when you're not strong
and I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
- Bill Withers
I haven't seen this movie since it came out and I remember hating it. Not just kind of hating it. Really really hating it. As in I wanted to smack it with a shovel, bury it, then watch it come back to life so I could have the pleasure of making it all dead once more.
Well, time must have softened me a bit because I didn't hate it as much when I recently watched it for a review, but it's far, far from good.
The plot (if one can actually call the thin thread holding everything together a plot) is that Freddy is trapped in the nightmare world and needs Jason Voorhees to bring him back somehow. This involves a bunch of teens, including Lori who lives in Nancy's old house but inexplicably doesn't know who Freddy is, and her friends who all exist so they can get killed. Eventually the plot becomes a fight between Jason and Freddy, but not before we're all a bit bored and annoyed.
So Freddy vs. Jason. Who wins?
Jason. Jason wins.
Okay, let's clarify. There is no clear winner, even the ambiguous ending let's us know that. But I'm talking about who wins the movie. And Jason wins. This sounds like a strange thing coming from a girl who loves her some Nightmare and could care less about Friday the 13th (See my taken on F13 movies in the Friday the 13th Marathon Experiment).
So why Jason? Jason is bigger, more terrifying and more interesting in this movie than he ever was in any of the Friday the 13th movies. I know there were a lot of people upset that Kane Hodder didn't play him this time around. I understood. But here's the thing, you don't miss him. He's played this time by stunt guy Ken Kirzinger (who did a Jason stunt in F13 Part 8 by the way) and he makes a wonderful Jason. He's big, he's hulking, he's threatening and also sort of weirdly sympathetic. When he's being scolded by his mother (a trick by Freddy) he manages to convey an odd sort of pathos, even through the mask, with a tilt of the head, a look in the eyes and a slump of the shoulders. Heck, at one point he transforms back into his little deformed kid self and it's actually sad to watch. Ironically, that doesn't make him any less scary. It just adds a little more depth to his character.
Freddy on the other hand is anything but sympathetic, as well he shouldn't be. He was a child killer and there's no redemption there. So that's fine, he's supposed to be bad. But he's so obnoxious and talks so much here that I wasn't so much scared as wishing he would shut the hell up. Don't get me wrong, I love Robert Englund, but here he's playing Freddy like he did in Part 6 - all talk, no substance and absolutely not scary. Sorry Freddy, you know I loves ya, but Jason is outclassing you here...which is weird. Interestingly enough, Jason also has the better make-up, which is again...very weird.
The kids are universally terrible, especially Monica Keenan's Lori, who we're supposed to feel for, but just is so annoying you'd wish Freddy would shut up and skewer her already. These are kids who go to a rave to dance and party after their friend was violently murdered and snapped in two the night before. They're obnoxious, they're useless, and you want them dead. The only bright spot in this mess is Brendan Fletcher, who plays escaped teen mental patient Mark Davis - a guy who has encountered Freddy before and wants to help stop him before he kills again. He's a fun character who you actually would like to see survive. Of course he doesn't, but you kind of root for him while he's still around.
So I didn't hate this movie as much as once did, and that's not quite a glowing recommendation because I still hated it. And this concludes my Nightmare on Elm Street Marathon Experiment. So what have I learned? Well that Freddy is best when he's scary and the Nightmare movies that worked best are the ones that focus on the kids. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back and watch the original Nightmare on Elm Street - Freddy at his finest.
Oh, and if you're wondering about the re-make you can read my thoughts on it in a segment I call The Live Blogging of a Crap Horror Film.
Nighty-night all and sweet dreams....
Favorite Moments (may contain spoilers):
- Jason calmly walking through the corn rows at the rave whilst on fire and butchering any teen that falls into his path.
- Jason's house which is brilliant - with rotting corpses and swampy atmosphere. It looks like a place the big lug would call home. And it looks like it would smell. Badly.
- The coma patients in the mental ward, suddenly sitting up and pointing Freeburg to the Hypnocil. It's creepy and effective, which is something the rest of the movie lacks.
- Jason coming out of the water, holding Freddy's head - which winks. Nice.
- Katherine Isabel (Gibb) refused to do nudity, so a body double was used for her shower scene.
- Freddy only kills one person in the movie. The rest of the kills are all Jason's.
- Even though Ken Kirzinger is a professional stuntman, the movie makers still insisted on using a stuntman for him in a few scenes.
- The original ending had Lori and her love interest Will about to have sex for the first time, when he rises up with a claw and kills her. (I saw it on the extras and let's just say...they were wise to cut it.)