Horrific rivalry hits big screen: 'Freddy vs. Jason'

Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2003

No one really wins in ''Freddy vs. Jason,'' the showdown between horror icons Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees except maybe the manufacturers of their trademark red-and-green striped sweater and hockey mask, which prove indestructible.

More marketing gimmick than a film with anything resembling substance or plot, ''Freddy vs. Jason'' combines elements of both the ''Nightmare on Elm Street'' and ''Friday the 13th'' movies.

The two villains kill everyone in sight before turning their talons er, talents on each other.

Hong Kong-based horror director Ronny Yu (''Bride of Chucky'') fully embraces the familiar horror flick conventions and squeezes them for every possible laugh-out-loud opportunity.

The film begins with a curvaceous young woman stripping down to nothing for a late-night skinny dip, then running through the woods barefoot so you know she's a goner. Later, another naked girl slips in a puddle of her boyfriend's blood after stepping out of the shower.

In that way, it's similar to the ''Scream'' series, which itself was a savvy, self-aware send-up of the ''Nightmare on Elm Street'' and ''Friday the 13th'' movies.

If wrapping your brain around that funhouse-mirror logic doesn't make you dizzy, then watching blood spew from Freddy and Jason's every orifice as well as a few new ones surely will.

Freddy (Robert Englund, in the role he originated in 1984's ''A Nightmare on Elm Street'') is in hell when the movie begins and is incapable of terrorizing children anymore. The adults in town have drugged them to keep them from dreaming, thereby preventing them from becoming his victims.

So Freddy resurrects Jason (played here by longtime stuntman Ken Kirzinger), the machete-wielding madman from over two decades of ''Friday the 13th'' movies, to rekindle their fear.

But Jason gets a little carried away at a rave and massacres nearly everyone, even after he's been doused in Everclear and set on fire. (Must have been the pounding techno music and the glow sticks that set him off.)

Freddy gets jealous and wants credit for the killings himself, which sets up the eventual, seemingly interminable smackdown.

Getting in their way are Lori (Monica Keena), who now lives at 1428 Elm St., the site of the original killings, and her sassy friend, Kia (Kelly Rowland). Lori's ex-boyfriend, Will (Jason Ritter), and his buddy Mark (Brendan Fletcher), had been placed in a mental hospital (another slasher flick staple) for talking about their nightmares, but escape in hopes of stopping the killing spree.

There's nothing scary or suspenseful here; the most shocking thing is hearing squeaky-clean Rowland of Destiny's Child, in her film debut, repeatedly drop the F-bomb.

To paraphrase badly from ''Bootylicious,'' I don't think Freddy or Jason are ready for this jelly but horror flick geeks will eat it up with a spoon.

''Freddy vs. Jason,'' a New Line Cinema release, is rated R for pervasive strong horror violence/gore, gruesome images, sexuality, drug use and language. Running time: 98 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.

Motion Picture Association of America rating definitions:

G General audiences. All ages admitted.

PG Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

PG-13 Special parental guidance strongly suggested for children under 13. Some material may be inappropriate for young children.

R Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

NC-17 No one under 17 admitted.

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