Freddy vs. Jason: Ronny Yu
Director Ronny Yu promoted Freddy vs. Jason in numerous interviews throughout 2003–04. The Hong Kong-based filmmaker admitted to knowing very little about the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street series before committing to direct the development-troubled Freddy vs. Jason. However, under Yu’s direction Freddy vs. Jason went on to become a box office smash for both series. The following is a collection of Ronny Yu interview excerpts from various Web sources, where he discusses his reasons for accepting the project, the challenges in bringing two of horror’s favorite titans together, his background, favorite horror films and more.
Moviehole Interview: Ronny Yu
By Clint Morris
“To begin with. I asked the guys [NewLine Cinema] why they waned me to begin with? I’m not even familiar with the series? And Freddy vs.Jason?” he says. “They said they wanted a fresh angle, they wanted someone that wasn’t familiar with the movies. This was a new franchise, and they wanted a new look and feel. I ultimately agreed, and saw their point. So I did my homework and watched all 17 of the films [both “Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” series] which by the way, some are pretty terrible and met up with Robert Englund. Englund had so much fire in him, even after twenty years. He would say this is what we should have Freddy do, or Freddy wouldn’t do that, he was excited. I loved it.
“After looking through all the Elm Street films, I realized the first one was the best. The others were just watered down. I thought let’s go back to the roots, old school. One thing I didn’t want was a lot of CGI. I’m so sick of it. It takes it away from the audience, it doesn’t look real. I wanted to go back and do what they did in the first film – all those kills, but put our head together and work out a way to do it that didn’t require CGI. For instance, the first kill, the one in bed, was made with a mechanical bed and an amalgamation of a human body and prosthetics for arms and legs”.
Yu says another change he wanted for the film was a new Jason as requested by the studio at the outset. “It was simple. I was coming in new, so why not bring in some new cast? After all, this was a new series. They wanted someone who walked differently, moved differently. I agreed. Having a brand new guy just makes it even more exciting. Thankfully, we found the right actor [Ken Kirzinger]”.
Yu says that one of his conditions in taking up the film would be if he got to choose who wins the mêlée between the lead characters. “I was tearing my hair out over that”, Yu laughs. “There are so much Freddy fans, and there are so much Jason fans. Probably about fifty-fifty. I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t upset anyone. I wanted everyone to walk out of the cinema with big smiles on their faces. So we shot two endings, and at the end I could present them both and see which one was the best. Ultimately, the other ending the one you see now was the one that satisfied the fans the most”.
Yu says that other ending will be on the forthcoming DVD. “It will be on there. Most definitely. But I’m not telling you who wins in that one”, he laughs. “There’s a great DVD coming actually. I love it. It’s called a Platinum Collectors edition and it’ll be two discs. On the first disc we will have this whole feature on the evolution of both series with interviews and everything, leading right up to Freddy vs. Jason. And then we have some deleted scenes, including some of the CGI stuff that I just didn’t think worked. There are also two commentaries – One just me by myself, and then one with Englund and the guy that plays Jason”.
Finally, having studied marketing at university in his younger years, how does Ronny Yu think the studio’s done on marketing his film? “Fantastic”, he laughs. “Fantastic”.
Getting to Know Yu Again
By Fred Topel
Fred: What can you do in a nightmare now that you couldn’t do 10 years ago?
Ronny: There’s the technology now. For example, there’s a caterpillar. The Freddy turned into a caterpillar, that one has to be CG. No way you can make a physical animatronic caterpillar to have that fluid movement and facial expression that almost resembles Freddy. Nowadays, with CGI and all that, you just say, “Okay, let’s draw it out on a computer and let’s refine it any other way you can.”
They did do a snake.
Yes, but still, at that time, the technology and all the resources, the money, it’s not there. And you had to cheat in the shots and everything. But now with CGI, you just show one shot. Have the caterpillar moving any way.
Did you have to rebuild the Elm Street house?
We were so lucky because we were thinking about how are we going to rebuild that because we don’t have enough money to do it. Then the production designer in Canada just drove by a street and saw this house. Then, from his computer, he tried to previsualize how we’d put the little thing there, the little bush there, and then exactly we repainted the windows and all that exactly for Elm Street.
It’s not the same street?
No, but it looked exactly the same.
What is this idea of Freddy as a virus?
Freddy is a virus. Because the thing about Freddy is he’s so dangerous and scary because he comes in your dream. Everybody has dreams. Everybody sleeps. You can’t get away from that?
How hard was it to burn the cornfield?
Oh, very, very dangerous. Because at the time we shot, the weather was dry in Vancouver. Burning dry corn is almost uncontrollable. So the special effects guy did a fantastic job. So we had to cut all the path for the fire to burn, and then we had all the fire extinguishers and water. We had a big pond, built a big pond nearby with a lot of water just in case. But it’s very scary because you have the stunt guy wearing this suit and they would light him on fire. And when you’re on fire with this suit, you can’t even really see clearly. So sometimes he would walk off the path, so we had to have people hiding behind the corn with fire extinguishers just in case he walked off the path and lit up other corn.
What was the most challenging part of the Freddy/Jason fight?
I think it’s the wound I wanted to show the audience when these two fight each other, when they’re using their weapons to chop each other up and there’s an exchange of weapons. Freddy’s claw being used by Jason and all that. To get that across, rather than use CGI, to see that blood spraying out and all that, I wanted to do it physically. So that means the two actors and the stunt guys each had to carry all these pipes down their pants and on their legs and all that. Every pipe represented the different wounds, so when the machete hit, then the technician can turn on the valve and the blood can come out. And that is very difficult because first of all, they’re heavy. And then the coordination, and then the movement and all that has to be calculated well.
What are your own nightmares?
I have this nightmare that’s been with me for a long time. I don’t know that I use it or it just inspires me, but that really scares me. It’s not really like a monster. It’s myself that scares me, what I did. I always have this recurring dream that I’m in this open grass field and then I’m riding this huge white horse and I have all this armor, wearing all this armor. I have this big sword and I’m sort of like a general. I’m leading a bunch of soldiers and keep conquering one country after another and killing people. It’s like killing, killing, killing. And the worst thing is I’m enjoying it. There’s blood everywhere, killing, killing, killing. And all of a sudden, I get ambushed. You know dreams, it’s like jumping. I get ambushed and all my soldiers are killed and my horses are killed. And I was faced with all the spears from the enemy spears going at me. And I cry and cry and cry, and I wake up. I don’t know what that means. My family talked to a fortune teller in Hong Kong and the fortune teller said, “That’s karma. You had polio when you were nine months old, a baby. The dream probably tells you that in your past life, you’ve been killing too many people. You’re not respectful of human life. So now is payback time.”
Do you believe that?
I do. I do believe in karma. That’s why every time when I work on a movie, I make sure that people understand this is not real. Like Freddy vs. Jason, there’s a lot of violence, people say, “Wow, there’s a lot of violence in it,” but they’re not real. It’s two monsters like T-rex and Godzilla. They’re not real.
Ronny Yu Talks about “Freddy vs. Jason”
By Rebecca Murray
Rebecca: How important was it to you to get the Hong Kong style of filmmaking incorporated into “Freddy vs. Jason?”
Ronny: It’s almost automatic; it’s almost instinct because I’ve been shooting films in Hong Kong for 20 years. I think the most important part is the pacing – the Hong Kong pacing – and also the action sequences, and the use of different camera speeds to get the impact – the action impact. I think all that I stole from my own work (laughing).
Did you ever run out of blood?
I’ll tell you a story. We had this production meeting during the last week of pre-production. The special effects guy said, “Mr. Yu, can I ask you a very important question?” I said, “Yeah, go ahead. What is it?” He said, “Well, we have to order the blood from L.A. because we are in Vancouver. We have to go through Customs and blah, blah, blah. You have to tell me exactly how much blood we should order.” I said, “Wow, that’s difficult. In terms of what?” He goes, “In terms of pint, quart, gallon…” I said, “Why don’t we do this. Why don’t you go and order in terms of barrels?” At the end of day I was told, “Ronny, you used 300 gallons.” I didn’t know that (laughing).
DVD Exclusive Interview: Director Ronny Yu
By Sean Chavel
Sean: Is there anything extra we should be expected for the DVD? Any deleted scenes?
Ronny: We cut a lot of story points that was already told in the script. The test screen audience reported that they got too much back story and redundant information. We’re glad we got rid of it. There was one scene that I was disappointed that we couldn’t put it on the screen. A CGI effect that just wasn’t perfect enough. People will see on the DVD why it wasn’t in there, and hopefully they’ll agree with me.
What is your favorite horror film of all time?
The Exorcist. I saw it at Columbus, Ohio with two of my friends when it came out. One of my friends drove a broken and worn out cab. We saw the movie and had to drive two-and-a-half hours back to campus. That trip scared the hell out of me. It was snowing and the stupid wipers wouldn’t work on the car. We had to stick our heads at the window and wipe the windows clean so our driver could see the road! The dark, the snow on the windshield, the freezing temperature, the open desolate roads I believe God is all-powerful and he can take care of anything. But, all of a sudden, we believed the devil is just as powerful! The Exorcist got into my subconscious.