Sequels

Freddy vs. Jason

freddy_vs-_jason_movieA F*ck-Marry-Kill kill game with the Three Stooges, played by a reluctant Kelly Rowland from Destiny’s Child? That fun tone sets the groundwork for Freddy vs. Jason, a mad crossover worthy of NBA wunderkind Steph Curry. It’s a film that has absolutely no business being this fun.

With Freddy’s powers dwindling (they’re derived from FDR’s famous line, “the only thing you have to fear, is fear itself”) it seems nobody in fictional Springwood has anything to be afraid of anymore. He can’t fulfill his kills, and life is back to normal in blah suburbia.

To add some juice, Freddy conjures up the dormant underworld form of Jason Voorhees to drum up a little bit of terror on terra firma.

The big galoot starts offing teenagers, including one clamped shut in his bed that alludes to the famous Jason kill from Friday the 13th Part II, as well as Johnny Depp’s boudoir demise in A Nightmare on Elm Street. The infamous address of 1428 Elm St. is suddenly the site of horrors again, and destined to be on the market for decades.

Suddenly, cops have something to do with themselves far removed from the halcyon policing days of John Saxon.

Kids are drugged up in the local sanitarium, wigged out on Hypnocil and having mercifully dream-free slumbers. But with Jason wreaking havoc, Freddy’s powers are slowly returning and two butchers are laying waste to the town.

Directory Ronny Yu smartly goes all Nightmare with this, and it’s a far more believable conceit that Jason could exist in Freddy’s suburban milieu than the other way ’round. Still, we get a brief glimpse of a Camp Crystal Lake dock, and a hot girl’s knocked off in the first scene.

freddy-vs-jason-horror-moviesFreddy vs Jason features glorious kills, a terrific Mexican stand-off finish from two of pop culture’s most infamous slashers, and you’re left with something that not only doesn’t stink, but is unabashedly good clean fun.

Stunt-like setups like this could get outta hand (especially if there’s a third icon to double up on the “vs,”) but as a one-off, it’s darn decent.

[Be sure to check out our Freddy vs Jason podcast!]

***1/4 (out of 5)

Child’s Play 2

childsplay2With a nasty disposition and a hairstyle that’d be the envy of Keith Urban, Chucky thrust himself into the public consciousness in 1988.

A mere two years later, Child’s Play 2 picks up where its understated, and it should be said, fairly spirited predecessor left off, with the killer ginger doll on the hunt for  young Andy (role reprised by Alex Vincent).

Little orphan Andy has been taken in by doll aficionados, the well-meaning Chicagoan foster family Phil and Joanne Simpson. (Is there any more prosaic a name for a dull suburban dad than Phil? It’s a tradition carried on by the stellar and heartfelt ABC comedy, Modern Family.)

It’s in the Simpson homestead that the spirit of the Lakeshore Killer, Charles Lee Ray, still trapped in a freckled doll, pummels his “Hugs to the end” “dollppelgänger” Tommy with a rare porcelain statue.

Why is Chucky back? In addition to the fact that first Child’s Play film grossed $45 million you mean?

Well, in a toy lab, Chucky’s unscrupulous creators at Play Pals have rebuilt him from the ground up to prove there are no manufacturing defects. And thanks to that ever-popular deus ex machina known as lightning, the spirit of Chuck is back to make another buck, asphyxiating the Play Pal CEO’s personal assistant and going on the lam.

The Simpsons are less than thrilled with the ever-unreliable narrator Andy’s claims about a sentient doll and worry if they can look after the psychologically troubled youngster. Naturally, Andy’s troubles at home extend to the classroom, and it’s there that Chucky sets up Andy by drawing profanity on his homework. And later, Chucky wails on poor homeroom teacher Miss Kettlewell with a wooden ruler.

childs_play2

Andy tries to subdue his nemesis doll in the basement with an electric knife, but Chucky is on to him, hooking poor Phil Simpson in the foot and chucking him to the concrete.

Mostly disjointed, Child’s Play 2 does come alive at times, although not frequently enough to match the first one, Tom Holland’s opus.

Overall though, it lacks the quirk, the punch and the novelty of the first film, relying increasingly on the doll’s ever sassy barbs. Still, there’s enough to chew on to justify its existence (and that’s saying something given the state of horror sequels).

*** (out of 5)

[Be sure to check out our Child’s Play podcast]