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Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (2013)

RLJ Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/8/2015

All Ratings out of



Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/4/2015

In today's world of home video and official movie websites, there are no shortage of featurettes and webisodes which show us how movies are made or, more often, take us behind the scenes for what are basically commercials for the movie. Granted, there are some good extras on Blu-ray Discs which answer some "how did they do that" or "whose idea was that" questions, but there are also a lot of pointless featurettes which give us little information and simply feel self-congratulatory. No matter what the case, it's easier than ever to get an idea of what went into making a movie. So, why would want to watch a six-hour making of? Because, sometimes it's worth it to dig beneath the surface and get to the nitty-gritty as in Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th.

Crystal Lake Memories opens with an odd piece in which Corey Feldman and what appears to be several porn actors sitting around a fake campsite. After this awkward phase, the film launches into an exploration of the twelve Friday the 13th movies which we've gotten thus far. The movie is broken into thirteen chapters, as it takes it take to explore each movie, being as in-depth as possible. We get interviews with the directors, writers, and producers, as well as a multitude of cast members. We also hear from special effects artists and stunt coordinators. In particular, Friday the 13th Director Sean Cunningham, special effects artist Tom Savini, Composer Henry Manfredini, Producer Frank Mancuso, Jr, and Jason actor Kane Hodder appear in many of the segments, sharing their anecdotes. We also get a good amount of on-set footage, still photos, concept art, and publicity materials.

OK, so what makes Crystal Lake Memories different from a featurette which may be found on a Friday the 13th movie? The answer is simple -- the depth and the lack of pretentiousness on the part of the speakers. This documentary comes from Daniel Farrands, who made the impressive Never Sleep Again, which examined the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. He brings the same amount of attention to detail to this project, with the help of author Peter Bracke, who wrote the book Crystal Lake Memories. It's impressive that Farrands & co. have been able to wrangle so many people involved in the Friday the 13th series, including some actors who only had miniscule roles in the film. Likewise, we get a plethora of archive footage and tidbits from the productions of the films. If you wanted to know a lot about these movies, including a lot of information which seems pretty extraneous, then this is the documentary for you.

But the thing which really sets Crystal Lake Memories apart is the candor with which most of those interviewed speak. For me, it was incredibly refreshing to hear not one, but several people admit that beyond the first film, the Jason characters makes absolutely no sense. Likewise, we get honest opinions about the shortcomings of many of the movies, most notably Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning and Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. These movies are far from perfect and hearing those involved speak in a jovial manner about where they went wrong makes this much more fun. Conversely, there are also too many times when those involved give these movies a little too much credit. There's nothing wrong with taking pride in your work, but let's be honest, many of the Friday the 13th movies aren't very good, so let's not go overboard.

I'm sure that there are those who would question the necessity of this documentary, but you can't argue with the fact that the Friday the 13th series is incredibly popular, despite the overall quality of the movies involved. By examining the series, from the 1980 original on through to the 2009 reboot, Farrands provides us with an incredibly thorough and impressive overview of the series. It's no great surprise that Kevin Bacon doesn't appear here, but one has to wonder why Friday the 13th, Part 2 and Part 3 director Steve Miner isn't included here. As he's mentioned a great deal in the piece, his absence is noticeable. That aside, this is a solid piece of work and one's enjoyment of it will only be effected by how much you actually like or care about the movies being discussed.

Crystal Lake Memories assured me that Corey Feldman is still alive on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of RLJ Entertainment. The movie has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. We get a multitude of different video elements here, but most of the footage is sharp and clear, most notably the modern-day interviews. The colors look good and there is a nice level of detail. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Those who are speaking are always audible and intelligible. The transition pieces between chapters offers some surround sound, but otherwise, most of the audio is relegated to the front and center channels.

The lone extra on the Crystal Lake Memories is an AUDIO COMMENTARY with Director Daniel Farrands, Writer Peter Bracke, and Editor Luke Rafalowski.

Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long