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Default Friday the 13th (R2): Special Edition




Reviewer: Dave
Review Date: October 19, 2003

Released by: Warner Brothers
Release date: 9/29/2003
MSRP: 12.99
Region 2, PAL
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes



Friday the 13th fans have finally received what they've been screaming for since the introduction of DVD. Thanks to Warner UK, a special edition to the original Friday the 13th has been released overseas. On top of the audio commentary and featurette present on this DVD, fans are also treated to an uncut presentation featuring several additional gore shots. Has the wait been worth it? Lets take a trip back to Camp Blood and find out.

The Story

inline Image In 1957 a boy by the name of Jason Vorhees drowned in Camp Crystal Lake. The two counselors who were supposed to be watching him were off having sex. A year later, two counselors were killed a Camp Crystal Lake. The camp was shut down after the murder, and all future attempts to re-open the camp failed.

The film opens on Friday the 13th - "present day". Camp Crystal Lake is finally re-opening and it looks as if it will open without problems. Numerous counselors begin making their way to Camp Crystal Lake, also known as "Camp Blood" to the local townspeople. Many of the counselors are warned by Ralph (Walt Gorney), the town's local loon, that the camp is cursed. They all laugh it off, paying no attention to the warnings.


inline Image Once all the counselors are gathered at the camp, minus the chef who never made it, the real fun starts to begin. Each counselor is brutally murdered in some very interesting ways, until only one remains. As it turns out, Mrs. Vorhees, Jason's mother, is a little upset about her son's death and has been executing revenge now that the camp is reopening. She's murdered each counselor except for Alice, who manages to survive Mrs. Vorhees attempts to kill her.

You have to love the ending to this film. And if you haven't seen Friday the 13th yet, you deserve getting this spoiler. Alice kills Mrs. Vorhees and decides to go out into the middle of the lake in a canoe. It leads up to a nice little shocker when Jason jumps out of the lake and pulls Alice under. Fortunately for Alice, the police arrive and pull her from the lake. They find no boy in the lake and as the movie closes, Alice exclaims, "Then he's still there!"

"Chhh, chhh, chhh....hah, hah, hah." Ahhh, the Friday the 13th series. The entire Friday the 13th series holds a very special place in my heart. It's what introduced me to the horror genre when I was a child. When I was younger my parents forbade me from seeing any horror movies, so I had to resort to watching them over at friends' houses. We watched the entire Friday the 13th series (at least up until Part 7, which, at the time, was the latest). From that point on I was hooked on the genre.


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Fans of Friday have longed for the uncut presentation that was previous released on Japanese laserdisc (also thanks to Warner) and also on VCD. Luckily for horror fans, this Region 2 DVD from Warner UK is indeed uncut. I have confirmed it and included a few screen shots of some of the previously cut footage above. For more information on the cut footage, visit the IMBD's page on Friday the 13th alternate versions.

inline Image Friday the 13th works because it does what so many great horror movies do. It scares you, plain and simple. It's a popcorn movie at its finest, and clearly there will be no Oscars for best screenplay here. The movie is dated by today's standards - in part due to the abundance of 80s-style clothing and hair styles - but most horror fans can appreciate it as being the initial entry that launched the Friday the 13th franchise and the character of Jason Vorhees. Do not think I'm dismissing the original, however. It is a classic slasher that sticks to the now tried and true formula - young camp counselors goofing off, having sex, and ultimately being stalked and hacked into pieces.

inline Image Minus a brief cameo, it's important to note that the original Friday is Jason-less. Instead, it is Jason's mother in the slasher role. Veteran actress Betsy Palmer does an admirable job as Mrs. Vorhees. Mrs. Vorhees is crazy, but it is the loss of her son and her desire to prevent the camp from reopening that drove her there. In an ironic twist of fate, it's the death or Mrs. Vorhees that brings Jason back for revenge, again and again and again and again...

While it's probably the Friday that I watch least, due mostly to no Jason, the original Friday is a fantastic slasher movie. It sticks to the basic and delivers the goods: gore, sex, and cheap scares. How can you go wrong with that?

Image Quality

Paramount may not be known for their special editions, but they've always produced consistently good transfers. As such, I compared several scenes between Paramount's Region 1 NTSC DVD and this Region 2 PAL DVD from Warner Brothers. Both are presented in the film's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and both are 16x9 enhanced. Paramount's Region 1 DVD wins hands down in the transfer department. It is noticeably sharper, has a cleaner print, and brighter and more vivid colors. There's no doubt two completely different transfers were used here. This Warner DVD is softer, has a lot more print blemishes - scratches and specks of dirt, the colors aren't as vibrant, and there are noticeable MPEG artifacts present in both daytime and nighttime scenes. Some might blame the artifacts on the PAL to NTSC conversion process, but that isn't the case at all. The JVC XV-S500 player I screened it on has flawless PAL to NTSC conversion. On its own this Warner transfer is decent, but in comparison to Paramount's transfer it is clearly inferior. I'm rating this one with a B-, whereas I gave Paramount's DVD an A-.

And since this is becoming habit, let me show some comparison screen shots here. Keep in mind that even screen shots aren't a 100% accurate representation of what you'll be seeing on your television. These screen shots are unaltered - I have not modified them in any way, except for resize. This particular shot shows some of the color differences in daytime scenes.


inline Image inline Image



Sound

In a typical Region 1 review for Friday the 13th, this is where I'd be stating that there's only a theatrical trailer (if that) and how Friday fans deserve better. Fortunately, that isn't the case here. Warner UK has stepped up and finally delivered some special edition content to Friday fans.

Supplemental Material

inline Image An audio commentary is present and includes Producer/Director Sean Cunningham, and various members of the cast and crew, including writer Victor Miller, and actors Betsy Palmer (Mrs. Vorhees) and Adrienne King (Alice Hardy). This is a great and informative track that Friday fans are going to love. Lots of information is discussed, such as how Friday the 13th came to be, its success and sequels, various aspects to the story, cast experiences, and much more. I consider myself to be a fairly big Friday fan, but I have to admit there was a lot of information in here that I never knew. One such example is how the infamous "Chhh, chhh, chhh....hah, hah, hah." came to be. And I appreciate that the focus was kept on the original, not the sequels.

Next is a 20 minute featurette titled Return to Crystal Lake: Making the Friday the 13th. It runs about 21 minutes in length and contains retrospective interviews with nearly everyone involved with creating Friday the 13th. Writer/director Sean Cunningham, Writer Victor Miller, Composer Harry Manfredini, Editor Bill Freda, Assistant Editor Jay Keuper, and actors Adrienne King and Betsy Palmer. There's a lot of duplicate information covered here that is discussed in the commentary, and it's all from the same people too! Even so, you can still pick up a few interesting tidbits in the featurette, plus I know a lot of people out there don't like commentaries much, so this is a good alternative.






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Wrapping up the supplements is a theatrical trailer.

Final Thoughts

A classic slasher has been given the special edition treatment it deserves on DVD. While a commentary and featurette may not seem much by today's standards, both are highly enjoyable and Friday fans are sure to enjoy them. If there's any complaint on the extras, it's that Tom Savini wasn't involved.

This is the first and only uncut presentation of Friday the 13th on DVD. The only downfall to this DVD is the fact that the transfer is inferior to Paramount's Region 1 DVD (this Warner DVD scored a B-, whereas the Paramount DVD scored an A-). Fans need to decide if they're willing to accept the inferior transfer to get both an uncut presentation and some nice special edition content. Of course, one can always hope Paramount's now-promised future Friday the 13th special edition DVDs will have a superior transfer, an uncut presentation, and some nice extras. That's a pretty tall order for Paramount, however. And the fact is, this DVD is here and now. Warner UK deserves our support for putting out a nice special edition. Hopefully they have foreign distribution rights for the Friday sequels and will continue releasing more special editions.

This DVD can be picked up for around $20.00 from Xploited Cinema, making it a no-brainer purchase for all Friday the 13th fans.

Rating

Movie - B+
Image Quality - B-
Sound - C
Supplements - B

Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Rated 18
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • English Mono
  • Arabic, Bulgarian, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Romanian, Spanish subtitles

Supplements
  • Commentary with cast and crew
  • Featurette
  • Theatrical trailer

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