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Crystal Lake Memories (Blu-ray)

Review by: 
Head Cheeze
Release Date: 
2013
Studio: 
Image
Genre: 
Documentary
Format: 
Blu-ray
Region: 
A
Aspect Ratio: 
1.78:1
Directed by: 
Daniel Farrands
Cast: 
Sean S. Cunningham
Adrienne King
Tom Savini
Betsy Palmer
etc.
Movie: 
5
Extras: 
3
Bottom Line: 
5

Some people have collections of art as coffee table books. Others display volumes about vintage cars or antiques or the finer things in life. Me? I choose Peter M. Bracke’s Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th - a truly massive tome of exhaustively researched and fantastically entertaining information about everyone’s favorite summer camp denizen, Jason Voorhees. The book proved so popular that a documentary film was soon announced, but, unlike your average documentary, Crystal Lake Memories doesn’t cut any corners. Weighing in at a whopping 400 minutes, this documentary – brought to us by the same folks who gave us the excellent Nightmare on Elm Street retrospective, “Never Sleep Again” – covers every facet of the Friday the 13th franchise, from the first film’s origins as a simple poster to The Platinum Dunes “reimagining”.

Originally released by 1428 Films back in 2013, Image Entertainment has recently acquired the rights to a re-release, which is a huge relief to fans who may have missed out on it the first time around! 

The set, of course, opens with a hugely in-depth look at Friday the 13th, and features interviews with virtually every major contributor to the film, including, of course, series creator, Sean S. Cunningham, who reveals how he’d actually had the film’s poster designed and advertised before he even had a script to work with. Other interviews include Adrienne King, Betsy Palmer, Harry Manfredini, Tom Savini and all manner of cast and crew, each offering entertaining reminiscences of their experiences working on the film. This, of course, is all provided with tons of rare behind-the-scenes footage, stills, and scenes from the film proper.

The rest of the films are covered in just as concentrated detail, with a wonderful collection of interviews with everyone from Amy Steel (Friday the 13th Part 2’s “final girl” Ginny), Corey Feldman, Alice Cooper (who provided songs for my personal favorite of the sequels Friday the 13th Part IV: Jason Lives), and virtually everyone who is anyone in the Friday Universe. We also get some great chats with Robert Englund and Cunningham’s Last House on the Left partner, Wes Craven in the segment focusing on Freddy vs. Jason, while even the cult-classic Friday the 13th: The Series gets some love! From the first film to the last (although not really last because they’ll probably never stop making these things, and I thank my lucky stars for that), we get alternate shots, deleted scenes, extra gore, outtakes, and all of the good stuff one would expect from such and obvious labor of love. This is a very polished production, as well, with crisp, colorful graphics and expert editing that makes it a compelling and compulsive watch despite its lengthy running time.

From film, to television, to comic books, action figures, and all manner of ephemera, Crystal Lake Memories offers the most comprehensive and painstakingly put together collection of Friday the 13th related goodies imaginable, but the filmmakers and book’s writer - Director Daniel Farrands, Editor Luke Rafalowski and Author Peter M. Brake – go one step further and offer us an actual commentary track that runs the entire length of the film! That’s 400 minutes of expert commentary spread out over the 2 Blu-ray collection, and we’re not talking about a staid, staggered conversation, here, but an energetic and exciting track that heaps on even more information, albeit related to the act of researching and putting together this mammoth undertaking and not so much about Friday the 13th, itself. Still, it’s fascinating stuff, and if you’ve got an extra, oh, six hours or so, you’ll definitely want to give it a listen.

Now to address the elephant in the room. Friday the 13th fans who are aware of this film know that, originally, 1428 Films offered this as a five disc set if you purchased it from their website. With that, you got the 2 Blu-rays offered here, as well as a standard definition version of the film (on 2 DVDs) and a BONUS DVD that included over 4 hours’ worth of extra interview footage that didn’t make it into the final cut. While I’d have loved to have seen that bonus disc included here, 1428 stuck to their guns and made that content limited edition material, and I give them props for that! I’ve read the disgruntled remarks on forums and other review sites, but the bottom line is that as much as you or I would love to get that stuff given to us now, tough cookies – we all should have bought it when 1428 made it available to us. Congrats to those who did; May your Ebay mojo be strong.

Now that that’s out of the way, what we latecomers DO get is a freaking fantastic and extremely satisfying documentary that fans will watch again and again, and the Blu-ray presentation is very solid. Yes, some of the older behind-the-scenes and deleted material looks a bit ragged, but the interview segments and scenes from the films are of the highest quality, while the audio is rich and full.

For those of us who missed out on 1428’s original release and have been wincing at the prospect of paying a collector’s premium on the secondary market, Image’s release of Crystal Lake Memories is a mighty fine deal. Sure, it’d have been great to get that bonus material, but, to be honest, I’m not losing any sleep over it, either, because there’s already SO much here that I can’t even imagine what was left to say (and, besides that, I’m an HD snob at this point and rarely watch anything in Standard Definition anymore). Bottom line is this; if you’re a Friday the 13th fan, you NEED this set in your collection.  If you really need that bonus DVD, go with God and grab it up on Ebay while there are still copies out there. For me, however, this is more than enough, and earns my highest recommendations!!

 

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