Welcome to Script to Pieces! This is a new feature here at Wicked Horror where we will be looking at the best, most interesting and at times most unbelievable horror movies that never happened. Sometimes these will be productions that never came together at all, sometimes they will original incarnations that were completely different from what we wound up with. Each should be fascinating in its own way, because the stories of movies that never see the light of day can sometimes be even more interesting than the stories of those that do.
Freddy vs. Jason was the most anticipated horror movie ever made—at least that was how it felt at the time. It took years to put together. In that time span of trying to get it off the ground, almost every writer in Hollywood seemed to take a stab at it. There were times—several in fact—where it looked like the crossover between horror’s two biggest titans was just not going to happen.
Eventually, though, New Line developed a script to its liking and found a director in Ronny Yu, who had previously helmed the franchise revival Bride of Chucky. As expected, the movie had a huge opening. It made tons of money. While it’s not as beloved now, fans were really on board with it when it came out. It delivered on everything it promised, providing audiences with Freddy as they knew him and liked him best and Jason as they remembered him. The two icons came together in extremely satisfying battle sequences and that was really what the fans wanted. They wanted to see a bloodbath when Freddy and Jason finally went toe to toe.
The only way to give them something new would be to bring in another horror icon, so that’s the direction New Line decided to take in planning the sequel. Interestingly, Freddy vs. Jason would already have included another horror icon had they managed to get the rights. In the original ending written by Damien Shannon and Mark Swift, Freddy and Jason keep fighting their way down into Hell, into darkness, where they are separated by chains as Pinhead steps out of the shadows and says “Now, gentlemen, what seems to be the problem?”
Of course, New Line did not own the rights to Hellraiser or the Pinhead character and did not consider it worth negotiating with Dimension for only a few seconds of screen time, so that ending was scrapped.
They began looking for other horror icons to stand up beside Krueger and Voorhees. It’s rumored that Michael Myers was considered for a while, but that he wouldn’t be a different enough character to really separate him from Jason. For some reason, even though they already owned The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, they never really thought to bring in Leatherface.
Finally, producer Jeff Katz and the team at New Line landed on a character that could not only come in as another headliner, but shake things up in a way that would make the movie a different viewing experience than the first. The logic was sound: If Freddy and Jason are both evil threats, why not bring in a horror hero to take them both on?
The hero in question was none other than Bruce Campbell’s Ash Williams of the Evil Dead franchise. This was huge news at the time because Campbell had not played Ash since 1993’s Army of Darkness, which had become a huge cult classic by the time Freddy vs. Jason was released. The idea of bringing Ash into the fold seemed perfect, but once again, this was not a character that New Line owned the rights to.
Luckily, Evil Dead director Sam Raimi owned the license to the character himself and was opened to negotiations—at first. It seemed like the movie was a done deal. Jeff Katz even wrote a treatment, but then things fell apart.
According to Robert Englund, “To be really honest with you guys, Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash—say that five times fast—came this close to being made as a movie.” But apparently there were issues over the ending that halted negotiations. “I think Sam wanted Ash to win,” Englund says. “Well, I liked that idea, actually.”
With Ash being the hero of the piece, it seemed obvious that he would win, so this only makes the situation more confusing. But I guess it makes sense, when considering the fact that the studio was too nervous to declare a definite winner of Freddy vs. Jason in the first place. Either way, Raimi and Campbell wanted Ash to be the victor of the battle and New Line was hesitant.
Campbell is much more blunt in his recollection of things. “We had that conversation with New Line Cinema,” he told fans at a Wizard World Q&A. “’Hi this is New Line Cinema. We’d like to make Ash vs. Jason vs. Freddy.’ Great idea, then Ash can kill Freddy and Jason once for all.” He goes on to say, “How are you gonna kill them? You can’t kill them. That’s why those movies are so stupid.”
While he doesn’t sound particularly enthusiastic about the project, he was playing to a fan panel and not doing any kind of official interview on the subject, and was a part of the process with Sam Raimi during the brief time that the movie was actually being considered.
Although we never got to see Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash on the big screen, Jeff Katz’s treatment was adapted into a six issue comic series that spawned the sequel Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: Nightmare Warriors.