Seriously, it almost happened.
Few horror icons reached the heights that Freddy Kreuger and Jason Voorhees climbed. Throughout the 80s and early 90s, you couldn’t go a year without seeing one of these monsters in a sequel. It took over a decade, but eventually New Line Cinema got their hands on the Friday the 13th franchise. After pumping out Jason Goes to Hell and Jason X, the crossover gears were turning following years of gathering cobwebs.
While not a great film, Freddy vs. Jason ticked the right boxes. This was before our expectations for crossovers were skyrocketed by the likes of The Avengers. Freddy was a caniving buffoon, and Jason was the giant supernatural zombie we know and love. They killed people, they fought each other, and Freddy’s severed head winked at the camera. The film was a hit, and fans were begging for more. But who would you add to this horrific showdown?
Enter Sam Raimi. The man behind Evil Dead was in talks with New Line Cinema to let everyone’s favorite boomstick-slinger go toe to toe with the horror legends in Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash. On a conceptual level, it makes perfect sense. You simply wouldn’t have as much fun seeing Michael Myers, Pinhead, or even Chucky take on Freddy and Jason.
Here’s where it gets dicey. According to Bloody Disgusting, there was to be an announcement of the film on October 25th, 2004. Three days prior, Raimi-produced The Grudge hit theaters, and was a way bigger hit compared to Freddy vs. Jason by a sizeable $70 million. Raimi backed out of the deal and announced that an Evil Dead remake was in the works. The man made Spider-Man a huge hit in theaters, so he could afford to throw his clout around.
However, he did all of this without letting New Line Cinema know. This was doubly unfortunate due to the progress made in the script already, as Bloody Disgusting also showcased. Robert Englund reiterated this sentiment in a talk at last year’s Nashville Comic-Con.
“To be really honest with you guys, Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash—just say that five times fast—came this close [making an inch mark with his fingers] to being made as a movie,” said Englund. “Right around the time Sam Raimi was the richest man in Hollywood after Spider-Man, he had a big meeting with Bob Shaye of New Line Cinema, the people at Time Warner, and they were thinking seriously about making it. But I think that Sam wanted Ash to win.”
So according to Englund, New Line was vying for Freddy and/or Jason to topple Ash…I think? Ash tends to be the hero, a foil to the villainous natures of Freddy and Jason. Company politics can get in the way of mega-crossovers, which is why you don’t see Roger Rabbit around that much anymore. It wasn’t the only factor either, according to Bruce Campbell. His brazen attitude toward New Line tells us that it wasn’t the most pleasant experience, even in conceptual stages.
“We had that conversation with New Line Cinema,” said Campbell. “And it went something like this, Oh. look it’s New Line Cinema [on the phone]. Hello? ‘Hi, this is New Line Cinema. We’d like to make Ash Vs. Jason Vs. Freddy.’ Great idea, then Ash can kill Jason and Freddy once and for all. Hello? That was it. That was the conversation.”
Notice how the intent for Ash to remain on top still remains. It’s hard enough crossing over two big properties, even when they’re being published and distributed by the same studio. Throwing a third figure into the mix must make the work twice as hard. Raimi stuck it out with more Grudge and Spider-Man sequels while both Freddy and Jason would have their films rebooted a few years later. It was around this time that the whole Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash concept would finally see the light of day–this time in the world of comic books.
Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash was a six-issue limited run series that ran late 2007 through early 2008. Published by Wildstorm, Dynamite, and DC, the series upped the ante more than you’d ever think possible. Freddy’s obsession with the Necronomicon (which had a cameo in Jason Goes to Hell, along with Freddy) eventually spills over into him reviving all of Jason’s victims in a Deadite state. It’s actually pretty cool.
A wackier, crazier sequel would hit shelves in 2009, which should let you know that there won’t be a film adaptation any time soon. It starts with Freddy and Jason being resurrected by the United States government, while Ash recruits survivors of Freddy and Jason’s various killing sprees. What a tone. There hasn’t been a lot of talk of continuing the story, or anything with the Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash project really, which is a shame.
Horror is taking a break from traditional slasher series in favor of found-footage abnormalities, and even that genre followed the torture porn boom of the mid-2000s. Throw in the fascination with reboots in this day and age, and it’ll be hard for Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash to gain much traction. The future of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th are up in the air, but it’s inevitable that they’ll make their respective returns. Just don’t expect Ash Williams to play ball. Evil Dead is going the X-Men route by having two separate timelines and continuities playing out. Hell, we may yet get Army of Darkness 2.
Article by contributor Dylan Tierney.
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