MANO-A-MANO-A-MANO: "Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash"

Being in the Big Three denotes power, respect and influence.

Christianity has the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The DC Universe has Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

In the world of cult horror, Freddy and Jason are no-brainers for 1 and 1a.

Completing the trinity, who else but "Evil Dead's" Ash Williams, says "Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash" writer James Kuhoric. CBR News spoke with the writer about the six-issue miniseries, which debuts in November courtesy of Wildstorm and Dynamite Entertainment.

"'Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash' is the horror battle royale to end all crossovers," James Kuhoric told CBR News. "True horror movie enthusiasts recognize 'Nightmare on Elm Street,' 'Friday the Thirteenth,' and 'Army of Darkness/Evil Dead' as three of the biggest fright franchises of the past three decades."

Kuhoric, whose writing credits for Dynamite include "Army of Darkness vs. Reanimator" and "Army of Darkness: From the Ashes," is telling in the new miniseries a story that was long-rumored to be the sequel to the 2003 box office hit "Freddy vs. Jason." "This actually is the featured film that was kicked around a few years back," Kuhoric confirmed. "Jeff Katz was a VP at New Line at the time and was working on a follow up to 'Freddy vs. Jason.' 'FvJvA' made it to the draft approval stage with an extensive outline of the story before the licensing powers that be nixed the ultimate horror flick. Katz's original treatment is incredible and it made it very easy to fill in the details for the comic series. With permission from the studios and Jeff, we have worked right from that outline to create the movie on paper through the medium of comics."

In "Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash," the hero made famous by Bruce Campbell is still looking for the Necronomicon when he ends up being transferred to the Crystal Lake S-Mart just in time for the holiday re-naming festivities. Explained Kuhoric, "Freddy is trapped in Jason's subconscious and is using the unstoppable killer to get the Book of the Dead. Written inside the pages of the book is a resurrection passage that will bring Freddy back and give him the ultimate power over the dreamscape. Needless to say, when you drop Ash into the middle of these two rampaging killers, the end result is a massive no holds barred throw down."

Kuhoric says he and the rest of the creative team have eaten, drank and slept the original movies and their slasher sequels countless times, providing each creator with a virtually limitless amount of material to bring to the series. The real test, according to Kuhoric, is keeping the characters true to form as the three interact with each other.

"With any licensed comic book or movie, the fans want to feel like they are getting the real deal," Kuhoric said. "If a character says or does something that doesn't fit with their persona, it ruins the feel of the entire project. Artist Jason Craig, colorist Tom Mason, and I are huge horror nuts too and together we've seen every sequel to 'Nightmare,' 'Friday,' and 'ED' at least ten times apiece. The funniest part is that each of us has a different favorite out of the three characters and we've been going over and reworking everything they say and do many times to get it just right. Jason Craig has it easy though…his favorite, Jason, doesn't have to say much."

Kuhoric, arguably Ash's biggest supporter outside of creator Sam Raimi and alter ego Bruce Campbell, says 'Evil Dead's' leading man can hold his own against the dreaded dynamic duo. "Is Ashman enough to take them all on his own? I think you know the answer to that, spinach chin," quipped Kuhoric. "If Ash can hold his own against an army of Deadites in the regular 'Army of Darkness' comic book, I think he can go ten rounds with these two horror heavyweights. I can tell you that Mr. Ashley J. Williams does have his hands full in this one. Chosen One or not, you don't face off against the likes of Freddy and Jason and walk away unscathed."

And while an early draft of the planned film had a cameo from Pinhead of "Hellraiser" fame, Kuhoric says this series will for the most part feature a cast of newcomers, including the standard horror issue wise-cracking boys and slow-running girls. "There are a lot of new characters in this series, but you can start placing your bets now on how long they last," laughed Kuhoric. "Seriously, though, like any good horror movie there is a core group of teenaged sidekicks that will help Ash fight the fright kings. We've got a healthy dose of killable S-Mart customers, a pimple-faced high and mighty S-Mart Assistant Manager, and a handful of sexy sugar babies for Ash to interact with. My favorite part of the first issue involves the return of Will and Laurie, the survivors of 'Freddy vs. Jason.' Well, they make a brief but 'colorful' cameo anyway."

Kuhoric admits the goal of the series is as simple as the directives outlined in the Book of the Dead. "We want to create the movie everyone wanted to see in comic format," explained Kuhoric. "Fans have really been waiting for this match up for years and we're going to deliver in all its sweet horror glory!

"The book has everything in it, brutal and original death scenes, snappy Freddy and Ash patter, and more incredible fight scenes than you can shake a chainsaw arm at. Personally, I want to sit back and enjoy the finished project when we are all done. Hopefully the folks at New Line and MGM will like it so much, they can move forward with the actual film using this comic series as a storyboard."

Jumping on board a series featuring horror's unholy trinity took very little convincing, according to Kuhoric. In fact, he hopes his 'dream project' opens the door for another epic crossover somewhere down the line. "I love all three of these series. The characters, the stories, the sequels, all have a very special place in my life," said Kuhoric. "These are the movies that I can put on at any time, quote lines, and skip right to the most memorable scenes with my eyes closed. Writing for this project is a dream come true. Not only do I get to be a part of a story that I've always wanted to tell but I get to work with the folks at Wildstorm/DC for the first time. Hey, if they like what we do with this, maybe they'll let us cross 'AOD' with Batman or Superman! Ahhhh, the Holy Grail of comics!"

Kuhoric, a self-professed horror freak, says he has loved the genre his entire life. "'Nightmare on Elm Street' was one of the first R-rated movies I ever saw and I was a fan from the start. I've got all the DVDs, the toys, the comics, you name it, and chances are I've got it in my collection," said Kuhoric. "And 'Army of Darkness/Evil Dead' might be my favorite horror franchise of all time. Bet you never would have guessed that, huh?"  

In terms of fanbase, Kuhoric attributes the longevity of the Big Three to a richness of character, which is sometimes missing from your run-of-the-mill bad guys. "I think it comes down to originality," Kuhoric stated. "All three franchises were the first of their kind and really build a dedicated fan base right from the start. I had never seen anything like 'Friday the Thirteenth,' 'Nightmare on Elm Street,' or 'Evil Dead' when they first came out. These movies had such strong and interesting characters that they immediately made an impression on the collective horror fan psyche. They continue to be interesting today for the same reasons."

That interest has led to Freddy, Jason and Ash producing 22 movies between them, not to mention numerous other spin-offs including comics, video games and novels. And while Kuhoric was not tipping his brown fedora as to who would come out on top, he did promise that unlike 'Freddy vs. Jason,' this series would end with a clear winner.

"I'd just like to thank the fans for their support on 'Army of Darkness' over the years and let you know that 'Freddy vs. Jason vs. Army of Darkness' is exactly what you were hoping it would be. This is the movie we were meant to see and everyone working on the project is personally invested in making this the most authentic, butt kicking series that all three franchises have ever had. Freddy, Jason, and Ash will battle it out and only one will walk away."

Okay, maybe one tease from Kuhoric: "Double Barrel Boom stick: $109.95 at S-Mart.

"Chainsaw: $225.95 at S-Mart.

"Kicking Freddy and Jason's undead asses: priceless. Hail to the king, baby!"

Now discuss this story in CBR's Wildstorm forum.

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