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Blu-ray Review: Friday the 13th: 40th Anniversary Edition Steelbook

June 16, 2020

By John Corrado

The 1980 slasher movie Friday the 13th, which spawned a long-running franchise and has become a staple of the horror genre, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. In honour of the occasion, Paramount is reissuing the uncut version of the film on Blu-ray in a nice new Steelbook edition.

Directed by Sean S. Cunningham, the film follows a group of teenaged camp counsellors who are trying to re-open the long shuttered Camp Crystal Lake, which was abandoned after a drowning and double murder there years before. They ignore the warnings of local townsfolk who try to tell them that the place is cursed, and reap the consequences as they start getting picked off one by one by a mysterious killer during a raging thunderstorm, over the course of one horrifying night.

The film was made for cheap to capitalize on the success of John Carpenter’s breakout hit Halloween, which came out two years earlier in 1978 and set the stage for slashers to follow, on a budget of just over half a million dollars. Paramount secured the distribution rights following a bidding war, and Friday the 13th became a major success at the box office upon its release in May of 1980. The film spawned nine direct sequels starting with Friday the 13th Part 2 in 1981, as well as the 2003 crossover movie Freddy vs. Jason, which connected it to the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, and a 2009 remake.

The longevity of this franchise is part of what has made Friday the 13th so iconic, and it’s not a bad legacy to have for what is essentially a low budget formula picture that follows to a tee the pretty basic template of watching sexually active teenagers being chased and murdered by an insane killer. This is not to diminish its enjoyableness, but the film is pretty campy, especially by current standards, and its forefather Halloween remains a superior entry into the slasher genre.

But Cunningham’s film still provides solid entertainment in its own right, punctuated by some gory kills, a couple of solid jump scares (that one at the end still got me), and a pretty decent last act twist that is to be elaborated on in future instalments. It’s inarguably an ’80s classic, that has gained status over the years as good sleepover horror movie for teenagers looking to get scared.

The Blu-ray also comes with the same bonus features that were on the 2009 release, including a commentary track with director Cunningham joined by other members of the cast and crew. This is followed by the featurettes Friday the 13th Reunion, Fresh Cuts: New Tales from Friday the 13th, The Man Behind the Legacy: Sean S. Cunningham, The Friday the 13th Chronicles, and Secrets Galore Behind the Gore. The short film Lost Tales from Camp Blood – Part 1 is also included.

The package also comes with a code for a digital copy of the film’s theatrical cut, and the Steelbook packaging itself is pretty nice; a black case featuring the original poster artwork on the front, and the classic quote “kill her mommy, kill her” on the back.

Friday the 13th: 40th Anniversary Edition is a Paramount Home Media Distribution release. It’s 95 minutes and rated 18A.

Street Date: June 16th, 2020

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