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Case Number 26391: Small Claims Court

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Crystal Lake Memories (Blu-ray)

1428 Films // 2013 // 400 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis (Retired) // October 11th, 2013

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All Rise...

It was actually a young Judge Daryl Loomis under that lake in the original movie.

The Charge

The Complete History of Friday the 13th.

The Case

It's no secret that, when Friday the 13th arrived in theaters in 1980, while it wasn't the first slasher movie, it was the movie that ushered in the genre craze. After three decades and twelve movies, there's no doubt that the little tiny independent movie Sean S. Cunningham made has become iconic, one of the load bearing walls in the house of horror. Ask anybody who hasn't been living under a rock about the name "Jason" or show them a hockey mask, and I can virtually guarantee the person will be able to name the film.

Even if the series is low on my list of favorite franchises, there's no question that the movies are essential viewing for any self-respecting horror fan. Well, not all of them, but I'm looking at them as a group, not a series of inconsistent movies of wildly varying quality. The cult following of the series is huge and, as a tribute to the films and to satisfy the voracious appetites of their fans, Peter M. Bracke released Crystal Lake Memories in 2006. A 300-page compilation of interviews and memories from the people involved, it's a brilliant piece of work for Friday the 13th devotees and, now, Bracke is back with director Dennis Farrands for a companion piece to that companion piece.

Also called Crystal Lake Memories, this is a ridiculously expansive piece of work featuring interviews from literally dozens of the actors, including everyone who played Jason over the years, along with producers, directors, writers, and composers. There are plenty of omissions, of course, there's no way they could interview everyone, but at a nearly six-hour running time, I certainly can't complain about the breadth of material on display.

Crystal Lake Memories encompasses the whole thing, from the original to the remake and everything in between, including the unrelated syndicated television show that ran from 1987 to 1990. Each piece gets his own chapter, which vary in length from twenty to about forty minutes, with the first few getting the larger portions. The shorter bits aren't lacking in detail, though.

Each chapter moves pretty much the same way. They begin with preproduction information and, specifically, the reason why each of the sequels got made (hint…it's always for cash). Then, they move on to the production, fights with the ratings board, the release, reception, and the relative success of each film. The whole thing is bookended by a pretty cute little bit with Corey Feldmen (Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning), who also narrates the film, describing the background of the story around a campfire to a group of unwitting teens. It's a rock solid, consistent plan that works extremely well.

It should, because Bracke and Farrands have been at this sort of thing a long time. They've done similar pieces on the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, the Halloween, and Return of the Living Dead. They're all comprehensive and Crystal Lake Memories stays right in line with this previous work, delivering a deeply interesting, completely fascinating trip through three decades of Friday the 13th. Some of the interviews are brand new, while some come from Farrands's previous documentary on the subject, His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th. Some might find that a ripoff, but considering that movie only ran ninety minutes, I think there's plenty of unique material for fans to absorb.

Of course, it's a whole lot to take in one chunk and, after a while, it becomes too much to take. Only the crazy and mad reviewers behind deadlines would watch it in one long stretch. Instead, given its nature as a companion piece, I would recommend watching the relevant chapter after watching one of the movies. And since it's now October, it's a perfect time to sit down to a Friday the 13th marathon.

Crystal Lake Memories comes to Blu-ray and DVD from 1428 Films. There are two discs of each format, with the first four hours (up through the television show) on Disc 1 and the final three on Disc 2. It's no audio-visual feast, but it doesn't need to be. To its credit, it looks and sounds just fine, with a decent looking 1.78:1/1080p transfer on the Blu-ray, and suitable anamorphic transfer on the DVD. The archival footage looks fairly good; maybe not as good as on the Friday the 13th Blu-rays, but good enough. The rare bits of alternate takes from the films looks pretty rough, but that's expected given that most of this footage was destroyed long ago by the studios. The sound is what you would expect. The interviews are perfectly clear and the music sounds fine but, again, it's nothing special.

Given that the whole thing is essentially one gigantic extra feature, one wouldn't necessarily expect any supplements, but it does indeed include an audio commentary with Farrands, Bracke, and editor Luke Rafalowski, in which they express very clearly their absolute love for the series. It's a good commentary which, I must confess, I did not listen to in its entirety, but they do know what they're talking about, there's no doubt about that.

Crystal Lake Memories is a brilliant piece work any fan of the Friday the 13th series owes it to themselves to possess. One really couldn't as for much more from this, the absolute definitive documentary on this fundamental horror series. For its legions of fans, I can't recommend it highly enough.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 95

Perp Profile

Studio: 1428 Films
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 400 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Blu-ray
• Documentary
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Trailer


• IMDb
• Official Site

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