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Dynamic Slasher Duo 

'Freddy vs. Jason' loses appeal without screaming theater-goers, but it's still a fun ride.

FREDDY VS. JASON

New Line Entertainment
Movie: B-
Special Features: B
Geek Factor: 7

This meeting of the horror icons is fun on the home screen, but it definitely loses some of its punch the second time around. Director Ronny Yu saved this long awaited "Clash of the Slash" after it languished for eternity in Development Hell, and the result is everything a good slasher film should be. Nine years after his last appearance, A Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) has been forgotten by the children of Springwood. He no longer haunts their nightmares and, consequently, has lost his powers. He goads Friday the 13th's Jason Voorhees into re-commencing his murdering ways, but this time in Springwood. So now, the kids get to remember what it's like to get their heads cut off, start up the bad dream machine, and bring Freddy back to life. Yes, this is one of the dumbest films of the last year, but Yu knows it's dumb, and he has all the fun one could probably have with the premise. Blood spurts like geysers from gaping wounds; kids get killed for having sex and drinking; and the battle between the horror icons is a decent payoff. It's not as much fun without the screaming and cheering of the multiplex's sicko genre fans. Still, it's a helluva lot better than the usual horror fare.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Director Ronny Yu delivers a happy-as-all-heck audio commentary, clearly overjoyed to have been involved with the project. Freddy (Robert Englund) and Jason (Ken Kirzinger) join him for the in-depth analysis. The two-disc set offers many deleted scenes, all of them pretty junky and worthy of deletion. Behind-the-scenes features help to make the overall package worthwhile.


BUFFALO SOLDIERS

Miramax
Movie: C+
Special Features: C+
Geek Factor: 4

Here's one that you may've missed during its limited theatrical run. A dark film about the Army released at a time when the country went to war, it's no wonder Miramax buried this one. Joaquin Phoenix stars as a criminal who chooses a stint in the Army over prison time, and he finds West Germany's black-market dealings preferable to good soldiering. Director Gregor Jordan has the makings of a classic dark comedy here, but things go awry in the film's final act, as Phoenix gets into a death match with his commander (Scott Glenn) over dating his daughter (Anna Paquin). That subplot might've been interesting in another film, but the "don't date my daughter!" theme feels out of place in a military satire. The film works best when dealing with corruption in the Army barracks. A heroin-fueled tank ride that levels a town and blows up a gas station is both funny and frightening. Phoenix is good here, and it's too bad the movie loses its way. It could've been something. The film was finished in 2001, and was postponed many a time due to Sept. 11 and its aftermath.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Jordan offers a good commentary and sounds a bit dissatisfied with the way his film ends. From his comments, it appears that the finale was influenced by test screenings, which resulted in something regrettably uneven. A featurette entitled Beyond the Iron Curtain offers a behind the scenes glimpse of the production.


PUNK'D: SEASON ONE

Paramount
Show: A-
Special Features: B
Geek Factor: 7.5

It's no surprise that Ashton Kutcher saw fit to pull the plug on his hilarious update of Candid Camera after only two seasons. By targeting media stars like Justin Timberlake, Eliza Dushku and Jessica Alba with nasty pranks, he made his show high-profile, and the mere sight of Kutcher walking into a restaurant probably had stars running for cover. Still, it was fun while it lasted, and some of the pranks pulled on celebrities in this first-season collection are priceless. Season One's best moment: Kutcher "punks" Timberlake, making him think all of his possessions are being seized by a government agency due to back taxes. Timberlake's reactions both during and after the stunt reveal a guy with a terrific sense of humor. It's a surprise he didn't have Kutcher killed on the spot. Other highlights include Kutcher turning the tables on a production crew trying to punk him (with Britney Spears as an accomplice) and a high-stakes crap-game raid that has Seth Green thinking he's on his way to jail. It's so much fun watching famous people squirm. Maybe Kutcher will soldier on. Maybe he's just punking the world by saying the show's finished. I hope so, because this stuff is great.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Kutcher and his main accomplice in crime, Dax, are as funny during their commentaries as they are during the show. Deleted footage can be accessed during episode plays when an icon appears at the bottom right of the screen. Amongst the excised footage: Poor Timberlake actually bursting into tears thinking his financial life has been ruined. I say it again: Timberlake is an incredibly good sport.

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