Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Freddy vs. Jason vs. Spoodles: A Date With Destiny

I'm finally killing Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees once and for all this afternoon: I'm finishing my month-long horror-movie marathon. What kind of content will this site have once I'm done? Hell if I know.

Wes Craven's New Nightmare is the final movie in the Nightmare series proper, and what a fitting send-off it is. The film takes the tired Elm Street formula and turns it on its head, creating one of the scariest films in the franchise (second only to the original).

The conceit of this film is that we are now in the REAL world. The actress who played Nancy in the first and third installments is back, but this time she is playing the actress who played Nancy. Robert England (nee Freddy Krueger) appears in the flesh, as does director Wes Craven. Nancy...er...Heather is haunted by dreams (not to mention creepy phone calls) that Freddy has become real. The reasoning is well thought out (at least for a movie that involves multiple impalings).

Freddy is back--kind of--although it's not the same Freddy we've come to know and loathe in the five prior sequels. This Freddy doesn't have time for quips, video games, or pizza pies. Garbed in a new, black trenchcoat, he's all business, and he's scary as hell. Given the new level of gravitas in this film, I'm reasonably satisfied despite the minimal amount of gore and death.

Sure, one man is slashed across the chest. And another is given the same treatment as Nancy's friend in the first film. But the only really inventive sequence isn't actually a kill at all. Heather's child is attempting to cross the freeway in a surprisingly-well-filmed and intense scene, and Freddy dangles the boy above cars in front of his frightened mother's eyes.

That's right. For the first time, Krueger does what he was meant to do: he haunts and attempts to kill a child. While child actors have a tendency to virtually suck the life out of any movie in a hurry (see: The Lost World: Jurassic Park; The Phantom Menace; The Mummy Returns, etc.), New Nightmare remains unscathed and actually benefits from the talent of its creepy little bugger. Of course, this is partially due to the kid in question: precocious Full House smartass and Kindergarten Cop know-it-all Miko Hughes. Boys have a penis and girls have a ba-gina indeed, Miko.

New Nightmare is a more-than-fitting end to the Elm Street series, and it's a shame that some schlub goalie is about to make Freddy Krueger his bitch.

We have had many epic battles in our time--Tyson vs. Holyfield; Brown vs. the Board of Education--but none were quite so gloriously bloody as Jason vs. Freddy, the ultimate horror clash (until they find a way to work Michael Myers in there). Freddy has been dormant for four years because everybody has forgotten about him, so he culls Jason Voorhees from the depths of hell in order to wreak chaos and inspire fear on Elm Street until we have approximately forty-too-many words of exposition without any blood splatter.

As a film, Vs. is not exactly high art (even by the standards of the ten Fridays and seven Nightmares). The last ten minutes of this film alone contains more blood and gore than any of the predecessors' entire movies. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Really, Freddy vs. Jason is the best of both worlds. You have the brute-strength slaughters of the inimitable Mr. Voorhees, but you also get the creepy, dreamlike maulings of our man Krueger. In other words, if you're tired of somebody's face being eaten by a giant, pot-smoking caterpillar, you won't have to wait long for somebody to get stabbed in the torso fifteen times and folded in half by a cot.

There are a couple of "OH YEAH!" moments in the film, and they all belong exclusively to Jason. What can I say? I'm a gore fella. Weirdly, I think I enjoy the Nightmare series more as a whole, but there's no number of shitty one-liners that can have the same effect as the strong, silent type shoving a flaming machete through your chest with naught but the flick of a wrist. Anyway, Jason gets a fair number of said machete-slayings (as well as the aforementioned "stabbing a guy fifteen times and closing the cot on him"), but he gets to do some other cool stuff. He breaks a guy's neck so fast that the head seems to spin 720 degrees. And of course, no good Jason movie would be complete without somebody literally being chopped in half.

Blah blah blah. It's all unimportant, because the final half hour becomes the promised main event. The spawn of Satan versus the killer from Crystal Lake. Freddy vs. Jason. I've never seen a movie offer up so much gratuitous blood and sinew. Ever. Each of the characters gets hacked and slashed at least thirty times, and the flesh is flyin'. If you don't like spoilers, look away now: Freddy gets his ass handed to him by Jason. OR DOES HE? Well, yeah. He really does. Unless Freddy is going to kill you with his winking, disembodied head, Jason wins by means of retaining some of his limbs.

With this, I wrap up the Robot Hand is the Future Halloween season and prepare to put a bow on it for the Christmas season. Thanks to everyone for reading. Thanks to Freddy Krueger for putting the "laughter" in "slaughter," and thanks to Jason Voorhees for putting the "machete" in "pretty much everybody."

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