Paramount Studios presents
Friday the 13th: From Crystal Lake to Manhattan (1980-89)
"Friday the 13th Part 2...the body count continues."- Narration from the theatrical trailer of Friday the 13th Part 2
Stars: Kane Hodder, Adrienne King, Amy Steel, Dana Kimmell, Corey Feldman, Melanie Kinnaman, John Shepherd, Kimberly Beck, Thom Matthews, Jennifer Cooke, Lark Park Lincoln, Jensen Daggett
Other Stars: Betsy Palmer, John Furey, Paul Kratka, Kevin Bacon, Jeannine Taylor, Robbi Morgan, Walt Gorny, Harry Cosby, Kirsten Baker, Laurie Bartram, Mark Nelson, Peter Brouwer, Stu Charno, Warrington Gillette, Marta Kober, Tom McBride, Bill Rudolph, Russell Todd, Richard Brooker, Gloria Charles, Rachel Howard, David Katims, Kevin O'Brien, Catherine Parks, Jeffrey Rogers, Nick Savage, Tracie Savage, Larry Zerner, E. Rich Anderson, Judie Aronson, Peter Barton, Joan Freeman, Crispin Glover, Alan Hayes, Barbara Howard, Bruce Mahler, Lawrence Monoson, Camilla More, Cary More, Juliette Cummins, John Robert Dixon, Tiffany Helm, Carol Locatell, Jerry Pavlon, Shavar Ross, Ron Sloan, Marco St. John, Caskey Swaim, Mark Venturini, Vernon Washington, Dick Wieand, Richard Young, Dominick Brascia, David Kagen, Kerry Noonan, Renee Jones, Tom Fridley, C.J. Graham, Darcy Demoss, Tony Goldwyn, Nancy McLoughlin, Terry Kiser, Kevin Blair, Susan Blu, Susan Jennifer Sullivan, Jeff Bennett, Diana Barrows, Elizabeth Kaitan, Ted White, Barbara Bingham, Peter Mark Rishman, Scott Reeves, V.C. Dupree, Sharlene Martin, Kelly Hu, Ari Lehne
Director: Sean S. Cunningham, Steve Miner, Joseph Zito, Danny Steinmann, Tom McLoughlin, John Carl Buechler, Rob Hedden
MPAA Rating: R for (extreme violence/gore, gratuitous nudity, strong languageódo I really need to tell anybody what the ratings are for?)
Run Time: 12h:15m:56s
Release Date: 2004-10-05
DVD ReviewThe simple fact is there is no other way to review the Friday the 13th series than from a fanboy perspective. Proceed with caution.
The Friday the 13th series has been a part of my fabric since as long as I can remember. As a child growing up in the 1980s, I remember the hockey goaltender mask as a staple of modern horror. To me it was not terrifying in its own right, but seductive and intriguing. The first time I ever saw a Jason movie, which of course is how I referred to them as a young boy, I couldn't have been more than 10 years old. I remember watching it secretly in the basement on late-night television, hoping my mom wouldn't catch me (she's never liked horror films, and is disgusted by my fascination with them). The original Friday the 13th was the first chapter of the series I ever saw—and boy did it scare me! I turned off the TV and ran upstairs into my bedroom, praying that I wouldn't be murdered by a knife-wielding maniac. It's only now that I realize how much I enjoyed being scared as a kid by these kinds of movies.
As an adolescent I would catch brief portions of some of the sequels on cable TV, but never really paid enough attention to them to count myself as a fan. All of this changed in high school when my best friend Luke and I decided to rent Friday the 13th. By this time I was well acquainted with slasher movies. Watching it again brought back the old memories of being scared, but this time juxtaposed with uncontrollable fits of laughter. Everything was funny—especially the climactic scene where it turns out that the killer is Mrs. Voorhees. Really, is there anything less terrifying than a middle-aged woman wearing a sweater in the middle of summer?
After that we became huge fans of the series, hunting down copies of all the sequels and spending our Friday and Saturday nights, week after week. Now I consider myself to be a member of the cult following of the 1980s' favorite serial killer, Jason Voorhees. I don't go to conventions, nor do I take the movies seriously. Yet, against my better judgment, I still find myself getting caught up in debates about the most insignificant or disgusting details. What can I say? I'm a fan of this garbage.
The very first installment is the brainchild of the series creator, Sean Cunningham, which he produced and directed, which takes place on June 13, 1980. Cunningham's approach is meant to be much more weighty than any of the sequels. In fact, it seems that his tragic tale of youth being destroyed by untimely death is a concept that he can't fully articulate. He tries as best as he can, but the money and talent are not present to realize his vision. What does happen, however, is that Cunningham gives birth to the the decade's most memorable horror icon (sorry Freddy, but Jason takes the cake in my book). As is common knowledge now, Jason does not turn up until Friday the 13th Part 2, but once he arrives he can't be stopped. Initially we think he's killed, but then he comes back again and again.
As a note, my favorite nude scene can be found in Part 2. It features Terry (Kirsten Baker) skinny-dipping for no apparent reason. Honestly, it's purely gratuitous. That's why I love it, plus the fact that you can clearly see her cast two shadows—one from the lighting and one from the moon—which just makes me laugh at the shoddy filmmaking. There are some other things we get to see clearly that aren't too be ignored either, by the way. Following Part 2 is Friday the 13th Part III (I've always wondered why they decided to switch to Roman numerals), which originally premiered in 3D. Sadly, I've never seen it in 3D (one of my goals in life, sad though it may be, is to see this on the big screen that way) but it's actually very funny to see the 3D shots without getting the effect of something leaping out at you. It makes the movie, in a way, even campier than it actually is, especially during the scene where all-American boy Rick (Paul Kratka) has his head squeezed and his eyeball pops out.
For me the most memorable story within the Friday the 13th series involves Jason and his rivalry with Tommy Jarvis. Tommy first appears in The Final Chapter (the fourth outing) and is played by Corey Feldman (prior to his turn in The Goonies). He is just a boy living with his sister, Trish (Kimberly Beck), and single mom (Joan Freeman) in a beautiful house on Crystal Lake. Little could they suspect that Jason would rise from the dead to attack the teenagers having a party next door (by the way, Crispin Glover plays one of those teenagers and is hilarious). Tommy kills Jason and becomes deeply disturbed as a result. The next movie, A New Beginning, continues the story arc of Tommy (now played by John Shepherd) as he continues to battle Jason. I would think that the psychiatrists would want to distance Tommy from the area where he encountered Jason, but instead they bring him to a camp for young people suffering from severe mental psychoses. Conveniently, this camp is on Crystal Lake, which means that Tommy will once again have to deal with Jason. There's a twist in A New Beginning that I won't reveal here, but let it be said that it is as convoluted as the movie's Sheriff (Marco St. John) assuming that this new batch of killings are being committed by Jason, since everybody thinks Jason is dead and has no reason to believe otherwise. The final confrontation between Tommy and Jason happens in Part VI: Jason Lives (my personal favorite, sorry Rich—you can read his assault on it here). In it Tommy resurrects Jason from the dead, unintentionally, but manages to put him back to the depths of Crystal Lake where he supposedly drowned 30 years earlier. Part VI's writer-director, Tom McLoughlin brings a lot of humor to the subject, making it a thrill ride and ignoring the scary motif (don't worry, he still provides plenty of gore). His dialogue and some of the visuals add an energy to the series that makes it funny as well as full of neat thrills. All the way through this particular entry, it's obvious that McLoughlin loves movies and is making some clever homages to his favorites. In fact, the first time I saw this with the aforementioned Luke, we both thought one of the lines said by the Sheriff (David Kagen) would be perfect in a Clint Eastwood movie, only to discover a month later, while watching Dirty Harry, that it was.
By this time, nobody making the movies is taking the subject seriously. The final two Friday movies included here are half-mocking, half-scary. Part VII—The New Blood (widely considered by fans to be the definitive Friday movie) starts with Jason underwater, but surfacing to face the telekinetic Tina (Lar Park Lincoln). After she successfully fends him off, Jason once again is awakened to attack a group of high schoolers on a cruise ship to New York in Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. These last two movies introduced Kane Hodder as Jason, who is rightly considered the best performer of the role. There's a menace to his walk and a calmness to Jason's kills that is at times somewhat chilling and at others, well, down right cool. Many consider the best kill to be in Part VII when Jason slams a girl into a tree (I respectfully disagree, opting for the liquid nitrogen head freeze and then smash found in Jason X). If you are wondering why people would take a cruise ship to New York, then perhaps you should skip these movies because you won't be able to appreciate their stupidity or entertainment value. After Jason Takes Manhattan, the series completely abandoned any sense of continuity, which makes me think of the last few more as spin-offs than sequels (though I still love them just as much, but in a different way).
These eight films are indefensible, exploitative crap that is morally and aesthetically offensive. They took the slasher subgenre of horror, which found its American origins in frightening and respectable work like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween, and made it into a joke. Yet I truly believe that all film buffs need to study these in order to understand how the art of film works on the viewer. I cannot support the fact that these movies throw human life away without any sign of respect (the same goes for many action pictures as well) and belittle practically all sense of decency. In fact, it's kind of amazing that the scripts waste any time assigning names to their characters, because all of them (except perhaps Tommy) were created for the sole purpose of being murdered by or killing Jason. In a sense, it's rather hypocritical of me to enjoy these movies so much and decry others for doing exactly the same thing (look at my review of Sada to see what I mean).
Anybody reading this, whether they've seen the movies or not, will already have their minds made up about them. They are disgusting, mindless excuses for carnage that may very well push disturbed people over the edge. On the other hand, they are fun movies that capture the audience's imagination and transport them to another place, as all good films should. But these are not good films. They may be entertaining—certainly I can never imagine spending a Friday the 13th without watching at least one of them—but they're complete trash.
This set contains the following movies:
Disc 1: Friday the 13th (1980), Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Disc 2: Friday the 13th Part III (1982), Friday the 13thóThe Final Chapter (1984)
Disc 3: Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985), Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Disc 4: Friday the 13th Part VIIóThe New Blood (1988), Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
Rating for Style: D+
Rating for Substance: F
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen||2.35:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes||yes|
Image Transfer Review: In a sense, I'd almost prefer watching these movies on old, nearly worn out VHS tapes (that's nostalgia for you). However, the image transfers here are a nice surprise (they aren't too cleaned up that they take away the age of these movies, which is partly why they are so fun). Friday the 13th and Friday the 13th Part 2 can both be found on Disc One in anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfers preserving the original aspect ratio. Detail is strong in both, especially in the woods scenes of the former. Contrast is strong, with rock solid blacks (particularly in the night scenes of Part 2).
Disc Two contains Friday the 13th Part III and Friday the 13th—The Final Chapter. It would have been nice if Part III had been presented in 3D, but the 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer is a respectable alternative. There are instances of dirt speckled across the whole movie, but the overall image is sharp with vivid colors. The Final Chapter is the worst transfer of the bunch, with a grainy image throughout and weaker contrast than the others. This anamorphic transfer of it does preserve the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
The third disc contains Friday the 13th: A New Beginning and Part VI: Jason Lives. Both are shown in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, with good contrast and impressive detail (especially during the graveyard sequence of Part VI). The beginning of A New Beginning has a lot of scratches, but it gets dramatically better towards the end of the movie.
The best transfers of the bunch are Part VII—The New Blood and Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, with strong colors and solid contrast. Neither is a crystal clear transfer, with some instances of the material's age being noticeable. The original aspect ratio of each movie, 1.85:1 in both cases, is preserved in this anamorphic transfer. Technically speaking these aren't perfect transfers, but anything better would sort of play as a distraction.
Image Transfer Grade: B
|DS 2.0||English, French||yes|
Audio Transfer Review: The first five installments to the series are presented in the original mono mix, with an additional mono mix in French. The sound in each instance is clear, with the music and dialogue balanced well to accurately present the original sound mixes. Starting with Part VI: Jason Lives, the original sound mixes were done in English Ultra-Stereo, which defaults to Pro Logic. The sound is noticeably better and more robust than the mono mixes, with the surround speakers being occupied by the score. There is limited sound separation in the final three movies, but the sound effects and dialogue are crisp and have a lot of force to them. Additionally, Part VII—The New Blood has a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, which is even more vigorous than the Ultra-Stereo mix. It doesn't contain any directionality that I noticed, but it's nice and juiced up so sit back and enjoy. On the final three movies, there also is a Dolby Stereo mix in French.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 119 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
7 Original Trailer(s)
1 TV Spots/Teasers
25 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
4 Feature/Episode commentaries by Peter Bracke, Richard Brooker, Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Larry Zerner, Tom McLoughlin, John Carl Buechler and Kane Hodder, Rob Hedden
Extras Review: The best part of this set is the extra features. There is a fifth disc of "Killer Extras," but prior to that there are four feature-length audio commentaries on separate movies. Part III's commentary features Peter Bracke, author of Crystal Lake Memories, and actors Larry Zerner, Paul Kratka, Dana Kimmell, and Richard Brooker (who played Shelly, Rick, Chris, and Jason, respectively). At times it is hard to understand what is being said, since they talk over one another. Most of the comments here are anecdotes about making the movie, which will provide for some good laughs. Bracke mumbles an awful lot, so his contributions are minimal. One of the most interesting things about this commentary is that Brooker is English, which (at least for me) is just weird to think of Jason having a British accent.
The next commentary is on Part VI: Jason Lives, by writer-director Tom McLoughlin. This is the best commentary of the bunch, with McLoughlin's obvious enthusiasm for filmmaking being evident throughout. He gives a lot of anecdotes about the production, plus explains his designs on the material and points out his inspiration from other directors (shockingly the name Frank Capra comes up an awful lot—never thought I'd hear that in connection with these movies). Following that is a commentary by actor Kane Hodder and director John Carl Buechler on Part VII—The New Blood. Hodder's comments primarily relate to his experience wearing the makeup, but Buechler gives some interesting insights into the making of the movie (especially the production's threat of being attacked by alligators). The final commentary is by writer-director Rob Hedden on Part VIII. He explains the secretiveness surrounding the making of the movie in order to avoid a bunch of press and unwanted visits from fans and points out the different techniques used in the making of the movie. Overall, each of these commentaries has a nice mixture of humor and information that make them well worth a listen.
As for the fifth disc, it delivers big time on extras. The feature-length documentary, The Friday the 13th Chronicles (01h:43m:15s), can be played either as a whole or as eight individual parts about the making of each movie. It includes interviews with creator Sean Cunningham, actors Adrienne King, Betsy Palmer, Ari Lehman, Amy Steel Pulitzer, Warrington Gillette, Larry Zerner, Gerald Feil, Corey Feldman, C.J. Graham, Kane Hodder, Lar Park Lincoln, special makeup artist Tom Savini, directors Rob Hedden, John Carl Buechler, Joseph Zito, and Tom McLoughlin. The common theme amongst all of the interviews is that everybody enjoyed making the movies. Cunningham explains what he originally intended to do with the series and that he never imagined it would become a phenomenon. Especially interesting is that he announced he'd make the movie and took out an ad in Variety prior to even having an idea as to what it would be about. Primarily this documentary is a collection of interviews interspliced with film clips, but there are a few behind-the-scenes photos of the makeup effects.
Next is the documentary Secrets Behind the Gore (34m:08s), which has the option to be played in three parts. The portion on the original movie contains interviews with Tom Savini and Sean Cunningham as they explain the process by which they killed off their cast. The next part of the documentary focuses on The Final Chapter with an interview by Savini and some video footage of makeup tests. The conclusion of the documentary focuses on Part VII—The New Blood, with Kane Hodder and John Carl Buechler giving a great deal of information about how the re-invented Jason's look. Initially, the studio actually hated their vision and tried to stop them, but Buechler won out. The process of Hodder getting into the makeup and acting through it is covered in detail. Make sure to watch through the closing credits, because they contain an interesting bonus of Tom Savini's makeup school.
The final documentary on the disc is Crystal Lake Victims Tell All!, containing interviews with Larry Zerner, William Butler, Lar Park Lincoln, Tom Savini, Adrienne King, Joseph Zito, Amy Steel Pulitzer, and Corey Feldman. This is a collection of interesting stories about the process of being killed by Jason, which evidently is something all of the actors looked forward to experiencing. It also contains some amusing stories about how each of the actors got the part. Following that documentary is a compilation of deleted scenes. There are three from Friday the 13th, three from The Final Chapter, seven from Part VI, and 12 from Part VII (including an alternate ending). All of them play together as a featurette (totaling 17m:12s). Mostly there are minor differences in some of the scenes, containing a few extra seconds of gore. A nice thing about those scenes is that they are shown in a split screen format, comparing the uncensored cut to the final cut. The scenes from The Final Chapter are actual deleted scenes, shown in 1.33:1 pan-and-scan with Dolby Stereo sound. It's a good thing that these scenes were cut, because they contain character development—and God knows you don't want the audience to think that real people are being killed in these movies. The deleted scenes from Part VII are raw footage from deep in the vault, with comments by Hodder and Buechler. Fans of the famous sleeping bag death scene will be delighted to see an extended version of that particular kill. Most of these cuts were wise decisions, since they add nothing to the story but a bit of exploitation on top of a mountain of exploitation.
Following the deleted scenes is a seven-minute featurette on Friday Artifacts and Collectibles with interviews by Hedden, McLoughlin, Warrington Gillette, Buechler, William Butler, and some fans of the series. Some of the mementos shown are really cool (I actually was jealous of the guitar signed by all of the actors who played Jason), while some are props from the movies. The featurette is a nice piece of fandom, the cherry on top of a delicious sundae. The final extra features are the original trailers for the eight movies (well, Part VI's teaser is the only thing provided here). All of them, except for Part 2, are shown in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Part 2 is shown in 1.33:1 pan-and-scan and has one of the best taglines I've ever heard. If any fan is considering whether or not they should buy this set, I highly recommend they do so for the extras.
Extras Grade: A
Final CommentsParamount has given fans of the Friday the 13th movies a real treat, with the first eight getting new anamorphic transfers and sound mixes for this release. The transfers are the best these movies have ever looked on home video and the same goes for the sound. The true highlight of the Friday the 13th: From Crystal Lake to Manhattan boxed set is the bonus fifth disc of extras, as well as the commentaries on select movies. There's a ton of information plus the anticipated deleted scenes that the MPAA wouldn't allow, making this a definite must for all Friday fans.
Nate Meyers 2004-10-04