Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
Main Menu Introduction
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
|Year Of Production||2003|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Ronny Yu|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Is Freddy vs. Jason just another attempt to cash in on the huge fan base of the Friday The 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street films? Well, yes of course it is! Somewhat surprisingly however, it actually manages to breathe a little new life into both of these series of films. What we get is a fairly entertaining romp which takes the best - and worst - of the two series of films, and delivers a reasonable trip down the Memory Lane of good old slasher flicks.
The Friday The 13th series encompasses no less than eleven movies (including this one). In that series of films, the machete wielding, hockey-mask wearing Jason Voorhees wreaks bloody havoc amongst teenagers - generally in and around the environs of Camp Crystal Lake, although he does take the odd holiday - to Manhattan for instance. Born badly deformed and unfortunately allowed to drown when the randy camp counsellors failed to supervise him adequately, Jason Voorhees has since stalked the horny teenagers of America for twenty-three years.
Freddy Kreuger was a psychopath - the Springwood Slasher - with a nasty habit of killing young girls. When he escaped imprisonment due to an error in the legal paperwork, the townsfolk of Springwood took the law into their own hands and burned him to death. Death did not deter him however, and he found a way to continue his gory killing spree - by haunting America's teens in their nightmares, and killing them while they slept. Freddy's reign of terror began with A Nightmare On Elm Street in 1984 and continued for seven films until the series ended in 1994 (with A New Nightmare). Now, thanks to Freddy vs. Jason, that foul-mouthed ol' razor-fingers is back for more.
Freddy Kreuger is not happy with his lot in life - or indeed, in death. He has largely been forgotten by the teens of America and without them fearing him, he has no power to appear in their nightmares and use them as fodder for his maniacal blood-lust. What's a serial killer to do? Well, how about searching the bowels of Hell for another serial killer, resurrecting him and have him slaughter a few kids in Freddy's name. Surely if a few teens were slaughtered on Elm Street, then it wouldn't be long before everyone suspected Freddy was to blame...and the fear and subsequent teen nightmares would allow Freddy to continue the killings himself. Hey - it's worth a try right? Now, who would be a suitable killer to set up as the fall guy...hmmm...what about that lumbering dumbass Jason Voorhees?
By pretending to be Jason's mum in a nightmare, and convincing him that his slaughtering work has not yet been completed, Freddy (somewhat inexplicably) manages to revive Jason and sends him out to stalk the streets of Springwood. When Jason stumbles across a party at none other than 1428 Elm Street, the blood soon starts to flow. The local police unfortunately suspect that the murder is the work of the long forgotten Freddy Krueger. Before too long Freddy's name is on every teen's lips and they are being slaughtered faster than you can say "irrational plot device". Unfortunately for Freddy, old Jason turns out to be rather self-centred and quite enjoys his killing spree - so much so that there is likely to be a shortage of teens available for Freddy to kill during their sleep. It seems that Freddy is now going to have to kill Jason (as ever, if you want someone killed, you just have to do it yourself), if he wants access to all those nubile young American teens!
What follows is a seemingly endless killing spree, with teens dying like flies. Various American teens try not to fall asleep and risk being killed by Freddy, but struggle to avoid being killed by Jason whilst awake. Jason tries to kill all the kids. Freddy tries to kill all the kids - and Jason. To add to the excessive gore and interminable screaming there is the bonus of the inevitable showdown (well, a couple of showdowns actually) between Jason and Freddy. This provides a (sometimes confusing) twist to the typical slasher premise, but does successfully increase the innovation evident in this instalment.
Look, I'm not going to pretend that this stuff is art. For fans of Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees however, this is actually a worthwhile addition to their respective sagas (and this one too leaves itself, worryingly, wide open for a sequel). Silly, pointless, gory fun - whilst never truly scary, it does manage a modicum of suspense, some self-referential humour and a lot of action-oriented killing. This is worth a purchase for fans (although not the Region 4 release - see below), and is certainly a cut above several of the dire sequels in either the Nightmare or Friday series.
The video quality of this transfer is extremely good - approaching reference quality.
The video is presented 16x9 enhanced at 2.35:1 which is very close to the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1. It is generally satisfyingly sharp in the foreground with a little softness due to some mild pixelization in the backgrounds.
The dark scenes show deep, inky blacks with no low level noise. One of the worst problems a slasher flick could suffer from is poor shadow detail and thankfully it is very well handled in this transfer, with plenty of detail evident in what is frequently a very dark film. There is some pixelization evident on occasion in the backgrounds but this never detracts significantly from what is a very nice transfer. The colour palette tends towards blue and grey given that much of the action takes place at night. Where other colours are used however, they are very nicely rendered and remain solid throughout with no signs of colour bleeding. As might be expected, there is plenty of "blood" in the film and it always comes across vividly and forms a stark contrast to the otherwise cool palette. Skins tones are natural at all times.
The transfer to DVD has resulted in no significant MPEG artefacts. There was some minor edge enhancement present very sporadically, evident as a halo around the buildings at 51:15 for example, but generally it was not noticeable. Aliasing was completely unnoticed on my (progressive scan) system. Telecine wobble is not evident, even in the title sequences.
Film artefacts are inconsequential and this is overall a very clean transfer.
The English for the Hard of Hearing subtitles are well timed and easy to read, providing very detailed audio cues including song lyrics. They follow the dialogue very closely, dropping only a few words for the sake of brevity.
This disc is in a single layered DVD 5 format so there is no layer change to detect.
The overall audio transfer is rather good, and very lively. It is very enveloping from the opening scene to the final confrontation. The ubiquitous rainstorms and thunderclaps are delivered with vigour throughout.
The sole English audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 kbps. My receiver has the EX flag set to "Auto", and it was not triggered by this DVD.
There are no issues with audio defects such as hiss, clicks or pops. Dialogue is almost always clear although I found I had to resort to subtitles on occasion to make out some of the lines - this is not a fault of the transfer however, more a limitation in the delivery. Audio sync was never problematic.
The main score is credited to Kiwi Graeme Revell (Daredevil, Pitch Black) and does a good job throughout. Whilst a little predictable (stabbing strings and thumping drums) it does manage to sustain the tension through the film and makes full use of the dynamic range available. Much of the soundtrack is filled with thumping heavy metal type pop tunes and these too fit quite well with this action-oriented film.
The front speakers get a good old workout, delivering the dialogue and with some very nice spread of music and effects across the front soundstage. The front soundstage is highly active at all times, and despite the rousing musical score and numerous audio effects, the dialogue is never drowned out.
The surround channels are used continually to deliver an ongoing barrage of sound. This is a very full soundtrack indeed, and your viewing environment will barely see a quiet moment. The surrounds carry ambient effects and provide a lot of support for the musical score to give a very lively and enveloping soundstage. Personally, I was a little disappointed in the extent of the directional or localised effects and thought that there were some obvious missed opportunities with the audio effects. That is not to say they do not exist - there are some examples of good front to rear pans, for instance the truck at 64:58 or the cylinders at 78:20, but just not as dramatically as I had hoped for. Nevertheless, the clarity and dynamic range of the track is very satisfying.
The subwoofer was used almost constantly to carry bass from both the musical score and the aural effects. There is some sustained deep bass and lots of true LFE rumblings present and the audio track will certainly give your subwoofer plenty to keep it gainfully employed. Obviously a metal-inspired musical track lends itself to some deep bass activity, and the sub really comes to the fore when the rock kicks in (for instance at the party around 32:00).
Update 01-February-2004: There has been some controversy in regards to the audio soundtrack on this DVD, as it seems the dialogue has been mixed into all channels, rather than just the front speakers. For those with a conventional 5.1 speaker set-up there is a noticeable dialogue presence in the left and right surround speakers. This issue is less noticeable if you have a rear surround speaker and Dolby Digital EX encoding set to "on".
Overall, this is still a vibrant and generally satisfying audio transfer, and the dialogue never feels noticeably out of place with or without EX decoding activated. This may, however, be another reason for collectors to favour the Region 1 two-disc set over the bare-bones Region 4 disc.
|Surround Channel Use|
Frustratingly for fans, there is a single paltry extra on this DVD.
The main menu is initially a bloody affair, briefly accompanied by a snatch of heavy metal - before falling silent and sitting quietly like a week old corpse. It allows the options of playing the movie, choosing one of a twenty-one chapter stops, activating the subtitles or selecting from the huge catalogue of extras (not!):
Presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.78:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 320 kbps, and running for 1:02.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Oh give me a break! Surely I must have the Region 4 rental release to hand here? This cannot possibly be considered a fair contest. The Region 1 version of this movie is presented as a two-disc set - part of the New Line Platinum collection, distributed by Warner Home Video. It has so many extras that it leaves the Region 4 release looking pathetic by comparison.
The Region 1 release misses out on:
The Region 4 release misses out on:
Shame on Roadshow Entertainment for this truly pathetic Region 4 release. Vote with your wallet and buy the two disc Region 1 version, which can be had for less than $30 Australian at the time of writing.
Freddy vs. Jason is a bit of lightweight slasher fun. It is not scary per se, but does undo some of the damage done by endless inferior sequels in the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday The 13th series of films. More action oriented than any of the previous entries in the series, it manages to entertain throughout - albeit with a plot line which requires the total suspension of disbelief, and doesn't stand up well to close scrutiny. Popcorn schlock horror with some decent effects, a pumping soundtrack, a very nice video transfer and an appalling lack of extras. Fans of either series of films - especially those who must own the entire collection - will not be disappointed with a (Region 1) purchase of this title.
The video quality is very good indeed.
The audio transfer is very good indeed.
Extras are shamefully limited (in Region 4) to a theatrical trailer.
|DVD||Harmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output|
|Display||Sanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES|
|Speakers||JensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer|