. Visually stunning, fast paced, and dripping with subtext.

Early on in the movie, we’re greeted by our first image of Jason Voorhees as he stalks a busty camper in a hellish version of Crystal Lake. Jason stomps out of a foggy scene like Frankenstein’s Monster. Indeed, Karloff’s monster never had such an entrance, nor any other version of the creature. It’s a grand intro you wish ol’ bolt neck would have had. And it cements Jason as a new cultural totem, soaking up all of our left over Frankenstein energy.

Ken Kirzinger who plays Jason in this film is of course taking over for fan favorite Kane Hodder. It’s a disservice to Kirzinger to compare him to Hodder, as he created a lot of the body language that now belongs to the Jason character. He does a solid job taking over for Hodder, teaming with Yu and the wonderful make-up effects to create the right combo of menace and pathos.

Of course, returning to the role that made him famous is Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger. Similar to how Jason has become a modern Frankenstein, Freddy is the modern Dracula. He is a sexual predator who manipulates the less intelligent monster. Indeed, here we have a clash of child abuser and abused child. And, in due course, Krueger is
nastier here than he’s been in years – wearing his pedophilia on his sleeve. Englund finally strikes the right cord between the nightmare Freddy began as and the vaudeville showman he became. You can tell he’s having a ball here where he could have put in a hacky performance and collected a large paycheck.
The sexualized violence isn’t limited to Freddy though. In one of the movie/s best show pieces, a dim witted jock is basically “raped” by Jason’s machete – in a bed, no less. One has to wonder how they got that one by the ratings board.

Having brought up that point, let’s talk about the characters here for a second. One of the typical criticisms of slasher movies is of course the lack of character development. It’s here where I believe some of our more learned critics have missed the point and probably the appeal of these kinds of movies. Slasher movie victims fit certain archetypes. They are relatable enough to the audience, but in the end they exist to die. Whether this is a major flaw in the genre or not is for someone better than me to decide. But I do think it’s a central part of the genres appeal. There’s a nihlism to the slasher genre that can’t be removed lest it fall apart altogether.

Here it’s represented almost perfectly. The human characters are basically demolished by Jason, while Freddy grows angrier and angrier at his own impotence. The monsters are indeed the stars here, and Yu clearly loves them way more than his teenage victims, who are lucky if they get a snarky remark before they meet their end.

Of course certain genre conventions are observed and we’re given our “final girl” in the form of Lori, embodied by Monica Keena. She’s serviceable enough acting wise. Easy on the eyes too, attractive and pouty. But she’s certainly not going to make anyone forget Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween – Lori is simply there to move the other teenage
targets into Freddy/Jason’s way. right up to the final battle, which is an amazing spectacle.
It’s there that Yu really pays off the rest of the movie. Monsters have battled many times over the years, but here we’re given something that’s visually pleasing in more than just typical gore.(Though that is pretty nice too.) Freddy
suddenly becomes Bruce Lee, while Jason is a Sherman tank with legs. Both villains pummel each other within a inch of their lives, drowning the screen in stage blood. Most action films don’t have fight scenes this well put together.
So here’s the part where I always get asked “is it scary?” Well, not really, but it’s not exactly the point here. Was Frankenstein meets the Wolfman “scary?” No. What we have here is a roller-coaster ride with teeth. And, as that, it works really well. A bloody good time indeed.

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