Freddy vs. Jason

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By Mark Ramsey | 2003/08/17

More than anything else, Freddy vs. Jason is an opportunity to wear that black tee shirt I save for special occasions like Marilyn Manson listening parties and skirmishes with the law.

In its debut weekend, Freddy vs. Jason is number one at the box office which proves the power of targeting moviegoers with outstanding warrants.

Although this icon was once a box office powerhouse, his movies have stiffed for years and he has been forgotten. Yes, I mean you, Kevin Costner. “When it comes right down to it,” explains Kevin, “whether you’re a relentless killing machine or a relentlessly dull machine you’re still fatal.” Jason has his machete, Freddy has his finger-blades, Costner has his Whitney Houston.

freddyjason_CN-51-06.jpgDeadly, one and all.

If you forget Freddy Kreuger you won’t fear him. “Being dead wasn’t a problem,” Freddy says, “but being forgotten, that was a bitch!” Show me anyone in Hollywood who doesn’t believe that, and I’ll show you Faye Dunaway.

Like Tom Green, neither Freddy nor Jason can support their own movie any more. Sensing the same opportunity that once pitted Frankenstein against the Wolfman and Ben Affleck against Jennifer Lopez, New Line, a proud tentacle of the AOL Time Warner behemoth and owner of both the Freddy and Jason franchises, here sets them against each other.

“All that’s missing is Lizzie McGuire,” said New Line head Robert Shaye. “Who wouldn’t like to see that button-nosed head roll?”

So here’s the logic, flimsy as it is: Freddy must awaken and tag-team with Jason to make the youth of Elm Street remember him, thus allowing him to regain his power to enter their dreams and tear them to shreds. So the residents of Elm Street spend the whole movie trying to remember while I spend it trying to forget. Time must indeed be relative because these are the longest 90 minutes of my life.

Jason’s mom returns from the dead, although her original teeth don’t return with her. And she delivers every line at the volume of 11. “You’ve just been sleeping!!!” she yells at him as he twists his head like a befuddled dog. “Go to Elm Street!!!” she screams, and as she zips off, her teeth cackle in place before darting after her.

Road Runner, beep, beep.

All the clichés are firmly in place. You have an otherwise naked high school girl, running through the woods in a loose fitting shirt with only the bottom two buttons done because when you’re nude, God forbid any murderous psychopath should see your navel. She trips, she falls. Hey, it’s hard to see where you’re going when midnight looks like noon through a blue filter.

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The inevitable plays out with all the certainty fitting a loose collection of 20-year-old horror clichés. Lest you think otherwise, there are moral lessons aplenty. Namely, smoking, drinking, drugs, nudity, sex, and looking exceptionally hot are likely to get you killed. In other words, film critics and clarinet players will outlive you all!

This movie is full of funny lines that don’t know it: “My best friend was just killed, dad. So how about giving me some space?!” And then there’s easily the most unintentionally funny line ever to emerge from characters residing in a psychiatric center:

“Look around you, man, we’re institutionalized!”

“Don’t be a total cocksmith!” one teen yells at her arrogant boyfriend. What kind of slam is that? Is there no honor in being a smith who forges cocks? Someone needs to forge the cocks, people!

What’s that? Destiny’s Child Kelly Rowland is living on Elm Street?! Kelly is very nearly forced to give mouth-to-mouth to Jason which is only slightly less shocking that Courtney Cox giving it to David Arquette. This child’s destiny just took a U-turn.

“What’s with the butter knives,” she taunts Freddy. “You trying to compensate for something?” Well, after an hour and a half of this crap, I can assure you the answer is a big “yes.”

Things go from bad to worst when Freddy takes Jason into dreamland and pelvic thrusts him, clanging like a pinball, around the furnace room. I yearned for the exit like Tara Reid for a shot glass.

Much to my chagrin – and quite contrary to the claims of the folks who made this movie – there is no unambiguous winner. Closure is a sure way to kill a franchise, and anyone expecting it should have his head examined – especially if it’s a disembodied one winking at the audience.

Nope. Permanently extinguishing either Freddy or Jason means taking an angry call from the pencil-pushers at Corporate. “Mediocrity and shareholder value are inextricably related,” says New Line head Shaye. “There’s no ‘show’ in ‘show business.’”

“This is messed up!” said Kelly Rowland.

You go, girl.


Photos Copyright ©2003 New Line Cinema

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