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Friday the 13th (Uncut) - Blu-ray DVD / horror DVD / slasher flick DVD / suspense DVD review
FRIDAY THE 13TH (UNCUT) Unrated by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 3 1/2 stars
Actors: Kevin Bacon, Laurie Bartram, Peter Brouwer, Ronn Carroll, Harry Crosby
Director: Sean S. Cunningham Distributor: Paramount
DVD release: 03 February 2009 Runtime: 95 min.
(1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Original recording remastered, Subtitled, Widescreen, Blu-ray
DVD features: 1080p High Definition, Audio tracks (Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround - English; Original Dolby 1.0 Mono - English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround - French, Spanish), Subtitles (English, English SDH, French, Spanish), Commentary (w/ director Sean S. Cunningham, cast, crew), A Friday the 13th Reunion, Fresh Cuts: New Tales from Friday the 13th, The Man Behind the Legacy: Sean S. Cunningham, Lost Tales from Camp Blood - Part 1, The Friday the 13th Chronicles, Secrets Galore Behind the Gore, Original theatrical trailer

There are few movie franchises that are both as commercially successful and critically reviled as Friday the 13th. Film historian Michael Gebert labeled it "the worst series in Hollywood history," yet the popularity of the series has endured to the point that its hockey-masked killer, Jason Vorhees, has become a cultural icon, and a big-budget remake is soon on its way.

While watching the impressive Blu-ray version of the original film, I recalled how it is often (and mostly unfavorably) compared to John Carpenter's Halloween. I am in the camp that believes Halloween is clearly superior. However, while revisiting Crystal Lake, I realized that 1) the comparison to Halloween is somewhat unfair and misleading and 2) while no horror masterpiece, Friday the 13th is not a bad film (not nearly as bad as the critics made it out to be) and deserves some credit for one of the best jump scares ever.

The story (for the few who don't know): In 1958, at Camp Crystal Lake, a young boy drowned. The next year, two camp counselors were murdered. After closing for two decades, a new owner and a group of young counselors work to reopen the camp on Friday the 13th - and one by one, they fall victim, in gruesome fashion, to a mysterious presence.

The reason the comparison the comparison to Halloween is somewhat misleading: in the Carpenter classic, there is no doubt who the killer is - it is Michael, the fearsome Boogeyman. However, the first Friday the 13th is not so much a slasher film as a whodunit? where the killer ends up being not Jason, but his crazy, very human mother (I know I'm giving away a plot point, but c'mon - the movie's 30 years old).

Also, Friday the 13th does deliver some real scares. The setting, an isolated camp deep in the woods in the middle of the night, is scary enough. Also, it effectively plays up age-old fears such as "what's under the bed" and "what's hiding in the bathroom stall."

However, the best scare is clearly the last one. I don't want to ruin it for anyone who hasn't experienced it yet, but the canoe, the mellow music, the still water and the cops arriving on shore all work together beautifully to the payoff. It ranks up there with the ending to Carrie as one of the best jump scares ever.

If one is not a horror fan, I cannot recommend Friday the 13th, as it is by no means a great movie. However, if you are a horror geek like me, I would recommend it. While it's no Halloween the original is not a bad horror flick and deserves some respect for its place in horror film history.

Blu-ray features:
The Dolby True HD sound is crystal clear and fills the room with the now famous "che-che-che-che, ha-ha-ha-ha" score.

The picture quality is also remarkably clear, especially for a nearly 30-year-old film. However, the picture is some instances might be too clear. For instance, in the infamous arrow-tracheotomy murder of Kevin Bacon's character, the HD quality somewhat dampens the effect as it makes it too obvious where the prosthetics start.

Features that were included on the DVD as well are
  1. The Friday the 13th Chronicles, a brief making of feature
  2. Secrets Galore Behind the Gore, an entertaining doc on how effects legend Tom Savini pulls of the then state of the art gore effects
  3. Commentary with director Sean S. Cunningham and cast and crew (worth listening to, as the commentators are very candid and informative).
  4. Theatrical trailer (in HD for the Blu-ray)
Four additional features are included on the Blu-ray, and all are in HD:
  1. Fresh Cuts: New Tales from Friday the 13th is basically a padded version of the other making of feature and does not offer really anything not heard in other features
  2. Lost Tales from Camp Blood - Part 1 is like a mini-updated version of the Friday the13th series, as a young couple is stalked by a Jasonesque killer (I am assuming Part 2 will be included with the next blu-ray in the series)
  3. The Man Behind the Legacy: Sean S. Cunningham is an informative interview conducted at the filmmaker's home. He is quite candid and refreshingly blunt and unpretentious on how the series started. He happily admits that "Jason helped put my kids through college."
  4. The most entertaining feature is the Friday the 13th Reunion shot at a recent convention. It features a panel discussion with cast and crew, including Ms. Vorhees herself, Betsy Palmer. She is quite funny and charming, especially when she admits she thought the script was "sh**" but did it anyway for the money, never realizing how big it was going to be.
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reviewed by Trent Daniel
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