Friday the 13th: The Complete Collection Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
I don't want to scare anyone, but I'm going to give it to you straight about Jason...
For decades, audiences have thrilled to the cinematic killing spree of the man behind the mask. A low budget horror film created to ride the financial tail of Halloween lived on to inspire nine direct sequels, a crossover movie with A Nightmare on Elm Street, and a recent remake that brought in more box office than the other sequels combined. For years, fans have sought a release of the entire collection in one box set and now... Warner delivers with Friday the 13th: The Complete Collection.
Friday the 13th: The Complete Collection arrives in a nifty black tin box with both the image of Jason holding a machete and the lettering in the title being raised. The back features a peaceful Crystal Lake dock and the inside cover offers a glimpse of a screaming victim (from the remake). Inside, the discs are housed in a book featuring artwork and images from the corresponding films. The discs are housed in cardboard sleeves that may scratch, so you will want to transfer them into standard cases.
The first four films each receive individual Blu-ray discs while the next six are presented as double features on three discs. The last two movies are given single title presentations for a total of nine Blu-rays. Fans that purchased the DVD box set From Crystal Lake to Manhattan (2004) will recognize the inclusion of a DVD labeled "Killer Extras" that returns in this new collection.
There is a nice 40-page reproduction booklet of Peter Bracke's excellent Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th. Filled with glossy photos and lots of information, anyone that hasn't picked up the full sized hardback will want to do so, especially after checking out this teaser.
Another nice touch is the inclusion of a Camp Crystal Lake Counselor iron on patch. It really is pretty slick and a nice treat.
Two pairs of red/ blue anaglyph 3D glasses are included for watching Part III.
An Ultra-Violet code (expiring September 2015) has been included for watching these films on the go.
Upon opening the box, the discs and all the physical goodies are wrapped in an elastic wristband bearing Crazy Ralph's dubious warning! These little touches are really cool ideas and I am glad they are trying to please fans.
Video and Audio:
In 2009, Paramount released the first three films on Blu-ray and now Warner has simply swapped out disc artwork to match the others in the collection. Menus, audio and video specs and special features are all the exact same as those previously released.
While time has not been equally friendly across the board, this is the best these films are likely going to look without a full restoration.
All of the films are presented in the original aspect ratios which is 1.78:1 for the majority. Three films were shot widescreen 2.35:1 (Part III, Freddy VS. Jason and Friday the 13th (2009)) and they receive equally strong representation. The more recent titles are obviously going to look better but the older sequels may surprise you.
Friday the 13th (1980) appears to have received the most attention of the earlier films and looks quite nice for its age and budget. The print is in fine shape and features strong colors with natural looking flesh tones and decent contrast levels. This is the uncut version that was originally released by Warner Brothers in foreign markets.
The Paramount sequels (Part 2 through Jason Takes Manhattan) have each undergone a nice boost in color and black levels with minor instances of dirt, scratches and print damage in each. The image is much stronger than all previous versions as one would expect and fans will not be disappointed.
Moving on to the New Line titles, these films have a stronger picture transfer as the oldest of the materials is only twenty years old. Jason Goes to Hell debuts with the usual high marks for picture and sound expected from the format, but it is still the disappointing edited cut of the film. Jason X looks like a million bucks with a crisp and clean transfer that is surprising in its clarity. Freddy VS. Jason and the Friday the 13th remake have both received earlier Blu-ray releases and this appears to be the same impressive presentation for each. The remake is the exact same disc as before.
Each film kicks in with a default DTS-HD MA 5.1 track that is plenty active with nice use of directional sound effects in the frequently wooded environments. The surrounds get some love but the majority of the action remains front heavy and a little light on bass until you get to the more recent New Line titles (Jason Goes to Hell, Jason X, Freddy VS. Jason* and the 2009 remake). Purists will be happy with the inclusion of the original mono tracks for the older titles are offered here in DTS-HD MA 2.0. English subtitles are provided on all.
* While it is unfortunate that this release did not update the first three discs, Warner has gone back to punch up the audio on their previously available Freddy VS. Jason, expanding the range from 5.1 to a more dynamic 6.1 mix.
Click image to enlarge.
There is quite a bit of content to be found on these discs, but sadly it has all been seen before. Warner has done a fine job assembling the majority of the supplements from both the 2004 and 2009 Paramount releases, but does not add any new content for this one. Sadly, Part 2 and III suffer the most in this regard. Had everything been ported over from the earlier releases, the difficult-to-please fans would more likely cut them some slack since they could have freed up some shelf space by having everything in one "complete collection". I am not slighting Warner for standing on Paramount's shoulders here as honestly the supplements are generally pretty awesome, with a few minor exceptions.
I will take issue with what has been left out however, starting with the uncut version of Jason Goes to Hell. All earlier format releases contained the unrated print and the DVD offered both versions. The R-rated edition is missing not just a matter of seconds, but four full minutes of content! Fans have begged for uncensored versions of these movies for decades and the first one that was readily available is missing here? Sloppy move, guys. By omitting this print we also lose the commentary track that accompanied the DVD.
Also missing are the commentary tracks from Part III and Part VII: The New Blood that appeared on the 2004 DVD box set.
There... I got that out of my system and am finished complaining. That's right... 85% guarantee, no more complaints. Let's move on to what is included.
In 2009, Paramount released collector's editions of the first eight films on DVD. The discs were loaded with special features and these are the same ones ported over here. While those discs offer fans just about everything they could want, there was a definite improvement on content quality that started chronologically with The Final Chapter and continued through Jason Takes Manhattan.
Starting things out, the majority of the films have at least one audio commentary track (except for Part 2 and III, which get nothing). Each one features the director with a few members of the cast or crew and all are entertaining. The Final Chapter includes a bonus "fan commentary" with filmmakers Adam Green (Hatchet) and Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2). Multiple commentaries also appear on Jason Lives and Jason Takes Manhattan as the directors recorded solo tracks for the 2004 DVD box set.
Slashed Scenes is a look at the workprint footage of the excised material for parts 4, 6, 7 and 8. The original film elements have been lost or destroyed and these video dupes are all that remains. Picture quality is less than good, but it is nice to see what was too shocking for my eyes around thirty years ago.
All of the films receive a short "Making of" featurette that clock in around 15 minutes each and contain a general overview of the individual productions. Jason Goes to Hell is excluded from this however, and only receives a short collection of alternate footage intended for television audiences.
Freddy VS. Jason and the Friday the 13th remake contain all previous supplements from their earlier releases, including documentaries and on-set video journals. Unlike Jason Goes to Hell, the remake features both the theatrical and extended "Killer Cut" of the film, but despite the extended running time, both versions are Rated R.
The "Killer Extras" DVD (from 2004) offers additional interviews with assorted cast and crew members. There is a pair of multi-part featurettes titled The Friday the 13th Chronicles and Secrets Galore Behind the Gore. These interviews discuss different aspects of specific films, but are also included on the corresponding Blu-ray in this set; making this disc somewhat redundant. There are additional goodies to found here, including additional talking head pieces Tales from the Cutting Room and Crystal Lake Victims Tell All. There is also a relatively self-explanatory piece called Friday Artifacts and Collectibles. The original trailers for the first eight films are included both here and on their Blu-ray counterparts.
The least welcome supplement included is the rambling six part fan film, Lost Tales from Camp Blood. Had this been a short flick included on one disc and was actually entertaining, I would appreciate its inclusion here. Unfortunately, the uninspired amateur hour production eats up disc space across six legitimate features. Glad Paramount couldn't assemble any relevant supplements to Friday the 13th Part 2!
Less frustrating, but just barely... we also get The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited, a three-part mockumentary set in the world where the murders took place. Again, a nice idea and hats off for trying, but keep it limited to one short piece on a single disc.
Whew! That's a lot of good stuff included here and even though it's all been seen before, it is nice to have it all in one box set. Yes, they could have created new content instead of simply licensing all the work Paramount did for their special features... but they didn't have to include any of it either. Not everything made the cut this time, but a proper Blu-ray 3D release of Part III may be released in the future There is no way to please everybody, but Warner has managed a pretty spectacular collection for their first bite at the apple.
Friday the 13th is a franchise that has endured for more than thirty years with little sign of stopping. The series has launched twelve films between two major studios, lines of merchandising; including video games and action figures, an unrelated television series and countless cinematic imitators. The movies have been the punchline for journalists and critics for years and yet audiences continue to grow. Warner licensed the rights to the Paramount titles in order to present this mammoth collection on Blu-ray. While not the home run longtime fans had hoped for, this is the most affection these films have received in years. Do yourself a favor and pick this up so you are prepared when the calendar delivers the next Friday the 13th!