In 2003, A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger and Friday the 13th’s Jason met in the blockbuster horror crossover Freddy vs. Jason. After that film became the highest-grossing film in either film franchise, it looked set to revitalize both classic horror franchises for a new generation of horror fans — except it didn’t. Both franchises got rebooted a few years later by Platinum Dunes, and nothing came of any potential sequel to Freddy vs. Jason on film.
However, a planned sequel could’ve seen those movie monsters face off against Evil Dead’s Ash. While that movie ultimately never happened, the concept was turned into a pair of comic book series by Wildstorm Productions and Dynamite Entertainment. Now, we’re taking a closer look at why this three-way crossover never made it to film and how it played out on the comic book page.
After years of rumors about the project, Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash almost made it to the big screen. However, the project reportedly died quickly when New Line Cinema — which owned the rights at the time to both Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th — approached Bruce Campbell about the project. Campbell passed on the project, which left Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash dead on arrival.
In a round-table interview at New York Comic-Con in preparation for the then-upcoming Ash vs. The Evil Dead series, Campbell elaborated on why he passed on the project. “We had a five-minute conversation with New Line Cinema about Ash vs. Jason vs. Freddy. They approached us. So they go, ‘What do you think about that?’ And we were like, ‘Great, Ash can kill ‘em both.’ There was a long pause, ‘Well actually that’s not something we can entertain.’ And we couldn’t control any other character, only control Ash – what these guys said, or what they did and you can’t kill either one. So right from the start, it’s creatively bankrupt.”
With the story treatment already written by writer Jeff Katz, the concept was recycled for a six-issue comic book mini-series. James Kuhoric and Jason Craig’s Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash picks up where Freddy vs. Jason left off, with Jason killing off the last film’s survivors. Freddy is trapped in Jason’s mind and realizes the only way to revive himself is through the Necronomicon, which is somewhere in the Voorhees house. Freddy uses visions of Jason’s mother to manipulate him into retrieving the book for him.
Meanwhile, Ash Williams, working still at S-Mart, is sent to the Camp Crystal Lake S-Mart to train new employees. Inevitably, the teens and Ash end up encountering Jason as he goes on a murdering rampage. What results is a fight over the Necronomicon, culminating in a back and forth encounter that results in Freddy’s resurrection and the three horror icons going head-to-head.
The story sold well enough to warrant a sequel, the six-issue comic Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: The Nightmare Warriors. Proving to be even more ambitious than the prior title, this story features Freddy and Jason being resurrected by the US Government to use as weapons, only for Freddy to use the Necronimicon to rewrite reality with himself as its leader. Opposing them are Ash Williams and a group of individuals known as the Nightmare Warriors — survivors of previous Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th films, including Alice and Tommy Jarvis. Writer Jeff Katz called The Nightmare Warriors, “a Crisis level event,” and at times it feels more like the horror equivalent of Crisis on Infinite Earths than a true sequel to Freddy vs. Jason.
Regardless, it resulted in one of the greatest movie monster brawls in horror history, even if it didn’t happen on-screen.
Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash brought together three horror movie icons, even if it never made it off of the comics page.