Since we have a Friday the 13th coming up, I thought I'd re-post some a few of my old "Jason" related movie reviews. Starting with "Freddy vs. Jason." This was originally for Rockabilly Online.
it’s one of the better horror films of the last decade. A darkly comic
update of old fashion monster rallies, Ronny Yu’s film is the “junk
culture” film at its finest. Visually stunning, fast paced, and
dripping with subtext.
Early on in the movie, we’re greeted by our first image of Jason
Voorhees as he stalks a busty camper in a hellish version of Crystal
Lake. Jason stomps out of a foggy scene like Frankenstein’s Monster.
Indeed, Karloff’s monster never had such an entrance, nor any other
version of the creature. It’s a grand intro you wish ol’ bolt neck
would have had. And it cements Jason as a new cultural totem, soaking
up all of our left over Frankenstein energy.
Ken Kirzinger who plays Jason in this film is of course taking over
for fan favorite Kane Hodder. It’s a disservice to Kirzinger to compare
him to Hodder, as he created a lot of the body language that now
belongs to the Jason character. He does a solid job taking over for
Hodder, teaming with Yu and the wonderful make-up effects to create the
right combo of menace and pathos.
Of course, returning to the role that made him famous is Robert Englund
as Freddy Krueger. Similar to how Jason has become a modern
Frankenstein, Freddy is the modern Dracula. He is a sexual predator who
manipulates the less intelligent monster. Indeed, here we have a clash
of child abuser and abused child.
And, in due course, Krueger is
nastier here than he’s been in years – wearing his pedophilia on his
sleeve. Englund finally strikes the right cord between the nightmare
Freddy began as and the vaudeville showman he became. You can tell he’s
having a ball here where he could have put in a hacky performance and
collected a large paycheck.
The sexualized violence isn’t limited to Freddy though. In one of the
movie/s best show pieces, a dim witted jock is basically “raped” by
Jason’s machete – in a bed, no less. One has to wonder how they got
that one by the ratings board.
Having brought up that point, let’s talk about the characters here for
a second. One of the typical criticisms of slasher movies is of course
the lack of character development. It’s here where I believe some of
our more learned critics have missed the point and probably the appeal
of these kinds of movies. Slasher movie victims fit certain archetypes.
They are relatable enough to the audience, but in the end they exist to
die. Whether this is a major flaw in the genre or not is for someone
better than me to decide. But I do think it’s a central part of the
genres appeal. There’s a nihlism to the slasher genre that can’t be
removed lest it fall apart altogether.
Of course certain genre conventions are observed and we’re given our “final girl” in the form of Lori, embodied by Monica Keena.
She’s serviceable enough acting wise. Easy on the eyes too, attractive
and pouty. But she’s certainly not going to make anyone forget Jamie Lee
Curtis in Halloween – Lori is simply there to move the other teenage
targets into Freddy/Jason’s way. right up to the final battle, which is an amazing spectacle.
It’s there that Yu really pays off the rest of the movie. Monsters have
battled many times over the years, but here we’re given something that’s
visually pleasing in more than just typical gore.(Though that is pretty
nice too.) Freddysuddenly becomes Bruce Lee, while Jason is a Sherman tank with legs.
Both villains pummel each other within a inch of their lives, drowning
the screen in stage blood. Most action films don’t have fight scenes
this well put together.
So here’s the part where I always get asked “is it scary?” Well, not
really, but it’s not exactly the point here. Was Frankenstein meets the
Wolfman “scary?” No. What we have here is a roller-coaster ride with
teeth. And, as that, it works really well. A bloody good time indeed.