One imagines if you're sharing a bill with a fella who prefers action over oration there'd be a certain pressure to fill the silence, yet even the most ardent Freddy fan's gotta be dumbstruck by how Kruger's aged into such a yammering yenta. Perhaps it's some sad boogeyman strain of Alzheimers that encourages this incessant yapping about "his children forgetting" and how Jason Voorhees is his errand boy outside of Dreamland. More likely, it's rooted with Tinseltown's post-Scream fixation on horror "rules" and overall penchant for leading audiences through most movies by cracking plot point after plot point over their skulls. Presumably pleasing for some random focus group of yayhoos. Goldang annoying to those of us with opposable thumbs. But, but, but Freddy and Jason FIGHT, right!?! Well, yeah, they most assuredly do, as in the grand tradition of terror titan bouts dating back as far as when Frankenstein first looked crossways at the Wolf Man.
There's also a healthy number of mere mortals on the undercard before the fearsome final-reel main event manifests. The Machete Mauler scores the highest on the teen tote board, most notably when he crashes a late-night rave in a corn field where he commences his compulsory carnage despite being engulfed in an Everclear-fueled blaze. It's when Mr. Voorhees seems happiest and so too will CineSchlockers as this, in truth, is a fixed match. It's all about Freddy Kruger! A far more satisfying venture for Friday fans is actually Jason X, where their homicidal hero retains an oddly absent ferocity, the kills are more imaginative (and amusing) as are the salacious recreations of Crystal Lake. Here's to breast actress Odessa Munroe, though, for amply plying her trade in summoning Jason from his slumber this outing. Eagle-eyed CineSchlockers will recall she also decorates a bike quite nicely in Final Destination 2. But I digress. Whether Jason's jarring lack of cajones springs from New Line's shocking benching of longtime hockey-masked man Kane Hodder will surely fuel fan debate from here to eternity -- or the new season of "Alias."
Despite yours truly's obvious misgivings, this IS a good movie. Not great. Just good. Director Ronny Yu's scintillating Bride of Chucky rates far better. Though this picture is entertaining if not memorable, especially once it finally rolls up its sleaves for the climatic brawl betwixt our beloved baddies. That's the whole POINT of this exercise and almost entirely where it extravagantly earns every twinkle of its three-star rating. Now would anyone actually be able to SEE said stars amid the grisly wash of grue? No, but let's hope this is a watershed, er, make that a bloodshed moment marking a sustained return to R-rated horror sidelined in recent memory.
Anyway, stuffing Good Cop back into the nearest closet, Monica Keena's "final girl" heroics are beyond laughable. Her doe-eyed, allegedly virginal Lori Campbell is a shrill boondoggle from the start -- no matter how low her neckline dips. While Destiny's Child Kelly Rowland is nearly equally embarrassing with her tired "sista girl" schtick. If only sidekick Katharine Isabelle had been afforded the Lori role she so clearly showed herself capable of commanding in Ginger Snaps. Sadly, admirers should note Ms. Isabelle's body doubled for that gratuitous shower sequence. Seven breasts. 33 corpses. Advanced nose mining. Peeperless tike. Gratuitous "Scooby" van (with doobies). Wriggling maggots. Electrocution. Multiple amputations. The requisite Jason Mewes imposter gets the best line post-corn field melee: "Dude! That goalie was PISSED about something!!!"
Among two discs of extras, the Robert Englund-hogged commentary is the biggest scream. Fearsome Freddy is joined by Mr. Yu and Jason interloper Ken Kirzinger for a breathless track full of jocular insights. Englund recalls a fan first asking him about a Freddy vs. Jason matchup way back in '84 and wittily suggests Freddy's motivation for participating was: "Revenge -- and perhaps some back end!" Six featurettes explore such production facets as the prolonged firesuit stunt and the flick's bumpy road to the screen. Gems abound amid an hour and a half of footage in total, though often between grossly pedestrian gaps. Lack of winnowing these into fewer, tighter takes or a single documentary suggests laziness or undue expeditiousness in editing and design not often seen in the New Line's oft lauded Platinum Series. Among 16 minutes of deleted and alternate scenes, with commentary, are the extended Crystal Lake opening, shelved Son of Freddy finale and Ms. Keena's groaner "PLACE YOUR BETS!!!" trailer tagline. Finally, yours truly can't decide HOW to feel about the Las Vegas pre-fight press conference hosted by rumblin' Michael Buffer. (2003, 97 mins, 2.35:1 anam/Fullframe, DD 5.1 EX & 2.0, Commentary, Jump-to-a-death option, Featurettes, Alternate and deleted scenes, Promo footage [including wacky Camp Hacknslash premiere], Press clippings, Image gallery, Music video, TV spots and trailers.)
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G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.