Slasher thrillers have a way of dismembering audience sympathies. Are we on the side of the horny young idiots who get sliced and diced? Or is the masked/maimed killer the real hero – a kind of homicidal rock star, all id and no face? In Freddy vs. Jason, we’re rooting for Freddy Krueger, with his pervert’s leer, to drag his fingertip razors through Jason Voorhees’ hulking torso; for Jason to plunge his machete into Freddy’s scarecrow sweater; for both of these psycho icons of the ’80s to destroy as many kids as possible. In short, we’re rooting for everyone to kill everyone else.
There are far less lively ways to spend a night at the movies. Robert Englund’s performance as Freddy hasn’t lost its delight; it remains a juicy bloodsploitation burlesque, that nuthouse cackle bubbling up from beneath his latex burn makeup. In hell, Freddy recruits Jason to visit Elm Street and scare up memories of Freddy’s reign. Then Jason, naughty boy, insists on doing the killing himself. The two end up leaping, dreamlike, into each other’s back stories – which allows the film to layer the shocks like a trapdoor videogame. So can Freddy beat up Jason, or what? Let’s just say that neither one would have stood a chance against Abbott and Costello.