One of the most well known, and successful, early slasher flick franchises in history, the Friday the 13th series is a staple for any horror movie fan’s collection! Throughout the many years of production, fans lined up at movie theaters to find out – Just how does Jason Voorhees, the legendary hockey-masked killer, come back to life this time? How will his victims rise against him in the end? And what kind of body count can he achieve? Sure, these films were basic in their plot and design, but there was always a high bar for the creativity involved that kept us coming back for more blood and guts.
- All 12 films on Blu-ray Disc
- A Killer Bonus DVD
- A 40 page soft cover Book “Crystal Lake Memories”
- An Official Camp Crystal Lake iron-on Councelor Patch
- Two pairs of 3-D glasses for use with Friday the 13th Part III
- A redeemable code for all of the films for Ultraviolet Download and Streaming
In an attempt to break down the movies and rate them, I feel like I need to give a disclaimer. Nowadays, there is a certain appreciation for horror films in the film industry, and they get the budgets they deserve to be done right. However, that wasn’t the case when these movies were made. Back in the day, horror films were given minimal budgets. The general equation to draw in the target audience was a high body count, decent makeup effects, and some bare boobs here and there for the boys to look at. I will say that these movies were trailblazers that, overtime, gained the horror movie genre a respected place within the film studios. Although campy, and at times completely ludicrous, you have to respect them just for that reason. That’s why geeky fans, such as myself, go back and watch them again and again, even if they do deserve only 2 stars out of 5. The ratings I give are based specifically to horror movies in general.
Friday the 13th (1980)
(3 out of 5 stars) In the beginning, there was a boy named Jason who drowned in a lake while the camp counselors weren’t paying attention. Years later, as the camp is in the process of being re-opened, the staff are attacked one by one by an unknown killer. As with all early horror movies, this was completely low budget and it showed in the acting. In a lot of ways this movie was well before its time. It was a murder mystery of sorts, presenting the viewer with timeless death after timeless death. The only problem was that the killer was unknown to the audience, which is somewhat apparent halfway through the movie once they sliced and diced their way through virtually every character who might have been a suspect. I feel the real success was in hiring the talented makeup effects guy Tom Savini, who went on to become one of the most well know and sought after in his profession.
Friday the 13th Part II (1981)
(3 out of 5 stars) What happens when another group of teenagers get hired on as councilors at Camp Crystal Lake? They all get slaughtered of course, but this time by the real-deal Jason Voorhees. The character is still in a primitive stage in the sequel, wearing a potato sack with a peek-hole to hide his grotesque deformities. For such an early film, they actually did a pretty good job of explaining what Jason’s motivations are. This movie gave the character a solid foundation for many movies to be created around.
(2.5 out of 5 stars) Not far down the road from “Camp Blood”, another group of teenagers decide to enjoy a weekend away at a summer cabin…And in 3-D! That’s right kids! The blood, guts, and gore jump right out off the screen old-school early 1980’s style! Okay, some of the 3-D gags are a little juvenile by today’s standards, but at the time it was a terrific novelty and we can’t hold that against the production team. Thankfully, they had the foresight to write the lovably uncomfortable jokester character Shelly. To this day, this character is relatable to anyone who didn’t quite fit in at one point or another. He doesn’t survive of course, but at least his idiotic practical joking antics provide Jason that iconic hockey mask.
Note: This is available in both 3-D and 2-D format.
(4 out of 5 stars) This is the first time in the series that Jason becomes more than just a mongaloid who’s hard to kill. Somehow, he’s survived a most certain deathblow from the previous movie, and he’s back for more. Even though he does a pretty good job of dispatching a new batch of teens vacationing at the lake, he doesn’t anticipate that 12 year old, special effects protégé Tommy Jarvis, played by Corey Feldman, is living next door. I actually really enjoyed this film in their attempt to bring an end to a still successful franchise. Look for Crispin Glover’s dance scene. Now that’s entertainment!
(2 out of 5 stars) This is the movie that had a lot of Friday the 13th fans scratching their heads. Because the movies were still making a profit, the studio just had to keep going. But wasn’t Jason definitely dead this time? I have to give them credit that they brought back the mystery killer element that hasn’t been seen since the first movie. Only true fans would notice that the iconic hockey mask has changed, so you spend the movie questioning who the killer really is. When the identity of the killer is finally revealed in the end, it falls a little flat and fans are left a little let down.
(3 out of 5 stars) Even though Tommy Jarvis was smart enough to survive two encounters with a machete toting maniac, In Part VI he’s dumb enough to dig up the original Jason Voorhees and bring him back to life by accident. This is the point where Jason becomes more than a man, and transforms into a full blown, unstoppable monster. Somehow in his re-animation, he now possesses super-human strength to go along with his homicidal tendencies. On top of a new and improved Jason, this movie adds a lot of gags and inside jokes to the equation. I love the little kids having discussions about the fact they’re gonna die and barely batting an eye at the situation. (Yup, there are little kids at Camp Crystal Lake this time). The final fight is visually very imaginative this time too, but I won’t give up the details.
(4.5 out of 5 stars) This is such a cool movie. It’s definitely my favorite in the bunch. Makeup effects guy John Carl Buechler takes on the role of Director here, bringing the tone of the movie way back to the dark side. This time, Jason comes back stronger, and more aggressive than ever, played for the first time by Kane Hodder who does such a great job in the role that he goes on to be the first actor to play Jason multiple times. I love the care and detail put into the Jason makeup in this movie. He really looks like he’s been through the meat grinder, which makes good sense since he’s been defeated and left at the bottom of a Lake several times before. This portrayal of the character has all of the elements to make him truly frightening. We also meet young Tina, an emotionally scarred girl with the powers of telekinesis. After a relentless attack on the group of teenagers next door with various gardening tools, Jason meets his match with Tina’s mind powers. The battle between the two is intense, and probably the most epic in the series! The only real problem I have with this movie is that they had to delete the majority of the gruesome death scenes to avoid an X-rating. It’s kind of obvious when the scene cuts out the frame before the axe comes down on the victim. Jason has such a strong presence, but there’s no follow through when it matters thanks to our dumb rating system.
(2.5 out of 5 stars) You can tell when a 1980s movie series is running out of tricks when the production team decides to take it to the big city of New York. Jason somehow becomes re-animated yet again and hops on a cruise liner full of teenagers taking their senior class trip to The Big Apple. The problem is that it’s apparent the movie was too low budget to actually be filmed in New York for more than a few key shots, so we spend the entire movie watching the slaughter take place either on a boat or a in a non-descript back alley. The death toll also rises to a point that’s getting ridiculous, but you can’t hold it against them for continually outdoing the previous movie. In this kind of movie series, it just has to happen that way.
(2 out of 5 stars) This movie is kind of a confusing mess, but necessary in tying the series up and giving it a conclusion. Forget anything you know about Jason Voorhees, because this time you get the full back-story…and it’s bizarre! For some reason, they forget to explain how Jason makes it back to Crystal Lake since he was last killed in New York, and that bugs me. They’ve always been pretty consistent with those details in the previous movies, no matter how absurd the reasons might have been. New characters also emerge to take Jason on, including the bounty hunter Creighton Duke, who ends up being a fun character to watch because he’s the epitome of a movie cliché.
(2 out of 5 stars) I like to describe this as James Cameron’s Aliens, but with Jason Voorhees instead. We’re transported to the year 2455, and Jason is discovered frozen by a group of student researchers who decide to take him along for a ride through outer space. Although the body count is completely obscene at this point in the franchise, I have to give the writers points on creativity. There are a lot really wacky ways to kill people with future technology! However, after getting defeated by an android, Jason gets brought back to life by the spaceship’s automated medical facility, and this time he’s a re-imagined super-cyborg. You can be the judge of whether you like this new look, but I almost immediately missed the good old-fashioned dirty hillbilly Jason. This movie has a pretty equal mix of sci-fi and horror, which is a new experience to behold.
(4 out of 5 stars) Finally, the age old question gets answered! “What would happen if Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees got into a fight?” I had this conversation with friends all the time as a kid in the late 1980’s and it took until 2009 for the movie to finally be made. The movie starts off in typical horror fashion, and proceeds to ramp up into more of an action thriller by the time these two iconic movie monsters go into an epic battle royale. The plot is pretty imaginative to bring the characters together, with a good consistent mix of elements from both movie franchises.
(3.5 out of 5) In the age of movie re-makes, we had to get Friday the 13th in there somewhere. This was more of a re-boot than a re-make of the original. It actually combines the best elements from the first 3 films, and does a great job of explaining Jason’s progression from a disfigured little boy into a hockey-masked maniac. I honestly would love to see a sequel to this re-boot that combines the best elements from Part IV and Part VI with Tommy Jarvis in the lead role against Jason.
Killer Bonus DVD:
My first question is, why not “Killer Bonus Blu-ray Disc”? After all, this is a Blu-ray collection isn’t it? I guess it’s not a big deal since my Blu-ray player plays DVDs too, so I’m not too upset over it. As far as Bonus Features go, there’s actually a lot to go through on the Bonus Disc. You get all of the original trailers, a few deleted scenes, and some fun behind the scenes explanations for the special effects in some of the movies. The main feature on the disc though, is The “Friday the 13th Chronicals” which provides behind the scenes recollections from the crew and the cast members of the first 8 films. You learn where the original concept originated from Director Sean Cunningham, just how scared Corey Feldman was in some key scenes, and the list goes on. This feature was extremely informative. In my opinion, the best extra is in the deleted scenes. You have to be patient, because the first 10 minutes are just boring old side-by-sides of insignificant cuts from the early movies. When they get to the deleted scenes of Part VII though, you are in for a treat. With commentary provided by Carl Buechler and Kane Hodder, all of the over-the-top and gruesome deaths that were originally cut from the movie are here at last! And the best thing is that it’s from an old VHS tape with minor tracking issues. It’s as if the only remnant of these classic cut scenes is collecting dust in Carl Buechler’s basement, but he was nice enough to bring it just this one time.
Regarding the other materials provided in the packaging, the Cyrstal Lake Memories book is a nice touch. It’s filled with great little quotes from the film makers and cast, along with a lot of great imagery. Be warned about this book though if you haven’t seen the movies yet. The designer thought it necessary to show Jason’s face makeup from a lot of the movies. It’s kind of a visual spoiler.
The Camp Crystal Lake Councilor Patch… well that’s just cool. I’m still debating what to stick it on.
The whole thing comes in a tin case, so you know your discs are well protected… until you open the book of discs. I like the imagery from page to page, but the sleeves are made of cardboard. This seems like an unwise design choice since it will more than likely scratch the discs really badly over time. The good news is that this package also includes a redeemable code to get all of the movies on Ultraviolet. I’d say it took me a half hour of creating some free accounts on the necessary websites, downloading some apps to my devices, and then entering the code and I was up and running. I now have all of these movies available on my Playstation 3, Kindle Fire HD, and my smartphone. I did some extensive testing, and the streaming works really well with the free apps. If I’m away from any WiFi connection, I can always download them before hand. Now, the Blu-Ray discs are an afterthought, so I probably won’t be removing them from the book all that often.
(4 out of 5 stars) I have to say, I’m really impressed with this collection. This movie series is largely connected with my own personal love for the horror movie genre, and it’s great to have it rolled up into one neat little package with some extras on the side. The standard retail price of $129.95 should be acceptable to die-hard fans, especially given the Ultraviolet capabilities to view the entire collection on the go, and the extra materials that come with it. Though each individual film within may not garner my highest marks, the complete collection as a whole is truly a worth while addition to any true horror fan’s collection.