Directed By: Daniel Farrands
Starring: Corey Feldman, Kane Hodder, Betsy Palmer, Robert Englund
Editor’s Notes: In the 1970’s the idea of a serial killer went through many changes cinematically that still impact those types of movies today. The formula for the serial killer that we know and dare I say love was originally crafted by Italian director Mario Bava in 1971 with his film Twitch of the Death Nerve also known as A Bay of Blood. One tool that is required in a serial killer film that was established by Bava is a signature theme song. That idea has stayed true all the way to modern films. Michael Myers has one and so does Jason Voorhees. You can hear the creepy theme from Twitch of the Death Nerve being whistled by Daryl Hannah’s character Elle Driver in the hospital scenes of Kill Bill Vol. 1. In American cinema the influence of Twitch of the Death Nerve brought us the ground breaking, and terrifying 1978 film Halloween from John Carpenter. Carpenter set the standard and Americanized Bava’s formula for the serial killer and there’s no denying the film’s iconic nature. But after every groundbreaking film another comes along to take the idea to the next level and that was Sean Cunningham’s 1980 slasher film Friday the 13th. That film spawned a franchise that spanned 30 years of films, two studios (Warner Brothers and Paramount) a TV series, games, and even comic books. It could be argued that the image of Jason in that bloody hockey mask has eclipsed the phantom face of Michael from Halloween.
Now there’s an epic documentary that attempts to unlock the secrets to this franchises success including all of the original films, the TV series, the 2009 remake, and even what might be next for the unstoppable killer.
Released in 2006 Peter M. Bracke’s book Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th mined the screenwriters, actors, special effects artists and directors of all the Friday the 13th movies to that point (the reboot happened in 2009) and told the behind the scenes story of the franchise and was well received. Director Daniel Farrands and writer previously worked together on Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy and the two films are similar in scope and depth. When I watched Never Sleep Again I was a little shocked at its running time. Little did I know how short in comparison it would be.
Crystal Lake Memories is just shy of seven hours long and features over a hundred interviews. But even at that length I could have watched more. All the major (and minor) players are here including Corey Feldman who also narrates. It is obvious Feldman loved his role in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter and wanted to continue the part but unfortunately a little film by the name of The Goonies interfered and he only filmed one scene for Friday the 13th: The New Beginning. What might have been….
There is a ton of information here and it is all great but the one thing I found the most fascinating is just how long it took to get Freddy vs. Jason on the screen. And I’m not just talking about how many years passed since the idea was pitched. There were no less than eighteen scripts submitted before we finally got to see the fight we’d all been waiting for.
Growing up I wasn’t allowed to watch the Friday the 13th movies and as an adult I don’t think I have seen them all. But one of the great things about Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th is that this documentary is so comprehensive that by the end I felt like I had seen every movie in the franchise. But I still have plans to fill in the missing gaps.
Editor’s Notes: Presented in Widescreen 1.78:1. This documentary mixes interviews with movie clips. The movie clips vary in quality based on the age of the clip generally. All are very watchable just expect a little more grain and artifacting with the older ones. The interviews are shot on video but they look good enough with realistic skin tones and solid contrast.
Dolby NTSC Surround Sound. The audio was fine on this copy. I’m sure that the final product has a very crisp digital transfer that sounds amazing.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The copy I received was an advanced screener and did not come in the retail packaging.
As I stated earlier this was a long movie and the whole thing felt like a bonus feature but it did have audio commentary and film trailers. A little skimpy, but seven hours of movie more than makes up for it.
I really loved this documentary. It took me back to a time when the scariest thing in the dark was a machete wielding psycho in a hockey mask and not the world itself.
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10