Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th Blu-ray Review

The FRIDAY THE 13th film series has always had a special place in my heart. First because the first film pretty much came out of nowhere and, like HALLOWEEN before it, introduced us to a new kind of horror film. Later on in my life, when I learned that FRIDAY THE 13th PART TWO had been written by a former manager of the local Baltimore movie theatre chain I worked for, it made me proud in a weird way that “one of our own” had actually made it out of the projection booth and actually on to the screen! No matter what your reasons are for liking this film series, you will want to pick up this new documentary.

Crystal Lake Memories:  The Complete History of Friday the 13th

Narrated by Corey Feldman, who appeared in the mistakenly titled fourth film in the series, subtitled THE FINAL CHAPTER, this documentary takes a loving and deep look into each of the films individually. Think of it as a book (the film is based on author Peter M. Bracke’s book of the same name), with chapters covering the first ten films, the television series, the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET crossover film and the 2009 remake. Each chapter is devoted to a specific film and no stone is left unturned in conversations with cast and crew. Most offer surprise at the long-running status of the series and their genuine beliefs that the films would not succeed. Like all successful things, the origin stories are the best and the film does not disappoint.

Crystal Lake Memories:  The Complete History of Friday the 13th

The film features hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos and the conversations and interviews are in-depth. Over 150 different people are featured, including such horror film biggies like Sean S. Cunningham, Robert England, Kane Hodder and Wes Craven and horror film fans like Alice Cooper. Each one tells compelling stories about the how and the why of the film being discussed. Many of the photos featured have never been seen before. Nor have the many script excerpts, story boards and outtakes. I would venture to say that there wouldn’t be a question you could have about these films that this film doesn’t answer.

Crystal Lake Memories:  The Complete History of Friday the 13th

Another highlight are the various newspaper articles and studio memos that tell the story one page at a time. Combine them with the narration of Feldman, who it turns out is the perfect person to serve as the narrator, and the multitude of conversations with pretty much everyone that you would want to talk with, and the result is nothing short of FRIDAY THE 13th Nirvana! I, of course, found the interviews with former theatre manager Ron Kurz, a small, personal hero of mine, to be immensely informative. Also interesting is the evolution of the Jason Voorhees character, who went from innocent child to masked murderer to a horror legend. And if you are one to appreciate great special effects, who better to learn about them first hand than horror make up maestro Tom Savini? The interviews are surprisingly honest, and the story of the series is presented, warts and all. Even if you’re not a fan of this series, or even horror films in particular, this is an amazing look into the creation of a major part of pop culture.


Video: Presented in its original 1:78.1 aspect ratio, the picture quality is very dependent on the source material. Interview and film clips are sharp and clear, while some archived footage has a tendency to be a little “fuzzy.”

Audio: The soundtrack is delivered in Dolby Digital 5.1 and, like above, is hit and miss. Some of the film clips, many of which are atmospheric, need to have the volume turned up to hear them clearly.

Don’t let the fact that there is only one extra on this title scare you. There is ample extra material included as part of each chapter.

Commentary: Covering the entire disc, this commentary is contributed by director Daniel Farrands, book author Peter M. Bracke and the doc’s film editor, Luke Rafalowski. All three men contributed heavily to the finished product and their knowledge, and obvious love of the franchise, comes out in their comments.


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