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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 28 July 2014
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Brilliant in depth documentary for horror fans ! Recommended
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5.0 out of 5 stars are you a jason geek? not until you have this, 10 Aug 2014
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a treasure trove of info for any friday fanatic, get it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A real FRIDAY treat!, 16 Aug 2014
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SO much to take in, utterly brilliant!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, wide ranging documentary. Well worth watching., 6 July 2014
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The problem for me is that I read the book of the same title first. It is superior. The extended eBook version has considerably more content due to its considerable length. Many more people were interviewed for the book than they could get to talk on camera. For example Steve Miner, the director of two and three, talks in the book but isn't interviewed for the film. Also I assume they pulled quotes from old magazine articles so they could have more interviews.

There are also maybe too many actors clogging up the screen time. No offence to actors, but really, what do they have to say that isn't just a variation of what every other actor has to say? The technical behind the scenes people are more interesting to hear talk.

Also the book is more critical. People in the doc say the odd negative thing about the quality of the movies, but not much. In the book they let rip more freely. For example Sean S Cunningham (director of Part 1 and producer on 9 and FvJ) doesn't like the movies, including his own. In the film version he barely hints at his dissatisfaction with the films - although he does openly laugh at the idea of Jason in space.
The doc did throw up a few titbits of information that were surprisingly missing from the book. There is information about Adrienne King's stalker (he held a gun to her head!) and the reason why Part 9 onwards isn't called Friday the 13th is because Paramount still owns the title. They only sold the characters to New Line Cinema.
Also the film covers the 2009 remake, unlike the book.

I would recommend the book over the film version. Even if you have seen the movie I still recommend picking up the book as there is a lot more content in it. If you've read the book then I consider the film to be entertainingly superfluous.

NOTE: The eBook is very different to the hardback. There is much more text and it doesn't have any pictures.

7 out of 10 Good

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Crystal Lake Memories (Hardback 2006/eBook 2012)

NOTE: This is a review of the Kindle edition. The hardback version is a different enough book for this to be an important distinction.

The definitive history of the franchise and a great film book in its own right

This long, long book of interviews is pretty much the definitive history of the Friday the 13th movies. It feels like everyone was interviewed (producers, writers, lead and supporting actors, the stuntmen who played Jason, special effects and make-up people, cinematographers, 3D process specialists etc). If anyone has been missed then it's no great shame. Probably most importantly all the directors have been interviewed - they arguably have the best overview of each film.

It's not a love-in. People are frank in their opinions on the movies, and of the sometimes difficult productions. There is real dirt here.

I really enjoyed it as a reading experience, and I learned probably everything I ever wanted to know and more about these movies. It's a very complete and satisfying book. The only complaint I can level at the book is that the 2009 remake is not covered.

The Kindle edition is apparently much longer in text than the hardback version. There isn't a single picture in it. This didn't bother me. I'll happily take more interviews over photographs. Though it is a very minor pity that the occasional pertinent image didn't make it into the digital edition. Also a lot of the actors/characters in these films are anonymous and forgettable so it's sometimes hard to keep track of who the actors are without pictures.

The book does not appear to have been proof read. There are many, many typos. The content is so good that I didn't care. It doesn't make it hard to read or anything. Just be aware that there are a lot of silly errors throughout the whole book.

Without the slightest reservation I would recommend it. You don't even have to like the Friday the 13th films to get a lot out of it. It's a film book that's as worthy of being read as say something like Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-drugs-and Rock 'n' Roll Generation Changed Hollywood etc.

10 out of 10 Exceptional

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I watched the movies out of sequence so my opinions might be affected by that.

***WARNING: LOTS OF SPOILERS***

Friday the 13th (1980)
A very plodding, subdued, restrained little movie. It's not scary and the kills have little brutality or gore. There is no feeling that the censors interfered with the violence. There's a decent amount of dialogue in it but when I think about it no one says a single interesting thing - whole conversations amount to nothing. It's directed without any style in a very matter of fact way. It's a simple, fairly competently staged little film that never kicks up a gear to be compelling. The acclaimed end battle went on too long. I became disengaged and found myself losing my concentration on it. The jump scare at the end remains effective as the timing of the attack is very sudden and abrupt. I knew exactly what was coming and yet it still got me to jump. It was watchable and has a fairly proper story by the nuts and bolts standards of the genre. The film was just about okay.

5 out of 10 Average

Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
There probably is no such thing as a properly good slasher movie. So for its crappy genre this is probably one of the stronger examples. It didn't feel bloated with stretched out scenes and content. It felt to-the-point with no meandering. The pace was a bit draggy, but I never felt it was too slow. It wasn't scary but there were one or two effective jumps. The kills are weak and edited around the gore to the point they don't come across very well (I assume this is a result of censorship). Only one death occurs off screen (I hate off screen deaths in slashers as it's the only reason to watch them) but the ending is weird and ambiguous. It's not an arty movie so I'm puzzled why it ends on such a cryptic note with two kids attacked, but we don't find out what happens and if one of the kids survived. Also another kid stays in town so avoids death, which is just strange. Odd decisions considering it's not an art movie. Jason with the bag over his head was okay as the bad guy. The film was watchable and not a massive waste of time. The fact I finished it and I didn't yawn with boredom is a very good sign that it's one of the stronger slasher movies.

4 out of 10 Below average

Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)
It was sort of alright and competently done, but I can't say I enjoyed it. I didn't pick up on much sense that the censors did any damage. The kills are fairly brutal and bloody with not much cutting around them to minimise the impact. I wouldn't go as far as to call the kills creative, but they were generally good and kind of amusing such as the harpoon to the eye. Not every kill is literally on screen but I don't feel short-changed with people being murdered off screen. The story is very nuts and bolts to the extent that this one is almost the generic model of what you think of as a Friday the 13th film. The dream jump scare at the end was obvious and rather silly. The picture quality is soft due to the 3D camera technology they used which is unfortunate. The copious shots of pointing objects at the camera are so unsubtle you can't help but snigger. It was more or less competent in a workmanlike way.

4 out of 10 Below average

Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter (1984)
The first ten minutes are very strong. It really gave me high hopes for a good, enjoyable film. The mortuary kill was very well staged and made me jump as it had great misdirection (I thought Jason was still in the drawer). Probably the best kill in the whole series. I get the impression it was laboured over and storyboarded etc in a level of detail that the rest of the scenes didn't get. After that it became the usual stuff. There are a few jumps in the first half, but I would credit that more to the sudden loud music cues rather than any sophisticated filmmaking. Even by the poor standards of the series, these kids were anonymous. At least in the other films you could differentiate between them just by looking at them. In this one a lot of the kids look the same and have such indistinct dialogue, if they even get any lines, that I literally couldn't tell a bunch of them apart. They were seriously anonymous. So watching this herd get slaughtered was even more un-personal than usual. Some of the kills were bloody, and very few happened off screen. Unfortunately the direction was sometimes garbled. With so many close ups it was hard to tell what was going on. I'm really not sure what I was supposed to be seeing during some of the kills. The killing of the girl on the rubber boat was particularly poorly filmed as my attention was on her shoulder instead of on her back - it took me far too long to even notice there was a knife poking out of it. The kill when one of the twins is pulled through a window introduces too many logistical questions concerning where Jason is (he's in the house, then he's outside climbing the walls, then he's back inside again in a short space of time). It kind of grinded on and was lacking in any charm or fun. The final running around fighting Jason sequence wasn't any good. It's a bad film, but the opening is very good.

3 out of 10 Bad

Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning (1985)
Very bad. If someone told me it was a deliberate parody I would half believe them. The script is odd with strange dialogue, bizarre scenes and peculiar characters. The paramedic is obviously the killer from the start due to how clumsily his scenes are filmed with telegraphed extreme reaction shots. Some of the actors give big, exaggerated comic performances, others catatonic ones and others overact without the comedy. Visually it has been shot and edited like the blandest TV soap in the world - a seriously mundane looking movie with unhurried cutting that kills all the possible excitement and tension. The kills are so bloodless and off camera (as in we see the kills but the camera angles and editing make sure we can see little to nothing) that they are all without exception disappointing. Either the censors chopped it to pieces or they actually filmed it this way to avoid censorship. Either way, all the kills are crap. Very poorly filmed. Also a fair number of deaths happen completely off screen (as in their bodies turn up and it's the first we know of them having been killed). I hate off screen deaths in slasher movies as the kills are the only reason why we're watching the thing in the first place. The end fight with 'Jason' is very weak and slow (plus people stand still for ages and allow themselves to be hit by sharp objects). Then the ending with Jarvis becoming Jason was so shoddily conceived and filmed it became comically inept. Jarvis is presented as the lead character but he barely has any screen time and doesn't do much. I recently watched Best Worst Movie Ever (2009) about a comically bad film called Troll 2 (1990). Its director was revealed to be incapable of seeing how bad his own film is - he actually thinks he made a quality, serious film even though he has sat in theatres with people pissing themselves laughing at his movie. I get that same vibe from this, as though the director thought he was doing good work and somehow couldn't see just how bad a job he was doing. He has no taste and can't distinguish between good and bad (at least while filming, maybe later he recognised how poor his work was). A very bad film and also fairly boring.

2 out of 10 Very bad

Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives (1986)
By far the strongest Friday film. It's hard to imagine how this was made a mere year after the terrible and amateurish fifth movie. It's much more sophisticated looking visually and the script is pretty decent. The dialogue isn't too bad, the characters aren't quite as shallow and the kills are a bit more inventive. The murders don't look like they've been censored much as you see pretty much everything you expect to see (the three beheaded paintball players are the only kills that look compromised). There is at least one character who knows about Jason from the start so there is a bit more of a push and pull dramatic shape to the story as there are opposing forces fighting each other to some extent. There are deliberate jokes that are amusing, and help give the characters a bit of personality. It was quite a good film. By far the best written and directed in the series, and the kills are good.

7 out of 10 Good

Friday the 13th Part 7: The New Blood (1988)
I gave up on it at about the ten minute point many years ago. This time I finished it and thought it was alright. The change of film stock since Part 5 (I saw that one the day before) helps a lot - now it looks realistic and gritty instead of like a bad 70s TV soap. The Carrie vs. Jason plot is daft, but this isn't clever art so I was okay with it being silly. I accepted the silliness without much complaint. They didn't do much with it though, as about all it amounts to is throwing some furniture around. The kills were monumentally uncreative. They were mostly simply knife attacks. They were filmed with no suspense or tension. They weren't very bloody, but I didn't feel like it cut around them too much due to censorship or good taste. I don't think any deaths happen off screen. It was solid enough and was very, very mildly entertaining. The acting was acceptable and the script and dialogue was okay. It was competent, which is about all you can ask for from a film like this. The ending should have been the house exploding. It was ambiguous and satisfying. The father jumping out of the water was very silly and hurt the movie.

4 out of 10 Below average

Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan (1988)
It was very bad. The lead actress feels curiously missing and disconnected from large chunks of the movie. She makes little impact. Her 'visions' are very cheesy looking and full of clichéd horror imagery that the previous Friday films never traded in. The major problem is the change of setting makes it not feel like a Friday film. Without the rural setting it's just a trashy late 80s slasher. The setting on the boat is bland, but it's better than the New York setting which is just not right for Jason at all. Also we see too much of Jason which is counterproductive as he's no longer an intriguing shadowy presence. The music is terrible - the music literary has an evil laugh. The film is trapped in the worst excesses of 80s fashion which makes it laughable. It's not a well written movie and it's directed very poorly as a horror. There is no tension and no scares. The kills aren't particularly bloody but I don't get the impression there was any censorship. Jason has developed remarkable powers of teleportation. A character is being chased by Jason from behind in a street - he enters a door, goes up the stairs and is punched out a first story window by Jason. All in one shot that remains out on the street. Even allowing for the elastic logic of a film like this, that doesn't even make sense within the film's own world logic. It was boring long before the end. The ending is baffling in what they were going for. Who knows what they were planning to do at the start of Part 9 to get them out of this corner they had painted themselves into. The worst film in the series. At least Part 5 has an element of unintentional self-parody going for it. It doesn't even have opening credits like the others in the series. They mucked around with the formula to the extent that it was generic and bad in ways that weren't even keeping within the style of its own generic and bad franchise.

2 out of 10 Very bad

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
It's abundantly clear that this was originally written as a standalone B-movie that was later retrofitted to become a Friday the 13th film by simply replacing the original serial killer with Jason. They have made no effort to make it fit with the established mythology of what went before as it introduces a lot of new stuff. The ability to jump from body to body as a demon creature is just so not Friday the 13th at all. The film does not belong in the series, but if you can get over how disconnected it is then it's an alright enough movie in its own right. It's very B-movie with trashy ideas. It's not scary although I did jump at one point (the cop who turns up when the mother is using the ice box machine behind the diner). The direction is more suited to an action movie than a horror with fast editing on action (someone is thrown through a window and we get about ten angles on it, cut together very, very fast) and extended slow motion sequences to make things look cool. The violence is quite strong with a fair amount of blood and guts on screen without cutting away from it too soon. My guess is that the censorship climate of the time no longer cared about these movies and let them get away with pretty much anything. The best kill was the girl having sex in the tent as we see half her body get torn away. The music was terrible. It sounded like cheap synths and was too in the background and gentle. The film wasn't too bad and it has some good moments. It also has lots of silly moments (the knife that magically transforms into a bigger gothic one, the giant hands pulling Jason into the ground). If you can stop moaning about the whole concept of the demon creature that can jump bodies, and just go with it for what it is, then it's not terrible. It's below average. If it wasn't for the tacked on Friday connection it would be a long ago forgotten movie. Jason's brief appearance is the only reason why it's remembered, as otherwise it was very unremarkable.

4 out of 10 Below average

NOTE: Shockingly according to the book Crystal Lake Memories the script was written as Friday the 13th Part 9. This unconnected thing was actually always designed to be part of the series, and yet they introduced all these new concepts from out of nowhere?!

Jason X (2002)
The sci-fi genre isn't as natural a fit for the horror genre as it perhaps seems. At least not without the budget and the visual brilliance of the Alien series. There is something wrong about techno-babble and fake looking spaceship interiors that doesn't gel with the more earthy, more gothic sensibility of the blood and guts slasher film. Sending Jason into space is an odd, contrived idea that isn't really keeping within the spirit of the previous films. It works well enough if you just say what the heck and go with it anyway. After the first half hour the techno-babble stops and things get more basic in a stalk and slash way. The kills are inventive and sometimes highly amusing (the frozen smashed head, the drill that 'screws' someone who falls onto it and the knife that is pulled out through the other side of a body). There are no obvious signs of the censors tampering with the kills. It's not a scary movie but at least it's fairly bloody. The one liners are sometimes authentically amusing as well. The sets are very fake so the whole thing looks like a cheap TV movie. It's probably comparable to the visual style of the early 80s seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The CGI isn't too brilliant either. The music is very weak. I enjoyed it for about an hour, but the ending becomes rather laborious and over extended - did they really need to have so much difficulty opening an airlock? The last third had some of the best bits in it (the stupid but effective android battle, the uber-Jason and the recreation of the summer camp) but it was all just a bit much and I was keen for it to end. It's a silly movie and very trashy. Some people walked in on me watching it, and seeing it through their eyes made it look like a really bad straight to rental piece of crap that I was embarrassed to be caught watching. At least the film has proper drama to it since the characters know about Jason from the start and fight back and defend themselves in a proactive way instead of just being picked off one by one in blissful ignorance. Overall I would say it was one of the best in the series, and is only topped by Part 6 as the pinnacle. Not a great movie but above average.

6 out of 10 Above average

An old review of Jason X I wrote back in 7/5/11:

Goofy B-movie fun, and the best Part 10 of any horror franchise
Why is Friday the 13th Part 10 better than say Part 3 or 5 or 7 or 8? Because the makers recognise the previous films are generally crap, and they have an idea as to why, and how to fix it. They point it out during the first ten minutes of the commentary track on the DVD.

It's because the victims are pro-active.

In Parts 1 to 8 (Part 9 is different, and I can't be bothered going into why) the victims are spread out and isolated from each other. Jason picks them off one by one and no one even knows they are in danger. This does not make for good DRAMA. People need to know what's going on in order to react to it.

In Part 10 the victims are up to speed on the situation almost from the get go. They run and hide, and they fight back. They do stuff. This makes for much better entertainment. And it allows it to have more of a definable plot beyond eighty minutes of random murder followed by ten minutes of someone finally fighting back. It's not heavy on proper complicated plotting with sub-plots and twists, but at least it's more eventful than usual.

The film plays at a quick pace which I like. Though it could be argued that it kills the movie as an actual horror film. As not much time is devoted to building up the stalk and slash sequences, they just aren't scary. I doubt anyone would jump in fright at this film. Personally I don't care, others might?

It looks and feels like a cheesy low budget B-movie anyway. The sets are very set looking (I doubt there is a single image shot on a real location, indoors or outdoors). The computer effects depicting the external ships look very much like mediocre computer effects. Visually it looks more like TV Star Trek than it does like Alien.

Most of the acting is deliberately hammy, which works well as the story has plenty of daft moments and there's more than a few genuinely amusing lines throughout. Inevitably there are also a few weak or bad performances, but they are in the minority.

Basically it works well on a cheap and cheerful B-movie level. None of those things listed above are conductive to making the audience feel scared. Treat it as goofy B-movie trash and you should enjoy it.

The music is very poor. It sounds like stock video game music that hasn't been tailored to the specific cues within the scenes. I noticed the score a few times and it does the atmosphere no favours at all. Maybe it was too low in the mix, which makes it sound weedier and less imposingly scary than it should?

It has a few good kills, the victims are different enough from each other to easily tell them apart, they are pro-active in fighting against Jason and the film moves at a quick pace. It's no masterpiece but it's probably the best movie in the series, which is an odd thing to say about a Part 10.

A flawed movie, but moderately entertaining and better than it could have been. It's not the purest Friday the 13th film, but it's the one that is most audience friendly for a general audience that wouldn't normally watch a slasher film.

I would recommend it to non-Friday the 13th fans (previous knowledge of the other films is not needed).

3 out of 5

Freddy Vs Jason I couldn't stand. An unwatchable mess. I gave up fifteen minutes in. Loathsome piece of trash that has contempt for the intelligence of the audience. I did write this about it a few years ago: "Terrible. The director cut out all the reaction shots so none of the actors respond to the slaughter of their friends which means everyone comes across as a really bad actor. It's also un-dramatic and boring for this reason as well. Also the back story is so convoluted and twisted that it turns the `story' into a confusing mess for no good reason. One of the few films I've seen that is too fast paced as it really needs those reaction shots and the odd quiet moment to give the audience a chance to breath. 1 out of 5 stars."

Friday the 13th (2009 Remake)
The problem with this film is that it has the horror aesthetics of its 00s era. That means glossy visuals, careful production design, shaky handheld camerawork, rapid editing, unpleasant jock characters and an almost complete lack of authentic atmosphere. The more prosaically nuts and bolts 80s aesthetic just works so much better for these types of films. 00s stuff just has no weight or impact - it's too carefully composed and staged feeling to have any grubby documentary style discomfort to it. The kills were all without expectation boring and strangely bloodless. The plot is indifferent and everything feels rather half arsed and uninspired (Jason getting his mask is a particularly wasted moment). The whole thing feels tired. The increased budget and better technology has not helped the film be any better than what has gone before. It was watchable enough. Also the whole thing with Jason kidnapping someone is totally out of character.

4 out of 10 Below average
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 18 Sep 2014
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fantastic :)
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I have to agree, this is an absolute must for Jason fans., 4 Jan 2014
This review is from: Crystal Lake Memories: Complete History of Friday [Blu-ray] [2013] [US Import] (Blu-ray)
If you love Jason and all things Friday the 13th then you must get this. It is long but very entertaining and interesting.
Just to see the actors now having a laugh at how they acted back in the day and hearing all about the struggles of getting the films made and passed the ratings board was great.
I recommend the Elm Street documentary made by the same people as well if you have some extra cash to spare.
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Crystal Lake Memories: Complete History of Friday [Blu-ray] [2013] [US Import]
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