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Blu-ray Review: Friday the 13th: 8-Movie Collection

August 13, 2021

By John Corrado

Today is Friday the 13th, and Paramount has taken advantage of the date to release the new Friday the 13th: 8-Movie Collection on Blu-ray this week. The set features the first eight films in the classic 1980s slasher series bundled together in one case, with newly remastered versions of the original four.

The films in the collection are: Friday the 13th (1980), Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), Friday the 13th Part III (1982), Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984), Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985), Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986), Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) and Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989).

The first one, which was made for cheap on a budget of $550,000 to capitalize on the success of John Carpenter’s 1978 film Halloween, remains one of the best in the series. Directed by Sean S. Cunningham, the film follows a group of teenaged counsellors who are working to reopen Camp Crystal Lake, which was shutdown years earlier after a boy drowned. They ignore warnings from the locals that the place is cursed, and start getting murdered by a mysterious killer out for revenge during a storm on, you guessed it, Friday the 13th.

Paramount won a bidding war for the domestic distribution rights, and Friday the 13th became a massive hit at the box office in the summer of 1980, with its creative kills, jump scares, and twist ending laying the groundwork for the series to follow. It spawned one of the most enduring horror franchises of all time with the release of back-to-back sequels directed by Steve Miner in 1981 and 1982, that basically followed the same formula while expanding upon the first film’s mythology. Jason Voorhees of course takes over as the killer in Part 2, and receives his famous hockey mask in Part III, cementing the iconography of the series.

The third film was also notably released in 3D and features a lot of stuff poking out towards the screen, from a yo-yo to multiple murder weapons, making it the epitome of cheesy ’80s slasher movies. It was intended to be the last in a trilogy, but the series kept chugging along with the release of the fourth film in 1984. Subtitled The Final Chapter, the fan favourite film switches up the formula slightly with the introduction of a boy named Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman), and it’s actually surprisingly good.

Despite being billed as the last one, it was followed by the two sequels A New Beginning and Jason Lives, which brought back the character of Tommy Jarvis (played by John Shepherd and then Thom Mathews). The aptly titled A New Beginning is set at a halfway house for youth with mental health challenges, where the shell-shocked Tommy faces off against a masked killer imitating Jason. It’s a pretty messy attempt to restart the series with a new villain, but not without a few moments.

Diminishing box office returns prompted the official return of Jason himself in the sixth film Jason Lives. While it has an outlandish grave-digging setup that borders on ridiculous, and officially turns Jason into an immortal, undead killing machine, it also has a dark sense of humour that gives the film an almost tongue-in-cheek feel and keeps things fun. It plays like a precursor to Wes Craven’s Scream, with a self-referential, post-modern edge that damn near revitalizes the series.

The series does start to go off the rails after this point. The New Blood is a cheap attempt to revamp the series that centres around a telekinetic teen (Lar Park Lincoln) who accidentally brings Jason back from the dead, and it plays more like a mediocre riff on Carrie. And the eighth film, Jason Takes Manhattan, is mostly contained to a cruise ship and takes about an hour to even get to the Big Apple. The last act in New York is kinda entertaining, but the title is misleading and the film doesn’t do as much with its “Jason unleashed in the big city” premise as it could have.

While there is mythology to get into behind the series, the films themselves mostly follow the same basic formula and the characters are pretty much interchangeable. But this also adds to the durability of the franchise. These are essentially young adult hangout movies that just so happen to feature a deranged killer picking the characters off one-by-one, making it very easy to play out versions of this scenario with new casts of characters.

Yes, the timeline and continuity between films is messy and convoluted, and not all of the sequels are equally good. But the Friday the 13th series remains one of the most popular horror franchises of all time, and it’s easy to see why. The films are defined by their mix of jump scares (including those “just a cat” moments), gory kills, and a lot of random nudity, which, for the most part, keeps them entertaining to watch. Put simply, these are classic examples of the schlocky “sex and violence” slasher genre.

It’s worth noting that this set only includes the eight movies that Paramount made in the ‘80s, and is missing the final four four in the series (Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, Jason X, the Nightmare on Elm Street crossover Freddy vs. Jason, and the 2009 reboot of Friday the 13th), which were made after Paramount sold the Jason character rights to New Line Cinema.

While the massive Blu-ray box set that Scream Factory put out last year including all twelve films in the franchise remains the definitive set for hardcore fans, the Friday the 13th: 8-Movie Collection provides a more budget-friendly and space-saving set for those looking to get the first eight movies on Blu-ray. The red plastic case is a nice touch as well.

Bonus Features (Blu-ray):

There are six discs in the set, with one devoted to each of the first four films, and the remaining four spread over two discs with two on each. In addition to the films, the six discs each feature a generous amount of previously release bonus content, detailed below. Digital copy codes for all eight films are also included in the package.

Disc 1 – Friday the 13th:

Fresh Cuts: New Tales from Friday the 13th (14 minutes, 7 seconds)

The Man Behind the Legacy: Sean S. Cunningham (8 minutes, 58 seconds)

Friday the 13th Reunion (16 minutes, 44 seconds)

Lost Tales from Camp Blood Part 1 (7 minutes, 31 seconds)

The Friday the 13th Chronicles (20 minutes, 34 seconds)

Secrets Galore Behind the Gore (9 minutes, 32 seconds)

Theatrical Trailers

Disc 2 – Friday the 13th Part 2:

Inside “Crystal Lake Memories” (11 minutes, 15 seconds)

Friday’s Legacy: Horror Conventions (6 minutes, 50 seconds)

Lost Tales from Camp Blood Part II (8 minutes, 54 seconds)

Jason Forever (29 minutes, 27 seconds)

Original Theatrical Trailer (2 minutes, 3 seconds)

Disc 3 – Friday the 13th Part III:

Fresh Cuts: 3D Terror (12 minutes, 52 seconds)

Legacy of the Mask (9 minutes, 33 seconds)

Slasher Films: Going for the Jugular (7 minutes, 9 seconds)

Lost Tales from Camp Blood Part III (4 minutes, 49 seconds)

Original Theatrical Trailer (1 minute, 43 seconds)

Disc 4 – Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter:

The Friday the 13th Chronicles: Friday the 13th Part IV (12 minutes, 13 seconds)

Secrets Galore Behind the Gore: Friday the 13th Part IV (13 minutes, 30 seconds)

Lost Tales from Camp Blood: Part 4 (6 minutes, 20 seconds)

Slashed Scenes with Commentary by Director Joseph Zito (15 minutes, 18 seconds)

Jason’s Unlucky Day: 25 Years After Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (11 minutes, 1 second)

The Lost Ending (3 minutes, 20 seconds)

The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited: Part 1 (18 minutes, 7 seconds)

Jimmy’s Dead Dance Moves (2 minutes, 6 seconds)

Original Theatrical Trailer (1 minute, 54 seconds)

Disc 5 – A New Beginning and Jason Lives:

A New Beginning:

Commentary by Director/Co-Screenwriter Danny Steinmann with Cast and Crew

Behind the Scenes: Friday the 13th Chronicles, Part V (5 minutes, 51 seconds)

Behind the Scenes: Lost Tales from Camp Blood – Part 5 (7 minutes, 10 seconds)

Behind the Scenes: The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited Part II (10 minutes, 11 seconds)

Behind the Scenes: New Beginnings: The Making of Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (11 minutes, 4 seconds)

Original Theatrical Trailer (2 minutes, 0 seconds)

Jason Lives:

Commentary by Writer/Director Tom McLoughlin

Commentary by Writer/Director Tom McLoughlin with Cast and Crew

Behind the Scenes: The Friday the 13th Chronicles, Part VI (14 minutes, 42 seconds)

Behind the Scenes: Lost Tales from Camp Blood – Part 6 (7 minutes, 17 seconds)

Behind the Scenes: The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited, Part III (9 minutes, 36 seconds)

Behind the Scenes: Jason Lives: The Making of Friday the 13th, Part VI (12 minutes, 57 seconds)

Behind the Scenes: Meeting Mr. Voorhees (2 minutes, 46 seconds)

Deleted Scenes: Slashed Scenes (6 minutes, 6 seconds)

Original Theatrical Teaser Trailer (1 minute, 43 seconds)

Disc 6 – The New Blood and Jason Takes Manhattan:

The New Blood:

Killer Commentary by Director John Carl Buechler and Actors Lar Park Lincoln and Kane Hodder

Behind the Scenes: The Friday the 13th Chronicles, Part VII (11 minutes, 39 seconds)

Behind the Scenes: Secrets Galore Behind the Gore – John Carl Buechler on Part VII (11 minutes, 11 seconds)

Behind the Scenes: Jason’s Destroyer The Making of Friday the 13th, Part VII – The New Blood (15 minutes, 7 seconds)

Behind the Scenes: Mind Over Matter: The Truth About Telekinesis (7 minutes, 25 seconds)

Behind the Scenes: Makeover by Maddy: Need a Little Touch-Up Work, My Ass (2 minutes, 43 seconds)

Deleted Scenes: Slashed Scenes (17 minutes, 1 second)

Original Theatrical Trailer (1 minute, 39 seconds)

Jason Takes Manhattan:

Commentary by Director Rob Hedden

Killer Commentary by Actors Scott Reeves, Jensen Daggett and Kane Hodder

Behind the Scenes: The Friday the 13th Chronicles, Part VIII (14 minutes, 32 seconds)

Behind the Scenes: New York Has a New Problem The Making of Friday the 13th, Part VIII – Jason Takes Manhattan (18 minutes, 2 seconds)

Deleted Scenes: Slashed Scenes (12 minutes, 56 seconds)

Gag Reel (4 minutes, 54 seconds)

Original Theatrical Trailer (1 minute, 19 seconds)

Friday the 13th: 8-Movie Collection is a Paramount Home Entertainment release. All films are rated R.

Street Date: August 10th, 2021

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