By now considered one of the “greats” of the horror genre, Friday the 13th spawned a whole myriad of sequels, ranging from direct continuations to expeditions in space and hell. Although all of them went on to star Jason Voorhees, it was the 1980 original that had his mother in the killer shoes, serving up a whole mixture of mayhem at Camp Crystal Lake. With an all-new remake hitting theaters, Paramount is serving up the original 1980 classic that helped make the slasher genre what it is today in an all-new Blu-ray release, complete with a selection of newly recorded extras just for this release.
RIP into a chilling new UNCUT DELUXE EDITION of Friday the 13th. With newly extended unrated scenes and insightful special features, plunge deeper into the film that spawned 10 sequels and the genre’s unstoppable bad guy, Jason Voorhees. When a new owner and several young counselors gather to re-open Camp Crystal Lake, where a young boy drowned and several vicious unsolved murders occurred years earlier, they ignore the local’s warnings that the place has a “death curse”…and one by one they find out just how unlucky Friday the 13th can be as they are stalked by a violent killer.
Yes, this is another one of those fabled 80s films that I never saw, although this one for good reason. I was never a horror fan and there wasn’t a single part of me that wanted to see this film. I’ve recently gotten to enjoy the slashers, however, so getting into this film (I assumed) would be a fairly easy venture. Sadly I was mistaken, as what I ended up witnessing for the majority of this film’s 95 minute runtime was very little grizzly murdering and a whole lot of twenty-something flesh has they pranced around the camp in various states of undress.
Don’t get me wrong, I know one of the staples of the horror genre is gratuitous nudity, but here it’s not even used to do anything other than titillate the viewer; nothing happens until after the characters have their clothes on, so there isn’t even that scary as hell chase through the woods (I just watched Evil Dead recently). If the nudity serves some sort of purpose, then fine. But when it’s tossed about willy nilly, it becomes more of a distraction from the films stupid plot than anything.
And the plot really is quite stupid. While the idea behind Voorhees is fine (and even the psychopathic mother is genuinely scary…especially that whole “kill kill” line), the execution of it here is just half assed. I honestly have no idea (well, ok, I do have some idea of how this movie was so popular—boobies) how this film grew to such levels of adoration by horror fans. There aren’t even that many scares to be had here (the only “Oh sh–!” moment was when that guy was standing the pantry for some reason. Weirdo.) and the “gruesome” deaths are, for the most part, incredibly hokey. Although I will say Kevin Bacon’s death was pretty sweet; I actually rewound a few frames to watch it a second time. Fun stuff.
I didn’t expect go into the film loving it, but I really figured that this would be a film that would have some redeeming qualities. Instead it seems to be the catalyst for every mediocre and stupid horror film to date, with overly simple plots, a bunch of young people standing around making jokes and fondling one another and eventually getting killed in a myriad of ways. I was also quite confused by the films poor editing as well; is there a reason we needed to watch the police officer ride down the trail on his bike, turn around and then speed off? That bit, for whatever reason, just stuck out like a sore thumb to me.
Here’s hoping the remake is a bit more gruesome than this film; really, if it had a level of gore that was at last moderately impressive I might have given this one a passing grade, but there isn’t even anything here that makes me want to watch it again. Okay yeah, Bacon’s death, again, pretty awesome. But aside from that the film just doesn’t work for me; too much talking and deliberating over things and not enough choppy choppy. Maybe the sequels (well, not Jason X) are better, but as far as this first outing goes you can easily Skip It if, like me, you’ve never seen it.
From Paramount comes a new single disc release for Friday the 13th and…well, there isn’t much in terms of appearance. The cover is a silhouette of Jason (though, I guess more specifically, Mama Voorhees) and inside is an insert for firmware updates. Disc is a plain grey wash menus are simple and easy to navigate.
Video for the film, an AVC encoded outing, is far from impressive. The film’s budget obviously didn’t allow for the best cameras of the day to be used, making the picture overly soft in appearance. There isn’t a whole lot of detail to be had here either; quite honestly it doesn’t look all that great, nor does it look truly appalling. It’s pretty much the definition of “meh.” The included Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix is also pretty underwhelming, with retro 80s sound effects sounding just like the tin cans they were recorded in. Surrounds are rarely used and the subwoofer, whenever it does randomly get used, barely has any oomph to it. Also included is a English, French and Spanish Mono track, as well as English, English SDH, French, and Spanish Subtitles.
First up on the extras docket is a previously recorded Commentary by Director Sean S. Cunningham and Cast and Crew, which actually turned out to be a pieced-together commentary by Peter Backe (author of Crystal Lake Memories). It’s a decent piece, but I know nothing about the lore of the series and I was so uninterested in this film that I really probably didn’t give this (or any of the extras) a fair shake.
Next up is a whole series of newly recorded extras in freshly minted 1080p. First up is Friday the 13th Reunion (16:45), a panel that was recorded last year on September 13th. Fresh Cuts: New Tales from Friday the 13th (14:07) features new cast and crew interviews, The Man Behind the Legacy (8:58) interviews Sean S. Cunningham, and Lost Tales from Camp Blood (7:31) is some kind of short film made for this release. Following this is The Friday the 13th Chronicles (20:34, SD), the first of two standard definition extras and is basically another recount of the cast and crews time on the set (apparently Betsy Palmer only took the job because it would pay for a new car she wanted. Nice.). Finally there’s Secrets Galore Behind the Gore (9:32, SD) which profiles the films apparently groundbreaking gore effects (which, okay I guess they may have been groundbreaking, but the 1981 release of Evil Dead really was like ten times worse than what Friday the 13th pumped out). Finally there’s the Theatrical Trailer (2:34) which is also in 1080p, but looks about fifty times worse than the actual film did, so I guess they did actually clean up the film more than I thought.
So that does it for this release. A solid selection of extras for fans to check out, but I honestly have no further interest in this series (except maybe the remake, but that’s just because I’m a fan of Supernatural). Recommended for fans, Skip It otherwise.
Friday the 13th Uncut is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.