Back Comments (6) Share:
Facebook Button
For years I was vaguely aware of New Line Cinema’s intentions to make spin-off from their successful A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th series (well, the last two Friday films were theirs), but like many I never thought it would see the light of day. How wrong I was. In 2003 New Line brought us Freddy vs. Jason, which sets everyone’s favourite razor fingered burn victim, Freddy Krueger, against the lumbering, hockey-masked hulk that is Jason Voorhees. Now, thanks to the latest in a long line of Platinum Edition DVDs, viewers will have the opportunity to watch these iconic madmen beat the hell out of each other as often as they like.

These men are cops. They are dumb.

Feature


Freddy Krueger is not a happy bunny. The demented child murderer, once the scourge of Elm Street, has been all but forgotten by the people who once trembled in fear at the very sound of his name. The citizens of Springwood, determined to put an end to Freddy’s rein of terror once and for all, have taken to drugging their children to prevent them from dreaming. No dreams equals no nightmares. No nightmares equals no Freddy!

Freddy realises that the only way to regain his power is to make the people of Springwood fear him again. To this end he resurrects unstoppable killing machine Jason Voorhees and sends him on his merry way to Elm Street, hoping that the ensuing spate of murders will be enough to convince the local populace that he has returned. Sure enough, Jason’s killing spree has the desired effect, and Freddy is soon back in the game.

Caught in the middle of this mayhem are the teenagers of Springwood, who now have to contend with two psychos instead of one. With their numbers in rapid decline the teens hatch a desperate plan, one that will set Freddy and Jason against each another in a titanic battle to the death (if that’s the correct word).

Obviously when it comes to a film like this you’d expect a coherent plot to take a back seat to the ultra-violence, and sure enough that’s Freddy vs. Jason to a tee. The very premise of the film is paper thin, being little more than a series of contrived plot devices designed to get the two real stars together. When I say two stars I really mean one, as Robert Englund is the only true character in this film. Obviously Jason is at a disadvantage, what with being mute and all, but the real disappointment is Ken Kerzinger’s lack of physical presence compared to previous ‘Jason’ Kane Hodder. Although he stands a full three inches taller than Hodder, Kirzinger simply doesn’t have his bulk.

Some 'teenaged' girls. They mostly die...
In keeping with the later instalments of both franchises, the rest of the ‘actors’ are largely forgettable. I was happy to see Katherine Isabelle of Ginger Snaps fame playing the stereotypical drunken slut Gibb, but other than that I don’t have a lot of positive things to say. Along with Gibb we are treated to the full compliment of teenage stereotypes: the virgin, the outcast, the stoner, the jock arsehole, the nerd and the bitch. Speaking of which, it’s clear that Kelley Rowland is out of her depth (and for this film that’s saying something), while leading lady Monica Keena is all breasts and no talent. The male cast are even worse, and I simply didn’t care if any of them lived or died. Thankfully none of this really damages the film, as the teens are largely inconsequential (although they do make good targets for various edged weapons).

Video


Unsurprisingly, given the age of the film, the quality of the 2.35:1 anamorphic video is excellent. Colours are vibrant, contrast is spot on, black levels remain rock solid throughout and the transfer is nicely detailed. There is some light grain, but this can more than likely be attributed to the Super-35 cinematographic process used to shoot the film. All things considered this is highly impressive stuff (as is the norm for New Line).

Those who still resist widescreen (why?) will be delighted to hear that the disc also includes a cropped version of the film. This is slightly less butchered than it might otherwise have been, featuring more picture information at the top and bottom of the frame and only slight cropping to the sides when compared to the usual pan and scan releases.

Audio


Due to the inclusion of the pan and scan option Freddy vs. Jason arrives without the promised DTS track. Thankfully the included Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track is more than capable of delivering the goods, with clear dialogue, plenty of surround action and some very neat discrete effects. The track is surprisingly aggressive from the outset, and there’s plenty of punch at the low end of things. Just listen to Jason’s thunderous footsteps in the opening dream sequence for an example.

Freddy!
Discrete effects encompass everything from thunderclaps and rainfall to shrieks, moans, and other assorted cries of anguish. One of the nicest moments involves a goat (of all things), which is straight out of the original Nightmare on Elm Street. The goat’s bleating starts off in the rear of the soundstage and neatly pans around as the actor turns to face it! As with the video this isn’t quite demo material, but it’s not far off. Additionally, if you lack the necessary equipment to enjoy the full 5.1 mix, the disc also includes a Dolby 2.0 Surround track.
 

Extras


First up we have a feature length audio commentary from director Ronny Yu and stars Robert Englund and Ken Kirzinger. The track is a lively one, primarily driven by Robert Englund, and although there isn’t much in the way of technical info there’s plenty of behind the scenes gossip and some interesting anecdotes.

Moving to disc two we come to a fairly comprehensive collection of supplemental material, starting with 'Deleted and Alternate Scenes'. There are twenty in total, including an alternate opening and ending, with running times ranging from twenty seconds to over three minutes. Presented in anamorphic 2.35:1 with accompanying Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, you have the option of playing everything in order or selecting individual scenes to watch. You can even opt to listen to commentary from Ronny Yu and executive producer Douglas Curtis if you so desire. Aside from the alternate opening there’s little of real worth here, especially the dire alternate ending. I’m just thankful they cut it!

Jason!
Next up we have 'The Production', which contains a number of sub-menus, including a pair of 'Fangoria Magazine Articles', five 'Production Featurettes', twelve 'Visual Effects Featurettes' and eleven comprehensive still galleries'. Obviously some of these are text-based items, but the Fangoria articles, which detail the journey the film took before it eventually made it to the silver screen, are very interesting. The production and visual effect featurettes are fine for what they are, but they’ve never been my favourite kind of extra as they tend to be a little too ‘fluffy’. Obviously your mileage may vary.

The 'Publicity and Promotion' menu contains yet more goodies, beginning with a 'Pre-Fight Press Conference'. This runs for a little under four minutes, and features the diabolical duo squaring up to one another like a couple of nightmarish boxers at a weigh in. There’s even a bloke doing the old “Let’s get ready to rumble” routine. I found this moderately amusing, if only for some of the quips that Freddy makes (at Jason’s expense of course).

Staying with the publicity menu we have the original theatrical trailer, eight TV spots, Ill Nino’s ‘How Can I Live’ music video, the featurette 'My Summer Vacation: A Visit to Camp Hacknslash' and, finally, a 'More from New Line' segment contains trailers for more of the studio’s films. The 'Camp Hacknslash' feature contains footage from a promotional summer camp held for a select number of fans, where the activities include Freddy and Jason colouring in, mask making, beer drinking, a wet t-shirt competition, and end with a special outdoor premier of the film. The ginger walrus (otherwise known as Harry Knowles) shows up very briefly, and the sight of him in shorts is scarier than anything in the film. Thankfully he refrains from entering the wet t-shirt contest (although with his physique he could have walked it).

Finally we come to the DVD Rom material, which offers two additional viewing modes: 'Script Viewer' and 'Enhanced Viewing Mode'. The former allows you to read the entire script with direct access to scenes from the film, while the latter enables you to answers trivia questions as you watch the film. 'The Cutting Room Floor' is one of those editing suite things, which allows you to rearrange clips from the movie and the 'Freddy vs. Jason Soundboard' allows you to listen to some of the quotes from the movie.

Freddy vs. Jason!

Overall


Freddy vs. Jason was never going to set new standards in the horror genre, but as a fan of the Nightmare franchise I found it entertaining enough. Fanboys will lap this up, and if the rest of you go into it with your eyes wide open you’ll not be too disappointed (if you can tolerate the many self referential jokes). Admittedly the film is a little cheesy, but compared to the abysmal Freddy’s Dead this is a welcome return to form for Mr. Krueger. I can’t say I know half as much about the Friday the 13th series, but if Jason X was anything to go by this shouldn’t do the big guy any harm either!

Whatever you may think of the film, there’s no denying that the guys at New Line have delivered another respectable package, with a varied selection of bonus material to compliment the excellent audio-visual elements. That should be enough to keep you happy until the release of the inevitable sequel.


Links: