Friday the 13th was originally created because John Carpenter’s Halloween had become a box office smash. The director and producer of Friday the 13th, Sean S. Cunningham, called up Victor Miller and said, “Halloween is making a lot of money, let’s rip it off.” Nobody ever thought the movie would find the success that it did, let alone ever believe that this copycat would go on to spawn 10 sequels of its own, seven of which were distributed through Paramount Pictures. It’s these initial eight films that tell the true (albeit inconsistent) saga of Jason Voorhees and his mother and Paramount has put them all together in a limited edition (50,000 in total) Ultimate Collection just in time for Halloween.
This isn’t the first time a box set of all eight films has been released; however, this time Paramount has included the Uncut edition of the first film, while also including the deluxe versions of the rest of the entries. While a lot of fans seem to constantly complain about uncut versions of the films not being released, the special features go on to explain that most of the scenes that were cut by the MPAA were never fully shot and thus wouldn’t fit into the movies as smooth as fans would hope. But in the end when it comes to these types of sets people want to know two things: what’s included and how’s the packaging.
Well, let’s take a look at both of those things to start off.
When you open the box you’re instantly met with a plastic replica prop of Jason’s mask. The mask is a little over 7” in height and is made quite well. It must be known that this isn’t a mask that people will be able to wear (well, maybe a child but I wouldn’t recommend it). This is more of a prop for fans to put on display and for that purpose it will do the job quite well. The plastic feels durable and the paint job on it gives it a nice, dirty feel that really adds to creepy factor. Is it flawless? Well, no. But fans looking for an exact pristine replica shouldn’t expect to find one here. Overall I would say the mask is a great bonus to an already well-priced set.
After setting the mask aside you will find a package of two classic red and blue 3D glasses. These are old-school through and through and a very nice touch for fans of the series who want to see the third film in 3D (those who don’t will be happy to hear that Friday the 13th Part 3 offers the option to watch it in 2D as well, so the choice is up to you).
That leaves us with the 8-Page booklet, which also happens to be what holds the eight movies as well. Each page talks about the movie it is holding, and gives stats such as how much the budget for the film was, how many people get killed and what weapons were used. Some facts are funny, others are interesting. It’s also where they show what special features are found on each disc, as well as a synopsis of each movie.
While it’s a fun idea this is where some may find reason to complain, as the DVDs are slid into a cardboard slot, and held snugly in place for any traveling purposes. The problem some may have is that by packaging the films this way, in order to see them one must slide them out and then back in after they’re finished. This causes scratching to take place on the back of the discs, and while I noticed minor scratches I must also say that at no time did they cause any problems during the viewing of any film. It‘s kind of double-edged sword, as I don’t see why the studio didn’t choose to layer each page of the booklet with plastic so that the films could snap in. The facts would still be readable through the see-thru plastic once the disc was out and it would protect the disc at the same time. Still, the collection is very well priced and it’s not as though people will be taking out the discs every day so I don’t really see it as a huge concern. While it would have been nice for the packaging to be more scratch resistant, doing so could have caused the price of each set to go up and fans would have just complained that it’s cheaper to buy the discs individually. Sometimes you can’t win.
Mini-Reviews of Friday the 13th 1-8
The Friday the 13th franchise changed a lot over the course of these eight films. What begins as a “whodunnit” horror mystery of sorts finishes off with a teleporting zombie Jason hanging out in Time Square. It’s a collection of movies that has both devoted followers and casual fans. What’s most interesting is that the series offers so much diversity in the stories it tells that no matter which type of fan you are, chances are there are some Friday the 13th movies you love and others you simply can’t stand (or at least, choose to ignore). Over the course of my marathon viewing I quickly became surprised at which films I enjoyed most, while also being at a loss of words for how others got made at all. It was interesting to check out websites afterwards and see the battle of words between fans defending the films I liked, while others defended the ones I didn’t.
The franchise offers something for everyone (well, maybe not those who can’t stand the sight of blood or question why people keep going back to this camp) and it’s kind of fun not knowing where you’re going to land until you start hacking away at the collection and get your machete bloody. Without further ado, let’s do just that.
Friday the 13th
I was surprised by just how well the original Friday the 13th film has held up. Sure the acting isn’t fantastic and the dialogue is cheesy; however, it’s actually quite an intense experience if you put yourself in the shoes of those involved. This movie was one of the main reasons I stopped going camping when I was younger and watching it again has reaffirmed those fears. Silly and for the most part predictable, yet surprisingly effective in its ability to create suspense even today.
Final Score: 4 out of 5
Friday the 13th Part 2
This one kicks off trying to connect itself to the first film through more than just the name by having Jason appear right at the start and kill off the lone survivor of the first film as revenge for killing his mother. This is a favourite of some but I personally didn’t enjoy it very much. The acting was better and the production value was higher. This notwithstanding, the story was more focused on action than it was on building up suspense (which was the one major redeeming factor of the first film). Also, the idea of Jason being alive and human makes zero sense considering the entire reason his mother went bananas in the first film was because he drowned when nobody was watching him. It’s the first of many consistency issues the series has but none get any bigger than that. It started off well but then went downhill faster than a camp councillor in a wheelchair with a machete in his head. Tack on a horribly confusing ending and you’re left with a shell of the original.
Final Score: 2.5 out of 5
Friday the 13th Part 3
Here’s the 3D entry into the series and for it I donned my red and blue old-school 3D glasses they sent me and watched the first 15 minutes in glorious 3D. On the plus side the glasses actually worked and the things that came out of the screen actually did. On the downside the glasses muddy up the video quality and they become more of a nuisance than anything else. I swapped over to the 2D version for the remainder of the duration and realized that the 3D glasses weren’t the worst part of the movie at all. This was one of my least favourite entries into the series as the acting goes right back to horrible, and cliché seemed to be the word of the day every day when making this one. This is, of course, where Jason firsts puts on the famous hockey mask, so it has that going for it. Unfortunately it also has the remnants of a cut side story where the writers wanted Jason to become a rapist of sorts and it really makes the back-story of heroine quite awkward. She’s still the best thing this film had going for it, aside from it being the first film to leave the camp grounds and move towards the surrounding area of Crystal Lake. There are also a great amount of cheap 3D tricks for those who can stand to wear the glasses the entire time.
Final Score: 2 out of 5
Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter
Of course we all know now that this isn’t the final chapter, but when director Joseph Zito and writer Barney Cohen were putting this together that’s exactly what it was lined up to be. This one stars two familiar names in Crispin Glover and Corey Feldman (Glover being in his late teens/early twenties and Feldman being a child) and is actually really entertaining. For the first time the series begins to have some fun with itself and it really helps the movie shine. Instead of noticing all that may be wrong with the film it allows you to appreciate what’s fun about it because it’s not attempting to be something it isn’t.
There’s plenty of jokes throughout, as well as a solid heroine who lives next to a house of visiting frisky teenagers who don’t stand a chance. I especially love the addition of some burley heroic type guy who is camping out in the area looking to get revenge on Jason for killing someone in a previous installment. The reason why he’s so great is because he literally does nothing to look for Jason the entire movie. You’d think staying around the wild and crazy teens would work as bait, but this guy figures he has a better chance of finding Jason by wandering around his tent aimlessly the entire time. One may see this as a flaw but as I stated earlier, this movie is the first that’s just all around entertaining. It may even be better than the original on sheer entertainment value (though obviously not in tension building.) Even the facts inside the booklet aren’t taken seriously with one reading, “Skinny-dipper survival rate: 0%.” How can you not love a movie that does that?
Final Score: 4 out of 5
Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning
For the first time in the series a story is formed between chapters as Tommy has grown up and gone nuts due to Jason attacking his family as a kid. Consistency runs amuck here as well, as I’m almost positive I heard them say his entire family was killed which completely erases the fact that his sister survived alongside him. Despite that, this is also quite an entertaining installment into the franchise with plenty of laughs to be had throughout. That’s likely not what they were going for, but hey, I’d rather have a funny, entertaining movie than one attempting to be scary and failing miserably at it. This movie also has the largest body count out of any thus far (and ultimately ties Part VIII) with 21 kills. The kills are great and I couldn’t stop laughing at what I could only take as a motivational speech to end all motivational speeches given by the head doctor at the breakfast table when trying to calm everyone down after the initial murders take place. Is it great? Definitely not. But it’s a different take on the series and a pretty fun one at that.
Final Score: 3.5 out of 5
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
If there’s one thing this movie does right it’s the creation of zombie Jason. Some may hate that fact, but come on now, there are only so many times a disfigured human can be hit in the face with a knife or an axe and keep on living. The problem is pretty much everything else. Tommy goes from being a catatonic nutcase that is made to look as though he’s taking on the reigns of Jason at the end of the last film to becoming a hero dead-set on making sure Jason is really dead. Of course, by stabbing the rotting remains of Jason with a metal pole, Tommy inadvertently causes his resurrection through a lightning bolt. Now Jason goes on another killing spree with Tommy desperately trying to undo his mistake. The kills are decent (with one of the most gruesome kills of the series — albeit off screen — taking place in a cabin to one of the nicest characters in the series) and the body count is high again; however, this one just has so much bad going for it that any good is completely overtaken. Quick Friday the 13th Fact: this is also the first and only Friday the 13th movie that has zero nudity.
Final Score: 1.5 out of 5
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
There’s been an official Freddy Vs. Jason, but this one is the unofficial Jason Vs. Carrie. This time around Jason is brought back to life by a telekinetic teenage girl who feels guilty over accidentally killing her abusive father in Crystal Lake with her powers. When she tries to bring him back from the dead years later she accidentally brings back Jason, who then goes on a kill spree once again. While this one isn’t all bad it’s definitely not great. The kills are decent but the MPAA really dug into this one and it seems like a lot of the kills were edited down greatly. The story is decent but the film really shines the battle between Tina and Jason. Tina uses her powers and tosses Jason around like a rag doll at times, while Jason just keeps coming. Unfortunately, the ending makes zero sense due to some cuts that were made during production that left the finale very anticlimactic and almost laughable. Again, it’s not bad (especially coming off of the horrendous sixth movie) but it’s not as good as some of the earlier installments.
Final Score: 3 out of 5
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
Here’s a movie that will make you understand completely why Paramount dropped the Friday the 13th license after it wrapped. Jason Takes Manhattan is absolutely horrible on every level imaginable. Jason can now teleport, and he’s also ready to take a trip to New York for no apparent reason. His connection with the heroine in the film makes less sense than any other scenario in the entire franchise and the movie just falls apart almost from the very beginning. Add on the fact that Jason is so set on killing the two protagonists that he follows them through multiple subway cars ignoring everyone else, while also choosing to scare a group of thugs by taking off his mask instead of completely destroying them just so he can get back to chasing these teens who have done him so wrong. Without a doubt the worst in the series.
Final Score: 0.5 out of 5
Final Thoughts on the Franchise
So in the end my favourite film was Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter. The mix of humour, solid kills and just not taking itself seriously at all while also remaining completely entertaining really did it for me. Second is the original Friday the 13th, followed by Part 5. I’m sure some people will agree with the top two, while others will pick apart my inclusion of Part V. That’s the great part of this collection in that there really is something for everyone. Also it’s priced well enough that even though I felt half of the series was average or below I still think it’s a great deal that horror fans should definitely seek out.
The audio and video quality of the entire collection is as solid as one would expect from the DVDs. The quality gets better as the years go on, but that’s just expected due to better production values. There’s some age showing in the earlier films, and a bit of grain in certain scenes but really it never takes away from the experience and in the eyes of some it no doubt adds to it. The audio is also great throughout the entire series, with dialogue being clear and the music adding the perfect atmosphere from beginning to end.
I’ve broken up the special features according to the film they’re with. There’s plenty for fans to delve into here; however, if you already own the deluxe DVDs than you’ve likely seen it all before.
Friday the 13th
Commentary by Director Sean S. Cunningham with Cast and Crew
A Friday the 13th Reunion – This featurette runs at 16 minutes 45 seconds and is a special event where on September 13th, 2008 the cast and crew of the first Friday the 13th film had a reunion Q&A. There’s some great bits here. Betsy Palmer (who played Jason’s infamous mother) talks about not wanting to do a horror movie, reading the script and saying, “This is a piece of shit. Nobody’s going to see this thing. It’ll come, it’ll go and that’ll be the end of it,” which is why she agreed to do it. Another great line that comes right after is from the film’s writer Victor Miller where he quotes the film’s director/producer Sean S. Cunningham as calling him up one day and saying, “Halloween is making a lot of money, let’s rip it off.” He goes on to explain how he learned the rules to writing horror films and other bits of inside information. It’s a really great piece to watch and fans will definitely eat this stuff up.
Fresh Cuts: New Tales from Friday the 13th – This featurette comes in at just over 14 minutes and has more of the cast and crew talking more about their time on the set, even getting Robbi Morgan, who played Annie, the first victim in the film (and thus the first in the entire franchise) talking about the effect even that small part has had on her life. More great inside stuff that shows how much fun they all had on set alongside all the work.
The Man Behind the Legacy: Sean S. Cunningham – This piece comes in at nine minutes and is an interview with the film’s producer/director Sean S. Cunningham, the effect the film has had on his life as well as his thoughts on the franchise and what he thinks of the film looking back on it.
Lost Tales from Camp Blood: Part 1 – This extra comes in at seven and a half minutes in length and can almost be viewed as a “webisode” of other kills that happened at Crystal Lake that never made it into the movies. The kills are simple, yet effective (with bone-crushingly disgusting sounds) and it is what it is. ?owever, it would have been nice if they’d added the hockey mask to Jason just to go one step further.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2
Inside Crystal Lake Memories – This feature runs at just over eleven minutes in length. Peter Bracke is interviewed about his book Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th. He explains how the book was going to be a small book, however once he started it blossomed into a much bigger project as there were no DVDs at the time with special features and fans were eager to get information on the franchise. Solid piece to watch with information as to why a lot of the creators from the original chose not to return this time around, as well as how the MPAA forced a lot of cuts to the violence this time around after receiving flak (for whatever reason) for allowing the first film to just receive an R rating. It’s also explained how the ending to the sequel is confusing now due to cuts to the original ending they had planned, however when the original idea is explained it makes even less sense and I’m not exactly sure how Bracke thought that would make things more clear to the viewer.
Friday’s Legacy: Horror Conventions – This featurette runs at just under seven minutes in length and shows interviews with staff members, fans and Friday the 13th stars from Scarefest, a horror convention. It’s a fun, quick watch and it’s nice to see these guys have so much fun at the conventions, as there are plenty of actors who do it more for the money and less for the fans.
Jason Forever – This featurette is the biggest on the disc and runs at just under thirty minutes in length. It’s from a Fangoria convention in 2004 where four of the actors who played Jason gathered together for a panel to answer questions for fans in New Jersey. This is a fun watch as each “Jason” has his own story about how they got the part and their experiences on the sets. Definitely the special feature you should check out on this disc if you check out any.
Tales from Camp Blood: Part 2 – This mini-series type episode picks up where the first one ended. The first couple is dead, and this one begins with their friends coming to visit them. It’s just under 10 minutes in length and as you might guess, things don’t turn out well for these two. To Be Continued…
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3
This film is the only Friday the 13th in the series to come out in 3D, which is basically the only special feature (outside of the theatrical trailer) to be found here. The set does come with two pairs of old-school red/blue 3D glasses, which actually do the trick when watching the 3D version. Unfortunately, the glasses do take you out of the movie more than they bring you in and I found myself swapping over to the 2D version of the film less than 15 minutes in.
FRIDAY THE 13th PART 4: The Final Chapter
Commentary by director Joe Zito, screenwriter Barney Choen and editor Joel Goodman
Fan Commentary by Adam Green and Joe Lynch
Slashed Scenes – This featurette is just over 15 minutes in length. It’s silent video found of deleted scenes from the film, which director Joseph Zito commentates over. This is actually really cool and interesting to see and my favourite special feature thus far. I almost wish this special feature was available on every film as it’s awesome to see how they get the kills to work. Crispen Glover’s death scene was incredibly cool to see how they did it. So simple, yet incredibly effective.
Jason’s Unlucky Day: 25 Years After the Final Chapter – This featurette is eleven minutes in length and is really interesting. It’s interviews involving the filmmakers and other creative staff talking about how they were tasked with killing Jason once and for all. There are stories about working on the film and the constant changes made to how Jason would ultimately be killed, which were pretty interesting. The one they finally settled upon worked quite well, yet the writer knew that the way the studio wanted the “death” to happen that there would in fact be another sequel. Very fun, interesting watch!
The Lost Ending – This is a three-minute alternate ending that was contemplated but never used. Zito explains that it was a morning after sequence, which turns out to be a dream sequence that leads into the hospital scene that was used. The idea of it makes sense, as these types of endings were used in each of the films beforehand; however, here it just doesn’t give a feeling of finality that they were going for. Still, quite interesting to see for sure.
Crystal Lake Revisisted: Part 1 – This featurette is 18 minutes in length and fans of the series will eat this up. It’s a mockumentary based on the town where Crystal Lake is located, and townsfolk, historians and conspiracy theorists are all interviewed and give their thoughts on Jason Voorhees. It’s got a Biography type feel to it on some level, using pictures and such to really drive home the realistic feel they’re going for. Definitely worth checking out.
Jimmy’s Dead Fuck Dance Moves – This featurette is two minutes in length and is a fun, quick watch. Zito talks about Crispen Glover’s dance moves in the film, as no music was playing as they acted it out and he went just nuts with it. Very fun little watch, as Glover was one of the best things about the fourth film.
Lost Tales from Camp Blood: Part 4 – Oddly enough the third part in the mini-series is missing. Maybe it was meant to be a special feature on the Friday the 13th Part 3 disc, but it wasn’t, so we jump right to four. This one takes place in a hospital, as it looks like the guy who survived the second part also survived the third. Jason, if that’s who it’s meant to be, is a guy wearing a hoodie. It’s odd if there were copyright issues to use the mask or make-up that they’d be shown on these DVDs, but alas, it is what it is.
FRIDAY THE 13th PART FIVE: A New Beginning
Commentary by director/co-screenwriter Danny Steinmann with cast and crew
The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited: Part 2 – This is a 10-minute continuation of the mockumentary that was on the fourth discs special features. This time they follow the aftermath of the fourth film as well as the fifth film, with some funny interviews with Reggie’s cousins, where they talk about Reggie pushing the film’s killer off the roof of the barn onto some spikes, “He may scream like a little bitch, but he’ll fuck your ass up!” Again, great, fun watch!
New Beginnings: The Making of Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning – This is an eleven minute featurette that has cast and crew talking about the film, and how the “final chapter” wasn’t really the final chapter, and how they worked with making Jason work even though it really wasn’t Jason. Near the end of the feature there are some hilarious moments with those being interviewed that fans of the series must watch. The fun that everyone has working on these things makes watching everything they’re involved in off-screen incredibly enjoyable.
Tales from Camp Blood Part 5 – We’ve got a seven-minute episode this time around and we’re back in the forest with some camping. This is a weird one, as there’s an odd indication of forceful sex, even though I would think that wasn’t the true intention. Regardless, the escapades of hoodie-Jason continue! Unfortunately, if you were digging this series, this is the final one to show up on this box set. I’m not really sure why they chose to include any if they weren’t going to do them for each of their corresponding films, but alas, you’ll have to go hunt down the remaining episodes on Youtube if you really want to see what happens.
FRIDAY THE 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
Commentary by director Tom McLoughlin with cast and crew
The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited Part III – This edition of the series comes in at nine minutes 30 seconds in length and it kind of tries to clear up how Tommy goes from completely nuts at the end of the fifth film to a heroic figure in the sixth. It’s quite hilarious actually how two of the conspiracy theorists come up with an idea that Tommy had plastic surgery to change his look (since he was played by a different actor this time around.) Fun stuff once again and fans will always find fun in these.
Jason Lives: The Making of Friday the 13th Part VI – This featurette is 13 minutes in length and talks about how the idea of why the sixth film is more humorous than the others, while Jason remains a serious killer. They also go into how Jason had larger than life kills this time, simply because he was a supernatural killer of sorts this time around; or more aptly: Zombie Jason. Another fun watch that gets into the minds of those who worked on the film from start to finish.
Meeting Mr. Voorhees – This is a two minute featurette shown through storyboards that has Tom McLoughlin talking about how he wanted to introduce Jason’s father at the end of the movie. What a bizarre twist this would have been for the series, as it doesn’t REALLY make sense as far as the story of Jason goes. At the same time, he’s also an undead murderer killing people for absolutely no reason at this point, so would that really have mattered?
Slashed Scenes – Slashed Scenes makes its return running at about six minutes in length. This one is definitely not as fun as the first time around. This one is more or less deleted scenes with some muffled audio, and showing the kills in a more graphic nature. It’s still a fun watch, especially the triple decapitation, but keeping the same format as before and hearing the director throughout would have been fun.
FRIDAY THE 13th Part VII: The New Blood
Killer Commentary by director John Carl Buechler and actors Lar Park Lincoln and Kane Hodder
Jason’s Destroyer: The Making of Friday the 13th, Part VII The New Blood – Here’s a 15 minute featurette that explains how Buechler wanted to do something different and that’s where the idea for a Carrie clone Vs Jason came up. Kane Hodder is also featured here (the most popular Jason in the franchise) and they talk about his work as Jason. As with every “Making of…” thus far this is an entertaining, insightful look into the film and stories from the set. The best part of it all is that Buechler actually agrees that the ending for this film is complete rubbish and totally anticlimactic and it’s here we find out that other variations of the ending were taken off the schedule, which he is still disappointed with. He also had an idea for a sequel, which would run along the same lines as Halloween II did with the original, in that Part VIII would have been at the mental institution where Tina is taken and Jason would come after her there. It’d be a stretch, but it’s still a lot more interesting than Jason Takes Manhattan.
Mind over Matter: The Truth about Telekinesis – Here’s a seven and a half minute featurette that has a parapsychologist talking about the manifestations of psychokinetic happenings. There’s a lot of science talk here, and while it’s interesting you really have to be in the mood to want to learn more about the topic in order to fully enjoy it. Still a very nice addition to the extra features, as this was a huge part of this film.
Makeover by Maddy: Need a Little Touch Up Work My Ass – Here we have a three minute clip that sees Elizabeth Kaitan (who played Robin) and Diana Barrows (who played Maddy) meeting up for the first time in about fifteen years. The two played the girls competing for the attention of “the popular guy” in The New Blood, and treat themselves to a makeover. It’s a quick jaunt that isn’t particularly entertaining but is over and done with so fast you might as well watch for the hell of it.
Slashed Scenes – I got my wish for the most part, as Slashed Scenes has made its return once again. The deleted scenes are from a work print, so the quality is low. But you can’t really complain as there’s no other way to see these scenes. Some of these shots are incredibly gory, such as the sleeping bag kill which was originally about ten repeated swings into the tree (with a pool of blood at the bottom of the sleeping bag) instead of the single shot that ended up being in the film.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
Killer Commentary by actors Scott Reeves, Jensen Daggett and Kane Hodder
New York Has a New Problem: The Making of Friday the 13th, Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan – This is an 18 minute featurette that everyone thought coming in really would be the final one in the series. There’s some funny stuff here, and while the movie was still horrible overall you find out just how much the MPAA really tore into the violence that was allowed in the film. This was an entertaining final installment for the “Making Of…” series, and was actually more entertaining than the final film altogether.
Slashed Scenes – Here are the violent deleted kills that the MPAA cut from the film. This time around they’re in decent condition.
Gag Reel – Here’s a five minute gag reel which may be the most unnecessary special feature ever as those who have seen Part VIII know it’s just a feature length gag reel itself.
In closing, for the price Paramount is offering this for you really can’t go wrong. The set contains the deluxe version of every film, the third film in 3D with glasses included, a replica 7” Jason mask as well as a nice (albeit not without scratchy flaws) book to hold the films. Whether you grew up with Friday the 13th and are looking for the complete collection, or you’re a new fan to the genre looking to catch up on some of the films that helped make it as popular as it is, the Friday the 13th Ultimate Collection is definitely worth picking up.
Paramount Pictures presents Friday the 13th The Ultimate Collection. Running time: 736 minutes. Rating: R. Released on DVD: Oct. 4, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.