Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Freddy vs Jason vs free movie tickets

So I had a free pass to the movies, and some time to kill (not to be confused with Kahlil Gibran's "time to live"; this movie is not your friend- unless perhaps you were friends with the dorky neighborhood kid who's just too creepy (albeit unintentionally) for anyone to truly like, and even then, it's a friendship of (in)convenience, which brings us back to the film in question). "Freddy vs, Jason" (incidentally, how did the Brian Bosworth of slasher flicks get top-billing over the godfather of the genre?) beckoned to me from the electronic marquee, like a copy of Warrant's Greatest Hits, shining like a diamond in the $1 junkheap at a flea market- you know it's horrible, and yet you can't help but be drawn to it by some sort of twisted loyalty, an almost perverse attraction: just as much a gateway to your lost youth as a pathetic symbol of what used to, incredibly, pass for "cool". It screams with potential, a scream so distinct (yet equally star-crossed) that it drowns out the feeble voice of reason trying so desparately to steer me towards something more worth-while. Fortunately, it was a slow week for movies.

Yes, it could be a tremendous film- all the ingredients are there: two archetypal icons of the now-laughable horror world (arguably the highest two in the entire hierarchy, possibly only matched by the formerly respected Michael Meyers), together in an orgiastic display of gore never before even dreamed of- imagine the '85 Bears vs the '72 Dolphins in an H G Wells Superbowl, or John Holmes and Jenna Jameson in a mind-boggling ultimate porn. As I tricked myself into believing that someone finally got it right, I imagined how entertaining the movie could be, from a purist point of view. It was as if someone ultimately realized that the public doesn't want to see Jackie Chan act, they want to see him fight Bruce Lee for 90 minutes. Hallelujah! As I strode into the semi-dark theatre, I chose the exact center seat, bracing myself for what must surely be the epilogue to a tired format, the final salvo of the horror movie. Though it was certainly a bad omen, I was curiously pleased to be the only person in the entire theatre.

I feel the need to interupt this review to comment on a preview that was presented before the feature (perhaps unwittingly setting the tone for the experience to come) for a movie called "The Highwaymen". You must see this movie as soon as it opens. Not to enjoy it, but to relive the reckless wonders of your distant teen years. Round up your most obnoxious, loudmouth, smart-ass friends, smuggle in a few 40's of Busch, and prepare to let fly all the juvenile, sarcastic movie comments that you have long ago relegated to your own inner monologue- wasted now as they are on the movies you watch at home from your couch. This movie promises to be the bomb that demands you return to the delightfully annoying practice of yelling at the screen in front of scores of others. Take the sublimely improbable inanity of "The Hitcher" and run it through a 200 watt Marshall amplifier, replacing the bizarro-cool of Rutger Haur with neo-Friends-ish uncool of James Caviezel (who?).

Anyway, back to the task at hand ("task" being a more fitting word than "viewing"). The movie that had threatened to be created for years, promising gore and guilty fun, starts slower than my grandparents having sex, and the script- in record time- hits on every single embarrassing horror movie cliche (as well as some good ones: two breast shots within the first half-hour) that had been spawned by the equally embarrassing 80's. Ahhh, the 80's... parachute pants, Warrant...

Sorry, got lost for a second. I could have accepted it's inconceivable ridiculousness had everyone involved in the film not taken themselves so seriously. It was as if they each truly believed that this was their stepping stone to superstardom, picturing this as some sort of Shakespeare in the Park, except instead of Shakespeare it's Wes Craven, and instead of the park it's the state penitentiary. Watching this bastard of a movie unfold was almost funny, but with a definite sadness to it; like watching the fat kid struggle to get one single push-up in 7th grade gym class. The plot had more holes than Ron Jeremy's mattress, and the anticipation I had built up for this classic battle (as eagerly anticipated as a toe to toe, shiv-weilding prison fight between Marlon Brando and Mickey Rourke) was being slowly, painfully bled from me by the theatrical equivalent of a Rosie O'Donnell monologue: painfully incoherent and brutally unintersting. What had once held the promise of being the "Rocky III" of horror (yes, I realize that was the worst in the series (well, maybe locked in a 3-way tie for worst), the "money shot" of Stallone's saga (not at all as classy as you thought, no matter how good of an idea it seemed at the time), but I'm talking about what "Rocky III" could have been without the dreadful Thunderlips debacle, which turned a great marquee match-up (Clubber Lang... you know you thought he was the shit!) into a precursor to Fox Celebrity Boxing) became more disappointing than the daughter you were forced to raise in place of the son you had always wanted.

When the fight finally materialized on he screen before me- about 73 minutes too late to save this monstrous lump of shit- it was actually pretty good. They at least had the foresight to underscore it with a fucking awesome (if metallicaly generic) Spineshank song. Let's get it on! Aside from the fight, a few other bright spots: Danny Bonaducci as a reappearing Freddy victim; seeing Jason (in adolescent flashbacks) as "Powder;" the comforting (if trivial) knowledge that Camp Crystal Lake is a mere road-trip away from Elm Street; and best of all: a poorly imitated and blatantly ripped off Jay wannabe (from Clerks) uttering this destined to be classic line after Jason hacks his way through a high school rave: "Man, that goalie was pissed about something."

Ubiquitously conscious of being the only person in the theatre, I kept wondering if perhaps, as the existence of such a horrible film is definitely one of the harbingers of the apocolypse (another being Whoopi Goldberg in her own sitcom), I'd leave the theatre afterwards only to find that I was the last man on Earth, having been shielded from the 90 minute holocaust to emerge into my own "28 Days Later" (I'm sorry, but it IS cooler than (prepare for blasphemy) "Omega man")...

Overall, the movie did for horror what Dorf does for golf (if you don't get that reference, ask your dad). It's more embarrassing to its' legacy than "Blues Brothers 2000" was to the memory of John Belushi. Almost worth the price of admission, definitely go see it.

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