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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Sean S. Cunningham
Cast:
Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, Laurie Bartram, Jeannine Taylor, Mark Nelson, Robbi Morgan, Kevin Bacon, Ari Lehman
Writing Credits:
Victor Miller, Ron Kurz

Tagline:
You'll wish it were only a nightmare ...

Synopsis:
Terror and suspense abound in this 24-hour nightmare of blood. Camp Crystal Lake has been shuttered for over 20 years due to several vicious and unsolved murders. The camp's new owner and seven young counselors are readying the property for re-opening despite warnings of a "death curse" by local residents. The curse proves true on Friday the 13th as one by one each of the counselors is stalked by a violent killer.

Box Office:
Budget
$700 thousand.
Domestic Gross
$5.816 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Monaural
French Monaural
Spanish Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $16.99
Release Date: 2/3/2009

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Producer/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
• “Fresh Cuts: New Tales from Friday the 13th” Featurette
• “The Man Behind the Legacy: Sean S. Cunningham” Featurette
• “A Friday the 13th Reunion” Featurette
• “Lost Tales from Camp Blood – Part 1” Short
• Theatrical Trailer


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RELATED REVIEWS


Friday The 13th: Deluxe Edition (1980)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 26, 2009)

In 1980, a significant addition to the horror genre came with the surprise hit Friday the 13th. On the surface, it sounded like a rip-off of Halloween, with another mysterious killer and a tale tied to a notable date. However, it’s not fair to brand Friday the 13th as nothing more than a flick that steals from Halloween, for it manages to take from many other horror movies as well.

Friday opens with a prologue set at Camp Crystal Lake in 1958. After a sing-along, a pair of teen campers goes off for some lovin’. An unnamed person comes upon them and slaughters the kids. The movie then jumps to Friday, June 13 in the “present day” for the reopening of the site, commonly referred to as “Camp Blood” by the locals. We meet young cook Annie (Robbi Morgan) as she meanders into town. Trucker Enos (Rex Everhart) gives her a lift to the camp but warns her of its curse and tells her to quit.

She dismisses Enos as a superstitious kook and goes on her merry way. From there we meet owner Steve Christy (Peter Brouwer) and the rest of the staff as they get the old place into shape. They wonder about Annie, who never makes it. When she hitches another ride, the driver eventually slits her throat.

While Steve goes into town, the kids have fun and set up things. They encounter some minor scares and also run into Ralph the local nutbag (Walt Gorney) who warns them of their imminent doom. Like Annie before them, they pooh-pooh this crazy talk and go about their business. Slowly his predictions turn true, however, as someone methodically offs the counselors. Eventually the survivors figure out that something’s wrong and try to fight this unseen evil.

One probably shouldn’t criticize Friday for its clichés, since it was one of the flicks that helped turn the concepts into clichés. That said, I couldn’t help but wish the filmmakers had tried just a little harder to add some distinctiveness to the movie.

Can a film as derivative as Friday be seen as seminal? Yeah, I think so. The movie doesn’t present much that one could call original, but that packaging made it a little different, and it certainly inspired many copycats of its own. I seriously doubt that the rash of slasher flicks in the Eighties would have existed without the success of Friday. Its lasting legacy may not have anything to do with the content on screen; it may come more from the fact that Friday reached a wider audience than the usual ultra-violent fare.

Of course, the series added the character of Jason Voorhees to the public lexicon, but one can’t credit the original flick with that. It introduces Jason in a way that doesn’t even remotely resemble the monster of the subsequent entries. I won’t get into the details more fully so I can avoid spoilers, but suffice it to say that Jason is largely a non-entity in this film.

As I watch it now, I find it tough to figure out why Friday became such a sensation. There’s really not much to the movie. It presents extremely generic characters who don’t even aspire to be stereotypes. We know Alice will make it to the end because she’s the plain one, ala Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween. Subsequent Fridays don’t exactly go nuts with rich, full characters, but the ones in the first movie nonetheless come across as absurdly thin. If you can remember any of their names an hour after the story ends, you’ve either got photographic memory or you’ve seen the flick 100 times. The ridiculously amateurish acting doesn’t help matters.

Part of the film’s claim to fame may have come from its graphic nature. While subsequent Fridays would up the violent ante, this one provides material that seemed nastier than expected given the era. It also sets up the basic motif in which the series would present creative ways to kill the participants. The film doesn’t demonstrate a great deal of imagination, unfortunately, partially due to Sean S. Cunningham’s clumsy direction. He telegraphs every shot and scare as the film plods toward the inevitable.

Although the score itself clearly ripped off Bernard Herrmann’s work for Psycho, the audio design integrated one innovative touch: the creepy “Ki ki ki, ma ma ma” elements that run through the film. These reverberated bits remain one of the series’ most distinctive elements and immediately make the movies identifiable. They work in an eerie manner that helps accentuate the action.

Despite minor positives such as that plus a pre-fame performance from a young Kevin Bacon, Friday the 13th doesn’t stand as much of a movie anymore. Maybe it never was all that great, but it certainly influenced its genre strongly and helped create a new kind of horror flick. “Influential” doesn’t necessarily equal “good”, however, and the original Friday now feels like a museum piece.

Note that this 2009 Friday DVD presents an uncut version of the film. This doesn’t do anything to change the story; it just adds half a minute or so of gore. Since the series fans want blood ‘n’ guts, the additions will make them happy.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Friday the 13th appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. 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 DVD includes a new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. I also didn’t expect much from it so it turned into a real 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 do the picture and sound of this 2009 disc compare to the 2004 release? Unfortunately, I was unable to directly compare the two; the version I reviewed in 2004 was available only as part of a boxed set called “From Crystal Lake to Manhattan”, and I gave it away years ago.

I do know I was pretty impressed with the visuals of that 2004 DVD, and that may mean it looked better than this one. However, I’d be reluctant to stay that with certainty. For one, I watched both discs on different set-ups, and my current 50” plasma is more revealing than my old 36” CRT was. Also, I expected Friday to look terrible, so I may have forgiven some of its minor sins because it offered stronger visuals than I’d anticipated. I suspect that both the 2004 DVD and this 2009 release look a lot alike, but I can’t make clear judgments since I’ve not seen the former for a few years.

I did rent the original Friday DVD from 1999 and thought that the new disc presented superior visuals. Both suffered from the same concerns – especially the murky low-light shots – but the old disc was a bit dirtier. In terms of picture quality, the 2009 release offered a clear step up when compared to the original 1999 disc.

A more obvious change came from the audio of the 2009 DVD. It offered a new 5.1 remix, while the two prior discs went solely with the original monaural soundtrack. I had no problems with the 1980 mono mix, but I did rather like the new 5.1 edition. Since the 2009 disc provides both the mono and 5.1 tracks, it acts as an auditory “best of both worlds”.

Expect a pretty decent collection of extras here, almost all of which are new to this set. 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, eight 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 44-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 finishes with Lost Tales from Camp Blood – Part 1. The show runs seven minutes, 32 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.

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 DVD presents generally good visuals along with surprisingly positive audio and a few nice extras. I don’t care much for the film in question, but I think Friday fans will feel pleased with the manner in which the DVD replicates the movie.

To rate this film visit original review of FRIDAY THE 13TH

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main