This month’s Friday the 13th takes place right before Valentine’s Day, and I’m not ashamed to admit this, but I may just be love with the documentaries of Daniel Farrands. The man has provided me with 10 hours’ worth of pure entertainment. In 2010, he directed Never Sleep Again, a 4-hour retrospective on the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Last year, Freddy celebrated his 30th birthday and Never Sleep Again was and still is playing on Netflix, and was reviewed by yours truly for this site.
2010 was ironically the 30-year anniversary of Sean S. Cunningham‘s original Friday the 13th and the birth of the Jason Voorhees mythology. Taking from Peter M. Bracke’s 2006 epic book Crystal Lake Memories, which featured over 200 interviews and 600 photos from the franchise, Farrands wrote and directed the documentary of the same name in 2013. Whereas Never Sleep Again was 4 hours for the 8 Nightmare films, Crystal Lake Memories, like Jason’s death count, would have to be bigger and bloodier.
What Farrands delivers in the total tour-de-force, an over 6 (!) hour lovefest to Jason, his mother, and all their young, nubile victims. Clocking it at 400 minutes, this documentary will answer every question, reveal every truth, and leave no stone unturned. With 12 films and a TV series from the 1980 original to the 2009 remake, each of them gets fair and equal treatment with as many cast and crew member as possible showing up to add their takes on the Friday franchise.
Here are some of the coolest moments and takeaways from 6-plus hours of Jason-fueled gore:
-If you ever thought Jason was a bit like another pale masked silent killer, well”¦ YOU’RE RIGHT! Sean Cunningham, the original director, admits to basically ripping off Halloween.
-If you ever wondered how the heck Jason actually survived drowning as a boy, YOU’RE NOT ALONE! Turns out many producers, actors, and execs all wondered that as Part 2 was being discussed. The “borrowing” from classic horror films continued, with the burlap sack being an homage to The Town the Dreaded Sundown (1976), and the shish-kebab death taken almost frame by frame from Mario Bava’s Twitch of the Death Nerve (1971).
-There is still an open controversy as to who played the “real” Jason in Part 2 as two actors split the duty.
-Frank Mancuso Jr. is great throughout as he was the original producer’s son and grows to be the driving force behind all the films until Part 8.
-The timeline of the films is totally wonky with half the movies taking place on Saturday the 14th, Sunday the 15th, and random other days years later. Of course this doesn’t include Jason X, which takes place 400 years in the future.
-Part 4 had a lot of anxious moments between Jason (Ted White) and 11-year-old Corey Feldman. White also threatened to leave the set several times because he felt director Joe Zito was putting his actors in jeopardy.
-Part 5 was helmed by a porn director (Danny Steinmann) who followed the idea of putting a death scene or jump scare in every 8-9 minutes.
-Feldman (who narrated and is featured in interviews) claims Steven Spielberg “screwed him over” by bringing him into The Goonies and costing him a major role in Part 5.
-Part 6 (my favorite) was intended to be totally self-referential and has tons of random places and characters named for famous horror directors and actors. Director Tom McLoughlin also comes across as a totally cool guy he was an original ending planned for Jason Lives where we see Jason’s father(!!!).
-Part 7 was supposed to be Freddy vs. Jason, but the rights were all screwed up and so they went with Jason vs. “Carrie” instead.
-Director Jon Carl Buechler says, and I quote, “The MPAA raped my movie!” This is in keeping with stories dating back to the original about how the MPAA continually held them up for more and more cuts of the films due to gore, violence, and sex. Most of the cut footage ended up destroyed.
-Everyone raves about Kane Hodder. One story involves how Hodder, who had been seriously burned on a previous movie, did a full body burn at the end of Part 7.
-Everyone laughingly acknowledges Part 8 is a total dud, from the hilariously illogical set pieces to the fact that they ended up in Manhattan for only 10 minutes in a movie called Jason Takes Manhattan. That time though, especially the Time Square scenes, are Kane Hodder’s favorites.
-Again, the acknowledgment that Part 9 (JGTH) is totally absurd (John D. Lemay claims to have had no clue what the plot was), director Adam Marcus talks about how when Sean Cunningham came back, he hated the hockey mask (which makes sense since his original movie had no real Jason character).
-Everyone assumed we’d finally get Freddy vs. Jason after that with them both at New Line, but things stalled which is why Jason X was green-lighted. They discuss other franchises that jumped the shark in space, and also bring up the impact Scream had on Jason X’s script re-writes.
–Freddy vs. Jason went through about 5 MILLION scripts, directors, re-writes, changes, etc, and Jeff Katz brings up his Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash comic series.
-You end up feeling really bad for Kane Hodder who was Jason from 1987 – 2001 campaigning all the while for Freddy vs. Jason and then he was replaced at the last minute for Ken Kirzinger because”¦ he’s taller.
-The reboot, every one admits, was basically a “Reader’s Digest” version of the originals, specifically 1-4. Derek Mears is SOOO EXCITED to play Jason, it’s adorable how cheery the 6’7 300-pound man gets.
Granted, it’ll probably take you a few nights to get through the 2 discs and 6+ hours, but it is worth going along with Farrands on the journey. If you love the movies, the Jason character, or simply the horror genre, it is a can’t-miss documentary. They pull no punches, kick over every stone, and peek under hockey mask. It’s truly an amazing labor of love for movies that don’t often get the recognition they deserve. Having now completed epic sets on ’80s icons Jason and Freddy, I am now begging Farrands to make the definitive Halloween retrospective. He did pen the script to Halloween 6, so anything is possible.
Crystal Lake Memories, it’s available on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack on Amazon for only $22.99, while the book by Peter M. Brache is also available on Amazon. And don’t be upset if you don’t already own these, as you can order them now in time for the next Friday The 13th day coming this March”¦ Ki Ki Ki”¦ Ma Ma Ma”¦