Paramount Home Video
Cast: Kevin Bacon, Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, Mark Nelson
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes, Trailer
Many times the 1980 cult classic that defined the horror genre every bit as much as films such as "Dawn of the Dead" and "Halloween" did, has been released on DVD, but here now, for the first time, is the original "Friday The 13th" in high definition. Well, hello… not a chance that I would want to miss that!
Since every horror fan is familiar with the story of the Summer Camp at Crystal Lake that is sought out by a terror, slashing its way through teenagers as a sort of a ghoulish revenge, I will stay away from a more detailed summary of the film. Even if you haven't seen the film in a while, revisiting the story will be half the fun.
"Friday The 13th" has become iconic in the wake of the 80s horror resurgence and has helped take the genre to a new level at the time. Despite the fact that it was a low budget production with an unknown cast at the time – including a young Kevin Bacon in one of his first movies – the film managed to captivate and terrify audiences and even now, almost 30 years later, it is still easy to see, why. The story may be dated and formulaic – keep in mind, though, that this is the film that established the formula – and some of the moments may seem awkwardly silly, but overall, the tone of the film, its atmosphere of dread is unbroken. When the handicam becomes the point of view of the villain and peeks from behind bushes or stalks his victims, there is a super-claustrophobic sense of inevitability and inescapability that makes this film a truly suspenseful roller coaster.
Now coming to high definition on this "Uncut" Blu-Ray Disc, Paramount Home Entertainment now allows viewers to see the film in its entire glory, including scenes that were previously excised for American audiences. I have to admit that I was very pleasantly surprised when I popped in this disc. Despite its age and the dated color palette, the transfer itself is absolutely breath-taking. Not a single blemish mars the transfer and the level of grain is also at a minimum. While you would be ready to accept a mediocre image quality from a low budget indie horror flick from 30 years ago, "Friday The 13th" begs to differ and offers a transfer that is instead nicely detailed and well defined. It is the image detail that helps elevate the transfer despite the fact that black levels are somewhat weak at times. The color palette has a pastel tone to it and yet manages to pull off some truly magnificent tones, especially in the forest scenes, where the lush spring greens make you forget in an instant about the film's production limits. So, despite it's limits, this transfer is absolutely wonderful and doesn't disappoint this reviewer.
The disc also offers up a Dolby Digital 5.1 TrueHD audio track, which makes the best of the material. It has been cleaned up and expanded in both its frequency response and dynamic range. The result is a chilling presentation with piercing screams and bone-chilling violin staccati. Surrounds are put to good use – not overly aggressive, but effective enough to give you a sense of direction and ambient surrounds.
In addition to this great feature presentation, the disc also contains a series of bonus materials, such as a commentary track featuring director Sean Cunningham with cast and crew members. Also included is the high definition featurette "Fresh Cuts," offering up a look at this new version of the film.
In "The Man Behind The Legacy" we're offered up at Sean Cunningham and the impact of his film on the horror genre, while "Secrets Galore Behind The Gore" takes a look at Tom Savini's make-up FX work that is being put on display in the movie. "The Friday The 13th Chronicles" are also part of the release, as well as a cast reunion and "Lost Tales From Camp Blood."
"Friday The 13th" is every bit as timeless as "Halloween" and other horror films of the time. Sadly copied ad nauseam and wrangled by an endless franchise in a downward spiral, the movie has nonetheless outlasted trends and fads and still stands out as a major accomplishment of the genre. On this Blu-Ray Disc you now have the chance to witness the horror like you never have before – uncut and in super gory high definition. Go get it!