The horror genre has been molded into shape by the mid-seventies and then the eighties. Parts of the early nineties helped bring about the teen slashers like Scream, but that isn’t what truly made horror garner such a huge fanbase. That credit is given to the early days and the icons that made horror great. Halloween brought about the Shatner-masked stalker known as Michael Myers. A Nightmare on Elm Street made us fear our dreams because Freddy Krueger was lurking in them and just waiting for us to fall asleep. Hell, we were even once afraid to go into the water at the beach (and some of us even the pool) because of the giant shark known only as Jaws. But all of those just don’t even begin to add up to the fear of being in a cabin, walking through the woods, or seeing a hockey goalie that Friday the 13th brought about.
In 1958, two camp counselors were brutally murdered at Camp Crystal Lake and it was forced to close its doors – seemingly – for good. The murders going unsolved, the owners had no choice. Twenty years later, we see a young adolescent girl named Annie making her way to the condemned camp so that she can help the new owners get it ready for the summer and be a new counselor. Annie gets a ride from a local as far as he can take her and even hears the old legend of her new place of employment, and how it is referred to as “Camp Blood.” Thinking of it as nothing more then an urban myth, Annie continues on her way to camp and looks forward to meeting up with the other young counselors she’ll be joining for a fun-filled summer. But the problem is that she never quite makes it and that is only the beginning of the terror in store for Camp Crystal Lake.
New owner Steve gives out chores and orders to all his young counselors as he makes his way into town to get a few supplies. Leaving the young and insane though is a mistake because having fun and a little sex is usually all that is ever on their mind even though painting and fixing up windows should take precedence. Soon the new counselors begin to wander off into their own pairings for a night full of fun but they end up losing their lives one by one. Is some crazy person from the past trying to teach them some respect about those that lost their lives at Camp Blood…err, Crystal Lake? Or is some local nutjob just going insane with whatever weapon he can find handy? Suspects start lining up as the night goes on but it quickly dwindles down as the body count gets higher and the kids simply hope to make it through to morning with their lives.
There’s just no mistaking it that Friday the 13th is one of the most awesome horror films of all time. It gives us suspense, tension, sex, humor, gore, and even a surprise twist that was way ahead of its time (and anything conjured up by M. Night Shyamalan) as far as the horror genre is concerned. Everything you could want is here in this film and it delivers so very well even though it might seem a tad cheesy at times. What’s good about this version is that we finally get the cut footage of added gore thrown into the film instead of having to view it as a totally separate piece. It doesn’t add entirely too much to the fun and blood, but it does make it a more complete film which is always good. Can’t ever get too much blood and guts…especially where the ultra-cool Kevin Bacon is concerned.
Friday the 13th is just iconic and needs to be seen by everyone at least once. Horror fans are going to drool over this film every time it hits the airwaves or someone pops in a DVD because it is just that much fun. If you are not a fan of the scariness or the blood, I still urge you to at least give it a try just once. Enjoy the thrill of being scared and wondering who exactly is behind all the murders. Thrill in the kills as you can be happy that it isn’t you getting stabbed through a mattress. And revel in one of the coolest sounds you can ever hear in your life that will surely scare you senseless…”Ki-Ki-Ki Ma-Ma-Ma!”
The first Voorhees is shown in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and considering I own every copy of the film yet released, this one looks the best by far. It still shows its age with a little dullness here and there, but it is at least touched up a bit.
The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and it comes through fine. The surrounding speakers are never quite used to their full ability, but at least everything else can be heard better now such as dialogue and the music.
The Man Behind The Legacy: Sean S. Cunningham – The director of the first film sits down for a nice candid and informative interview. Oddly enough, Cunningham lets it be known that he barely has kept anything memorabilia wise from the film and barely ever does speaking engagements when asked to do so. It’s almost as if it was simply a chapter from his life and he is now past it. (8:36)
A Friday the 13th Reunion – A handful of the cast and crew involved with the original film sit on a panel and discuss different subjects such as casting, site locations, and even all the sequels. It’s some good stuff and really worth checking out for how candid they all when talking about the film itself and especially the sequels. (16:22)
Lost Tales From Camp Blood Part 1 – I honestly am not entirely sure what this is intended to be. Two campers (lovers) in a cabin get stalked and killed. Yep. (6:39)
Audio Commentary – The commentary track is hosted by Peter Bracke who wrote the book “Crystal Lake Memories.” All he does is host and introduce pre-recorded comments from director Sean S. Cunningham, writer Victor Miller, Betsy Palmer, and a few others. There is no interaction between them because all the comments were recorded separately. And Bracke then throws in his comments from time to time as well. Not the best commentary track in the world. If you can even call it that because it is more like interviews with each person simply thrown over the top of the film.
Fresh Cuts: New Tales From Friday the 13th – This is a nice collection of interviews with those such as Tom Savini and other cast members and crew from the film. They also share stories here much like the “Reunion” featurette and while some of the stories may be repetitive or simply told in different ways; they’re still all fun to listen to. (13:46)
While the film itself has kind of been pieced back together and is by far one of the best horror films of all time, I’m still not entirely sure this version needs to be picked up. That is unless you’re a horror freak like me or don’t yet own a copy of any of the previous releases. But if you already have an earlier version then you may not need to shell out the extra cash because nothing is entirely new and the added special features are just kind of there. Hell, some of them don’t even make sense as to why they are there either, but they are. The film itself is a classic and I have this idea that there is something we the fans haven’t yet been given by those at Paramount. Something special and unique must be hidden in their vault that will eventually make its way to the forefront and probably not until another special edition box set comes out. Sadly, I’ll grab that because I’m a huge mark for Jason and his family. Call me demented, but even the best of us always wanted to be a Voorhees.
Paramount presents Friday The 13th Uncut. Directed by: Sean S. Cunningham. Starring: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, Laurie Bartham, Mark Nelson, Jeanine Taylor, Robbi Morgan, Kevin Bacon. Written by: Victor Miller. Running time: 95 minutes. Rating: Unrated. Released on DVD: February 3, 2009. Available at Amazon.com