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With slasher icons and insane Scooby Doo team-ups, “Freddy vs. Jason” takes what made these franchises so beloved and puts it into a blender.

Freddy vs. Jason

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All problems aside, Freddy vs. Jason is the film I put on when I just want to have a damn right good time. Once you take it for what it is — a very unserious film  — you can truly relish in what this wonderfully cheesy slice of horror history has to offer to the viewer.

As I continue this retrospective look at a B-movie classic, I believe there are likely two camps of horror fans reading this: those wondering how I could unapologetically champion it as one of the absolute best of the worst and those shocked at how it could fall into the “worst” category at all.

Yes, it’s outdated by today’s standards, and it was met with a very mixed reception upon its release. It’s also true that some of the dialogue is borderline insane. The plot is questionable, the characters could be fairly described as one-dimensional, the pacing is uneven, and there seems to be more focus on humor than horror. Changes to established lore and characters from the two iconic series also didn’t sit well with some fans.

All that aside, I’d like to make a case for why everyone should appreciate this silly but satisfying throwback.

Freddy vs. Jason had been a speculated death match for years.

It was an idea that originated in the late 1980s but had a long road to fruition. The film itself was plagued by multiple script rewrites, production delays, and getting passed from studio to studio.

It wasn’t until 1993’s Jason Goes to Hell that we got our first real tease when we saw Freddy’s glove reaching out from the ground to grab Jason’s mask and drag it back down to hell with him — complete with Robert Englund’s iconic, villainous laugh. It was a mere twenty seconds of footage, but it galvanized fan fever and had slasher devotees foaming at the mouth.

Sadly, those rabid fans hungry for the meaty matchup would have to wait until 2003 to get the long-awaited crossover.

The plot of the film centers on our final girl, Lori (Monica Keena), a resident of Elm Street who lives with her father. As we begin, Freddy Krueger is stuck in hell, but he yearns to break free and begin wreaking havoc again.

To accomplish his escape, he enlists the help of another mass-murdering icon, Jason Voorhees. Freddy manipulates Jason into traveling to Elm Street and butchering some unsuspecting teens on Freddy’s behalf. The goal is to reignite the rampant fear and panic that Freddy feeds on, giving the Elm Street Slasher enough power to return.

But you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and madmen?

Of course, everything does not go according to plan.

Who could have predicted that Jason would be such an unstoppable, uncontrollable killing machine? Oh, yes… everyone.

Naturally, he veers off course and refuses to stop slaughtering everyone he comes across. This enrages Freddy, who believes Jason is stealing his thunder and robbing him of the chance to do his own dirty work.

As Lori and her friends witness the carnage around them, they decide it’s time to take action. Knowing they are helpless against these two powerhouses of supernatural evil, they decide their only hope is to pit the two killing machines against each other.

Deciding they have a better chance with Jason on their side, they hatch a plan to pull Freddy into the real world (the same way we see Nancy do the same in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street) so he can face off against the hulking Voorhees. Finally, the two titans of terror receive their long-awaited showdown.

If we’re being honest, there’s a lot that doesn’t work here.

We get unnecessary subplots that slow down the action, squirm-inducing dialogue, and characters lacking the depth to make you care about them. At times, it feels like a parody of itself. There’s even a character who appears to fully rip off Jason Mewes’ character as Jay in the iconic duo Jay and Silent Bob (made famous by Kevin Smith’s Clerks universe).

Mewes hilariously commented on this during the Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy documentary.

Freddy vs. Jason is goofy as hell at times, and it exudes that early 2000s horror vibe with that familiar filter and aesthetic.

“One died by water, one died by fire…I know what we need to do”. (An actual line from this movie)

Ultimately, it feels like a time capsule of the era, which, looking back on it now, certainly does increase its retro charm.

With a successful first week at the box office, reviews and feedback were in, and it slowly became apparent that this movie didn’t sit particularly well with fans. Expectations were likely too high, given that it was 16 years in the making, which was a big hit against this film.

Over time, however, the film has generated a dedicated cult following. For many, it’s at the top of a go-to list of guilty pleasure horror flicks.

It also marked Robert Englund’s final turn as Freddy Krueger, which means it will forever hold a special place in the hearts of all ELM STREET fans.

Sadly, we didn’t quite get the dream match-up we craved, having been robbed of seeing the legendary Kane Hodder’s return as Jason.

Eventually, we would get a revitalization in the comic book Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash, which was very well received. Bruce Campbell even teased there would be a film adaptation, but that unfortunately fell through.

Is Freddy vs. Jason a great film? Arguably, no. However, it is great fun, and it’s definitely worth a watch if you’ve never seen it — or a rewatch with fresh eyes if it’s been a while. The film’s problems that seemed so glaring upon its release now feel charming in retrospect, and it’s almost a treat just to embrace the cringe and enjoy this movie for the popcorn-munching ridiculousness that it is.

It’s nostalgic fun and a perfect time capsule of horror history, best enjoyed with friends.

It also may be the one and only time we get a showdown of this magnitude, sadly, so it’s definitely best to appreciate that a film like Freddy vs. Jason exists at all. 

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