The first words to come out of my maw when “Freddy vs. Jason” Director Ronny Yu gets on the handset are “Thank You”. Thank you for giving the fans what they want. Thank you for not letting us fans wait ten years for the definitive unite only to dishearten us with some half-cocked camp schlock. Oh, and thankyou for satisfying my fiancée too, who only just recently found herself the 18 inch talking Freddy Krueger doll that now adorns our bedroom closet.
“That’s fantastic!” ardently laughs Yu. “What does it say!?” I tell him that it’s Krueger saying ‘no running in the hallways’, followed by that characteristic laugh. “Oh that’s excellent. That laugh. It’s great. Love it. Love it.”
Yu – a protégé of Hong Kong cinema – is quick to make a clean breast that he didn’t know there would be as much interest in “Freddy vs. Jason” as there was in the states. “I didn’t realise Australians would be as passionate about it. That’s so great though”.
In fact, Yu underestimated the potential of the film from the moment he first heard about it. You can’t blame him – it had not only been in development-hell for about a decade, but it had been through a baker’s dozen of script re-writes, and more crucially, couldn’t attract a director. “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”.
And with “Freddy vs.Jason” doing so well at the overseas box office, is there talk of any more? “After the box office returns on this one, they’re already taking about it. And if they want me back, I’d be happy to come back. The fans really want another one. This time, I think we should split Freddy and Jason up though and bring in someone like Michael Myers”.
Yu says he’d also be interested in directing the much-talked about “Elm Street” prequel, that Robert Englund’s flying the flag for. “I’d love to. Robert is so for it. I mean, he’s so into Freddy. He’s just so good at it.”
Another iconic horror character making a comeback according to the grapevine is Chucky. Yu directed the last instalment, “Bride of Chucky”. “They’ve been talking about it for so long, doing another one. But I really enjoyed doing Bride. It came down to the fact that they just had a great script. It was a great experience. I learnt on Hong Kong movies how to successfully mix-match both the horror and comedy genre’s and I think made it work here, and also for Freddy vs. Jason.”
Next up, says the director, is a feature film version of anime classic “Blood: The Last Vampire”. “It’s about this highschool girl who carries this huge Samurai sword. We’ve just started on the script but ideally we’d be having a mix-match of American and Japanese actors for it”.
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”.
FREDDY VS.JASON COMMENCES OCTOBER 23 AROUND AUSTRALIA
Read Clint’s review of "Freddy vs.Jason" here