Friday The 13th – From Crystal Lake to Manhattan
The Ultimate Edition DVD Collection
Paramount Home Video – 2004
FRIDAY THE 13TH and its sequels have been long overdue to receive full special edition treatment and Paramount Home Video has taken the first couple steps in making that happen. This is the first time FRIDAY THE 13TH and the following seven films have received any type of DVD with extras here in the US. I have to say that I yearned for more; only half of the films have audio commentary and the films are doubled up on one disc, but I have to admit I still really enjoyed this box set.
FRIDAY THE 13TH is actually kind of a strange series. It seems like nobody likes to admit they like any of these films, yet everyone wants to watch them. I find it a strange contradiction and feel the FRIDAY THE 13th series actually deserves better.
Friday The 13th – 1980
Directed by Sean Cunningham
Written by Victor Miller
No matter how you slice it, FRIDAY THE 13TH is a Classic. It borrows elements from other horror films that were successful before it, but it’s done with enough conviction and talent that it works. FRIDAY THE 13TH certainly uses exploitation like gore and nudity but it’s honestly not the focus of the film. Much more time is spent developing the characters (watch the film to prove this), setting up the situations and utilizing a film location that will never be forgotten. Summer camp settings have probably never been the same since FRIDAY THE 13TH was released.
The film takes place at the now infamous Camp Crystal Lake. Beginning in 1958, someone walks in on the kids sleeping, searching for the counselors who are upstairs satisfying their carnal needs. Director Sean Cunningham uses a shot inspired by the opening of HALLOWEEN, minus Panaglide fluidness, to capture the killer’s point of view. Before the lovers can respond, someone who they clearly recognize attacks violently and turns their world deep red. The slow motion technique combined with physical action is powerful and intense.
Flash forward twenty years. Camp counselors arrive early to fix up and prepare to re-open the camp the first time in decades but someone doesn’t want the camp to ever be used again. Writer Victor Miller does something great as he has various characters say things to inform the audience trouble is coming. For example; “That place is cursed”, “You are doomed” even Kevin Bacon’s character says, “A storm is coming.” This kind of dialogue sets the audience up for something bad to happen. It uses the theory Alfred Hitchcock believed in, inform the audience something is going to happen, then make them wait for it.
As they counselors go about their handy duties, someone is watching them with POV shots made famous in BLACK CHRISTMAS. The person watching eventually starts doing things to erase the counselors for good.
I do think that the cinematography by Barry Abrams is quite good as he captures the film’s picturesque location and makes the most the limited lighting the low budget allowed. Maybe the most important aspect is the cast. Lead by Adrienne King and including Kevin Bacon and Harry Crosby, these young actors do a fine job of bringing believability and onscreen chemistry to their roles.
Music by composer Harry Manfredini is now legendary. His tense orchestral score along with the famous “Ki, ki, ki …ma, ma, ma” gives FRIDAY THE 13TH identity. But something that makes FRIDAY even more suspenseful is when Cunningham and ManFredini let silence take over. One scene in particular is after Bill (Harry Crosby) is gone trying to start the generator (I’d guess around 75 minutes into the film) Alice wakes up from a nightmare calling out his name. When she realizes he isn’t there, she goes into the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee. It’s here that silence and Alice being alone really amplify the tension.
The ending startled me out of my seat the first time I saw it on Showtime back in the early 80s. After going through the carnage of seeing Mrs. Voorhees beheaded in the dark of night next to the lake, the next morning is quite a comparison and sets the audience up for the final shock. Sunshine lights the orange-yellow fall foliage of Camp NoBeBoSco, New Jersey, Alice looks serene in the canoe in the middle of the lake. Harry Manfredini creates a relaxing music cue that tells us that the movie has wound down and the worst is already over…suddenly deformed Jason Voorhees jumps up behind Alice and yanks her into the lake! Suddenly Alice wakes up in the hospital screaming! What’s great about this is the way Cunningham sets us up with deceiving visual and audio and then pulls the rug out from under us. This type of ending was obviously inspired by CARRIE but it doesn’t matter. It works.
Friday The 13th – Part 2 – 1981
Directed by Steve Miner
Written by Ron Kurz
The thing that really stood out to me about FRIDAY THE 13TH – PART 2 is the directorial approach of not showing Jason. Like Sean Cunningham did with Mrs. Voorhees in the first film, Steve Miner chooses not to show you Jason until the second half of the film. Miner builds up the character of Jason by having people talk about his legend and choosing to only show Jason’s boots, hands, shadow, point of view and a creepy shack like house he lives in the woods. We hear Ginny Field (Amy Steel) mention that she believes Jason may still be alive, how he would be a little boy in a man’s body, hungry for revenge for seeing his mother killed five years before. This develops a real sense of menace and makes Jason even more frightening. I also think the white sack over his head is much creepier than the hockey mask introduced in Part 3 and used ever since.
Director Steve Miner also brings a little more visual gloss to PART 2 as he uses Panaglide quite often. The Panaglide operation by Eric Van Haren Noman in the last twenty minutes is outstanding. The long chase scenes are very tense and are helped by Manfredini’s score, which in my opinion is the best music in the entire series. If the production used the same music from the first film it just worked more with the onscreen action.
I must not forget to mention the special make-up effects of Carl Fullerton are also very effective. Fullerton took Savini’s original child Jason make-up and turned him into full-grown adult monstrosity.
Friday The 13th – Part 3 – 1982
Directed by Steve Miner
Written by Martin Kitrosser
I first saw FRIDAY THE 13TH – PART 3: 3D on Friday August 13th, 1982. It was pretty memorable because it was my first date and because there were so many people in the theater, I had to set separate from my date. The 3D was a lot of fun and I distinctly recall the audience screaming out every time something poked out from the screen. Believe it or not, I still have those glasses.
Seeing FRIDAY THE 13TH – PART 3 on DVD is really great, though it would be even better in 3D. A good idea would be to include a pair of 3D glasses in a box set. The 3D image has been leveled to work strictly has a regular film presentation and I have to say that it’s a fun film. There are obviously many scenes specifically designed to utilize the 3D effect like; a mouse crawling towards us, yo-yo dropping up and down into the camera, a detached eyeball held out towards us and an eye ball shooting out from Rick (Paul Kratka) after Jason squeezes his head.
Dana Kimmell is a fine looking lead actress and for the most part Miner uses her well. Kimmell is especially good in the intense scenes as she looks convincingly terrified and does battle Jason realistically for a regular woman in jeopardy. Kimmell is soft and feminine yet is able to defend herself when under attack.
I also think that Richard Brooker did an excellent job as Jason. Watch his body language. He brings a threatening physicality to the role and I don’t mean necessarily muscle. He carries himself with a certain confidence that is intimidating.
Harry Manfredini’s disco version of the FRIDAY theme for the opening titles is good fun.
Friday The 13th – The Final Chapter – 1984
Directed by Joseph Zito
Screenplay by Barney Cohen
I fondly remember attending the original theatrical showing of FRIDAY THE 13TH – THE FINAL CHAPTER. But after watching the DVD, I have to say I see a lot of flaws in the film and that THE FINAL CHAPTER is actually quite a step down from the first three films. The thing that made the first two so compatible besides the storylines was that they were shot on the east coast. Transplanting Camp Crystal Lake across the country to a completely different terrain hurt every sequel after PART 2. Today, I find the storyline of THE FINAL CHAPTER to be pretty non-existent and the action of the characters to be even less realistic than the previous films. I also think the direction focuses less on suspense and the cinematography is somewhat flat. The picture is darker and murkier, which could be the DVD transfer but THE FINAL CHAPTER lacks any kind of dynamic vision. In this regard, I have to give Steve Miner credit for PART 2 & 3.
I also think the actors in THE FINAL CHAPTER are not as good as the first three films. Besides Corey Feldman who is actually quite good as Tommy Jarvis, and maybe Erich Anderson (as Rob Dire) who is grounded, the remaining folks come off somewhat amateurish. My biggest problem with the film is any kind of logical realism. It’s not believable that Jason pulls himself out of the mortuary drawer without the character sitting right in front of the drawer hearing it. How does Jason find his way back to Camp Crystal Lake from the hospital when he’s never been out of the Camp Crystal Lake woods? Characters do stupid things, all of this stems from the screenwriter (s) not working hard enough.
I do have to say the opening of the movie, where the paramedics & police retrieve Jason’s body, brought a large-scale production scope that was impressive. The helicopter-flying overhead with large spotlight illuminating the dark location, while cops and EMS workers retrieved all the bodies from PART 3, gave the film a great start.
THE FINAL CHAPTER does have quite a few creative kills, which Tom Savini emphatically achieves. Jason uses everything at his disposal, never using the same weapon twice to gorily dispose of each victim, but for me this is not enough to qualify this as a good film. If you would have read my review of THE FINAL CHAPTER in high school, I had a totally different opinion. It’s not the gore that makes me feel differently now; it’s the lack of story, weak performances and uninspired direction. Amazing what twenty years of maturing, watching, writing reviews and making films will do to you.
Friday The 13th – Part V: A New Beginning – 1985
Directed by Danny Steinmann
Written by Martin Kitrosser, David Cohen and Danny Steinmann
Marco St. John
FRIDAY THE 13TH – Part V: A NEW BEGINNING is a title that certainly sums up the fifth film in the series. Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman in THE FINAL CHAPTER & beginning of A NEW BEGINNING) grows up with posttraumatic stress disorder and has been sent to a secluded halfway house to try and deal with his issues. He keeps seeing visions of Jason Voorhees and soon after bodies start to pile up. The big question becomes could it possibly be Jason, if not, who?
Director Danny Steinmann (SAVAGE STREETS) focuses a little too much on the kills rather than suspense and the cast is only about fifty percent good. There is some T&A, overacting and not much depth to the story but the last half hour is pretty intense though cliché. I do think it was creative to try and work away from Jason as the series had pretty much run its course by the third movie. But this kind of move also upsets the diehard fans of the original characters and makes the movie seem somewhat out of place with the FRIDAY THE 13TH name.
Lead actress Melanie Kinnaman is certainly attractive and does a good job screaming. Having her fall down all the time and including one part at the end where she cannot even get up, is a little too much but that’s not her fault. The constant rainfall, an energetic performance by young Shavar Ross as Reggie and a stoic performance by John Shepard highlight this film
Friday The 13th – Part VI: Jason Lives – 1986
Written and Directed by Tom McLoughlin
From top to bottom this is the most stylish film in the entire FRIDAY series. Right from the beginning you can see Tom McLoughlin had a vision for this film, which is represented by the rich cinematography, strong-diverse cast, engineered suspense and a little humor that actually helps make the film work.
Tommy Jarvis (this time played by Thom Mathews) wants to be sure that Jason Voorhees is dead, so he takes his friend Allen (Ron Palillo who played Arnold Horshack in “Welcome Back, Cotter” TV series) to the graveyard where Jason is buried and digs up his corpse. The make-up here on the corpse looks quite effective as Jason is now a skeletal corpse home to maggots and worms. This is not enough for Tommy as he grabs a metal fence pole and drives it repeatedly into Jason just to make double sure he won’t come back. The problem is a thunderstorm is brewing and lightning suddenly shoots down into the metal pool reanimating Jason back to life. If you think about, how else would Jason’s dead body be able to come back? It’s actually somewhat logical though preposterous. A memorable shot happens shortly after Tommy checks Jason, convinced his still dead, he starts getting out of the ground and Jason rises up out of the grave to reach for his legs. This is classic horror film imagery and McLoughlin beautifully pulls off the whole thing.
I really liked when Tommy remembers back to killing Jason as a boy, McLoughlin chooses not to flashback visually. Instead you hear what happened, which makes your imagination call back up that scene.
The decision to show Jason, James Bond like for opening credits was fun and really cool.
All the choices from here on out really click. The Covington, Georgia filming location was much better than the three previous California locales. I liked how McLoughlin used Jason in this movie. He showed him walking through the woods, standing outside the cabin, and waiting in the bushes to help build suspense. I must mention two shots in particular that stand out; when the camera tilts up to show Jason at the window right behind little blonde girl Nancy (Courtney Vickery) and Paula (Kerry Noonan) would make anyone jump and right after when Paula walks away from Nancy through the cabin, we see Jason mirroring her movement in the windows behind her.
The choice to put small kids in this film also amplified the tension. The sequences with the kids in the cabin hiding under their beds are quite funny and the little girl seeing Jason leaning down to her bed is frightening to say the least. I like the way McLoughlin set this scene up and the payoff.
The way the film ends is pretty solid because how else are you going to get rid of someone the studio isn’t going to let you entirely destroy because he will be needed for future films?
Tom McLoughlin’s audio commentary is real solid and engaging. He gives enough technical info to satisfy the filmmakers out there but is personal enough to relate to everyone else. He gives a lot of details about the cast and what they did before and after the movie. McLoughlin comes across as knowledgeable but not pretentious, passionate and is an underrated filmmaker in my book.
Friday The 13th – Part VII: The New Blood – 1988
Directed by John Carl Buechler
Written by Manuel Fidello and Daryl Haney
Lar Park Lincoln
Susan Jennifer Sullivan
A CARRIE like character named Tina Shepard (Lar Park Lincoln), who has telekinetic powers, accidentally kills her father when she’s a young girl at Camp Crystal Lake. Years later, Tina returns to the scene of the accident at the insistence of her doctor (Terry Kiser) and mother (Susan Blu) to help get over the traumatic experience.
While at the lake, Tina uses her power to attempt to bring her father back from his watery grave but accidentally releases Jason Voorhees instead. It just so happens that there is a bunch of teenagers vacationing next door to the Shepard’s who become Jason Voorhees next targets.
The two leads Lar Park Lincoln and Kevin Spirtas are believable and keep things real. I didn’t particular care for John Carl Buechler’s directorial approach to the material. Buechler chooses to use standardized clichéd hand held POV shots and doesn’t develop much suspense. Maybe the thing that bothered me the most was in many instances characters were running (when they were falling down) and Jason was clearly walking slowly behind and still somehow managed to keep the same pace. That just physically didn’t work. Also instead of trying to create true suspense he focuses on the make-up effects and how many different weapons Jason can kill people with which is always the wrong way to go.
The Alabama location was effective and the use of directional placement of sound effects in the audio mix was a first in the FRIDAY series. The look of Jason was very impressive as you could see his skeleton frame sticking out of his clothing. But I will also say that I don’t agree that Kane Hodder was the best Jason. As I watched these films I felt strongly that C.J. Graham and Richard Brooker conveyed the most threatening body language.
John Carl Buechler and Kane Hodder provide audio commentary. Hodder thanks Buechler for casting him in the movie because if it wasn’t for him, he probably would have never played Jason. They had met when the both worked on PRISON with Renny Harlin. I was pretty astounded to hear that they started shooting the film in January 1988 and then released the movie five months later in May. That’s incredibly fast. Buechler said that he wanted Lar Park Lincoln to play Tina so bad that he submitted her four separate times (changing hair style each time) before Frank Mancuso finally said “she’s the one.”
Friday The 13th – Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan – 1989
Written and Directed by Rob Hedden
Peter Mark Richman
The idea of Jason Voorhees taking his slaughtering ways to New York City could only come from a marketing idea, because it just doesn’t make any sense. Camp Crystal Lake had pretty much dried up by this point in the series but why would Jason leave his home. I don’t like the idea because it’s silly. To make matters worse, the film could not afford to shoot more than a few days in Manhattan, so it forced the cast and crew to shoot most of the movie on a boat cruise.
JASON TAKES MANHATTAN is unfortunately pretty much a vehicle to let Jason kill as many characters as possible. The two leads Jensen Daggett (as Rennie Wickham) and Scott Reeves (as Jim Miller) are fairly good and I did like the supernatural touch of Jason as a little boy (Tim Mirkovich) haunting Rennie. I also can’t think of many other characters that have my last name used in a movie.
Director Rob Hedden provides audio commentary which pretty much goes along with what’s happening on the screen. Hedden isn’t afraid to admit that the exterior of the ship used for the cruise was actually too small so they had to shoot it from careful angles never to show the whole thing in one shot because it would have been too small. He does bring to light something I thought was cool; that the street thugs at the end of the movie also appear in the beginning robbing a business man. In his own way, Hedden tried his best to use characters to bring resonance to the overall story, like the Deck Hand character (Alex Diakun) was a nod to “Crazy Ralph” from the first film.
Friday The 13th – Killer Extras
The fifth disc in the set is the extras disc and has some real cool features. There are about two hours of new interview footage and the four audio commentaries.
Friday The 13th Chronicles is a collection of little mini documentaries, which vary in length, focusing on each F13 film. These are great to watch and provide all sorts of information about each production. I do wish that they were a little longer and had more cast and crew involvement but this is much better than nothing.
FRIDAY THE 13TH director/producer Sean Cunningham speaks in detail the genesis of the film and what his and writer Victor Miller’s intentions where. Some of what Cunningham says is surprising and I had not heard before. It was nice to see Betsy Palmer, who flatly did not like the script and Adrienne King speak about their involvement. Tom Savini and and Ari Lehman discuss how young Jason came to be. This is the longest documentary and deservedly so.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 is represented by interviews with Amy Steel, Adrienne King and Warrington Gillette (who played potato sack head Jason). These actors talk positively about working with director Steve Miner, who is sadly absent.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 Actor Larry Zerner recalls how he was pulled from working at a movie theater to audition for the film. Director of Photography Gerald Feild describes the difficulty of shooting the opening scene with a large crane and 3D camera apparatus.
FRIDAY THE 13TH – THE FINAL CHAPTER Joseph Zito says he only had a couple ideas that he thought were “fresh”; putting in a kid character, a dog and twins which would all be something new for the series. Corey Feldman says he was always an avid fan of HALLOWEEN, but had never seen any of the FRIDAY movies because he was too young. Feldman ended up watching PART 3 on cable, loved it and thought it would be cool to be part of the FRIDAY series. Joseph Zito also remembers that it was his impression that this was going to be the last FRIDAY movie, so he went ahead and killed Jason.
FRIDAY THE 13TH – PART V: A NEW BEGINNING Cory Feldman says that the opening of PART V, was shot on a Sunday because at the same time he was working with Steven Spielberg and Richard Donner on GOONIES. Feldman says it was the only time as a member of SAG that he worked 13 consecutive days without a break. He also admits, if he could have his way, he’d love it if they would have him come back as Tommy Jarvis and battle Jason one last time.
FRIDAY THE 13TH – PART VI: JASON LIVES Tom McLoughlin states that he has always been a fan of more gothic horror, so he wanted to bring more style and a sense of humor to the series because he felt it needed it. One of the things McLoughlin says that other people mentioned on other sequels is that the movie was shot under a different title because they didn’t want people knowing it was a FRIDAY THE 13TH movie.
FRIDAY THE 13TH – PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD John Carl Buechler approached Paramount about casting Kane Hodder as Jason, but their initial response was that he looked too small. So Buechler shot test footage of Hodder dressed up as Jason throwing someone through a wall, which made them change their mind. Buechler was tired of seeing Jason in just hockey mask, gloves and overalls because Jason had received so much extensive physical damage but you never saw it. So Buechler designed Jason’s special make-up to show all the injuries he had sustained over the previous five sequels. Lar Park Lincoln says that John Carl Buechler was one of her first directors and it was so important that he was very kind because not all directors are kind. By the way, Lar Park Lincoln amazingly looks better today than when she was in the movie sixteen years ago.
FRIDAY THE 13TH – PART VIII – JASON TAKES MANHATTAN Rob Hedden had been working on the FRIDAY THE 13TH Television series and that asked him to direct PART VIII. He actually came up with the idea to have Freddy battle Jason but was told that it wasn’t possible to get the two studios to agree to make it.
Secrets Galore Behind The Gore has three chapters focusing on Tom Savini’s effects of the first and fourth films and John Carl Buechler’s work in the seventh. Still photos and footage are intercut with Savini talking specifically about each effect. It’s pretty cool and helps you understand how they pulled off. Buechler states that he has made all kinds of monsters and special make-up effects over the years and that Jason is definitely his favorite.
Crystal Lake Victims Tell All features Corey Feldman, Larry Zerner, Adrienne King, Amy Steel, Lar Park Lincoln further elaborating on their involvement in the films. I would have loved to seen a larger roster of F13 victims (Lord knows there are a ton of people to choose from). It was neat hearing these people speak about their experience but I felt disappointed there were not more victims involved.
Friday Artifacts and Collectibles is a little segment where Rob Hedden shows that he kept the flying v-guitar and Jason’s mask from Part VIII. Tom McLoughlin shows that he has Jason’s gravestone in his backyard and tells of story of how it scared an electric meter reader man from doing his job, because he thought someone was buried under the stone.
Friday The 13th Trailers were really fun to watch. I liked Part VI and Part VIII trailers because they were shot without using footage from the movies. Part VI is actually called a teaser. It features a long crane shot that moves down and over to Jason’s grave, where a coffin bursts up from the ground to open up. Part VIII has another long crane move up to person standing before Manhattan skyline. As someone approaches this person they spin around and we see its Jason with machete in hand. Great stuff!
Camp NO BE BO SCO was the site where the original Friday the 13th movies were shot.
Terry Wickham took these photos when he traveled there to see the place where a legend was born.