Paramount Home Video presents
Friday the 13th Uncut (Blu-ray) (1980)
"He neglected to mention that downtown they call this place Camp Blood."- Ned (Mark Nelson)
Stars: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King
Other Stars: Harry Crosby, Laurie Bartham, Mark Nelson, Jeannine Taylor, Robbi Morgan, Kevin Bacon
Director: Sean S. Cunningham
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, gore, sexuality, nudity, drug use)
Run Time: 01h:35m:27s
Release Date: 2009-02-03
DVD ReviewAlthough Paramount is been well aware that the Friday the 13th franchise has been one of its most popular and profitable franchises, there has always been a sense that the studio is more than a little embarrassed by the movies. Despite clamoring by fans, there was a persistent refusal for years to release an uncut version, adding back in the materials that were cut in order to obtain an R rating from the MPAA. But there's nothing like the prompting of a new big-budget remake to convince a studio to revisit even the most mortifying items in the library. Happily, Paramount has really done it right with this release, and fans should be very pleased indeed.
The familiar story centers on the reopening of Camp Crystal Lake by Steve Christy (Peter Brouwer), after the place has been closed down for years due to a drowning and a series of murders. The place is being worked on by Christy and a group of teen counselors, who are fairly randy and irresponsible. As they cavort and fool around, the youngsters begin getting picked off one by one in ever-bloodier ways, until there's just the virginal Alice (Adrienne King) left, and she must face down the source of all the horrors if she is to survive.
After everything that has come since, it's interesting to revisit this picture, and see how little there is of the later elements of the franchise present here. Most notably, Jason and the hockey mask and the supernatural/superhuman aspects aren't the threats here. Instead, there's a fairly straightforward explanation for the events, even though they're shrouded in utter derangement. There's plenty of gore and violence (though it should be noted that the uncut moments add up to only ten seconds). The effects by master Tom Savini are full of impact and quite convincing in their horrific goriness. Perhaps the most memorable death is offered to a young Kevin Bacon as he is surprised by the fact there is indeed something lurking under the bed.
There are a few intriguing aspects to the movie, starting off with the abrupt dispatch of Annie (Robbi Morgan), who appears at first to be the heroine of the movie, in an echo of the fate of Janet Leigh in Psycho. Steve Christy's return is at first presented as an opportunity for rescue, though like Martin Balsam in Psycho, it's a totally false hope. The first hour or so is just one bloody murder after another, without any notion as to who or what is committing them until after it's just Alice left. Until then, the killer is only made known in shaky POV shots. When mad Mrs. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) finally makes her appearance, she presents herself as a savior, but it quickly becomes clear that something is very, very wrong with her.
Harry Manfredini provides a memorable score that offers a lot of tension to the picture, though the fairly rote kill count portion of the movie doesn't generate a lot of suspense by itself. However, the last third is solidly suspenseful, with a palpable sense of terror at long last. The structure, the setting, and the music combine to make this a memorable exercise in fear, so long as one disregards the convoluted and contradictory backstory that would come in succeeding pictures.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Despite being shot on the cheap, Friday the 13th makes it to Blu-ray looking terrific. Grain structure is nicely preserved, with no indications of edge enhancement or other artifacting. Color is bright and brilliant, and for the most part, black levels are excellent. There are some dark scenes that seem to have been brightened up a little, but otherwise it's once of the best Blu-ray transfers I've seen yet. The source material has no more damage than the occasional speckle.
Image Transfer Grade: A
|Mono||English, French, Spanish||yes|
Audio Transfer Review: While there are original English, French, and Spanish mono tracks, all but the most extreme purists will put them aside in favor of a stellar 5.1 TrueHD track. The dialogue is pretty center-oriented, but Manfredini's score has a life and presence to it that's incredibly startling. There's a wide soundstage, with a knock-yer-socks-off clarity that allows precise placement of the orchestral instruments and clear detection of subtle timbres. First rate, all the way around.
Audio Transfer Grade: A+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Sean S. Cunningham, cast and crew
Extras Review: The excellent package includes a ton of material, to the point that it starts to get a little repetitive. Things start off with a knowledgeable and well-edited commentary hosted by Peter Bracke and including many members of the crew, as well as cast members Betsy Palmer and Adrienne King. There's a ton of information here, with one of the most interesting being the discussion of Gene Siskel's campaign to have people write to Palmer and complain about her being in this movie. It's pretty fascinating and a perfect accompaniment to the feature.
Most of the other extras are presented in HD. Fresh Cuts: New Tales from Friday the 13th (14m:07s) offers some war stories and discussion of the score and its significance. The Man Behind the Legacy: Sean S. Cunningham (8m:58s) is an interview with the director that covers much of the background to the making of the picture. Friday the 13th Reunion (16m:44s) is a July 2008 panel featuring Palmer and King, producer Victor Miller, Manfredini, and Ari Lehman (the first Jason), with discussion of how the movie ripped off Halloween and some intriguing material about the stalker who decided to focus on King after this picture. Lost Tales from Camp Blood: Part 1 is some unrelated shot-on-video mayhem that apparently takes place at camp. The last HD extra is the original trailer.
Two SD extras are also present. The Friday the 13th Chronicles (20m:33s) is a pretty solid making-of, though it's a bit overpopulated with talking heads as opposed to behind-the-scenes footage (though given the low budget, there probably wasn't much on-set footage shot). Finally, Secrets Galore Behind the Gore is an examination of how some of the great effects shots were accomplished. It's a shame that this, the most visual of the extras, isn't presented in HD, but the content is solid and extensive.
Extras Grade: A-
Final CommentsThe classic horror is finally here uncut, in a gorgeously filmlike transfer, and with a ton of extras to boot. It looks and sounds terrific, and fans should be very pleased indeed.
Mark Zimmer 2009-02-02