Freddy Vs. Jason appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen version on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. Despite some iffy moments during the flick’s early moments, Freddy mostly provided a solid image.
Sharpness usually appeared excellent. The majority of the flick came across as accurate and well defined. A few shots displayed a mild amount of softness, but those elements seemed minor, especially after the film’s first few minutes. No issues connected to jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, but some light edge enhancement seemed apparent. As for print flaws, a little grain popped up, mainly because Super 35 flicks tend to suffer from more grain than average. Otherwise, the movie seemed clean and without defects.
Given the dark setting of Freddy, not a lot of bright hues appeared. Some stylized lighting showed up with moderate frequency, though. Various sequences became heavily infused with blue, red or green tones, and those seemed distinctive and well represented. In general, the colors were tight and accurate. Black levels also seemed deep and firm, while most low-light situations appeared cleanly depicted. A few early dark shots were too murky, but the majority of the film’s shadows seemed clear and concise. Despite some niggling issues, Freddy largely offered a very good presentation.
Many will love the Dolby Digital EX 5.1 audio of Freddy Vs. Jason because it offered an extremely active affair. The soundfield made very lively use of all five channels virtually from start to finish. The surrounds speakers didn’t play a support role. Instead, they often remained as loud as the front channels, and they presented a high level of unique audio.
This usually worked fine, but occasionally I thought the surrounds were too active. I love a visceral and involving track, but this one went slightly over the top at times. Occasionally it became tough to concentrate or hear elements from the front – especially dialogue – because the surrounds took over so strongly. Those moments remained rare, but they occurred, which knocked Freddy down to an “A-“.
Otherwise this was a very strong soundtrack. The various elements seemed well placed within the spectrum and meshed together nicely. Again, each channel got a lot of work. The surrounds featured a wide array of pieces, and even included a moderate amount of directional dialogue from the rears. The mix seemed effective overall.
Audio quality also appeared excellent. Despite those lines that became tough to hear, the speech was always concise and crisp, with no problems on display connected to edginess or intelligibility. Some of Freddy’s narration also sported deep bass that made his lines more ominous. Music sounded bright and detailed. Both the score and occasional rock songs seemed tight and dynamic. Effects played the most important role in the film, and those also worked well. The various elements came across as distinctive and accurate. Highs were clean and clear, and bass response sounded deep and rich. No concerns with distortion occurred, and Freddy presented a consistently satisfying soundtrack.
New Line have produced a two-disc “Platinum Series” release for Freddy Vs. Jason. Most of the extras appear on the second disc, but a couple show up on DVD One. In addition to the self-explanatory Jump to a Death chapter search option, we find an audio commentary from director Ronny Yu and actors Robert Englund and Ken Kirzinger. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific piece.
Englund heavily dominates this mediocre commentary. For the most part, he attempts to liven up the proceedings with wisecracks. However, most of these don’t seem very amusing, so the track falls flat and becomes moderately annoying at times. Englund also frequently tells us how much he likes various elements and lavishes the praise.
Between the jokes and the love, we don’t get much time for actual information, though some pops up on occasion. Englund knocks out some notes about his work on prior Elm Street flicks and his experiences on the Freddy set, and when he quiets down long enough to let the others chime in, they provide reasonably useful remarks about their own work. However, those elements appear more infrequently than I’d like. Kirzinger simply lacks the personality to override the chatty Englund; sometimes he tries to get out an anecdote but his fellow actor prattles on so much that he can’t win. Yu seems content to let the others carry the load. Chalk this one up as a pretty disappointing discussion.
As we move to DVD Two, we open with a collection of 20 deleted/alternate scenes. These can be viewed individually or as one piece via the “Play All” option; if you select the latter, the clips will fill 15 minutes and 55 seconds. One of them – “the “original opening” – runs three minutes, 35 seconds, while “Party in the Corn” takes 105 seconds and the “original ending” lasts 100 seconds. The rest run between 15 and 55 seconds.
That doesn’t leave much room for anything to happen. Indeed, most of these clips are just short trims from existing scenes, and they add little. Even the longer ones don’t offer much that seems interesting. The scenes can be watched with or without optional commentary from director Ronny Yu and executive producer Douglas Curtis. They cut the vast majority of these sequences for time reasons and because they provide unnecessary exposition, so that’s essentially all the pair say most of the time. A couple of bits receive additional discussion, but most earn basic remarks.
An Easter egg appears in this area. Click up from the arrow to go to the next screen and a blotch will show up on the screen. Hit “enter” to watch a 165-second featurette about some endings considered for the film that weren’t shot. We hear from the flick’s screenwriters and its main effects crew as we see concept art. It’s a fun little piece.
Within the area of the DVD called “The Production” we find a mix of pieces. This domain starts with two Fangoria Magazine Articles: “Freddy and Jason Go to Development Hell” and “Slicing Towards Completion”. The former ably traces the film’s slow route to the screen and also explores many abandoned concepts. “Slicing” follows the flick as it actually starts to come close to being made. It goes through more unused ideas before we see the development of what showed up in the final film. It also gets into the “rules” of the movie’s universe. Both articles add up to one satisfying exploration of their topic.
After this we find five production featurettes. These include “Genesis: Development Hell” (10 minutes, 19 seconds), “On Location: Springwood Revisited” (14:45), “Art Direction: Jason’s Decorating Tips” (11:31), “Stunts: When Push Comes to Shove” (21:36), and “Makeup Effects: Freddy’s Beauty Secrets” (6:27). These provide the standard mix of movie clips, behind the scenes materials, and interviews. We hear from director Ronnie Yu, producer Sean Cunningham, co-chairman and co-CEO of New Line Robert Shaye, New Line senior VP of production Stokely Chaffin, screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, production designer John Willett, stunt coordinator Monty Simons, stunt actors Glenn Ennis and Deborah MacAtumpag, makeup effects artist Bill Terezakis, actors Robert Englund, Chris Marquette, Kelly Rowland, Monica Keena and Ken Kirzinger.
One can infer the various subjects from their titles, but I’ll go through some of the topics nonetheless. “Genesis” looks at some elements of how the flick made it to the screen, most of which look from a slightly different viewpoint than the Fangoria articles; happily, not too much redundant material appears. “Location” includes only a few comments, as it mostly presents images from the set. “Tips” presents some information about the visual look of different places – especially the dream worlds – but also mainly consists of behind the scenes shots. “Shove” mostly examines the stunt in which a fiery Jason walks through a cornfield as well as some general topics, and video from the set dominates it as well. Lastly, “Secrets” divulges information about how the complicated makeups are developed and applied. These featurettes show more than tell, so don’t expect many insightful details. Nonetheless, the behind the scenes shots are quite interesting, and they make these featurettes a lot of fun.
More of these sorts of pieces appear in the Visual Effects Featurettes area. This domain looks at 12 different sequences in a collection that runs 34 minutes, 58 seconds when viewed with the “Play All” option. Presented as a “tour” with visual effects supervisor Ariel Velasco-Shaw and visual effects producer Kevin Elam, this program intersperses their interview snippets with movie clips and elements of the effects in production. They go through the various challenges in detail and provide a nice examination of their work; the featurette helps us get a good grasp on how they did their effects. The men are very frank about their challenges, so this is a terrific discussion.
Finally, “The Production” presents a whopping 11 Galleries. Six of these look at “Storyboards”. We get illustrations for “Opening” (111 screens), “Trey’s Death” (47), “Grain Silo/Boiler Room” (46), “First Battle” (135), “Freddypillar” (31), and “The Dock” (67). The other five galleries look at “Behind the Scenes” (33 stills), “Concept Art” (26 images), “Freddypillar” (15), “Locations” (12), and “Makeup Design/Models” (34). These add up to a nice collection of pictures and preparatory materials.
Inside the “Publicity and Promotion” area we find a few additional pieces. Pre-Fight Press Conference – Bally’s Casino, Las Vegas, July 15, 2003 gives us a three-minute and 48-second event to hype the flick. The ever-annoying Michael Buffer hosts and does his ever-annoying schtick as all involved treat Freddy and Jason like prize-fighting boxers. It’s very lame.
Next we get the movie’s theatrical trailer plus eight TV spots. A music video for Ill Nino’s “How Can I Live” features the kind of pop metal usually found in horror flicks. The video mixes lip-synching with a minor plot in which someone stalks a babe on Elm Street. To my surprise, it includes no movie clips, but it also presents no inspiration and it seems dull.
To round out this domain, we find My Summer Vacation: A Visit to Camp Hacknslash. This three-minute and 55-second featurette covers a big premiere event in Austin, Texas. Basically this put a bunch of fans at a summer camp for the day before they watch a screening of the flick. It’s a clever way to stage a premiere but not a very interesting event to watch, except for parts of the wet T-shirt contest, I suppose. Lastly, More from New Line presents trailers to advertise The Butterfly Effect, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare and Jason Goes to Hell.
For DVD-ROM users, the fun continues. Different features appear on both disc. On DVD One, “Script to Screen” lets you read the original script while you watch the movie; the video runs in a small screen on the left as the text displays on the right half of the screen. In a more creative, the “Enhanced Mode” lets you watch the flick accompanied by a trivia game. This lets you play as either Freddy or Jason and promises a prize if you “emerge victorious with more power than your opponent”. However, I did that and didn’t get any reward! Still, it’s a moderately fun feature.
On DVD Two, we access “Killer Sound Bites”, which lets you select nine of Freddy’s one-liners and the squishes and hacks for nine of Jason’s kills. It seems pretty lame. “Cutting Room Floor” allows you to re-edit the battle between Freddy and Jason in the nightmare world. You take any of 21 clips and re-arrange them at will. This sounds cool, but unlike other editing features I’ve seen on DVD, it doesn’t let you select alternate takes of the same scene. Instead, these are all short but stand-alone bits, so to mess with their order doesn’t make sense, and the end result becomes nonsensical.
Both discs present some links. The “Hot Spot” sends you to a New Line site that apparently offers revolving pieces of information and activities. We also get links to the Freddy Vs. Jason website and New Line’s homepage.
Freddy Vs. Jason did well enough financially to invigorate both movie franchises. Unfortunately, the film lacked much creativity and came across like a missed opportunity. Too much yak, not enough hack! At least the DVD works well. It presents very good picture and audio with a varied and solid roster of extras. Fans will definitely dig this well executed two-DVD set, but others without a huge appetite for these iconic baddies should give it a pass.