FRIDAY THE 13TH
- FROM CRYSTAL LAKE TO MANHATTAN - ULTIMATE EDITION DVD COLLECTION
Directed by Various
Produced by Various
Written by Various
Director of Photograpy Various
Music by Various
Cast: Tons of Dead Teenagers
Various and anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Paramount Home Entertainment DVD
For this review of the long-awaited FRIDAY THE 13TH Boxed Set, eloquently entitled FRIDAY THE 13TH -- FROM CRYSTAL LAKE TO MANHATTAN -- ULTIMATE EDITION DVD COLLECTION, I will not be reviewing the movies themselves. You've probably seen all of them and you know what you think of them. Let's face it, most people either love or hate the FRIDAY THE 13TH films. As for me, I fall somewhere in the middle -- I've seen all of them (multiple times in most cases) and I find them to be mildly entertaining, but I also think that they're incredibly dumb and the whole mythology makes no sense whatsoever. So, for this review, I'm going to focus on the technical aspects of the new DVD release.
The boxed set contains 5 DVDs which feature the first 8 FRIDAY THE 13TH films (the ones which were released through Paramount). Each of the first four discs contain two films (in a dual-layer format), while the fifth disc contains bonus features. The transfers appear to be the exact same as the previous movie-only DVD releases. The films are all presented in a letterboxed format (with varying aspect ratios) and all of the transfers are enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. In a side-by-side comparison of FRIDAY THE 13TH, the images were basically identical. The process of squeezing two feature films onto one DVD hasn't seemed to significantly damage the video quality. As for the films, for the most part, they look fine, although all of them show some defects from the source print, ranging from minor black dots, to major blotches on FRIDAY THE 13TH -- PART 3. For the most part, the transfers look pretty good, but they do (especially the older films) suffer from a series of problems, most notably slight grain and artifacting. (PART 3, which was originally shot in 3-D, displays its own kind of issues). Overall, the movies don't look perfect, but they're acceptable. As for the audio, the films are all in Dolby Digital mono, except for PARTS VI and VIII, which are in Ultra-Stereo and PART VII which in Dolby Digital 5.1. The audio is fine on all of the films, and even the mono tracks sound great, as they provide clear dialogue and do justice to Henry Manfredini's infamous theme song. Basically, the movie portions of this set are the same as Paramount's previous stand-alone DVDs -- this includes the fact that all of the films are presented in the same form as the previous releases, there are no new unrated or X-rated cuts.
So, if the movies are the same, then the extra features must make this set worth buying, right? Well, we'll see. Four of the films feature audio commentaries. PART 3 contains a commentary from Peter Bracke, author of "Crystal Lake Memories", and actors Larry Zerner, Paul Kratka, Dana Kimmell, and Richard Brooker. This track is pretty good, as Bracke (the editor of DVDFile.com) keeps things moving along with well-placed questions, but the actors recollections are very limited and they don't have much to say about the film's story or why certain decisions were made. PART VI offers a talk from writer/director Tom McLoughlin, who speaks at length during the film. McLoughlin has an excellent memory for the details of the film's production and points out many seemingly minor facts about the movie, the plot and the actors. Also, he never speaks as if the film were high art, which is quite refreshing. "Jason" actor Kane Hodder and director John Carl Buechler talk about PART VII. This is a good talk, although the two participants take things a little too seriously at times. They do a good job of talking about the special effects in the film and Hodder inserts many stories about the difficulties of playing Jason. And PART VIII has a commentary from writer/director Rob Hedden. Hedden is able to keep up the chatter throughout the film and relates many stories about the making of the movie. He's quite frank about the changes that were made in the script and the finished film and the limited amount of time that he had to make the movie. These commentaries are good, but one has to wonder why Sean Cunningham and Joseph Zito, who are featured elsewhere in the extras, couldn't spare a few hour to record a commentary.
The remainder of the extras are found on Disc 5. We start with "The FRIDAY THE 13TH Chronicles", which contains 8 mini-featurettes which examine all eight film. All eight segments combined come out to 1 hour & 43 minutes and there is a "Play All" features. The segments contain comments from the following: PART I: Sean Cunningham (producer/director), Adrienne King (Alice), Betsy Palmer (Mrs. Voorhees), Tom Savini (FX Makeup), Ari Lehman (Young Jason); PART II: Sean Cunningham, Amy Steel Pulitzer (Ginny), Adrienne King, Warrington Gillette (Jason); PART III: Larry Zerner (Shelly), Gerald Feil (Director of Photography); PART IV: Joseph Zito (Director), Corey Feldman (Tommy); PART V: Joseph Zito, Corey Feldman; PART VI: Tom McLoughlin (Writer/Director), C.J. Graham (Jason); PART VII: Kane Hodder (Jason), John Carl Buechler (Director), Lar Park Lincoln (Tina); PART VIII: Rob Hedden (Writer/Director), Kane Hodder. As you can see, these featurettes feature some recognizable names who will forever be tied to the series. And the segments where there is a great deal of participation from those involved in the film, we get a nice amount of information. However, entries such as PART V suffer, as no one who was directly related with the making of the film is available. Zito only comments on how PART IV ended and Feldman talks about his two days on-set, otherwise we get no anecdotes about how/why PART V was made, or any insight into the attempt at taking the series into a new direction. The same is true to an extent for PART III, as we only get comments from an actor and the DP. I would like to know more about whose idea it was to shoot the film in 3-D and how the studio felt about the final film. The information delivered here is interesting, but even as a casual fan, most of it was not new to me (I remembered many of the tidbits from "Fangoria" articles), so die-hard fans may not learn anything new here. Given the fact that these docs run nearly 2 hours, they are decidedly lacking in detail. Apparently, the rule here was that only those directly involved with the films could be included. Why? Why not bring someone like Peter Bracke or (God forbid) Tony Timpone in who could at least comment on the films?
Next, we have "Secrets Galore Behind the Gore". This look at the special effects make-up is split into three sections; "Tom Savini on PART I" (10 minutes), "Tom Savini on PART IV" (13 minutes), and "John Carl Buechler on PART VII" (11 minutes). This pretty standard stuff as Savini discusses how certain gags were done (while clips play). He then gives us a tour of his special-effects make-up school. (Shameless promotion?) Kane Hodder appears with Buechler, who strolls through his workshop, showing off pieces from PART VII. Many of the actors from the films appear again in "Crystal Lake Victims Tell All" (15 minutes) and they share their experiences of working on the FTT films. The best part of this feature is director Joseph Zito's recollections of working with a young Crispin Glover.
And now for the part that's really going to make the fans mad. As noted above, none of the films contain any new footage. Well, "Tales from the Cutting Room Floor" (17 minutes total) promises to rectify that. But, not so fast. For Part I, there are side-by-side comparisons (similar to those found on the recent release of THE MANGLER) of the cut scene vs. the uncut scene for 3 moments from the film. Here, we can finally see Mrs. Voorhees decapitation in all its glory. But, the problem is that the picture is so small that it's hard to really get any true detail of what's happening. There are three deleted scenes from PART IV, but they are just dialogue scenes. (Although, I did enjoy the workout outfit.) The side-by-side comparisons return for PART VI for 7 scenes, but once-again, they are too small. For PART VII, we get commentary from Buechler and Hodder as they watch uncut work-print footage. This includes 10 extended scenes, and 2 brand-new scenes. The problem is that the footage (clearly taken from a VHS source) looks so bad that it's hard to tell what's happening at times. So, the gore that many have waited over 20 years to see is barely visible here.
"Friday Artifacts and Collectibles" (7 minutes) is a pointless piece as Rod Hedden and Tom McLoughlin show off props that they kept and some random displays his Jason guitar. Whoopee! The last extra is another disappointment. The DVD box promises "Scary Trailers" to be "Visual effects producer Dan Curry, veteran voice-over talent Don LaFontaine, and others discuss the making of the FRIDAY THE 13TH movie trailers." Guess what? This feature isn't on the disc. What we get is simply the theatrical trailers for all of the films, save for PART VI, which only has the teaser trailer. Sure, having the trailers is great, as most of them are quite fun, but why advertise the longer special feature and then not deliver.
In short, Paramount clearly put some effort into this set, but not nearly enough. FRIDAY THE 13TH will always be viewed by many as a shoddy franchise, but that doesn't mean that the fans don't deserve the best DVDs that they can get. Maybe someone will re-visit these films one day and give us the definitive release.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©