Freddy Versus Jason

Reiterating the old adage that it’s impossible to keep a good monster down, “Freddy Versus Jason” resurrects 1980s horror icons Freddy Krueger of “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” and Jason Voorhees of “Friday the 13.” Missing in action is Michael Myers of “Halloween,” but he’s under contract to another studio.


Hinted at during the final frame of “Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday” (1993), when Jason’s infamous hockey mask is snatched up by Freddy’s killer claw and dragged down to hell. Universal often mixed and matched their horror film icons, pitting Frankenstein against the Wolfman, Dracula against the Wolfman, Doris Day against Rock Hudson. Even King Kong and Godzilla knocked knuckles (claws, paws?), so it was inevitable that Jason and Freddy would eventually get together for one final grudge match.

It may have taken a collective forty-two years and more than a dozen films, but “Freddy Versus Jason” is just what the franchise doctor ordered, a healthy serving of sliced and diced teenagers, garnished with liberal doses of dark, graveyard humor. Under the Ginsui knife direction of Ronny Yu, “Freddy Versus Jason” is a tidy, occasionally scary horror film that never pretends to be anything more than what it is.

“Friday the 13” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” have their respective fan bases, something writers Damian Shannon and Mark Swift respect. Instead of reinventing the series (like “Jason X” attempted to do two years ago), they bring together the best of both worlds. Freddy is a killer who could only attack in dreams. Jason is an unstoppable killing machine whose worst nightmare is probably himself.

So what better way to wake the kids on Elm Street out of their stupor than with an evil that can reach out to them beyond their dreams. Intriguing idea, one that gets enough mileage from the writers, actors and director to make this Battle of the Horror Titans worth the trip.

With Freddy safely locked away in the furthermost bowels of hell, the residents of Elm Street ensure his absence by incarcerating anyone with memories of him and retarding their dreams with drugs. Since Freddy can’t make a direct connection with his victims (he should have dialed right down the middle), he channels Jason, ordering the machete-toting serial killer to scare up bad memories for the residents of Elm Street.

There’s a lot of manipulation going on in “Freddy Versus Jason,” most of it on screen, some of it coming from director Yu, who cheats logic for maximum effect. Right, like anyone paying to see a movie called “Freddy Versus Jason” are looking for logic. What they’re looking for is more slicing and dicing than on one of those late night kitchen utensil infomercials. They won’t be disappointed, as some moments look like a tease for something more sinister to come on the Special Edition DVD.

“Freddy Versus Jason” isn’t about acting but reaction, and the cast is more than up to the challenge. Englund seems genuinely thrilled to be back in action, relishing every little nip and tuck, while newcomer Ken Kirzinger cuts a striking presence as the latest reincarnation of Jason. The freshly scrubbed young victims, I mean faces, go from point A to point B with little or no trepidation.

THE GORE-GORE GHOULS

Freddy’s back in “Friday” inspired “Nightmare”

FREDDY VERSUS JASON

Robert Englund, Ken Kirzinger, Monica Keena, Jason Ritter, Kelly Rowland, Katharine Isabelle, Brendan Fletcher. Directed by Ronny Yu. Rated R. 97 Minutes.

LARSEN RATING: $4.00



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