Friday the 13th: From Crystal Lake to Manhattan

Friday the 13th: From Crystal Lake to Manhattan
No horror film has spawned as many sequels as Friday the 13th. Yes, many people fail to see the importance of nine sequels, not to mention a joint film with A Nightmare On Elm Street. However, Friday the 13th: From Crystal Lake to Manhattan would hardly be the treasure it is if there was only one film, or even three. Call Paramount visionaries, if you will. Defining the slasher genre back in 1980 (a bold statement yes, I am aware), Sean S. Cunningham's horror series not only made it scary to go to summer camp but it also took away that trusting bond with hulking deformed guys sporting hockey masks and carrying machetes. This collection gathers the first eight films (how funny does that sound?) on four discs with a fifth disc filled with "killer extras." Unfortunately, commentary is only featured on four of the films, but really, if Kevin Bacon or Crispin Glover isn't doing it, how much are you missing? The eight films basically run in sequential order of goodness. The first film is a classic, even without the iconic Jason Voorhees as the killer. Using the camp setting as a playground for a serial psycho killer is a true testament to evil and one that has been ripped off many times since (most notably in Sleepaway Camp). When Jason enters the fold in Part II, he really takes on a sinister yet pitiable role, being a demented man-child and all. As the films go by, he gains superstar status that places him next to Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers, with the help of Shelly's hockey mask, which he adopts in Part III. To be honest, the same storyline seems to run throughout the first six films: unstoppable killer chases horny camp counsellors responsible for his death 30 years earlier (most likely because there was a new director for each film). With only one recurring character (first played by an 11-year-old Corey Feldman) in the series, the films eventually turn into more of a cheering session for Jason to raise his body count than anything else. When John Carl Buechler came in to direct Part VII: The New Blood, he rewrote the rules and gave Jason a rival with telekinetic powers. This is easily where the downward spiral became unbearable and eventually ended with the unforgivable Jason X (however, Jason Goes To Hell was an admirable temporary send off). Most die-hard fans will be after the bonus disc of extras and it really is worth having. Included is the "Friday the 13th Chronicles," an eight-part mini-documentary featuring interviews with the cast and crew from each film (including a fantastic breakdown of the original film with Cunningham telling all sorts of interesting stories and there's plenty of "Feldog" to go around). "Secrets Galore Behind The Gore" reveals "never before seen" footage of how they shot all of the gruesome scenes, from Kevin Bacon's arrowhead through the throat to Betsy Palmer's decapitation. Most attractive of all is the interview with legendary effects wizard and make-up artist Tom Savini, who takes you on a tour of his school as well. "Crystal Lake Victims Tell All" shares stories of what it's like to conquer Jason and, conversely, be slain by him, while some decent unreleased and deleted scenes are included as well. Jason may have been put to shame in some of the later films (Part VI, VII and X), but he will always be a figure of terror and one of the most recognisable film stars. While it would have been nice to include all ten films (different production companies, understandably), this DVD collection is a great tribute and a superb way to spend 12 hours and 14 minutes. Plus: All eight original trailers, "Friday Artifacts and Collectibles" featurette. (Paramount)