The Friday the 13th series is by far one of the most celebrated horror franchises. I think it is fair to say that most of our readers here at Wicked Horror have seen our favorite hockey mask wearing maniac chase after countless campers and Crystal Lake residents from film to film. For those that do not know, Friday the 13th is the story of one mother’s desperate attempt at stopping a summer camp from opening its doors to carefree youngsters. Her own child drowned at the camp years before, and she does not want any other parent to suffer the same heartbreak she has had to endure for many years. After taking a firm stance that does not turn out the way she hoped, the subsequent films reveal her child survived! Now, he is a supernatural force that only wants to pick up where his mother left off on her own abbreviated journey and complete her work through his own tribute to the woman who bore him.
That is the best I can do to create a “new” Lifetime movie-of-the-week spin on a franchise seen by millions of horror fans. Unfortunately, other than new packaging and digital copies, the latest Friday the 13th Blu-ray collection does not attempt to offer anything new to the fans of all the cinematic bloodshed created by Pamela and Jason Voorhees. The first four films have been “newly remastered” and certainly look terrific; however, even with this writer’s 20/20 vision, I was unable to see any real difference with the film quality between the last Six-Disc Blu-ray collection from 2018 and this Six-Disc Blu-Ray collection. Although, one big difference in the film quality is that in this newer collection, Friday the 13th, Part III does not offer a 3D version, whereas the past collections have offered 3D editions with either the traditional red-blue glasses style or in “true” 3D.
To be fair, for any fans that have not yet purchased the previous 8-Movie Blu-ray collection or last year’s magnificent deluxe 16-Disc edition containing all the films featuring Jason Voorhees, including the 2009 remake, this latest collection might be for you. Or, this set is a solid choice for the casual fan that just wants to have the first eight movies on Blu-ray and special features are of little consequence. If, however, you are a fan that was hoping to get a “junior” or “economic” edition of the deluxe set from last year, then you are likely to be disappointed. For example, the previous collector’s sets offered a plethora of audio commentaries with each feature, and this latest release does not have a single audio commentary for the first three entries. Let alone the multiple audio commentaries accompanying every film in the deluxe edition. Although more anemic than the deluxe edition, even the previous 8-Movie set had a commentary for each film.
Still, there are certainly other special features to enjoy in this latest release! There are no new special features, but if you have not seen the other editions then you will find plenty to appreciate and be entertained by within this latest Blu-ray collection. Each disc offers a feature film and multiple interviews from directors, writers, cast members, and fans. The later films even have one or two audio commentaries that will entertain viewers. Again, these have been previously released special features that have been collected from DVD and Blu-ray releases in the past.
Disc One offers the theatrical cut of the original Friday the 13th that started off this beloved franchise. After a chilling opening that guides the viewer through the point of view of an unseen killer attacking two Camp Crystal Lake counselors, the film shifts to “present day,” and new doomed campers are attempting to reopen Camp Crystal Lake. The special features reveal that the filmmakers were blatantly and shamelessly ripping off the success of 1978’s Halloween while “borrowing” from the shock value ending of 1976’s Carrie. Nevertheless, the original Friday the 13th managed to make its own mark in demonstrating how the slasher formula could work while adding in its own celebrated flavor of special gory effects. Each subsequent film would up the ante on what could be achieved through clever and innovative ways of killing camp counselors and Crystal Lake residents.
The special features on Disc One include Fresh Cuts: New Tales from Friday the 13th, The Man Behind the Legacy: Sean S. Cunningham, Friday the 13th Reunion, Lost Tales from Camp Blood – Part 1, The Friday the 13th Chronicles – Friday the 13th, Secrets Galore Behind the Gore. One nice thing about having all these special features deriving from DVD and Blu-ray sets, as well as individual releases, is that one does not need to worry about missing out on the best of the supplements from earlier collections. The opinions and anecdotes of Sean S. Cunningham, Tom Savini, Adrienne King, etc. are all gathered here, and the viewer gets to see the evolution of these individuals from one release in 2009, another in 2018, another in 2020, and so forth.
Disc Two contains the feature film of Friday the 13th, Part II. The second entry picks up two months after the harrowing events of the previous film with Adrienne King’s Alice trying to pick up the pieces of her life. The movie then jumps ahead five years later at a counselor training school opening near the legendary “Camp Blood” on the shore of Crystal Lake. One by one, sometimes by two, the new counselors are picked off until revered final girl Ginny (Amy Steel) is left to fend off the somehow existing Jason Voorhees. I am not going to do it in this space; however, I, like most fans, have been able to make the spotty and contradictive history of Mrs. Voorhees’ son work in my own mind.
Part II begins a trend of each subsequent film after the original getting stronger and taking each sequel to the next level of entertainment. The original was a solid starting off point, and each film (through Final Chapter) after the first entry molds the legend of Jason until a full force horror icon is created. At the same time, the audience cares enough about the main group of counselors and final girls that an enjoyable level of suspense is maintained. The special features on Disc Two consist of Inside “Crystal Lake Memories,” Friday’s Legacy: Horror Conventions, Lost Tales from Camp Blood – Part II, and Jason Forever. Disc Two’s special features centers on the fans of both general horror and the franchise through horror conventions, as well as through an in-depth look at Peter M. Bracke’s work on his Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th book.
Disc Three contains Friday the 13th, Part III, and the second sequel picks up right after the bloody night of Part II. Chris (Dana Kimmell) is heading back to her family house on Crystal Lake for the first time in two years following a traumatic assault. Traveling with her are a group of friends, including prankster Shelly (Larry Zerner), of whom provides Jason with his iconic hockey mask. Despite a few moments that take viewers out of the moment generated by obvious pandering to 3D effects, Part III manages to follow the tried-and-true formula of the first two entries, while also staying fresh with relatable characters, fun gory effects, and believable suspense.
The biggest disappointment to Disc Three comes with the fact that there is no 3D version included! From the standard blue-red glasses version or true 3D, there have been so many releases of the 3D presentation of Part III that it is shocking to discover the omission from this latest Blu-ray collection. Nevertheless, there are other features to enjoy which include Fresh Cuts: 3D Terror (ironic inclusion), Legacy of the Mask, Slasher Films: Going for the Jugular, Lost Tales from Camp Blood – Part III.
Disc Four contains this writer’s personal favorite of the Friday the 13th saga, which is, of course, Friday the 13th – The Final Chapter. The fourth film offers two sets of horror tropes in one film: the group of teens heading off into the woods, and the vulnerable broken family trying to get their lives back together. This combination into one horror feature avoids feeling cluttered through Joseph Zito’s direction and effortlessly makes for one scary movie. Furthermore, each of the teens is given enough space to carve out a unique and memorable character while the performances by Corey Feldman and Kimberly Beck aid in making the Jarvis clan seem like a genuine family. In addition, horror villain Jason has become fully realized in The Final Chapter, and his development has come full circle through the terrified eyes of young Tommy Jarvis (Feldman).
The Final Chapter is obviously not the final entry in the series; however, The Final Chapter is arguably the last of the series for quite a while that offers genuine scares in conjunction with self-contained comedy that comes across as unforced and natural. Tom Savini triumphantly returns to the series in order create some of his celebrated special effects, many of which still hold up well today. The Final Chapter also has the best chase sequence in any of the films (and one of the best of all horror movies) which involves Kimberly Beck’s cat and mouse race from Jason beginning at the Jarvis house and culminating in a desperate jump through a second-story window from the house next door. Finally, The Final Chapter introduces audiences to Tommy Jarvis, a character fans will follow through a total of three films with parallels to Jason’s own cinematic journey.
Disc Four’s special features consist of director, editor and screenwriter commentary, fan commentary by Adam Green and Joe Lynch, The Friday the 13th Chronicles: Part IV; Secrets Galore Behind the Gore – Friday the 13th Part IV; Lost Tales from Camp Blood – Part 4; Slashed Scenes with Commentary by Director Joseph Zito; Jason’s Unlucky Day – 25 years After Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter; The Lost Ending; and The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited: Part 1. Personally, I think the “lost ending” should have been kept in the film. To be clear, the final hospital sequence should remain as it is in the theatrical release; however, the “lost ending” could have been perfectly inserted in before the final sequence, and it would have been satisfyingly effective. The remaining special features spotlight Tom Savini’s masterful skills, as well as insight from cast and crew.
Disc Five contains the theatrical cuts of Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning and Friday the 13, Part VI: Jason Lives. The fifth installment gets more than its share of the franchise’s criticisms. Listen, I think A New Beginning is just fine. Anyone can easily see Part V takes a step down from the steady upward swing of the first four films. A New Beginning feels a little clumsy, the humor is flat, and there is an abundance of unlikeable characters; however, there are also creative effects, interesting performances, and the third act puts the rest of the film back on track with a strong Friday the 13th finale. Oh, big whoop, there’s a fake out. It’s the Halloween III: Season of the Witch or A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge of the Friday the 13th series. I understand how audiences felt at the time when these riskier departures could have been their franchises “last” film. In knowing full well Jason Voorhees will return for several more installments, however, A New Beginning should be better appreciated retrospectively for an honest, if somewhat misguided entry.
The special features on Disc Five for A New Beginning include commentary with director as well as cast and crew, The Friday the 13th Chronicles, Part V; Lost Tales from Camp Blood – Part Five; The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited: Part II; and The Making of Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. The behind-the-scenes features spotlight cast and crew experiences during the making of the film, while The Lost Massacres Revisited has been a six-part miniature film that stretches across each disc and The Crystal Lake Massacres is a mockumentary-style true-crime approach to the murders committed throughout the fictional Crystal Lake over the years.
Disc Five also contains the theatrical release of Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives. With the revival of Jason Voorhees and a steady display of self-aware humor from director Tom McLoughlin, Jason Lives is generally considered a high point from the later films in the Friday the 13th series. Retconning the events of the previous installment and recasting Tommy Jarvis (Thom Matthews), the sixth part primarily ignores the route offered by the previous installment. Although fans could tepidly imagine Tommy rapidly improved from his state of mental health in the final sequence from A New Beginning and that Jason was not cremated after all, Jason Lives presents Tommy as a determined young man focused on making sure the masked villain from Crystal Lake is destroyed once and for all.
Jason Lives offers a foreshadowed glimpse at the post-modern horror comedies that were to come in the late 1990’s with the release of Scream. The straightforward suspense of the first four films is long gone and a larger-than-life Jason Voorhees now fills the screen. Still, Jason Lives does offer a few thrilling moments parallel to the meta humor and breathes fresh life into the series. Disc Five’s special features consist of solo commentary by Tom McLoughlin; commentary with the director, cast, and crew; as well as The Friday the 13th Chronicles, Part VI; Lost Tales from Camp Blood – Part 6; The Crystal Lake Massacres: Part III; Jason Lives: The Making of Friday the 13th Part VI; Meeting Mr. Voorhees; and Slashed Scenes.
Disc Six continues the trend with the theatrical releases of Friday the 13th, Part VII: The New Blood and Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. Like its immediate predecessor, The New Blood continues Jason Lives’ attempt to keep the series fresh with a bold premise. At its core, sequel number seven is a throwback to Universal’s horror crossovers that can be broken down as Jason Voorhees vs. Carrie White, or Carrie White meets the Jason Voorhees. Similar to Stephen King’s iconic telekinetic outsider, Tina Shephard (Lar Park Lincoln) is a socially stunted young woman isolated from typical teenager interactions due to her ability to move objects with her mind. She travels to Crystal Lake to confront past demons, as years before a traumatic event left her emotionally scarred. Tina soon meets the latest group of partying teens next door that have been targeted by Jason and proves to be a surprisingly formidable force against Crystal Lake’s legendary resident villain.
Truthfully, the ending to The New Blood is kind of weak, and the special features help to elaborate on how the nonsensical parts of the released ending were originally meant be a bit more “realistic.” Even though the biggest challenge for the filmmakers had to be that Tina could probably have easily defeated Jason early on, there is still quite a bit to enjoy in Part VII through its interesting premise. Disc Six’s special features for The New Blood include commentary by director John Carl Buecher, actor Lar Park Lincoln, and Kane Hodder; The Friday the 13th Chronicles, Part VII; Secrets Galore Behind the Gore – John Carl Buecher on Part VII; Jason’s Destroyer: The Making of Friday the 13th – Part VII – The New Blood; Mind Over Matter – The Truth About Telekinesis; Makeover by Maddy: Need A Little Touch Up My A**; and Slashed Scenes.
Disc Six completes this Blu-ray collection with Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. In this shark jumping final film of the eight-film set, Jason is revived once again to “take on Manhattan.” Well, at least for the third act of the movie. The rest of the movie primarily takes place on a yacht where a group of seniors are celebrating their impending high school graduation. Suddenly, Jason has this ability to teleport, seniors in the cast disappear to be never heard from again, and, honestly, there is so much else that does not make sense in this movie that this list could go on endlessly. If one is feeling generous, this entry could tentatively be placed in the “so bad its good” category; however, despite a few decent sequences, one tends to feel more confused by Part VIII’s bewildering choices than anything else.
The special features from Disc Six also consists of related material to Jason Takes Manhattan such as commentaries featuring the director, as well as cast members and reoccurring Jason actor Kane Hodder. In addition, the special features include The Friday the 13th Chronicles: Part VIII; New York Has a New Problem – the Making of Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan; Slashed Scenes; and Gag Reel. As stated previously, the features span from supplements throughout a myriad of earlier collections via DVD, Blu-ray, and standalone releases.
There is not really anything new with this latest Friday the 13th: 8 Movie Collection, but this set will be welcome for any fans that are still without any of the films from this franchise on Blu-ray. At least, the first eight films. The following Jason Goes to Hell, Jason X, Freddy vs. Jason, and the Friday the 13th remake will need to be picked up separately from this collection. Product information lists that the first four films have been “digitally remastered,” and to be certain, the quality looks terrific. Nevertheless, there are a few disappointments, such as Friday the 13th, Part III not having any 3D option which is something the last few releases have included in one form or another. Overall, if you are a fan that is not familiar with the previous special features and are just looking to own the first eight films, then this Friday the 13th: 8 Movie Collection is for you.
Friday the 13th: 8 Movie Collection was released on Blu-ray August 10, 2021.