Friday the 13th Series/Scream Factory Boxed Set Review

            To say I was excited to see that FRIDAY THE 13th was getting a proper boxed set is a huge understatement. I have always loved the series and while there have been lots and lots and lots of releases there was never a comprehensive one with ALL of the movies together and with as many extras as was possible. Seeing what Scream Factory did with the HALLOWEEN series gave me hope because the films are out there, the interest is out there, it was just a matter of getting everyone to agree on the money. For the fans, I think we all hoped and wished that we’d get uncut versions of all the movies, but the reality was that was never going to happen. The footage that exists isn’t all in great shape and the work to create something like that, especially with dodgy footage, just wasn’t something anyone wanted to pay for, which was then topped by the fact that some footage is just lost. We have to remember, as fans, that as much as we love this franchise, and these sorts of films, these are cash cows for studios and once they made their money that was about all they cared about. That was the end of their interest. Heck, taking a long view of the franchise and time and again you see the possibility versus the reality – some great ideas with little investment or interest in seeing those through. These were popcorn films and when they didn’t make a lot of money, becoming product more than art, the investments grew smaller and smaller. Which isn’t to say the movies aren’t fun, and that solidly good films, better films, couldn’t be made but again these movies were what they were.

They are what they are.

And I’m mostly OK with that.

            As for this set, holy cats. For franchises like this there are ALWAYS extras that don’t make it to every release, and there are always things you WISH they’d do that just don’t come together, that’s the nature of it all but man alive, there’s not much more you can ask for from this set. The films looks better than they have before (except perhaps the 4K of the first film that’s been released), each film has extras, the set has a boatload of extra stuff, much of it new, and all of it feels like it was put together by someone/some people that cared. That’s what matters the most. This wasn’t put together by a studio looking to milk it but licensed to another company to compile it. No, it’s not perfect, but it’s as good of a set as we were apt to get and it’s fantastic. If you are a fan of the films, it’s worth the upgrade because I dunno what could be done to make you need another one someday.

            Friday the 13th

There is a reason this is a classic in the genre. Sure, it was a ripoff of other films, the whole subgenre was walking in bigger shoes – PSYCHO, PEEPING TOM, and BAY OF BLOOD – but the pacing, the music, the element of Who Done It, and the gore set the table. This is just a fun, menacing little film with a lot more charm than people give it credit for having.

4 out of 5

            Friday the 13th Part 2

For me, the first four films are the golden age of the series. They are sorta their own thing with the other films building a new sort of age, as it were. The second film always had that Sackhead Jason charm for me. Sure, they took a dream sequence and made it the foundation of the series but so what? People also accepted there was no room on the raft in TITANIC. It’s a movie, get over it. The kills are upped, the heroine is great, and seriously, sackhead is awesome. The ending is kinda bunk but it’s a fun sequel, darn it.

3.5 out of 5

            Friday the 13th Part 3

This is a big entry in the series because it’s the one where our boy gets his mask from dear old Shelly. This one was big at the time of its release because of its sparing use of 3-D, which comes off as charmingly corny now, and really it’s the side stuff that makes it interesting – the mask and the 3-D – because this isn’t necessarily populated with lots of memorable characters. I tell you what though, Jason really moves and grooves in this one and the end of this and lead into the next entry is fantastic.

PS, just throwing this out there – why the heck aren’t there any slasher films with ALL men, or with more minorities? It’s 2020 and it seems weird. Even as an old white dude I don’t need to see twenty-something year old white folks in every darned slasher film. Just saying.

3.5 out of 5

            Friday the 13th Part IV

This is the big one in the series. While not as novel or clever as the first film this is everything the fans want in the series and all we could have asked for in a ‘final’ film. It’s got a great pace, some fantastic characters, amazing kills, and an ending that is legendary in horror. The opening of this film is legitimately beautiful and sets things up really well. If you were never into the movies but were curious, this would be the one to watch because this is as good as the films ever got, which is no sleight to the rest but just a remark and how fun and rowdy this one is.

4 out of 5

            Friday the 13th Part V

OK, I am dead serious when I say this, but I love this movie. I love the             guts it took to say – hey, eff Jason, let’s go back to how this started. And how did it start as a murder mystery. IS Jason back? Is Tommy, who killed him in part four behind the murders? WHAT IS GOING ON? If part four is the entry to watch for non-fans this is the one to avoid. It’s sleazy, it’s weird, it’s loud, it’s obnoxious, and it has that weird twist. WHICH I LOVE! Now, it’s not necessarily a good movie but its charm is that it went for it and it just is what it is and, like I said, I love that it did something different. Forgettable in the pantheon of films but when you’re watching them all this is a great diversion on the long trek.

3 out of 5

            Friday the 13th Part VI

Oh, hey, did I mention JASON LIVES! Well, of course he does! You can’t keep a good cash cow down. For a lot of fans this typified what they wanted the franchise to become – fast paced, big, loud, and violent. I can’t argue with how well made and slick this one is. I get bored with it when its in the rearview but when I watch it it’s hard to deny its charm and its fun. They sorta leaned into the absurdity of what Jason was at this point – an undying wraith that’d just keep coming. This is the entry to that makes you wish they would have done more with Tommy than they did. Parts six and seven are a great one-two punch for the franchise and again really show that, even against the odds, they were trying to have some fun in the series.

4 out of 5

            Friday the 13th Part VII

This is when the series, well into its second age, started really freewheeling. They had done everything they felt like they could do with the standard stalk and slash formula, so they went with the weird – Jason the zombie versus a telekinetic girl. Sure, why not? This one is another really fun entry. The characters are shallow, the backstory is thin, and the last little bit with ‘water-dad’ is straight up silly but man alive is the action great. It’s a shame we never got to see the uncut version of this one properly but dang it’s fun and Jason just looks so creepy. Another fan fave and I can’t argue against that. It’s shallow but fun, and hey, what more can you ask for?

3.5 out of 5

            Friday the 13th Part VIII

And here we go, the worst entry in the series. The heck of it is that there was the germ of a fun idea here and you can’t blame the people making the film because they tried, genuinely, but with no budget this is just poverty row trash baggery. It’s entertaining for the diehards, but it has awful characters, a familiar ‘evil old dude’ subplot, and ‘New York’ is an awkward plot device that paints the city as a broad stroke cliché. It’s watchable but it ain’t good.

2 out of 5

            Friday the 13th Part IX

Of all the entries, this is the one that bothers me the most because it broke my heart. I loved and defended this one for years and years but in re-watching it it just doesn’t hold up as well. Big ideas and some fascinating risks but the film looks and feels cheap. I like the guts to do this, to once more make Jason, as we know him, a non-entity, but this feels like a movie that needed more room to breathe and, sadly, it had it but the director was forced to cut, cut, cut until here we are, a movie that plays for the fans but doesn’t really please them. I still like it but it’s the one of the bunch, that just doesn’t hold together, and that stinks. I love what they wanted to do and admire that, but it just broke my heart.

3 out of 5

            Jason X

This one shouldn’t work, in fact it DIDN’T work for me when I first saw it. It always gave me secondhand embarrassment. The thing is though that on watching it again, it’s really fun. It has a great look, some amazing costumes, and this one took the bump in budget and really put it on the screen. What makes me sad for the filmmakers because the film does something fun with Jason that was ruined by the advertising. Maybe that was intended and everyone was happy to do it but for me, the fun of the twist is that it’s so unexpected. As it stands it’s a fun entry with a lot of personality, some great ideas, and a film that sticks to its own weird logic and works.

3.5 out of 5

            Freddy vs. Jason

The movie that never wanted to be made, it seemed. Teased back in Jason Goes to Hell, this was one of those silly What If sort of things that fans love to go on and on about in heated exchanges. With as many things that could have gone wrong on this one, it works. It just works. It shouldn’t, but it does. It’s frenetic, it’s loud, it’s fun, and it stays true to both characters. Sure, there’s some weird logic stuff – why does Jason, who lives half the series underwater suddenly afraid of it? – but who cares? THIS SHOULDN’T WORK! But it does. Even the ending is fun and sets things up in a way that both fanbases can appreciate. I still get bored with the obsession with sex and drugs in the series but whatever, I seem to be the outlier on that front, not the norm, so it’s me that’s wrong.

MAN is this a fun movie though.

4 out of 5

Friday the 13th

The real new beginning here is this film, which tried to reboot the franchise and did a heck of a job in doing it, even if it didn’t lead to more film based on it. Taking the bare bones of parts 1 – 4 and crafting a story of partying teens and a brother searching for his lost sister this one crackles for me. I love Jason in it, back to his shark roots, an arrow looking for a target, and that they pay homage to dear old mom and sackhead. The sex and drugs slow the film down needlessly, but the ferocity of Jason is fantastic, as is the atmosphere. I absolutely adore that they took the loose strands we see in the older films, the weird locals, and really amplifies it. Jason is a phantom in this world and one best avoided. Camp Crystal Lake is a haunted place and Jason is the ghost, though one with an underground lair. There are a lot of unanswered questions and a finale that was a little too on the nose, but I loved the film when it first came out and love it still. It’s too bad fans didn’t embrace the film because it was well made, well-acted, and just a mean little number.

Along with all the usual commentaries, interviews, behind the scenes footage, cut out gore, and trailers and all that magilla there are a couple of sore thumb documentaries they threw in for good measure. One about scream queens and one about the slasher genre. The scream queen doc is decent though I was sad for Debbie Rochon for having to read that awful script as the host. It’s interesting, for sure, and it’s great to hear from so many women in the genre but I think it would have helped considerably had they had a clear point and definition of what they thought a Scream Queen was. It’s still interesting just…well…it was a pretty big push to say that the Friday series is known for its Scream Queens. Final Girls? Yes. Scream Queens? Not so much. The other doc about the slasher genre seems to hold together better though, again, it seems like they forced the whole Friday the 13th thing onto it. Other than some awkward interview framing – a talking head superimposed into a haunted house was a bit…weird – but it’s a good little doc. Neither of these were authoritative, more like fan docs, but they’re decent and it’s cool that they are on the set at all.

            The series isn’t for everyone, that’s clear, and its sad that things have landed on the rocks and stayed there but this is an ASTOUNDING boxed set that is as good as we could have ever hoped to get. What’s funny to me, personally, is how much I love the series but not all of its tendencies. Not the sex and the drugs but the mythology, the atmosphere, and Jason. I’d love to see them lean more into that atmosphere when they do move forward, just as I’d like to see them have more of a plan than just – stalk, kill, repeat. I have gone on and on about what I’d love to see them do with the series, but I’ll spare you. What I would love to see though is the Nightmare on Elm Street series get the same treatment. We have a great set that’s out there but if you let Scream Factory do one and throw in some new extras it’d sell like mad. Same goes with a Scream set, especially if you throw in the uncut first film and maybe even the two television series they did.

Man alive this is a great set though.

POW!

…c…

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