- Jun 13, 2002
Friday the 13th Uncut(Blu-Ray)
Studio: Paramount Home Video
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.
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.
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.
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.