Now On Blu-ray: CRYSTAL LAKE MEMORIES, All The Survivor Girls, All The Jasons, Some Of The Nudity
Daniel Farrends' 2013 documentary film Crystal Lake Memories The Complete History of Friday the 13th was released on DVD and Blu-ray last week. It is in essence a visual companion piece to Peter Bracke's 2006 book by the same name. If you are a hardcore fan of the Friday the 13th films and you do not like to read this is the film for you.
What you have is a film by film breakdown of the highs and lows of the Friday the 13th franchise. It covers all twelve Friday the 13th films and the television series. This is both exhaustive and exhausting. The task of watching Crystal Lake Memories in one sitting almost seems daunting. I did it in one go but should have split it up between the two discs.
When you do the math the four hundred minute documentary equals, without rounding up, 6.66 hours. Coincidence? Maybe. To call Crystal Lake Memories thorough is not an understatement. Farrends interviews everyone and anyone he could who was involved with the franchise from day one. From the first director, Sean S Cunningham, first survivor girl Adrienne Palmer, the first psycho killer Betsy Palmer to the last actor to play Jason Vorhees, Derek Mears, if you were still alive when Farrends was making doc and you were willing to talk to him you are in the film.
CLM is narrated by Corey Feldman. He book ends the doc with a little camping scene like he book ended the awful fifth film- A New Beginning which began to expose the franchise's loose threads- as the younger Tommy in The Final Chapter and Jason Lives. There is commentary from every director of each film. Special effects icon Tom Savini chimes in on some of his effects wizardry he did on the films he worked on, including that infamous arrow through the throat scene with Kevin Bacon in the first film. Composer Harry Manfredini talks about scoring the film.
Notable absences are actors like Kevin Bacon, Crispin Glover and Tony Goldwyn. Sure, Goldwyn does not have cult status like Bacon and Glover do but he has done okay in Hollywood since. But they are just as notable absences as Johnny Depp was from Farrands' Elm Street documentary. There is even a funny moment at the end of the doc when Corey "I'll do anything as long as there is free catering" Feldman kind of disses those guys for not showing up to talk about their involvement or distancing themselves from the franchise. Honestly Feldman knows who butters his bread and has had the fortune of acting in some of cinema's great cult films. As along as fans keep going to conventions Feldman will still have something to talk about. We are his enablers, people.
Each chapter covers one film and follows a simple structure. Who made it. Who starred in it. Who played a Vorhees family member in it? Which, depending on the film could have been two actors. How did the effects supervisor pull off that effect? How much did the MPAA cut from it? The answer is a lot. Man, the Friday the 13th could have been a lot bloodier. Groan. And as slasher films were wont to do if there was a spot of nudity in it (remember, once you've had sex you die) you will get a quick refresher on those scenes as well. Pause buttons at the ready pervs.
Then they conclude each chapter with how much did it make in the box office. This is especially of interest to those who like that behind the scenes business side of things because not much has changed in financing a horror film since. How little can we make it for? Did anyone (critics and media) like it? No? Meh, let's see how much our profit margin is. A lot? Okay, let's make another!
Crystal Lake Memories is absolutely essential viewing for any Friday the 13th franchise fans who have stuck it out through the highs and the lows. The films may have been blasted by the critics and the haters over the years but fans of the series deserve a documentary like this to reward their passion for it. Whether you want to take it all in during a marathon screening or take it a chapter at a time I am sure that fans will find the viewing experience very rewarding.