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Aw, gimme a break

DVD

Back in January 2004, I wrote a review for DVD Times of Freddy vs. Jason, that monumental melding of the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th franchises, culminating in a grand showdown between Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees. Back then, I gave it a 7/10 rating, which on my scale equates to “good”.

The problem, unfortunately, is that the film is not good by any stretch of the imagination. I knew this back then, but was prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt for two reasons: (a) it’s of the “so bad it’s good” variety, and (b) there’s something undeniably entertaining about watching these two icons of the horror genre whomping on each other during the climactic fight.

Unfortunately, this is the moment when, tail between my legs, I come crawling back, wishing to retract my previous review and beg for forgiveness. You see, I rewatched Freddy vs. Jason the other night for the first time in four years, and it’s not so bad it’s good - it’s just bad

From start to finish, this film is staggeringly ineptly written, shot and acted. I understand that writers Damian Shannon and Mark Swift have been handed the keys to the kingdom and are penning Michael Bay’s Friday the 13th remake - which, if true, may do the impossible and make the original look good in comparison. Their script for Freddy vs. Jason is absolutely cringe-inducing, essentially consisting of 85 minutes of painfully contrived filler serving as nothing more than an excuse for the 10-minute fight around which the film has been marketed, and along the way we have to endure a pitifully unconvincing explanation as to why these two villains from separate franchises come into contact, not to mention a gaggle of annoying twentysomethings pretending to be sixteen-year-olds spouting lame exposition and just generally disgracing themselves. Here are some choice examples of the dialogue they spout (handily cribbed from IMDB so I didn’t have to actually make my way through the film again):

Freddy: The only thing to fear, is fear himself!

Kia: Oh, God, y’all, two killers? We’re not safe awake or asleep.

Mark: “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you…” Do you know why they sing that? Because that’s when he comes for you.

Freddy: You’re slow… you’re stupid… and you got no style!

And last but not least:

Kia (to Freddy): So you’re the one everyone’s afraid of? Tell me something. What kind of faggot runs around in a Christmas sweater? I mean, come on. Get real. You’re not even scary. [adopts sing-song voice] Ya not even scaaaary! [resumes normal voice] And let’s talk about the butter knives. What is with the butter knives? You trying to compensate for something? Maybe coming up a little short there between the legs, Mr. Krueger? I mean, you got these teensy-weensy little things, and Jason got this big ol’ thing…

Simply for writing and performing this garbage, I believe that the writers and actors should each have their respective Writers’ Guild and Screen Actors’ Guild cards confiscated permanently. Please note, though, that I use the words “writers” and “actors” loosely. When your cast consists of John Ritter’s son, a Destiny’s Child singer and a former Dawson’s Creek actress, it’s not exactly surprising that Robert Englund, doing the comedy Krueger of Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare rather than the more menacing figure of the original A Nightmare on Elm Street or Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, is the least clown-like of the bunch.

So, seriously, guys, I apologise for the earlier review. I don’t know what I was thinking. All I can say is that we all get it wrong sometimes, but honestly, I can’t remember the last time I got it that wrong.

 
Posted: Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 4:57 PM | Comments: 11
Categories: Cinema | DVD | Reviews

 
Comments

1.

A terrible film!
It should have been done in the late 80s.

Posted by: ARCVILE, March 16, 2008 5:32 PM

2.

"All I can say is that we all get it wrong sometimes, but honestly, I can't remember the last time I got it that wrong."

JUNO...

Posted by: ARCVILE, March 16, 2008 5:42 PM

3.

Ah, now this is interesting. I've not seen the film, but I have a great deal of respect for the reviewer Liz Kingsley, who has seen it and reviewed it.

You would be doing me a great favour if you could have a look at it and let me know your thoughts on it. It's at https://www.aycyas.com/FreddyVsJason.htm

Posted by: Baron Scarpia, March 16, 2008 7:18 PM

4.

Hmm… Well, I’ve read the article you linked to, and while it was a well-reasoned argument, I also think it was a prime exmaple of (I hate using this phrase) over-analysis.

My reading of the film is that it is simply poorly written. Liz Kingsley’s argument, or at least part of her argument, seems to be that it’s intentionally like this. If so, then it’s one step worse than bad. It’s bad on purpose. Just plain bad, I can sort of forgive: at least then, the filmmakers have the excuse that they were actually trying. If they intentionally set out to wallow in clichés and give us the Sassy Black Girl, the Final Girl and all that jazz, without actually saying anything worthwhile about them beyond pointing out that - gee whiz - this is what a lot of horror movies are like, then that, to me, is worse than the worst Scream clone. To the credit of Freddy vs. Jason, I don’t think that’s what it is at all: no, I think it’s just a clumsy melding of two different franchises with the first 85 minutes throwing all manner of clumsy exposition and awful characters at us in order to justify the final fight. I don’t think there’s any real attempt to make Freddy scary again (or, of there was, they failed completely) - on the contrary, I thought Wes Craven’s New Nightmare was a valiant attempt to do that (and it was a truly post-modern, self-aware piece of work, far more so than Scream), and Freddy vs. Jason merely set the cause back by at least a decade.

I’ll concede two points to Ms. Kingsley, though. First, Katharine Isabelle is indeed a good actress. I became aware of her in an excellent little Canadian werewolf film called Ginger Snaps (which, incidentally, takes all the clichés of linking transformation with the changes adolescents go through in a fresh and unique way), which I heartily recommend if you haven’t seen it. So no, she doesn’t deserve to be condemned along with Beyoncé or whatever her name is. Second, the whole cornfield massacre is very nicely done… barring some horrible slow motion shots which look incredibly cheap.

Oh, and I really do love the moment where Freddy suddenly realises he’s in the real world. The “I’ve just crapped my pants” expression on his face is priceless.

Tell you what: once you’re region free, I’ll lend you my DVD. I’d be interested to know which side of the fence you come down on.

Posted by: Whiggles, March 16, 2008 8:48 PM

5.

Well, I moderately enjoyed it. I suppose this happened because I tried to watch it for what it is: nothing else than a pop corn movie made for die-hard fans, who had been asking for this "big match" since the Eighties. And indeed, it is surprising this clash was not done, say, in 1988, when both horror icons were still in their prime.

Posted by: MCP, March 16, 2008 10:25 PM

6.

I suppose it depends on what sort of mood you’re in. I can enjoy bad films provided they’re entertaining, but, rewatching Freddy vs. Jason, I found precious little to entertain me. I admit to laughing at a few badly delivered or inanely written lines in the first half hour, but after that, boredom fairly quickly set in, only letting up for the climactic fight, which is undeniably well executed (although the wirework is a bit much).

Posted by: Whiggles, March 17, 2008 10:53 AM

7.

At least Jason X had David Cronenberg and Jason beating one bimbo to death with another bimbo in a sleeping bag.

If you watch the development history feature on the FvsJ DVD, you can see that New Line spent a huge amount of time and money on the project and the four hundred concepts and scripts that it went through, so the "bad on purpose" argument doesn't wash.

Posted by: anephric, March 18, 2008 9:44 AM

8.

I found it extremely disappointing - which isn't to say I expected a lot, but it wasn't even above-average by the standards of either franchise.

One thing that struck me is that, even though the F13 series as a whole is pretty weak compared with the better Elm Street movies, Jason is a far more effective character than Freddy. Simply because he doesn't say anything, whereas Freddy is a wise-cracking ass.

There's one particular bit that really got my goat - when Freddy says to the Kelly Rowland character "Mmmm, I like dark meat". WTF? What century is it?

Posted by: Philly Q, March 18, 2008 11:04 AM

9.

There’s one particular bit that really got my goat - when Freddy says to the Kelly Rowland character “Mmmm, I like dark meat”. WTF? What century is it?

Hmm, yes, but I suppose he is a mass-murdering child killer (and molester?). Adding racism to his line-up of misdemeanours doesn’t exactly tip the scale for me. I was more irked by the Kelly Rowland’s character’s “faggot” line.

By the way, does anyone have any idea what the deal is with New Line and stoners? Seems like every one of their films has someone smoking the wacky baccy.

Posted by: Whiggles, March 18, 2008 11:12 AM

10.

Hmm, yes, but I suppose he is a mass-murdering child killer (and molester?). Adding racism to his line-up of misdemeanours doesn't exactly tip the scale for me. I was more irked by the Kelly Rowland's character's "faggot" line.

True, but it wasn't so much the Freddy character saying that lne, I was just dismayed by the fact that the writers obviously thought it (and the "faggot" line) were comedy gold...

And interesting point about him being a child molester - the first film, at least, implies it but they stay well clear of actually exploring the idea. Hollywood is a remarkably conservative place - look at Rambo, which is so "controversial" for its body count, but they totally pussyfoot around showing the US hostages getting raped or tortured.

Posted by: Philly Q, March 18, 2008 11:39 AM

11.

As anephric first mentioned, FvJ had such a development hell, I was surprised that it actually turned out quite well. Did you read up on any of the other scripts? Bloody hell, they had freddy and jason worshipper!!. I thought that this film did say turn to some aspects of the Friday and Nightmare movies, and it's alot better than the AvP saga ;-)

I really liked this movie, glad I got the R2 dvd with DTS and no full screen movie on the same disk (which the R1 has)

Posted by: Nadeem Rasool, March 18, 2008 2:27 PM

Comments on this entry and all entries up to and including June 30th 2009 have been closed. The discussion continues on the new Land of Whimsy blog:

https://www.landofwhimsy.com

 

 
 
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