Freddy vs Jason (New Line 2003)
Freddy vs Jason, the crossover between the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th franchises, received its premiere on the 13th of August, 2003.
The premise of Freddy vs Jason had originally been mooted in 1987 after fans requested a “battle royale” between the two modern horror icons; however, New Line and Paramount were unable to agree on a way to bring the two franchises together. As time passed, the rights to the characters changed hands and various sequels were released, in the case of Jason X (2002) as a stopgap to prevent Jason Voorhees from being forgotten by fans.
Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger) prepares for a nightmarish onslaught in Freddy vs Jason (New Line 2003)
This lengthy period of missed opportunities and disputes resulted in eighteen scripts from more than a dozen writers being discarded, but many would argue that the results were worth it. Freddy vs Jason is a non-stop slash-fest which works hard to combine the best elements of both series, from the night terrors of the Freddy franchise to the rural horror of Crystal Lake.
Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) gives as good as he gets in Freddy vs Jason (New Line 2003)
The story of Freddy vs Jason begins with Freddy Krueger’s loss of power as he is forgotten by the new generation of teens in his old slashing ground of Springwood. From his prison in hell, he unleashes Jason Voorhees on a killing spree in order to frighten the residents and restore his strength. However, the plan goes rather too well, and when Jason’s efficiency threatens to rob the newly-empowered Freddy of potential victims, the two mass murderers turn on one another, with a group of teenagers caught in the middle.
Original poster for the theatrical release of Freddy vs Jason (New Line 2003)
Though the hormonally-charged teens (including R&B star Kelly Rowland in her first acting role) may seem like predictable slasher fodder, Freddy vs Jason challenges viewers’ expectations by creating a variety of dynamics between the predators and prey. The action shifts from Springwood to Crystal Lake, and between the worlds of consciousness and dreams, as the plucky teens play the two killers off against each other.
A brooding Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger) contemplates the battle to come in Freddy vs Jason (New Line 2003)
While Robert Englund donned the familiar striped pullover and clawed glove for the role of Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees’ hockey mask was donned not by fan favourite Kane Hodder, but instead handed to Ken Kirzinger, a stuntman who had doubled for Hodder in Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989). Conflicting reports, from Hodder and Kirzinger themselves as well as from Freddy vs Jason crew including director Ronny Yu, prevent the possibility of establishing exactly who made the unpopular decision, indicating that anyone involved in the process is keen to avoid bearing both responsibility and the brunt of fans’ resentment.
Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger), ready for battle, in Freddy vs Jason (New Line 2003)
Freddy vs Jason was pigeonholed by critics as standard slasher fare. However, its popularity with fans – not to mention its grossing over 82 million dollars within three months – marks it as a fitting end to both franchises in their original forms: in subsequent years, both A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th would be rebooted for a new generation of horror lovers.