Also known as: Shocker: No More Mr. Nice Guy (alternative title) Release Date: October 27th, 1989 Directed by: Wes Craven Written by: Wes Craven Music by: William Goldstein Cast: Michael Murphy, Peter Berg, Cami Cooper, Mitch Pileggi, Ted Raimi, Heather Langenkamp, Wes Craven, Kane Roberts, Dr. Timothy Leary, Jessica Craven, John Tesh
“We can’t go killing people just to get Pinker out of their bodies.” – Jonathan Parker
As I’ve stated in other reviews, I’m really not a big fan of Wes Craven outside of A Nightmare On Elm Street. He was always in the same conversations with John Carpenter but his body of work is weak sauce in comparison, regardless of Elm Street being one of the best horror films of the decade.
Shocker is no different and because I’m not super keen on Craven, I had actually never seen it until now. In fact, I remember seeing the trailer for it when I was ten years-old and thinking it looked stupid as hell.
While I don’t mean to sound overly harsh, that’s kind of how I felt about a lot of Craven’s stuff when trailers would drop.
This movie was a total clusterfuck, It tried to do way too much with its story and didn’t really let anything settle into place before throwing more layers of papier-mâché onto the still wet pieces beneath.
At first its a slasher movie, then it becomes some weird ass shit where the killer travels through TVs, electricity, infrared waves and satellite dishes while the killer also travels in and out of other people’s bodies, so that you’re always guessing who the killer could be. So basically, there’s three concepts all wedged into one movie and Craven never really seems to fully commit to any of it.
Not to mention, the main kid that the killer wants to kill has some sort of psychic connection to the killer. Why? Who the fuck knows, man?!
The only real positive about the film is Mitch Pileggi, who plays the killer. Most people remember him for playing Skinner on The X-Files. It’s cool seeing him in this role, as his character is so over the top and batshit crazy that it’s a huge contrast to the character he’s become most famous for. Plus, I’ve always liked the hell out of Pileggi and this is worth a watch if you feel the same way. Without him, this movie would’ve been the worst in Craven’s filmography. He, at least, makes it palatable to a point.
Release Date: October 13th, 2006 Directed by: Jeff McQueen Written by: J. Albert Bell, Rachel Belofsky, Michael Derek Bohusz, Adam Rockoff, Rudy Scalese Music by: Harry Manfredini Cast: Ed Green (narrator), Wes Craven, John Carpenter, Debra Hill, Malek Akkad, Greg Nicotero, Amy Holden Jones, Stan Winston, Rob Zombie, Sean S. Cunningham, Tom Savini, Betsy Palmer, Harry Manfredini, Felissa Rose, Robert Shaye
For being one of those film history documentaries made by Starz, it’s pretty good.
Granted, this isn’t great and there are much better documentaries on ’80s horror, slasher films and many of the specific movies this one discusses.
As can be expected, this is a series of talking head interviews edited and presented to tell a narrative. In the case of this film, it goes through the history of slasher films from the ’70s and up to more modern times. I kind of lost interest once it got midway into the ’90s but that’s when Scream came out and kind of wrecked the genre.
This does miss a lot and doesn’t even really touch on the things in film’s history that inspired and paved the way for slasher cinema.
It felt like a missed opportunity to examine Italian giallo and how that subgenre of horror (and neo-noir) laid some groundwork for what would become the American and Canadian slasher flick empire.
Still, this was entertaining and I enjoyed it even if I didn’t learn much of anything new.
Rating: 6/10 Pairs well with: other documentaries on ’70s and ’80s horror.
Release Date: February 19th, 1982 Directed by: Wes Craven Written by: Wes Craven Based on:Swamp Thing by Len Wein, Bernie Wrightson Music by: Harry Manfredini Cast: Louis Jourdan, Adrienne Barbeau, Ray Wise, Dick Durock, David Hess
“A man who loves, gives hostages to fortune.” – Dr. Anton Arcane
Other than A Nightmare On Elm Street and The Serpent and the Rainbow, I’m not a big fan of Wes Craven and actually think he’s one of the most overrated horror directors of all-time for a guy considered to be a legend.
Sure, that statement probably pisses off some fans of ’80s and ’90s horror but would you rather I lie?
Swamp Thing is another example of why I don’t like Craven.
It’s boring, dopey and looks like shit. And frankly, Swamp Thing is such a rich and cool character that this should have been a really easy movie to make even with a scant budget.
Hell, you’ve got Ray Wise, Adrienne Barbeau, Louis Jourdan and Dick Durock, who would at least become a great Swamp Thing once the television show debuted in 1990.
I mean, this motion picture had the benefit of fascinating and marvelous source material, as well as a more than capable cast. But it just kind of sucks and the few things that should be somewhat endearing just don’t hit their mark in a way that lets them rise above the muck. Hell, I’m a sucker for nostalgia, even stuff I didn’t necessarily like from my childhood but revisiting this Craven flick was something I kind of put off and dreaded. But I had a friend that wanted to revisit it, so I got lured in.
And with that being said, many consider the sequel to be worse but I’m actually kind of looking forward to rewatching that one because from memory, there was more that I liked in that one.
Rating: 4.75/10 Pairs well with: it’s sequel and the original Swamp Thing television show.
Release Date: June, 1984 (Mystfest – Italy) Directed by: Wes Craven Written by: Wes Craven Music by: Harry Manfredini Cast: Tamara Stafford, Kevin Spirtas, John Bloom, Michael Berryman, Penny Johnson, Janus Blythe, John Laughlin, Willard E. Pugh, Peter Frechette, Robert Houston
Castle Hill Productions, Hills Two Corporation, 90 Minutes
“Sue, it ain’t natural to be in a place without a disco.” – Foster
I’m not a fan of Wes Craven, despite many in the horror community probably wanting to take off my head for such a statement. I’ve explained why in reviews of other Craven films, so I won’t rehash all of that again.
I also don’t really like The Hills Have Eyes.
So it probably goes without saying that I’m not a fan of this sequel.
While this is worse than the first one which was just kind of okay, this film actually is more interesting.
We check back in with two of the characters from the previous movie, one of them, a girl that left the inbred psychos of the desert, returns with some friends on some sort of dirt bike camping excursion. It seems silly that she would ever go back there for any reason but hey, it’s best not to think too hard about this movie.
This plays a bit more like a slasher than the previous film and while I like that formula, it goes to show that maybe Wes Craven completely dialed it in for this sequel, as he wasn’t necessarily creating anything new and was instead, trying to make his own Friday the 13th, even though his original A Nightmare On Elm Street movie was better than any Friday the 13th film.
The crazy inbred family returns and they aren’t too pleased to see that their little sister (or whatever she is) has come back and is looking pretty normal, living a normal life with normal friends that fuck and do drugs.
The action is okay but the film is pretty dull, overall. I like the premise of the film but it’s not executed in a way that it really matters and thus, this is pretty forgettable.
There isn’t much that’s memorable about this other than Michael Berryman getting a rematch with the dog from the first movie and a moderately interesting bit where the kids try to use a mine shaft to their advantage.
Also, the score to the film is really bad and it just sounds like Wes is deliberately ripping off Friday the 13th in the poorest and most generic way possible.
Willard E. Pugh, who I love in Robocop 2, was kind of funny in his scenes here but other than Pugh and Berryman, there really isn’t anyone of note in this picture.
A poor sequel to a film that really didn’t deserve one, done by a guy who already eclipsed the thing he was trying to ripoff. Maybe this was just done for a paycheck.
Rating: 4.75/10 Pairs well with: other early Wes Craven works, as well as other cannibal killer movies.
Also known as: Blood Relations (working title) Release Date: June 15th, 1977 (Tucson premiere) Directed by: Wes Craven Written by: Wes Craven Music by: Don Peake Cast: Susan Lanier, Robert Houston, Martin Speer, Dee Wallace, Russ Grieve, John Steadman, Michael Berryman, Virginia Vincent, Janus Blythe
Blood Relations Company, Vanguard, 89 Minutes
“We’re gonna be french fries! Human french fries!” – Brenda Carter
I’ve said this before and I know it upsets some ’70s and ’80s horror fans but I’m not very keen on the work of Wes Craven outside of A Nightmare On Elm Street. But this is, at least, better than The Last House On the Left.
I don’t know what it is about Craven but if I’m being honest, his ideas always feel borrowed and not done as well as what he’s borrowing from. Even A Nightmare On Elm Street came from an article he read about a teen that died in their sleep.
The Hills Have Eyes is very much Craven’s version of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. But it’s not a complete rehash of it, it does take some creative liberties and the premise is somewhat interesting but basically a family’s car breaks down and they are preyed upon by a family of cannibals.
This is more action heavy than Chain Saw or other similar films, which is a definite plus for me. It also has a sort of post-apocalyptic Mad Max vibe to it, which is also a plus. But other than those two things, there’s not much else here.
The film, despite its subject matter, is fairly boring. It has some good intense moments, I love Michael Berryman in everything and the family dog was the most badass character in the film but it is really dragged out in spots.
The Hills Have Eyes is one of the rare exceptions when it comes to remakes, as I was never a big fan of it to begin with and I honestly feel like the remake was a big improvement on the story, the overused formula and it even had a deeper and richer backstory. But I’ll review that one later.
Sadly, this film also had a really bad sequel. I’ll review that at some point too.
I don’t know, I’ve probably seen this movie a half dozen times since I was a kid and I never walk away from it saying, “Oh, I get it now. This is deservedly a classic.”
But it does have a great title and an awesome poster featuring Michael Berryman.
Rating: 5.25/10 Pairs well with: other early Wes Craven works, as well as other cannibal killer movies.
Also known as: Bad Company, Grim Company, Krug & Company, Night of Vengeance, Sex Crime of the Century (working titles) Release Date: August 30th, 1972 Directed by: Wes Craven Written by: Wes Craven Music by: David Alexander Hess Cast: Sandra Peabody, Lucy Grantham, David A. Hess, Fred Lincoln, Jeramie Rain, Marc Sheffler, Martin Kove
Sean S. Cunningham Films, The Night Co., Hallmark Releasing, 84 Minutes, 64 Minutes (heavily cut), 91 Minutes (original cut), 82 Minutes (R rated cut)
“How’d we get into the sex-crime business anyway? My brother Saul, a plumber, makes twice as much money as I do and gets three weeks vacation, too.” – Fred “Weasel” Podowski
I’ve never liked this film. To be honest, I’m not a huge Wes Craven fan, even though A Nightmare On Elm Street is one of my favorite horror films of all-time. Outside of the Nightmare series, Craven just hasn’t resonated with me.
This isn’t a good film but hardcore exploitation and grindhouse fans like to convince people that this is some sort of masterpiece. While I don’t mind gore and horrible things and I actually like grindhouse movies, I’ve never been a fan of gore for the sake of gore or shock just to shock. These are cheap parlor tricks and without substance surrounding them to give them purpose or more meaning, these tricks really don’t mean anything.
The Last House On the Left is a rather pointless film that just uses its time to try to disgust you for no other reason than it came out in a time where filmmakers could really do anything that they wanted and young filmmakers, especially, had to push the bar as high as they could just to get noticed. But when everyone is doing the same thing, you’ve got to push the bar so high that the average person on the ground will never see it.
The film is comprised of two halves, which completely ignores a three act structure but hey, Wes Craven is the king or something.
The first half is a long drawn out torture and rape sequence that takes up more than half of the film. The second half is the parents of one of the victims getting revenge on the psychos. Somehow, these parents turn psycho themselves, instead of just calling the cops when these evil people are actually just squatting in their house.
Nothing in this film makes much sense. It’s supposed to freak you out by showing people just being psychotic for no other reason than psychos gonna psycho.
The acting is terrible, the camera work is worse than terrible and the film’s music almost made me go psycho.
Some people think that this is a classic. It’s far from a classic. It’s gratuitous and even then, I’ve seen much worse in that department. Most of all, the film is really fucking slow and boring. Maybe it was effective in 1972 but considering it only appealed to an audience of miscreants jacking off in rundown Times Square porno and grindhouse theaters, this probably was just a regular Tuesday for them.
Rating: 4/10 Pairs well with: Other exploitation films of the era with a high emphasis on gore and horror: I Spit On Your Grave, Cannibal Holocaust, The Hills Have Eyes, Cannibal Ferox.
I was a senior in high school when the first Scream came out. It was huge, especially due to kids my age. Well, mostly kids who were never really into horror or girls who were too terrified to watch something actually scary. This isn’t me taking shots at the film, it is just the reality of it.
Scream changed the horror genre forever. The problem, is that it essentially ruined it. I’ll explain more as I go on but let me get to my thoughts on each film.
Release Date: December 18th, 1996 (Los Angeles premiere) Directed by: Wes Craven Written by: Kevin Williamson Music by: Marco Beltrami Cast: David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Skeet Ulrich, Drew Barrymore, W. Earl Brown
Woods Entertainment, Dimension Films, 111 Minutes
“What’s your favorite scary movie?” – Ghostface
I didn’t like this film the first time I saw it when it came out. I thought it was cheesy, not scary and full of too many recognizable stars. Although, everyone else in the theater seemed to be terrified when Drew Barrymore got murdered in the beginning. But then, the audience for Scream is not the real horror fan audience. At least not by 70s, 80s and 90s standards.
The problem with having recognizable stars in horror, as well as a decent budget, is that it feels less real and authentic. It is similar to the use of bad CGI for blood splatter and monster effects in horror now. It separates you from the film by constantly reminding you that you are watching a production. I’m going to feel more for some girl I’ve never seen before, who I have only witnessed going through the horror on screen, than I will some girl that was whiny and moody on Party of Five for several years before this movie came out. Or a cast member of Friends who I would’ve loved to see killed off, yet somehow she survived to be in all four films.
Ghostface, the slasher in these films, is not scary. Maybe he was to the teen audience of 1996 but being a teen at that time, I thought he was shit. The mask is goofy, the cloak looks like it was stolen from the Spencer’s Halloween display and the wavy knife looked like something gimmicky that came with a 80s G.I. Joe toy.
The film was too polished, and just looked too Hollywood. Craven, before this, had been known for his grittiness.
The slasher genre and horror, in general, were pretty much ruined when the characters started discussing the rules of slasher films. The film parodied the genre it was in and put on blast the unspoken rules of horror. Maybe perceived as smart and cool at the time, and maybe it was just Craven’s way of saying “fuck you” to his competition, this approach killed horror going forward. Yes, Wes Craven, a guy who modernized horror in the 70s and 80s, killed it in the 90s.
Due to its success, Scream went on to kill horror even further. It was mimicked by every studio, horror was now free of sex, gore was minimal, it became PG-13 to pull in more teens, known stars were cast, budgets swelled and the rest is history.
Today, I don’t hate Scream. Even with how it altered everything, it is better than the modern horror films we’re stuck with. While Scream was the start of something bad, year after year, that bad has gotten worse. And that wasn’t Craven’s intention. I think he was really just focused on an idea and a concept. That concept ended up bringing an end to his own career, other than pumping out Scream sequels that got worse as time went on.
Scream 2 (1997):
Release Date: December 10th, 1997 (Hollywood premiere) Directed by: Wes Craven Written by: Kevin Williamson Music by: Marco Beltrami Cast: David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jamie Kennedy, Laurie Metcalf, Jerry O’Connell, Jada Pinkett, Liev Schreiber, Rebecca Gayheart, David Warner, Omar Epps, Portia de Rossi, Luke Wilson, Heather Graham, Tori Spelling, Joshua Jackson
Konrad Pictures, Craven-Maddalena Films, Dimension Films, 120 Minutes
Scream 2 was a step down from the original but I like that Liev Schreiber got to be a bigger character. I was also glad they killed off Jamie Kennedy. And Aunt Jackie from Roseanne is in it.
The problem with Scream 2, which is made more than obvious in the opening scene, is that it feels like it has to compensate for its lack of black actors in the first film. In fact, the first film really featured no black actors and was thus, accused of being another “whitewashed” slasher picture.
Some people have criticized Jada Pinkett’s monologue about race in slasher films but I enjoyed it. She wasn’t wrong. And at least Craven put it in there to address some of these issues that were brought up after the success of the original film. Although, it did feel like overcompensation.
The film isn’t as good as the first. The reveal of who the killer is this time, is pretty underwhelming. The formula ran it’s course in the first movie and we were stuck with a picture where we were treading the same water without any new scenery. The ending brings with it a twist but it is more of a head-scratcher than a shocking reveal. It also starts the trend of building up a bigger backstory that isn’t necessary.
Neve Campbell’s mom was a slut and her sluttiness is a key factor into why her daughter and her friends have to suffer. And in the third film, her legacy of sluttiness goes back even further.
Scream 3 (2000):
Release Date: February 3rd, 2000 (Westwood premiere) Directed by: Wes Craven Written by: Ehren Kruger Music by: Marco Beltrami Cast: David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Patrick Dempsey, Scott Foley, Lance Henriksen, Matt Keeslar, Jenny McCarthy, Emily Mortimer, Parker Posey, Deon Richmond, Patrick Warburton
Konrad Pictures, Craven-Maddalena Films, Dimension Films, 117 Minutes
The third film ended the trilogy. Well, it was supposed to be a trilogy, where the fourth film years later, was to be the start of a second trilogy. The second trilogy never happened, so we ended up with a single quadrilogy. But, at the time, this was treated as the third and final act.
This was also, by far, the worst movie in the series. It takes the parodying itself shtick to the max. It takes place mostly on a Hollywood set where it gives you a movie within the movie, which is a tactic that is more annoying than clever.
Scream 3 adds the awful Jenny McCarthy to the cast, the typically cool Patrick Dempsey and the indy sweetheart Parker Posey. I almost feel bad seeing Posey plying her trade in this shit picture.
The killer reveal is stupid. It fleshes out the backstory more than anyone needs in a slasher film and the bad guy’s motivations are recycled horror trope schlock. There is nothing imaginative or original about any of this.
This film also loses sight of its whole purpose. In trying to be a clever series in constantly referring to the rules of horror, this one breaks its own rules – or it just doesn’t truly understand them. Especially in regards to what they say about the final film in trilogies, Scream 3 proves that these films have no balls. This is obvious when characters establish that “all bets are off” and “no one is safe”, yet for the third consecutive film, every major character survives. Additionally, the horror gore factor it tries to sell in the film is minimal, the sex factor in horror that this film constantly makes reference to, is nonexistent and everyone who understands the rules, continues to make the same dumb mistakes.
And the sole black character is reduced to a caricature but at least they didn’t “whitewash” this one after meeting their quota in part two.
Scream 4 (2011):
Release Date: April 11th, 2011 (TCL Chinese Theatre premiere) Directed by: Wes Craven Written by: Kevin Williamson Music by: Marco Beltrami Cast: David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Anthony Anderson, Alison Brie, Adam Brody, Rory Culkin, Marielle Jaffe, Erik Knudsen, Mary McDonnell, Marley Shelton, Nico Tortorella, Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell
Oh, there’s Emma Roberts! Why’s she in every thing horror-esque, lately? I don’t dislike her but I’m getting tired of seeing her play the same roles again and again. She’s actually okay and I’m certainly not as sick of her as I am of her Aunt Julia.
Anyway, here we go, years later. The main cast is still alive. Surprise, they live through the end because again, the Scream franchise has no balls.
There’s a bunch of false curveball beginnings to the film, all movies within the movie, which has gotten tiresome with the Scream series. I mean, fuck, has Wes Craven completely run out of ideas? Hire new writers, bro.
This film tries to establish the “new” rules of horror, as it takes place a decade after the previous film. Except, everyone knows that the new rules post-Scream are horrible and the genre has gotten awful.
The killers are predictable. More so than previous films, actually. The two killer formula has been used to death in this series and was only somewhat effective the first time around.
Also, from what I remember, no black people in this one. But there is the reference to gay people surviving horror movies and then a bad in-movie joke where a character being stabbed to death, claims he’s gay in hopes of getting a free pass. I’m not standing on a politically correct soapbox here but Craven isn’t doing himself any favors trying to branch out beyond his audience of straight white teens. I get the attempt at humor but it was juvenile and not that funny.
I’m getting tired of talking about these movies now.
In the end, this film sucks. Although it doesn’t suck as bad as Scream 3.
Release Date: November 1st, 1991 Directed by: Wes Craven Written by: Wes Craven Music by: Don Peake, Graeme Revell Cast: Brandon Adams, Everett McGill, Wendy Robie, A.J. Langer, Ving Rhames, Kelly Jo Minter, Sean Whaler
Alive Films, Universal Pictures, 102 Minutes
“Yeah, and maybe the President will make me Secretary of Pussy.” – Leroy
People Under the Stairs is a movie that I did not like when it came out in 1991. In fact, as much as I loved a few of Wes Craven’s films, the majority of them were like this, just weird and uninspiring without much to care about.
Having seen this film for the first time in a long time, I still don’t like it. However, it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. But it was still weird and uninspiring, as well as boring and pointless.
I don’t understand what this film was trying to be. I guess it’s part horror, part comedy, part social justice, I don’t know. It’s a confusing mess and adding in two cast members from Twin Peaks doesn’t give you the license to be bizarre for the sake of being bizarre. It also doesn’t excuse a stupid picture.
No, actually, the more I think about it, I still hate this picture.
I hate it because its ugly, lame and insulting. Wes Craven is way better than this unless A Nightmare On Elm Street and The Serpent and the Rainbow were just flukes.
The monsters are awful, the psycho people are awful, the characters are awful, the plot is awful, the acting is awful, the direction is awful, the whole damn film is awful.
Yes, this is getting put through the Cinespiria Shitometer. Well, what we have here is a “Type 7 Stool: Watery, no solid pieces. Entirely liquid.”
Release Date: April 27th, 2010 (Hollywood premiere) Directed by: Samuel Bayer Written by: Wesley Strick, Eric Heisserer Based on: characters created by Wes Craven Music by: Steve Jablonsky Cast: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz
New Line Cinema, Platinum Dunes, Warner Bros., 95 Minutes
This film has been out for seven years and I really didn’t want to see it. I’m a massive fan of the original film and some of its sequels. More importantly, I am a bigger fan of Robert Englund and how he has played the character of Freddy Krueger over his 19-year and 8 film span. Englund was Freddy and Freddy was Englund.
However, if you absolutely had to recast the role, which they didn’t have to, Jackie Earle Haley isn’t a bad choice. The thing is, this was a role doomed for failure because it belonged to Robert Englund.
The character had also become increasingly more funny and campy, as the original series pumped out yearly installments. While Haley’s Krueger has a good one-liner or two, it just doesn’t have the impact and hilarity of Englund’s infamous one-liners. But that isn’t Haley’s fault. This was just a stupid film, that similarly to the Friday the 13th remake, a year prior, didn’t really understand the magic behind its predecessors.
The film is horribly acted, completely lacks suspense and has no originality. This remake steals all the cool shit from the original 1984 film and does it all over again with shitty CGI and unimaginative execution. Watch the original film’s scene where Freddy starts to come through the bedroom wall and then watch that same scene in this 2010 version. One is terrifying and feels real, the other feels like an unfinished cutting room floor scene of the Sandman from Spider-Man 3.
Kate Mara’s always depressing sister plays Nancy and completely lacks everything that made Heater Langenkamp great in that role. The kid who plays the Johnny Depp role is useless and pointless, Black Canary form Arrow essentially plays Tina from the original but they changed her name. Her death scene also treads the exact same water as the original but does it poorly and doesn’t add in anything new.
Also, Freddy, in this film, is a straight up child rapist. While that was implied in the sixth film (Freddy’s Dead) of the original film series, I never really accepted that after it took six films to make that point. Plus, Freddy’s Dead was mostly atrocious and added a bunch of crap to the mythos that didn’t need to be there, ala Jason Goes To Hell.
This movie is garbage. It brings nothing new to the table and it’s execution and creativity don’t even come close to the original Wes Craven directed masterpiece. Pretty sad, considering this film had a much larger budget to work with and the future of the franchise was riding on it being successful.
In the seven years since, there has not been a sequel and talk about Elm Street is nonexistent. Granted, it will eventually get rebooted again. I just hope that the next attempt isn’t soulless crap like this was.
Release Date: August 15th, 2003 Directed by: Ronny Yu Written by: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift Based on: characters created by Wes Craven, characters created by Victor Miller Music by: Graeme Revell Cast: Robert Englund, Monica Keena, Kelly Rowland, Jason Ritter, Chris Marquette, Lochlyn Munro, Ken Kirzinger, Katharine Isabelle, Zack Ward, Brendan Fletcher, Robert Shaye
New Line Cinema, Crystal Lake Entertainment, 97 Minutes
I have now reviewed all of the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street films, excluding remakes. I have finally gotten to the end of the ride, where the big main event that everyone always wanted to see, finally happened. The showdown of the immortals! Freddy vs. Jason!
For some reason, this film disappointed fans of both franchises. I’ve never really been sure why, other than complaints about the use of CGI having less of an effect than the practical effects of the 1980s used in Freddy’s dream sequences. Yeah, it does feel less organic visually but the spirit is still there and the emotional tone was perfect.
The plot is pretty well done, as it brings together both of these worlds and merges them into one thing. Freddy Krueger gets into Jason’s mind while he is wandering Hell and poses as his mother, telling Jason to go to Springwood to start killing the teenage population. If the teens live in fear, Freddy can manifest in their minds once again. Pretty good setup and it created an interesting scenario that saw Jason stalking teens in Freddy’s neighborhood.
I wasn’t a fan of Kane Hodder not being cast as Jason Voorhees. Ken Kirzinger did a solid job as Jason but the character was missing those Hodder mannerisms that became iconic over his four film run as the character.
Robert Englund was fantastic as Krueger, especially after a nine year hiatus following the more serious New Nightmare. This was Freddy back at his comedic and sinister best. And even though he only has one kill in this entire movie, the comedic effect of Jason beating him to the punch with kills was entertaining and added a cool dynamic to these horror icons’ relationship.
Monica Keena is fucking gorgeous in this movie and she was a good lead. She overacted in some scenes and screamed ridiculously too often but she was one of the better teenage characters out of any of these films. Jason Ritter was okay but it was cool seeing John Ritter’s kid get a shot in Hollywood. Kelly Rowland was atrocious as Kia, the nerd kid was boring and the rest of the supporting cast were ripoffs of popular actors of the time, most notably a poor man’s Jack Black and a horrible wannabe Jay from Jay & Silent Bob fame. Also, there was a heroic deputy that knew about Jason Voorhees. His character was a wasted opportunity where they could have brought back Tommy Jarvis from the fourth, fifth and sixth Friday the 13th films. It would’ve been cool to see Jason finally get his revenge on Tommy.
I don’t think that Ronny Yu was the best choice for director. He wasn’t bad but some of the action sequences were too Hong Kong and just felt weird and out of place. There were lots of shots where things would go into a strange slow motion pace with the visuals blurred and obscured – probably to hide things and keep the budget down. It wasn’t a style consistent with either film series and it became distracting.
As far as the Freddy vs. Jason battle, it happens twice in the film: once in the dream world and another in the real world. The ending is also open ended and ambiguous. You could argue that either monster won and in the end, they both survive anyway.
Unfortunately, there were no sequels after this for a joint film or solo films for either monster. Years later they both got remade with inferior films. It’d be nice to see them get a good reinvention in the future or to just pick up these films where Freddy vs. Jason left off. Although, Robert Englund says he will never play Freddy Krueger again, as he is a lot older than he was when he started in 1984.