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Freddy vs. Jason: The Slasher Event of the Century—And The End of an Era

Editor’s note: All throughout October, the vibes get spookier and the nights get longer. It’s the perfect time of year to watch horror movies, whether you’re a year-round horror fan or you just like to watch horror flicks to get into the Halloween spirit. This year at Horror Obsessive, for our 31 Horror Classics Revisited series, we’re giving you one recommendation for a classic horror film each day throughout the month of October. What do you think—is this film a horror classic? What other horror films do you consider to be classics, and what films do you make sure you watch each October? Let us know in the comments below!

When writing a film—speaking, of course, from my many years of experience writing successful films—the creative process often is a strange beast. Sometimes, said process is intense and introspective, digging deep into one’s experiences and perspectives to create something profoundly reflective of the world around them. And sometimes, the process is more along the lines of what kids playing with action figures in the sandbox would come up with, having Optimus Prime team up with Goku to fight Darth Vader because man how cool would that be

is a film very much of this second variety, serving as a thoughtful examination of the age-old question of, “How f*cking awesome would it be if Freddy Krueger fought Jason Voorhees in a slasher icon cage match from hell?” But where the promise of a crossover is certainly an easy way to get not one, but two fandoms into theaters—if not to enjoy a film, then certainly so they can go home and complain online to fellow fans about how one character or another got completely butchered—they also tend to be somewhat hit or miss, whether it’s by completely missing the mark for one or both characters or simply phoning it in on the non-fight portions of the film.  

What makes Freddy vs. Jason something special is that it’s almost entirely pure, unadulterated fanservice in its finest form, a film that knows what its audience is there to see and delivers it in spades. Watching it now, in a world where cinema feels overrun by legacy sequels and reboots, it’s a joy to see a crossover film with not a single legacy character shoehorned in or an unnecessarily complicated plotline relating to something that happened three films ago to be found, just a relentless, well-oiled machine of a slasher film. As good as some of the characters that have come out of the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises have been, fans of either franchise weren’t there to see Nancy Thompson trading quips with Tommy Jarvis, just Freddy, Jason, and all the brainless stock character teen meat they could slice and dice their way through before inevitably winding up at each other’s throats. 

Jason facing off against Freddy

Unlike the bonkers early script recently unearthed, the initial premise of Freddy vs. Jason is a surprisingly simple one: Freddy Krueger is trapped in hell after the parents of Springwood have covered up all evidence of his existence, and in order to once again strike fear into the hearts of those who dwell on Elm Street, he resurrects the one and only Jason Voorhees and sends him to Elm Street to do what he does best. Jason’s first stop is naturally 1482 Elm Street, the house where Nancy Thompson once lived, now occupied by the unfortunately named Lori Campbell—seemingly designated as a final girl at birth. 

She’s currently having a fun night in with her friends: the alcoholic one and her abusive boyfriend, the sweet, dumb guy Lori’s friends are trying to hook her up with, and the one played by Kelly Rowland. They round out the central portion of our cast of disposable stock characters, further occupied by “overprotective” i.e. insane parents, cops covering up a dark secret, the new cop who doesn’t know how they do things around here and is sticking his nose into things that don’t concern him…you get the idea. You’ve seen every single one of these characters a dozen times before, but they’re all executed well enough that it’s an entertaining time watching them wind up on the wrong end of either killer. 

With most of the worldbuilding already established and the characters as generic as they come, Freddy vs. Jason opts not to waste time developing either of those things, and the result is one of the most relentless slashers I’ve ever seen. This film hits the ground running and doesn’t let its foot off the gas for a second, with hardly a moment going by without a kill or a nightmare sequence or a new layer to one of the insane subplots being thrown at you. 

And I do mean insane—between the mysterious death of Lori’s mom, a long-lost first love, and a great many teens being forcibly locked up in a psych ward as part of the Freddy coverup, the film winds up throwing about three Friday the 13th film’s worth of absurd plot twists and contrived horror scenarios all for the purpose of keeping you entertained. Not that it necessarily needed the help, thanks in large part to what would likely be Robert Englund’s final performance as the character who made him a household name. Jason might be an unstoppable killing machine, but Freddy is a truly sick son of a bitch, and his appearance here is about as gloriously twisted as it gets.

Freddy attacking Jason with a machete

Say what you will about Jason’s seemingly newfound fear of drowning (and the film’s notorious snub of longtime stuntman Kane Hodder) but Freddy vs. Jason not only does justice to both of its stars, it even goes through the trouble of making the conflict between them one that comes naturally from each of their particular methods and personalities (or lack thereof). It turns out, unstoppable killing machines are not historically known for their tendency to stop killing, and it’s not long before Jason draws Freddy’s wrath by killing someone whom the latter is toying with. 

The end result: one of the most absurd, excessive, wonderful final battles of all time. There’s a teaser brawl in Freddy’s dream realm, but the main event comes after jumping through the necessary hoops to get the Springwood Slasher back in the real world—and up to Camp Crystal Lake, now somehow within driving and/or undead shambling distance. Does it make sense? Not really, but Freddy vs. Jason is a film guided by the principle of “is it awesome,” and dammit this final fight is as awesome as they come. Freddy and Jason tear each other apart for almost fifteen minutes straight with machetes, knives, and heavy machinery, with so much fake blood that it practically paints the air red—supposedly, the special effects team asked director Ronny Yu if the fake blood should be ordered in buckets or gallons, and he instead insisted on gasoline barrels.

But Freddy vs. Jason wasn’t just the premiere crossover event of the slasher genre, it was also very much the end of an era, serving as the final film in the original continuity of both the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises. Both have since been rebooted to…less than desired results, but for many people, this was the end of the line—if not for Freddy or Jason, then certainly for the glory days of either franchise. 

And you know what? It couldn’t have ended in a better way. Freddy vs. Jason was the big, dumb, glorious cage match from hell that fans had dreamed of since the end of Jason Goes To Hell—and it’s a damn fine slasher film to boot.

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Posted by Timothy Glaraton

College graduate. Horror enthusiast. Writer of things.

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