The team behind the incredible Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy is back with Jason’s story. Clocking in at an exhausting 400 minutes, is the man behind the mask given his due in Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday The 13th?
Using Peter Bracken’s book of the same name as a road map, Crystal Lake Memories is an expansive look into the many lives (and deaths) of The Voorhees clan. Interviews are conducted with cast and crew, including directors, screenwriters and executives. Much like Never Sleep Again, a half hour is devoted to each film. The most time is given to the first film and even the TV series gets at least 15 minutes. I’m glad the show got its due. It’s been unfairly maligned for being named Friday the 13th and not having Jason in it. It lasted longer and holds up better than Freddy’s Nightmares.
Daniel Farrands, the director, is also responsible for the Starz special His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th. That was more of a celebration of the franchise with some of the cast and crew and bloggers, other actors chiming in on their favorite scenes. The Starz special was meant to promote the remake or “reboot” at the time. Farrands uses interview from the session and combines them with new interviews. Crystal Lake Memories is more anecdotal starting from preproduction, aborted ideas, shooting, box office, and the inevitable critical backlash and fights with the MPAA over content. It’s easy to forget what a lightening rod the series was at the time. People took these movies far too seriously.
It’s impressive the number of people that are interviewed. All directors are present except for Steve Miner. His absence is noticeable since he directed Parts Two and Three. I don’t know if there’s bad blood between him and The Friday movies or maybe he’s embarrassed by them. One of the most amusing parts is everyone taking credit for certain iconic images or scenes. At least five people claim credit for the end scene in Friday the 13th and even more take credit for putting Jason in a hockey mask.
It can be hard to keep a consistent look with a talking heads documentary. Subjects are interviewed at different times in different locations. Crystal Lake Memories pulls this off rather well imploring the use of a green screen. The three editors do a tremendous job of assembling the film together. The documentary itself is presented in a 1.78: 1 ratio.
Footage from the films themselves is a mixed bag. Some is sourced from Hi-Def transfers while others are in Standard Definition. Footage from Jason Lives is the most obvious . The movie was remastered without consent from director Tom McLoughlin, and he preferred the standard definition release. Lots of old photos, deleted scenes and behind the scene footage pops up and all varies in quality. Considering how rare some of it is, I’ll take what I can get in terms of quality. The audio is in English and the movie has English and Spanish subtitles.
The film comes packaged in a 4 disc set. The movie is split between two discs, Blu-Ray and DVD. A commentary track was recorded with director Daniel Farrands, author Peter Bracke, and Director of Photography Buzz Wallick. The three are engaging and incredibly knowledgeable. Daniel and Peter point out things lifted from the book, And different people that interviewed for the book or movie only. There’s a lot more factoids spilled. Daniel Farrands was an intern for the MPAA in the late 80s and got to see Jason Takes Manhattan uncut. He also got to keep the infamous I Love New York poster and later gave it to Peter. Buzz is the youngest but knows the technical specs for each movie inside and out. He’s also a staunch defender of A New Beginning. While I did not listen to the whole commentary, it was recorded in one marathon session. Pausing only for bathroom breaks and a meal. During the last segment you can tell fatigue is setting in on the three.
Disc two features trailers for Never Sleep Again, More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead, and a commercial for Adrienne King’s line of Friday the 13th inspired wines. For anybody who preordered the documentary from the filmmakers website received a bonus disc containing four and a half hours of extended interviews. I did not sit through this entire disc but watched a bit from each chapter. There’s some overlap in the outtakes but only but that’s to be expected.
While hardcore fans may not learn anything new, Crystal Lake Memories I’m not sure what Daniel Farrands next project is but he’s carving out a nice little niche in the genre. Maybe he can give Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film some justice.