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HTF Blu-ray Review: Friday the 13th Uncut



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#1 of 70 PatWahlquist

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Posted January 31 2009 - 03:18 AM


Friday the 13th Uncut(Blu-Ray)

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Rated: Unrated
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1; English, Spanish, French Mono Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese; English SDH+
Time: 95 minutes
Disc Format: 1 SS/DL BD
Case Style: Keep case
Theatrical Release Date: 1980
Blu-Ray Release Date: February 3, 2009

Camp Crystal Lake has one bad reputation, what with it having been the site of numerous strange killings and other weird happenstances over the years. So when a new investor thinks it’s time to re-open the camp, the townsfolk are suitably on edge. The camp counselors arrive to get the place ready for 50 kids, yet they’re not smart enough to listen to the warnings all around them. The kids are a randy group who enjoy a little partying to pass the time on a rainy night. Over the course of this Friday the 13th, they are hacked, slashed and gutted in a continuation of the evil deeds of the past.

To go into too much more detail really may detract from the picture itself, seeing as there really isn’t that much more there. Filmed on a shoestring budget, director Sean S. Cunningham made one of the seminal pieces of the horror genre that every fright flick since then owes some debt of gratitude. Watching the picture now, in light of its various sequels and copycats, you still find this original Friday the 13th barely one step up from camp. Debate rages on as to the merits of the picture, few that there are, but it still shows its eagerness to scare the pants off of you. The effects by Tom Savini make us cringe and squirm even though we’ve since seen borderline autopsies in the Saw films. The use of the screeching strings to blatantly tell us to get ready to jump makes me wonder how much the production team of the picture we’re really just paying homage to Psycho.

Friday the 13th, however, lacks the psychological aspects of Norman Bates and his dear mother, even though the Voorhees family may be some back-woods relative. The randy group of counselors really cares for nothing more than a little bit of partying, and their naïveté makes them too distant emotionally for us to give a damn once they’re killed. Still, you have to admire what Jason wrought cinematically as the Friday the 13th franchise has spawned numerous sequels and racked up box office records.

Note: this new unrated cut has an extra 10 seconds of footage different from the original version. I’m not sure exactly where those 10 seconds are, but it’s a pretty weak premise to hinge a re-release on. According to Paramount’s promo material the extra footage is merely some more gore that was added in to the overseas releases and it has not been released here on DVD.

Video:
Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 11-S1 DLP projector, which has a native resolution of 1080p. I am using a Sony Playstation 3 Blu-Ray player while a Denon 3808CI does the switching and pass through of the video signal. I am utilizing the HDMI capabilities of each piece of equipment.

The Blu-Ray disc is encoded in the MPEG-4 AVC codec at 1080p with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. A majority of the movie is set at night, and the black levels come off as flat and dull and barely a step up from dark gray. Grain becomes very evident in these numerous scenes, reminding you that this is film but also detracting from any improvements a HD presentation could offer. Dirt and other print damage is seen throughout and there is a mild amount of edge enhancement. The daytime scenes look great in comparison, allowing the colors to look more natural and lifelike. Once the sun goes down, the entire image is at the will of the lighting, be it swinging lights, gas lamps or headlights. Detail and sharpness are inconsistent, again, due to the muddiness of the darker scenes. Because of the age, budget and lo-fi nature of the original shoot and presentation, I am hesitant to slam the picture too hard as I think this contributes to the creepiness of the overall movie.


Audio:
The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was attained by the HDMI connection of the PS3 to the Denon 3808CI.

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track is barely a step up from the mono track as there is little to no surround information or LFE’s. The soundtrack remains firmly planted in the highs and mids making for a thin and uninteresting listen. Panning effects are heard occasionally but wind up being almost jarring in the face of the minimal surround atmosphere. ADR stands out frequently and it is more blatant as the shots jump back and forth between on-set recordings and the studio redo’s. The soundtrack is free of any debris or other distortions.


Bonus Material: all items are in HD unless otherwise noted.

Commentary by Director Sean S. Cunningham with Cast and Crew: Peter Bracke moderates this 2004 commentary where the participant’s stories are edited together. Bracke comments as well giving some more history about the picture and the state of the industry at the time and how the movie and Cunningham fit into it. Cunningham regurgitates many of the same stories as are in the other pieces. Screenwriter Victor Miller contributes too discussing more of the psychology of Mrs. Voorhees. Adrienne King, Betsy Palmer and others talk in about the picture in the swell commentary.

Friday the 13th Reunion (16:45): this piece was filmed at what appears to be a Friday the 13th convention in 2008. Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Manfredini, Tom Savini and others discuss the shoot and the impact the movie has had. King is the most interesting here as she discusses how the picture affected her personal life. This is a good piece that I would have liked to have seen more of.

The Man Behind the Legacy: Sean S. Cunningham (8:58): Cunningham shows us the mansion Jason built as he tries to be humble about the picture and its impact. He seems genuinely happy it’s as popular as it is but at the same time he seems slightly frustrated he hasn’t done anything else as good since then.

Fresh Cuts: New Tales from Friday the 13th (14:07): the filmmakers talk about how they came up with the idea (rip off Halloween) and how they went about making it. More of the actors are featured here discussing the shoot and what became of them professionally afterward. There are some interesting behind the scenes pictures as well.

Lost Tales from Camp Blood (7:31): I’m not quite sure what this piece is other than a modern day retake on the formula of a slasher story. It shares production values on par with late ‘80’s porn (boring, over-lit sets, for example), and it seems as if someone is just practicing on his student film. There is some well done gore, but otherwise the thing is pretty useless.

The Friday the 13th Chronicles (20:34) and Secrets Galore Behind the Gore (9:32), both in SD at 480p, seem to be holdovers from the previous DVD release. Again, we’ve heard a lot of what is said here, but the latter piece features Savini discussing the effects.

Theatrical Trailer.


Conclusions:
This new, uncut release of Friday the 13th winds up being inconsistent not only in the AV presentation, but the extras as well. For whatever reason, Paramount is only releasing the first film on Blu-Ray even though it’s releasing new versions of the second and third movies on SD-DVD. I doubt we’ll ever see a better looking Friday the 13th, leaving me wondering if we really even needed this one in HD.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#2 of 70 Chuck West

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Posted February 03 2009 - 01:49 AM

Apparently, the picture is zoomed in 10-11%. Posted Image

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#3 of 70 MattFini

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Posted February 03 2009 - 03:24 AM

Wow ... that is a huge bummer.

I wonder if Paramount WILL speak out about this?
Universal, please release Streets of Fire on Blu-ray.

#4 of 70 Paul Arnette

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Posted February 03 2009 - 07:52 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck West
Apparently, the picture is zoomed in 10-11%. Posted Image

Hi-Def Reviews - Horror Digital

Damn it! Posted Image That's what I get for pre-ordering a Blu-ray Disc. I swear to God I'm done doing that, especially where Paramount catalog titles are concerned.
Universal Blu-ray Discs I will not be buying while they're offered only as Blu-ray + DVD 'flipper' discs:

The Jackal
, Out of Africa, and Traffic.

#5 of 70 Michael Elliott

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Posted February 03 2009 - 09:22 AM

I don't like putting too much hype into screenshots but I must say I prefer the box set look. It's a shame about the zoomed picture but I doubt Paramount fixes it. Apparently they also messed up FRIDAY THE 13TH 3.

EDIT TO ADD: My comment about the previous "look" mainly refers to the axe screenshot.

#6 of 70 ScottR

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Posted February 03 2009 - 10:32 AM

From those screenshots it looks like the Blu-Ray has been overly brightened. Look at the shot where the kids are looking for the snake under the bed...you should not be able to see their faces that clearly under the dark bed...the boxed set looks correct.

#7 of 70 Dave Mack

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Posted February 03 2009 - 12:35 PM

http://www.dvdfile.c....-edition-58247


If I were the Director or DP and some technician randomly zoomed in my framing by 10-11% I'd be really pissed.

#8 of 70 TravisR

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Posted February 03 2009 - 02:19 PM

Having actually seen the disc, I can say that I never would have noticed it's zoomed in and I'm extremely familiar with F13.

#9 of 70 Paul Arnette

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Posted February 03 2009 - 03:34 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TravisR
Having actually seen the disc, I can say that I never would have noticed it's zoomed in and I'm extremely familiar with F13.

I just finished watching it, and I can't say I would noticed either. That said, now that I do know it's cropped it bothers me, especially as there doesn't seem to be any good reason for it.
Universal Blu-ray Discs I will not be buying while they're offered only as Blu-ray + DVD 'flipper' discs:

The Jackal
, Out of Africa, and Traffic.

#10 of 70 TravisR

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Posted February 03 2009 - 03:37 PM

Just to play devil's advocate, what's to say that the DVD was correct?

#11 of 70 Felix Martinez

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Posted February 03 2009 - 03:47 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottR
From those screenshots it looks like the Blu-Ray has been overly brightened. Look at the shot where the kids are looking for the snake under the bed...you should not be able to see their faces that clearly under the dark bed...the boxed set looks correct.
The black levels on the Blu-ray release bear no relation to those washed out screencaps.

#12 of 70 Paul Arnette

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Posted February 03 2009 - 03:55 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TravisR
Just to play devil's advocate, what's to say that the DVD was correct?

Yeah, I wondered about that too. Really there is nothing to go on other than the history of how it had been done on previous home video incarnations, and I guess there's nothing saying it was correct then either.

I did wonder if perhaps the European master from which this BD was struck had tighter framing since this is the uncut version, but it would appear that the previous R2 DVD has framing closer to that of the previous R1 DVDs.
Universal Blu-ray Discs I will not be buying while they're offered only as Blu-ray + DVD 'flipper' discs:

The Jackal
, Out of Africa, and Traffic.

#13 of 70 Michael Elliott

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Posted February 03 2009 - 04:27 PM

The R2 Special Edition was a lot "brighter" than the previous box set transfer. I'm not sure if people are away but apparently the UK got Blu released for parts 2 and 3 as well. Another site is also reporting SEs of 4-6 are coming when the remake hits DVD.

#14 of 70 Edward Schatz

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Posted February 03 2009 - 06:35 PM

Damn. I already preordered and it was delivered. Bloody hell. If this is a mistake, which for all intents and purposes at this moment seems so, fix it Paramount! To finally get an uncut HD disc seemingly ruined by manipulation is.....deeply unfortunate.
Edward

#15 of 70 Joe Karlosi

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Posted February 03 2009 - 10:47 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TravisR
Having actually seen the disc, I can say that I never would have noticed it's zoomed in and I'm extremely familiar with F13.

Same here. And this is a big part of what's wrong these days with so much intense scrutinization when it comes to DVD's and HD. Paniced Word of Mouth like this, the spreading of exaggerations -- even screen shots on sites which don't even accurately mirror the actual disc when you see it for yourself (I'm referring mainly to light/dark). This particular topic here may now serve as the epitome of people going too far, being too analytical instead of just enjoying the movie, and really looking for something to whine about where there is no need.

In my case, I bought the Blu-ray yesterday morning. I intended to watch it later at night when it was good and dark. But while I was online at another message board, all I heard was that supposedly the new disc was zoomed in. I checked out the link to a site that offered all these comparative screen shots with every other DVD release for F13. I decided I would watch the Blu-ray for myself at night and see what the truth was.

Turned out, as TravisR said, I didn't notice anything being too zoomed. If I hadn't read all that hoopla beforehand, I would never even have noticed, and here I was trying to be on the lookout for it because I'd already been informed! And furthermore, the dark night scenes looked perfectly dark and black on my Samsung 46" HDTV ... they did not look at all "too light", or "brightened up"... and as I say, I purposely looked for this because I had already read the complaints and seen the screen grabs.

My personal assessment of the blu-ray is that all the daytime scenes which are well-lit look immaculate and stunning; I've never seen F13 look that good before. The color on Annie's face, her red camping bag, all these other details which were mentioned in one of the screen grabs ... they were just fine. I'd noticed colors and details I never saw before. But some of the under-lit and darker night scenes look more soft, which is to be expected. I noticed no problem with the framing, even after having been alerted to it in advance.

So again, it's a lot of whining over nothing. If the new image is zoomed or not, we're not sure - because perhaps it was the older releases that were incorrect. But even if this new disc IS zoomed a bit, none of the many early reviewers for this release ever spotted it in their critique. It wasn't until one critic did screen grab comparisons to past releases that it became some kind of issue based on prinicipal. As I said, this is the pinnacle of over-analyzing something, and I have to be frank when I say that it's this type of thing that is taking all the fun and joy out of just sitting back and enjoying the darn MOVIE.

When you go to a website and they present this meticulous frame grab stuff, to your eye it looks like a big deal when doing side-by-side comparisons. Yet when you're watching at home, you don't even sense there is a problem or a difference. Who the hell would spot that there's less of the window frame on the jeep when Annie is running up to the truck? Please.

#16 of 70 Felix Martinez

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Posted February 03 2009 - 11:51 PM

Quote:
Turned out, as TravisR said, I didn't notice anything being too zoomed. If I hadn't read all that hoopla beforehand, I would never even have noticed, and here I was trying to be on the lookout for it because I'd already been informed! And furthermore, the dark night scenes looked perfectly dark and black on my Samsung 46" HDTV ... they did not look at all "too light", or "brightened up"... and as I say, I purposely looked for this because I had already read the complaints and seen the screen grabs.
Ditto. Looked pretty darn good on my 92" screen.

It was a real treat to hear Manfredini's score in true surround - looks like they had the multitracks to play with. Nonetheless, I'm glad they kept the original mono mix, as the soundstage cohesion is much better in that option.

#17 of 70 TravisR

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Posted February 04 2009 - 12:48 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Felix Martinez
It was a real treat to hear Manfredini's score in true surround - looks like they had the multitracks to play with.
I usually listen to the 5.1 remixes one time and then just stick with the original track but I was surprised by how good I thought the music sounded too.

#18 of 70 Paul Arnette

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Posted February 04 2009 - 02:32 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Karlosi
Turned out, as TravisR said, I didn't notice anything being too zoomed. If I hadn't read all that hoopla beforehand, I would never even have noticed, and here I was trying to be on the lookout for it because I'd already been informed!

I agree with you to a point, and, on the whole I didn't notice anything particularly amiss. However because I was aware that this transfer had been zoomed in when compared to previous releases, I did notice that the closeup face shots of Alice and Mrs. Voorhees looked too tight and cut off the chins in a number of cases.

The blessing and the curse of the Internet-age is the same thing: 'information'. Sometimes it's useful, sometimes it's noise. And while I think it is too early to tell what is the case in this situation, I'd like to think that a watchful customer base, if perhaps overzealous and excitable at times, is preferable to a complacent one. Maybe if the studios know their customers are eagle-eyed they'll be less likely to be lax in the future.
Universal Blu-ray Discs I will not be buying while they're offered only as Blu-ray + DVD 'flipper' discs:

The Jackal
, Out of Africa, and Traffic.

#19 of 70 Dave Mack

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Posted February 04 2009 - 02:42 AM

double post

#20 of 70 Michael Elliott

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Posted February 04 2009 - 02:47 AM

People gave Warner a new you-know-what over HORROR OF DRACULA being zoomed in a little. I doubt people would notice that many errors if they weren't pointed out but I think HorrorDVDs did a very good thing in what the reviewer wrote. Rhett has been with that site a very long time so I trust what he wrote as being real and not just trying to stir up trouble.


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