Friday, October 13, 2017

The Weirdest 'Freddy vs. Jason' Script EVER!

There were a lot of weird Freddy vs. Jason scripts floating around in Hollywood in the mid-1990s, but none of 'em were as brass-balled out there as the one penned by Brannon Braga and Ronald Moore which saw Jason go on trial for mega-homicide and Freddy mass murder an entire shopping mall full of children. 

By: Jimbo X

Even now I'm not sure if 2003's Freddy vs. Jason was a rousing success or a dismal failure. At the time, I thought it was a goddamn hoot, but then again, me and my pals had also spent an hour in the parking lot before the movie started drinking Dr. Pepper and vodka and listening to Soundgarden, so there may have been some chemical influence on our perspectives. My second (and first sober) screening of the movie when it hit the DVD rounds, I wasn't anywhere near as impressed, and by the third time I watched it, I was wholeheartedly disappointed. I mean, shit, we've been waiting on this movie for more than a decade - that was a LOT of hype, and I don't think anybody, even the people who actually made the movie, would say that it came anywhere close to living up to its sky-high expectations.

Watching the movie now, though, I'm kinda' on the fence. There were some cool elements, but as a whole, it really didn't add up to anything truly transcendent. I can appreciate the writers' reluctance to fuck with the series chronology of each respective franchise, but considering how long people have been waiting for the flick, you sorta' expected them to hit us with some big go-home point that wedded the two brands together, like revealing Freddy was Jason's dad or that Michael Myers was the Kruegers' next door neighbor or something. Still, the fact that Ronny Yu's movie came complete with a coherent (even rational) plot can't be considered anything other than a minor miracle - especially considering how clusterfucky some of the proposed FvJ scripts were. 

You may not think the 2003 movie was the bee's knees, but compared to what we could've ended up with, it was a fucking cinematic triumph. One proposed script had a teenage cult resurrect Freddy so he could rape a retarded elementary schooler and bring about the Apocalypse. Another one had Freddy and Jason literally fighting each other in a boxing ring in hell, with Ted Bundy as the special guest referee. And in yet another, there's a scene where a character gets sucked inside Freddy's nostril and has to do battle with a giant talking wad of CGI snot. Actually, that's a lie on my part - that wasn't three different plots, those are all taken from a single script, which was THE ONE screenplay New Line Cinema almost produced (indeed, that it put the brakes on that turd of a concept might be literally the only good thing to come out of the Columbine massacre.)

I'm not quite sure just how many Freddy vs. Jason scripts were floating around in Hollywood - a great new book, Slash of the Titans, examines at least ten different ones - but of the ones that have made it to the Internet, in my humblest o' opinions the absolute weirdest one had to be the treatment penned by Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore titled simply Jason vs. Freddy.

Now Braga and Moore (whose co-writing credits include the second Mission: Impossible movie, among many others) are no Johnny-Come-Latelies. Around the time of the script, Braga (who has since picked up a couple of awards for his work on Terra Nova and the Cosmos reboot and written a few 24 episodes), had already penned a pretty good number of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes. His partner Moore (who later wrote the Battlestar Galactica reboot and is currently writing Outlander) also had a fair amount of writing experience, not just on TNG, but also on a few full-length Star Trek movies, including Generations. Now, considering their sci-fi pedigrees, you'd expect their FvJ treatment to be more in line with Jason X than Yu's movie, but hold your horses: instead of making the crossover slasher movie a straight-up monster kung-fu movie, their treatment was effectively a courtroom drama.

Yep, you heard right - they literally turned Freddy v. Jason into, well, Freddy v. Jason. OK, so maybe it's not a full-length John Grisham legal potboiler, but it's certainly unlike anything we've ever seen in a Friday the 13th or Elm Street movie before or after. The full script isn't too hard to find with a little bit of Googlin', but for those of you who would prefer the CliffsNotes version, I've taken the time and the effort to sum up the whole dang thing for you below. Enjoy it, kids - it's some way out there shit.

We begin with these two land developers at Crystal Lake. They make jokes about Jason and get lost in the woods and take refuge in a dilapidated old house. The male developer talks with a realtor on his cell phone. The house is glutted with knifes, machetes, chainsaws and, of course, hockey masks. His female companion sees some odd newspaper clippings on the wall. Then her partner goes missing. She prowls around the house for a bit and finds him hanging on a meat hook, deader than the prospects of a Prodigy comeback. She grabs a knife and finds Jason just sitting in a recliner in the living room. She throws it at him, he grabs it in midair and in one fell swoop, throws it right back at her and through her skull.

Then an FBI assault team swarms the house. Meanwhile, Ruby Jarvis gets a phone call at three in the morning letting her know she's going to be the public defender in the capital murder trial of one Jason Voorhees.

Ruby discusses the case with federal prosecutor Keith Harding. She says the warrant was signed by a local judge and therefore remains in her jurisdiction. She visits Jason at the county jail and reads him his rights. He stares at the floor the entire time. She freaks out when he scratches his hand.

Ruby then speaks with her assistant, your stereotypical Asian sidekick Kwan. She says she wants a change of venue and the jurors sequestered. She thinks copping an insanity plea might be the best defense moving forward.

They go to video store and check out the horror section. She says slasher moves have made America prejudiced against her client. Kwan then picks up a copy of Friday the 13th, then Zombie Sluts From Beyond the Grave. So it looks like we're living in a diagetic world where Jason exists, but all of the previous F13 movies were also fictitious. Keep that in the back of your head for later on.

Ruby goes home and watches Friday the 13th Part 10: Jason's Greatest Hits and Chops for research. She mocks the movie and gets a phone call from the local sheriff, letting her know Jason has escaped. She hears a mysterious sound and fog starts rolling into her living room. She's soon attacked by Jack the Ripper, then Charles Manson tries to give her a swastika tattoo. She finds a severed head in a kitchen pot, then gets sneak-attacked by Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy. Then Jason approaches her. He slowly takes off his mask and it's Freddy! Of course, she wakes up right before he claws her.

It's a media circus at the Crystal Lake courthouse the next day. Some protesters have signs reading "Jason needs to die," others have signs reading "free Jason". Ruby speaks with a psychologist ("he's fucking nuts," he says, "and interestingly, it appears he doesn't sleep, ever.") Jason is literally wheeled into court with chains all over him. Harding mocks Ruby's outfit and literally takes all day to read all of Jason's charges. Ruby enters a not guilty plea at the arraignment and everybody freaks out. Then a guy who said Jason killed his sister runs into the courthouse and shoots him six times.

So Jason is taken to the hospital (He has Type O Negative blood and a resting heart rate of 180, in case you've ever wondered such) and shot full of barbiturates and gassed. He finally falls asleep and starts dreaming. He's a boy being chased though the woods, having flashbacks to pre-burnt Freddy K. having sex with his mama. He grabs a doctor during some x-rays but gets needled again and falls back asleep. Still a kid in the dream, Jason tries to escape Freddy in a metal canoe. Freddy attacks him in the middle of a lake, then a nurse sees what appears to be a metal glove on the X-ray monitor, swiping at his chest. Jason goes into violent convulsions. He wakes up, but remains deathly still on the table the second he regains consciousness. The public defender can't believe he made a full recovery.

Ruby, Kwan and the psychiatrist go to the hospital basement to read Jason's old medical records from when he was a (human) kid. They learn his mom died from ovarian cancer in 1969 and his dad was named Elias (so, uh, I guess it's sticking to the official Friday canon, I suppose.) Ruby says that although a string of murders did happen in the 1980s, all those damn Friday the 13th movies have confused the realities of Jason's life to the general public. The records suggest Jason has insomnelence, an extreme form of insomnia where he goes without sleep for three months at a time. Ruby says that could explain his violent behavior and potentially get him off by reason of insanity.
What - you thought I was making this shit up?

They hook Jason up to a brain scanning EEG machine and dope him up on 47 ccs (did you know that stands for cubic centimeters?) of Valium. "If we're lucky, maybe he'll fart in his sleep” one tech remarks. Two hours later, Jason finally hits R.E.M. sleep. He dreams about being a kid again and walks in on human Freddy fucking the shit out of his mom (again.) Then Freddy in his more recognizable burnt form chases him and says he ain't getting away this time but when he hits him with his glove, a hockey mask magically materializes over his face. Jason becomes full grown, grabs an ax and dismembers Freddy, Evil Dead style. But Freddy (with green blood!) reassembles himself. Jason IRL starts convulsing. Freddy's arm pops out of Jason's chest and slices the jugulars of Kwan and a cop on standby. Freddy's thrashing hand catches Kwan's ponytail and drags him into Jason's chest and thusly, the dream world. Ruby and pals try to yank him out but accidentally inject Jason with more hypno-juice. Freddy fucks up Kwan's face something fierce with his claw and spits his corpse out into the real world. Then Jason wakes up - of course, right before Freddy can escape from the dream world.

Ruby is grilled by Harding about the murders. She is adamant Jason didn't do it and the razor hand she saw was real, dabnabbit. She goes home and scans a police sketch of the glove into a federal murder weapons database. Sure enough, it pulls up a file on Freddy, who was supposedly burned alive in the late sixties. Then, she finds a report on the 1984 Springwood child murders ….

Then Ruby visits the psychiatrist (they just call him by his last name, Dr. Sena) and tells him the classic Freddy backstory. Apparently, Springwood is just eight miles from Crystal Lake (this, despite the official mythos of each franchise putting the series in Ohio and New Jersey, respectively, but as they say in France, "fuck continuity.") She brings up a few reports of teens saying Freddy visited them in dreams and tried to kill them. She looks at the EEG-thingy and it clearly shows two distinct brain waves while Jason was sleeping.

Next there's a big FBI dig at Jason's old place. They find 47 bodies buried on the premises. Ruby finds a fedora in Mrs. Voorhees' bedroom with the initials "F.K." written on the inside. Dr. Sena hooks Jason to to the EEG thing and sedates him again. This time, though, it's being filmed. Meanwhile, Ruby goes under Mrs. Voorhees' bed and it starts shaking violently. She gets out and sees young Jason in the house, but not unlike John Cena, he can't see her.

The EEG machine explodes and Freddy hops out of Jason's body into our real world. He mind controls four guards to blow each other's brains out and Ruby and Harding return to Crystal Lake. There are dozens of dead bodies everywhere, with a whole slew of cops getting blown away by invisible bullets. Ruby finds a newswoman's camera. She rewinds the footage of an invisible jail break, in which 50 dream men attack the cops in a bloody shootout. Then the newswoman gets ghost raped by some sort of unseen presence, and Freddy pops up on camera at the very last frame.

Ruby returns to the jail. Jason's still sleeping and Dr. Sena, surprisingly, is still alive. He says Freddy has the ability to induce mass narcosis - basically, to create walking nightmares in real life. They look under Jason's bed and hey, young Jason has apparently crossed over from dreamworld too.

Elsewhere, Harding's driving on the interstate when he sees a couple of girls in white dresses playing in the middle of the road. This causes a massive pile up, but Freddy manages to reassemble the cars so they are perfectly parked on the highway, but inside everybody remains mangled and decapitated with the radios and engines still humming. "Don't dream and drive," Freddy quips.

Then Ruby speaks to boy Jason. He's terrified of Freddy. At one point, four bloody claw marks show up on his forehead and Ruby wipes it off. He talks about Freddy trying to drown him in the lake, but surviving and living the rest of his life in the woods, growing angrier and angrier. Eventually boy Jason snaps and beats Dr. Sena with a billy club. Ruby hugs him and he starts crying. Adult Jason wakes up and boy Jason disappears. He grabs his hockey mask and ax, leaves the room and hits the city streets.

We enter Springwood, which is described as a city of hundreds of thousands of people. If Freddy's whole shtick is killing teens, Dr. Sena says he's probably headed to a place where there are a lot of teenagers to shish-ka-bob - the local mall. And on cue, Freddy enters the Elm Street Shopping Plaza. Ruby gets a shotgun and Dr. Sena gives her a stimulant that will keep her from dreaming, but it only lasts ten minutes. Well, that's not foreshadowing or anything.

Freddy gets on an elevator and kills two punks by making their tattoos come alive and their piercings grow Hellraiser-esque barbs and dig into their flesh. He then places an invisible gate around the mall, and says "it's time to shop till they drop."

From here, it's absolute bedlam. An invisible semi crashes through the mall and invisible Rottweilers attack little girls. Kids get sucked into a man-eating ball pit and teens popping pimples have snakes come out of their faces. Hairspray turns into flamethrowers and horny nerds are strangled by mannequins. Then the food court explodes and people have their legs eaten off by escalators (which has always been one of my greatest irrational fears, by the way.)

Ruby and Dr. Sena finally arrive. Now a "real" fire has broken out. They shoot up the stay-awake juice and free some people.  Ruby shoots at Freddy, hits a coffee machine and sprays his face with espresso. Dr. Sena gives another Freddy-reversing  injection to a girl who thinks she's being attacked by dolls. A nurse saunters on up to Dr. Sena (who is painted as a big perv earlier in the script) and she flashes him. But instead of nipples, she has gnashing teeth. Now, his anti-hallucination drugs haven't worn off, so it doesn't kill him. Then Freddy says he has to finish the job himself. Ruby shoots Freddy and he runs off into a movie theater. Inside are piles of dead ushers, complete with one guy stuffed inside the popcorn machine. Ruby sees a cardboard standee for Jason 2010 … a fictitious movie that eerily foretold the coming of Jason X in 2002. Naturally, the standee comes alive and attacks her. "The verdict is in bitch," Freddy says, "you're guilty of fucking with the wrong guy." Yeah ... his dialogue could've used some work.

And here's the part where the "real" Jason makes the save and fights robot Jason. Then Freddy makes 50 of Jason's victims appear as zombies and attack him including the two land developers from the opening scene. Jason fights them off and Freddy says they should join forces and he turns into his mom … only for Jason to grab the razor glove and stab Freddy in the throat.

Ruby yells from a dentist office. She's trapped in a chair, which has been transformed into a  torture device. Jason tries to free her (wait, what the fuck is Jason doing trying to SAVE somebody else's life?) and what do you know, it's actually Freddy and he criticizes Jason for going soft in his old age. Freddy hits Jason with some laughing gas and he starts to doze off. He tries to jump back up out of dreamland and pops out of Freddy's chest, then Ruby hits Jason with another dose of anti-sleep juice and it basically fuses Freddy and Jason into a Siamese twin freak of nature. 
They run around the fiery mall and Ruby fireman carries Sena to safety. Jason tells her to leave - yep, he can talk in this script - and Freddy and Jason, sharing the same body, keep fighting. Jason hits a propane tank and the mall goes kaboom. "My client is dead," Ruby remarks, "but he's a free man."

We cut to the Voorhees house getting demolished. Before cutting to black, we pan to a photo of boy Jason - only instead of looking scared, he actually looks happy. Then the wall comes down, and that's all she wrote, kids.

A computer simulation of the original ending of Freddy vs. Jason.

All in all, I thought it was a pretty good treatment, even though I do have some major complaints about the way Jason is depicted. Ultimately, they made him far too sympathetic, and if there's one thing Jason should never be, it's a victim. Oddly enough, almost all of the major FvJ scripts out there had the same motif, with Freddy playing the "real" bad guy and Jason doing a Godzilla/Venom-like face turn. Really, only the one used for the 2003 film seemed to get away from that concept, and for as much shit as we give that flick, we should at least be thankful it kept Jason the emotionless psycho killer we all know and love.

The nightmare sequences, though, would've been awesome, and the grand finale kill-fest at the mall would've been a hoot and a half. It's kind of a pity nobody's attempted to translate the script into a comic book mini-series, or even better, a DCAU-like feature length animated movie. The script, as a whole, never would've worked as a full-fledged live-action movie, but it could've been pretty cool as a non-canon spin-off in a totally different medium. I mean, at the absolute least, we should've got an action figure of the Jason/Freddy Siamese twin monster, and there's no excuse for McFarlane Toys never giving it to us

An aside, but I've always thought it was odd New Line would just let the Friday rights lapse without giving us a proper FvJ sequel. I mean, the movie did make a ton of money, and it wouldn't have been too hard to crank out a follow-up every Halloween, Saw style, if they really wanted to. And there were certainly no shortage of novel approaches to the crossover hook, as evident by the kookiness of Braga and Moore's script. 

Who knows. Maybe one day Freddy and Jason will once again be fighting under the same corporate umbrella again, but it's a pity we didn't get more of a good thing back when Robert Englund and Kane Hooder were willing and ready to do it. Alas, each and every Friday the 13th, we can always reflect on what could've been - and as bad as a movie about Jason being put on trial for 400 counts of murder and Freddy killing people by turning their tattoos alive might have been, there's no way it could've been worse than most of the crap that passes for "horror" in this day and age ...

1 comment:

  1. I always had this weird fantasy of Freddy Krueger being a talk show host, with the same kind of rag-tag guests and everything.
    The theme would be "Do The Freddy", but instead sung as "Yes it's Freddy".
    And the theme songs during commercial breaks would be "Freddy's Dead" and the Paul Evans song "Seven Little Girls (Sitting In The Back Seat)"

    One can just imagine the interactions between the "trailer park trash" types and the "ghetto rat" types and good ol' Freddy.


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