Friday the 13th appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. With its serious low-budget origins, I expected little from the picture, but it turned out to offer a reasonably appealing transfer.
Sharpness was usually good. Some shots seemed a little softer than I’d like, but those were fairly infrequent. The majority of the movie offered positive delineation. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and only a sliver of edge enhancement showed up during the movie. Mild amounts of print flaws cropped up through the film. Some specks and spots occasionally manifested themselves. These were never heavy, but they created a few distractions.
Colors presented a moderate strength. I figured they’d look drab and dated, but instead the hues came across as pretty positive most of the time. Unfortunately, blacks tended to be somewhat inky, and shadows could be too dense. This was especially noticeable during the film’s third act, as a lot of the action became tough to discern. While I believe some of the darkness related to the original photography design, I still thought too much of the nighttime material appeared awfully dim. Despite these concerns, I felt the image held up pretty well, especially given its roots.
In addition to the original monaural audio, this Blu-ray includes a new Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. I also didn’t expect much from it so it turned into a pleasant surprise. The soundfield boasted very nice stereo music as well as some good use of ambient effects. The thunderstorm provided the most active material, but other elements like vehicles opened up matters.
Those aspects of the track even showed the occasional example of split-surround information, such as when a car zipped to the back right speaker. Otherwise, the surrounds mostly reinforced the forward channels and the environmental bits. That was fine with me, as the scope of the soundscape fit the movie.
Though the quality of the audio showed its age at times, it still fared well for the most part. Speech probably sounded the most dated, as the lines tended to be a bit thin. Nonetheless, they lacked edginess and remained intelligible. Effects were pretty clean and clear, and the music usually sounded very good. The banjo-based tune heard early in the movie suffered from dull qualities, but the Bernard Herrmann-influenced stuff demonstrated very nice vivacity. The score elevated the rest of the track and made this a strong “B” mix.
How does this Blu-ray compare to the 2009 Deluxe Edition DVD? Audio was a little smoother, and visuals showed stronger definition and peppier colors. Given that the DVD and the Blu-ray came out on the same day, I suspect they both came from the same transfer, but the superior capabilities of Blu-ray allow the movie to shine a bit brighter here.
The Blu-ray replicates the extras from the 2009 DVD and adds a couple of older materials, too. We start with an audio commentary from director Sean S. Cunningham, Crystal Lake Memories author Peter Bracke, editor Bill Freda, screenwriter Victor Miller, assistant editor Jay Keuper, composer Harry Manfredini and actors Adrienne King, and Betsy Palmer. All the participants sit separately for this edited piece. The track looks at Cunningham’s early career and the development of Friday, the script and influences, score and editing, cinematography, cast, characters and performances, ratings concerns, gore and makeup effects, themes and the film’s tone, its success and sequels, and some stories from the shoot.
I know many dislike the “audio anthology” format featured here, especially when it’s as non-screen-specific as this one; the commentary discusses the film’s ending well before we reach the halfway point! Nonetheless, I think this is a very good piece. It covers quite a lot of appropriate topics and does so in a concise, compelling way. Some apparent faulty memories appear, such as when Palmer says she was told not to act like Jack Nicholson from The Shining; since the Kubrick film came out three weeks after Friday hit the screens, I’m not sure how she could impersonate him. Nonetheless, the commentary works quite well and deserves a listen.
After this we find a mix of featurettes. Fresh Cuts: New Tales from Friday the 13th goes for 14 minutes, seven seconds and provides notes from Miller, Manfredini, makeup effects artist Tom Savini, and actors Ari Lehman and Robbi Morgan. “Cuts” covers the movie’s origins, cast and performances, stunts and music, the flick’s ending and its success. Essentially “Cuts” acts as a repository for little nuggets of information that didn’t make the commentary. It’s not the most cohesive collection, but it’s interesting.
We learn more about the director via The Man Behind the Legacy: Sean S. Cunningham. It lasts eight minutes, 58 seconds, and features Cunningham and his son Noel. We learn about the elder Cunningham’s career and the impact Friday had on his life. He repeats some of the info from the commentary but he throws out a few decent notes here.
We catch up with movie alumni in A Friday the 13th Reunion. During this 16-minute and 45-second piece, we see a September 2008 panel gathering that collected Savini, Miller, Lehman, Palmer, Manfredini, and King. They talk a little about how the various participants came onto the project, characters, the ending, and the impact the flick had on their lives. Expect a few more stories already heard elsewhere, though we do get a smattering of intriguing tidbits such as the one about how the Friday producers tried to get Palmer to appear in some of the series’ other entries.
In addition to the flick’s theatrical trailer, the set offers Lost Tales from Camp Blood – Part 1. The show runs seven minutes, 31 seconds and provides some new Jason mayhem. It’s pretty pointless, as we see a couple of quick killings and little else. Maybe “Part 2” will be more interesting, but I doubt it.
The Blu-ray includes two components not found on the 2009 DVD, though they were located on the 2004 boxed set’s bonus disc. The Friday the 13th Chronicles occupies 20 minutes, 33 seconds with details from Cunningham, King, Palmer, Lehman and Savini. We get info about the project’s origins and development, story elements, cast and performances, violence and the depiction of gore, the score, the film’s reception and some scene specifics. On its own, “Chronicles” is fine, but I think it’s a bit redundant after all the other extras. Still, it has some interesting moments.
Finally, Secrets Galore Behind the Gore fills nine minutes, 32 seconds with notes from Cunningham and Savini. They give us info about the movie’s kills and how they were achieved. This becomes a gory but useful piece.
Horror fans owe the original Friday the 13th a debt since it heavily influenced their favorite genre. As a movie, however, it doesn’t work particularly well. It lacks creativity and comes across as slow-paced and cheesy. The Blu-ray presents generally good visuals along with surprisingly positive audio and a nice compilation of supplements. I don’t think the flick has aged well, but the Blu-ray makes it look and sound better than ever.
To rate this film visit original review of FRIDAY THE 13TH