Earlier this week on my personal Facebook page, I made a revelation that I thought would surprise a lot of my horror-loving friends:
I’d never seen the original Friday The 13th film until this week.
There were definitely some comments along the lines of “wow, how did that happen?” Which was a totally fair reaction. How did I miss out on a film that started one of the most enduring horror franchises? It’s not as though I haven’t seen other entires – I vividly recall watching Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday with my mom one Saturday night back when you could first rent it (I don’t think Mom made it through the entire film, mind you). I also went to see the 2009 reboot and I liked it a lot. But somehow in all my years of watching horror movies, that first entry never made it into my viewing schedule.
The reason this changed was with the release of Scream Factory’s massive Friday The 13th Collection: Deluxe Edition Blu-ray box set, collecting all 12 films in the franchise (including Freddy vs Jason and the 2009 film) on 16 discs. The set is loaded with extras, from interviews old and new, documentaries, commentaries, 4K scans of the first four films, including the uncut version of the original film, the third film in 3D (for 3D-capable tvs) and more. There’s also a nice-looking 60 page booklet written by beloved horror magazine scribe Michael Gingold. It all comes in a gorgeous box set that will look nice on any fan’s shelf.
Now, because we cover films here, we often get review copies – I’m sure that comes as no surprise. But the larger the set, the more expensive they are to produce, and there’s never any guarantee review copies will available for those. That makes total sense to me, but I learned it the hard way nearly a decade ago when I didn’t preorder a copy of the now very pricey Anchor Bay Halloween collection (mainly because I had all the films already, but damn, it would have been nice to have them all in a sweet set). So, learning from past mistakes and also with the knowledge that I didn’t own any of these films so this wouldn’t be an exercise in double-dipping, I ordered Friday The 13th Collection: Deluxe Edition Blu-ray box set for $149.99 Canadian. Yes, it’s expensive, but for horror fans, especially those that may not have the films in their collection, Scream Factory has done an exceptional job of giving us our money’s worth.
Which takes us back to where we started – the first Friday The 13th film, which I finally watched for the first time upon cracking open this box set. Truth be told, my expectations were pretty low; I was always a Freddy guy, so I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed Friday The 13th. I expected nothing in the way of acting and I thought everyone involved gave great performances (especially Robbi Morgan, who sets the tone as the first Contemporary victim of the film’s featured slasher). I thought the kills were inventive and gruesome even today, and I found myself literally jumping more than a few times while watching, even in the middle of the day. Even knowing about that final boat jump scare didn’t prevent it from working its magic on me. While at times I thought Henry Manfredini’s score was a little too derivative of its inspirations (Jaws, Psycho, etc), I eventually just let it go and enjoyed the effective ambiance it created. And with the various extras on the disc, I got great insight into how writer Victor Miller and director Sean Cunningham wound up creating a horror classic.
While I don’t know how I’ll feel about the rest of the series, with all the love and care that’s gone into the Friday The 13th Collection: Deluxe Edition, I’m looking forward to watching each film and taking them on their own merits (or lack there of – pretty sure I’m looking at you, Jason X).