Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History Of Friday the 13th Blu-Ray Review
Posted by Joseph Lee on 09.27.2013
If you're a Friday the 13th fan, you need this documentary.
*Director/Writer: Daniel Farrands
*Producer: Thommy Hutson
*Director of Photography: Buz Danger Wallick
*Editors: Andrew Kasch, Michael Benni Pierce and Luke Rafalowski
*Production Managers: Michael Perez and Blake Reigle
*Score: Harry Manfredini
*Narrator: Corey Feldman
*Based on the book: Crystal Lake Memories by Peter M. Bracke
*Names Interviewed: Sean S. Cunningham, Adrienne King, Harry Manfredini, Betsy Palmer, Tom Savini, Amy Steel, Corey Feldman, Thom Mathews, Alice Cooper, Kane Hodder, Frank Mancuso, Jr, Wes Craven, Robert Englund and Derek Mears, among others. For a complete list, check out the official website.
Friday the 13th fans, it's time to throw out your copies of His Name Was Jason. At the time that release came out, I owned the 2-disc splatter edition and thought it was a pretty good look at the franchise, especially when combined when the special features on my various DVDs. The people at 1428 Films not only decided I was wrong, but they decided to show me just how wrong I was by releasing a seven hour documentary on all twelve Friday films and the syndicated TV series. This is hands down the definitive Friday the 13th documentary.
This documentary has just about everything and speaks with almost everyone associated with the franchise. Do you want to see clips of the gore that was excised thanks to the MPAA? It's here, as much as they can get. As the documentary points out, you'll never see uncut films because most of the footage was destroyed or is in extremely poor condition. So your best bet is to see the photos and grainy footage presented here. There's also alternate shots of non-kill scenes, rare behind the scenes photos and many scenes from the actual films to accentuate the discussion.
You can tell that this documentary was made by Friday fans. Not only will they tell you so in the commentary (numerous times), but just watch the opening credits. After a scene in which Corey Feldman begins the story of Jason (a callback to Friday the 13th Part 2), the credits start, and they are exactly as they are in an early Jason movie, right down to the font style. Add to that the fact that Harry Manfredini provides a new score just for this documentary. It sounds similar to his previous work, but it also sounds different enough that you can tell it was created for this.
With seven hours of interview footage, rare photos and video, is there anything missing? As it turns out, yes there is. Some people aren't included in interview footage, but you can probably figure out why. Kevin Bacon, Crispin Glover, Kelly Rowland and Jared Padalecki are either too big or too busy (I suspect Padalecki was filming Supernatural at the time) to participate so I don't think anyone expected them too. There are some other people missing, such as Terry Keiser, Lexa Doig, Steven Williams, Katharine Isabelle and others. However, for the most part you won't really miss them. It would have been nice to hear their thoughts but at the same time...that would require another hour or two at least.
The film is narrated by Corey Feldman and is appropriately split into thirteen chapters. Each chapter is self-contained, so you can watch them as episodes or if you have the nerve, sit and watch the entire feature. Each chapter has an opening that mimics the opening of its corresponding topic. For example, the chapter on Friday the 13th: Part 3 has block text flying at the camera, as if it were in 3D. Once again, there's no way to doubt the love the creators had for the franchise.
This is a love letter to Friday the 13th, Jason Voorhees and everything related to it. It even covers Friday the 13th: The Series, which had no actual connection to the franchise outside of the name. The film is edited in such a way that even if you are watching for a long time it's never just static shots of people talking. There is enough going on to keep your interest. If you do get tired of the length, wait until the end of the chapter and you can easily pick up where you left off with no problem.
Every single aspect of these films that you can think of is covered. They talk about casting, filming problems, dealing with the malevolent MPAA, personal stories and more. Even with some familiar stories to Friday fans (and occasional re-used footage of His Name Was Jason), there's still going to be a story or fact somewhere in this that you will not have heard before. I can think of several times when I learned something new, and I consider myself a pretty hardcore fan.
I repeat: Crystal Lake Memories is the definitive Friday the 13th documentary. There's no possible way a fan of the franchise could dislike this without sounding greedy. This was made by fans, for fans, with as much content and love as a franchise like this could hope for. I only hope the filmmakers turn their attention to Hellraiser next.
The film is presented with 5.1 Dolby Digital audio. It sounds as good as it can, considering it's an independently produced film. The important thing is that you can hear the interviews, footage and narration without having to adjust your volume. This is different on the bonus DVD disc, but the blu-ray feature does its job.
Everything is presented in HD with a widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio. If you're wondering how certain individuals look now, you'll get to see them in all of their glory. For the record, several of the Friday ladies hold up very well (and some of the guys look like they've hardly aged, if you are a female fan). The footage used from the franchise (and other movies) also shows up in HD, or at least it looks enough that you can't tell the difference when it shows up.
Whether or not you get a lot of special features depends on whether or not you pre-ordered on their official site. It's a smart business practice because casual fans aren't likely to care about what the bonus disc has to offer.
Either way, you get a commentary with writer/director Daniel Farrands, author Peter M. Bracke and co-editor Luke Rafalowski. This isn't a shortened commentary for one disc of the feature. These guys sit and talk about the franchise for all seven hours of the film. In a way this is good and bad. On the good side, there's lots of extra information about the making of the documentary and getting all of the people involved. The trio reveal who didn't want to be involved, who did but couldn't, and sometimes add to stories already presented. The bad side is that it's three people talking for seven hours. Eventually they repeat themselves, descend into fanboy debates and sometimes just describe what we're seeing. You can't really blame them though, it's seven hours of talking.
For those that ordered the documentary from the website, you get over four hours of extended interviews. This is everything they couldn't fit into the documentary. They add details to stories only touched upon (such as the many drafts of Freddy vs Jason) as well as anecdotes that are fun but probably would have been out of place in the main features. Although there are some bits that probably would have been more welcome, like Michael Bay's actual involvement in the reboot (it wasn't much). Just for giving the user more than they could possibly ask for, this disc is worth it.
Special Features: 10.0
The 411: Crystal Lake Memories is the best possible documentary you could expect to get on the Friday the 13th franchise. If you thought 1428 Films outdid themselves with Never Sleep Again (their Nightmare on Elm Street documentary), you haven't seen anything yet. Friday fans will no doubt be ecstatic with having this much material on one of the most enduring horror franchises of all time. If you're a fan, get this now.