Freddy vs. Jason!
By: Mark Salisbury
Published in Fanorgia #144.
Ever since Freddy Krueger’s talon-fingered mitt reached out from the sand at the end of Jason Goes to Hell and clutched at the Crystal Lake horror’s facial apparel, fans of both fearsome franchises have been salivating over the idea of a team-up between horrordom’s terrible twosome. Well stop dreaming, folks, for the idea is one step closer to becoming a reality, as British screenwriter Peter Briggs is currently tapping out the script for the film, with preproduction planned for this summer and a tentative opening set for next year. “They want a ’96 release date,” says the 30-year-old writer, “and it is traditional that they release these movies on a Friday the 13th, and there are only two next year; September and December.”
Briggs, a former FX cameraman whose spec script The Hunt: Alien vs. Predator landed him several writing assignments, says the idea to match up Freddy and Jason was an obvious and necessary one to revitalize the two series. “After Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, there was nowhere else to go with it,” says Briggs. “That effectively ended the franchise, and it was a real slap in the face. It said the first six Freddy film were just movies, and the box-office results show that people were disappointed by it. As far as Jason went, that had just run its course. New Line bought it off Paramount and had a franchise that they didn’t really know what to do with, and it just seemed like an effective pairing.”
Briggs reveals that he was not the first writer approached; Star Trek: Generations scripters Ron Moore and Brannon Braga were initially brought in to have a crack at the script. When that proved unsuccessful, New Line honcho Michael De Luca called up the writer. At first, however, Briggs who may direct the film himself pending script approval, admits he was wary of taking it on.
“When my agent asked me, I immediately thought, ‘Get the razor blades out,'” he laughs. “This could seriously jeopardize my career if it’s done wrong, and I really had to be persuaded by them, because initially it wasn’t something I was keen to do. I said that if I could find a really, really good way of doing it, then I would. I went away and thought about it, and eventually came up with a story that’s actually pretty good and surprising.”
Although Briggs is unable to disclose too many story details, he reveals that his script picks up eight years after A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child and Jason Goes to Hell, and is set in 1999. “Although,” laughs Briggs “the prologue is set in 17-century Italy, which will really perplex people, but there is a logic to it. It concerns the end of the universe and the end of time, and Jason and Freddy are two pawns in a very large game. The principal characters are Alice from the Freddy movies and the couple [Steven and Jessica] at the end of the last Jason film, and it all weaves together in a logical way.”
Briggs is adamant, however, that the film will not be just another Freddy or Jason movie—at least not in the traditional sense—but a separate beast entirely. “You can either do one or the other,” he says. “This is a movie about Freddy and Jason, so consequently you have to take the best elements; you can’t disappoint either set of fans. There is a big, big slasher scene with the biggest body count in any Jason film within the first 20 minutes, all done in a manner that will appeal to that mass audience, and there are elements that go back to before New Nightmare, the big Freddy effects. But in addition to Freddy vs. Jason, there is also a big third surprise. But you’re going to have to see the movie to find out what it is.”
Briggs promises a new look for both terror titans. “What we are looking at here are two entirely different characters,” he asserts, “a brand new Jason and a brand new Freddy. New Nightmare sort of led towards this darker, sinister Freddy that quite pay off. We’re taking that even further; this will be the nastiest, biggest, baddest Freddy that has ever been. It’s a complete redesign of the way he looks. The same with Jason; he’s not a guy in a blue boiler suit with a white hockey mask. If you remember the trailer for Jason Goes to Hell, with this sort of CGI chrome Jason mask with flames around it, that’s the kind of direction I’m going towards, only more so.”
There will, however, be no more sequels after this one if Briggs gets his way. “Once the ending comes,” he promises, “that’s it. There is no way you can ever do another Freddy or Jason movie after this.”
While one might assume Briggs is in serious danger of being typecast as a franchise writer, he has several non-sequel projects making the rounds, including a dinosaur comedy (“Michael Keaton vs. Valley of Gwangi”) and a big-budget version of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds for Paramount.
“It’s very faithful to the book, set in England,” explains Briggs, who also penned an early draft of Judge Dredd as well as Escape from L.A., the proposed Carpenter sequel. And as for his Alien vs. Predator script? Briggs says it remains firmly locked in limbo. “The big problem,” he sighs, “is producer deals.”