14 February 2009

DVD: "Friday the 13th"

Friday the 13th
Produced and Directed by Sean S. Cunningham
Written by Victor Miller
Starring: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Jeannine Taylor, Robbi Morgan, Kevin Bacon, Harry Crosby, Laurie Bartham, Mark Nelson
DVD Release Date: 19 October 1999
MPAA Rating: R
List Price: $14.99, Currently Out of Print
Cinescope Personality Type: Destined Hunter

Originally released in 1980, I have gone my entire life without ever seeing any from this series until last night.  To be honest, it wasn't even the fact it was the 13th on a Friday, or even that the new remake opened theatrically last night that prompted me to finally sit down with this cult favorite.  Rather, a tribute episode of Psych that aired last night was responsible for "putting me in the mood."

The Film
The production was clearly a low-budget product of its time.  In case you're unfamiliar with the premise, twenty years prior to the film several people died at Camp Crystal Lake, forcing its closure.  Now, it's being reopened and on 13 June (a Friday) as the counselors work to repair the facility they are stalked.  Who and why is probably common knowledge by now, but for the nine other people like myself who had never seen this, I'll not spoil anything.  The effects fall into the category of "Imaginative but largely unconvincing," especially the climactic act of violence.  Still, I embarrassedly confess that I could not help but talk to the TV at several points and that's generally regarded as proof positive that a slasher thriller has reached its audience.  Will the 2009 update have realistic effects?  I'm sure it does, but I doubt it retains the near-documentarian feel of the original.

The only thing on the DVD aside from the film is the trailer.  I'm glad I watched it after the film, because the entire trailer is nothing more than an out-of-sequence compilation of all the death scenes!  I have never seen a more spoiler-laden trailer, and I confess to being not only surprised, but disappointed by that.  Coinciding with the 2009 remake, Paramount has discontinued this release and supplanted it with an uncut, unrated edition with special features.

The Recommendation
Friday the 13th won't keep anyone awake (at least, no one old enough they should see a movie like this in the first place), but it is entertaining.  Ultimately, that's all I think anyone asks a slasher film to be, and it's obvious why this has long been a fan favorite.  This discontinued edition recently turned up in Walmart's $5 section, and you can likely find it for that or less now that the new edition is on the market.

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