Friday the 13th: The Ultimate Collection (DVD Review)

In the horror genre, upstart sub-genres may come and go—you’ve got “torture-porn”, “zombies”, “vampires”, “werewolves”, “Olsen Twins Musicals”, and many more—but the “slasher” sub-genre will always reign supreme.  Indeed, when one thinks of “horror”, one generally thinks of characters like Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees, Leatherface, and Michael Meyers (the stabby one, not the Shrek one).  Recently, Paramount released a somewhat-limited-edition “Ultimate Collection” for Jason’s Friday The 13th series, and fans of the long-running franchise might be interested to know that the Friday The 13th Ultimate Collection might be the best gift for the slasher-horror fan in your life this Christmas.  I mean, nevermind all these extras (and the 8 films the boxed set comes packaged with).  Instead, imagine the joy that finding a (slightly-scaled down) Jason mask under the Christmas tree will inspire.  If that doesn’t shriek “Happy Holidays!”, I dunno what does. 


The Films 

When this massive boxed set arrived on my porch, I took a long look through its many bells and whistles, and something became obvious to me very quickly:  there was no way that I was going to have the time to get through every square inch of this set.  Sure, I’ve seen all the Friday The 13th films over the years, but—in between Thanksgiving, travel, and this ongoing “Invent a Perpetual Motion Machine/Wafflemaker” project I’ve got brewing—time wasn’t going to allow me to rewatch every one of these films.  The set’s total running time comes out to something like 14 hours, and the bonus features alone might double that run-time.  I took a few stabs (no pun intended) at coming up with a gameplan for reviewing this massive set, and then I struck on one that I think will satisfy everyone:  we’re going to spend most of our time here discussing the set’s special features.

You don’t really want me to regurgitate the Friday The 13th mythos, do you?  Even if you’re a casual fan of this series, you know—for the most part—how each of the films plays out:  teenagers meet Jason, Jason kills teenagers, the end.  A few of the entries (particularly parts 4 and 5) try to change things up a little by giving Jason an adversary (that’d be little Tommy Jarvis, played initially by none other than Corey Feldman)(!!!), but when you get right down to brass tacks…that’s really what this series is about.  For my money, the Friday The 13th series has never wielded the charm—not to mention the frequently surreal imagery– of the Nightmare on Elm Street series, and so it’s always been my second-favorite slasher franchise.  That said, this boxed set wipes the floor with the Nightmare on Elm Street boxed set that I’ve got sitting on my shelf.

Most of that has to do with the film’s packaging, its presentation, and the obvious passion for the franchise that whoever-put-this-together possesses.  We’ll get to the majority of the special features in the “Special Features” section of this review, but let’s address some of set’s more charming (and less charming) aspects up front.  For instance, the set includes a small, lovingly detailed reproduction of Jason’s mask.  It sits in the “front” of the box, looking through a clear-plastic “window”, so that—once you’ve got it on your shelf—you can have Jason’s creepy visage starting down at you whenever you like.  The quality of the mask is impressive, though it is a tad disappointing that it’s not to scale.  Oh, well:  I may not be able to wear it, but my dog looks terrifying with it on.

The set is also numbered, as Paramount produced a (somewhat) limited number of copies.  Mine’s #12,365 out of 50,000, and I’d be jazzed to own such a snazzy bit of memorabilia if the kinda-sorta-chintzy plastic box hadn’t shattered on its way to my porch:  the plastic box the set comes in is fragile, as the “walls” are extremely thin.  If you pick one of these up, be sure not to, y’know, toss it around like a football (or to stare at it too hard, for that matter).

Inside the box, there’s a thick, binder-like “book” containing all 8 of the Friday The 13th films.  “Wait!” you’re saying, “There are more Jason movies than that!”  And, y’know what?  You’re right.  But this set doesn’t contain ‘em.  Say what you will about Jason Goes to Hell, Jason X, or Freddy VS. Jason, but I would’ve been happier to have them included here:  it seems kind of disingenuous to call this Friday The 13th collection the “Ultimate Collection” when it doesn’t contain three of the most recent Friday The 13th films, not to mention the fact that it’s not presented on Blu-ray.  That said, the set does make up for these losses with the extra-special attention it pays to the films that’re here.

For instance:  once you open the “book” inside the box, you’ll see that each of the films is listed—the discs are contained within pages that are actually slip-cases—with a brief synopsis, a series of “Friday Facts” about each film (how much each film made at the box office, for example, or how much each film cost to make; they also bother listing out how many “Kills” each film has, and in what manner they take place), and even a pair of 3D glasses (the old-school kind) in order to watch the 3rd film, which is in old-school red-and-blue 3D.  I promptly lost the pair of 3D glasses that came with the set, because I’m a jackass who doesn’t deserve to have nice things.  You, on the other hand, will probably manage not to smash your case and lose parts of it immediately upon receiving it, and good for you.

Overall, the presentation of the set itself is very impressive, even if the films being celebrated here aren’t the greatest slasher films ever made.  I’m going to slap a 3-star rating on this section, but of course that will vary depending on your love of the films.


Generally, we divide these sections at WhySoBlu, but the sad truth is this:  the set’s DVD, not Blu-ray, so you can expect to watch all of these films in the serviceable format which DVD is known for.  It should be noted that the audio and video are both as crisp as one could hope for (in non-Blu-ray), but that I would’ve been much, much happier to be seeing these in 1080p, especially the 3D third installment.

Special Features 

Here’s where Friday The 13th The Ultimate Collection really shines.  The films are as good or bad as you’ve always thought they were, but there’s no denying that the special features attached to this set are as exhaustive and well-produced as anyone could ever hope for.  We’re going to go through these disc by disc, so go grab a bookmark if you think you’ve got anywhere to be anytime soon.

Disc One:  Friday The 13th Uncut

First disc contains the “uncut” version of the first film (I couldn’t tell the difference, but then, I’m not a Friday The 13th enthusiast), including: a commentary with Director Sean S. Cunningham, the cast, and crew;  “Fresh Cuts:  New tales from Friday The 13th”, a featurette with new(er) interviews with the cast and crew about the making of the film;  a featurette about Cunningham;  a “Friday The 13th Reunion” featurette; the first part of a documentary about the franchise called “Lost Tales From Camp Blood, Part One”; and the theatrical trailer.  Whoo.  That’s just the first disc.

Disc Two:  Friday The 13th Part Two

Disc contains a featurette called “Inside ‘Crystal Lake Memories’”, which is yet another behind-the-scene/callback featurette (prepare yourself for a lot of these;  the set’s packed with ‘em);  the second part of the “Lost Tales From Camp Blood” documentary/retrospective;  a featurette about the franchise’s presence at horror conventions; a featurette titled “Jason Forever” (not about Jason Statham, sadly); and, of course, the theatrical trailer.  Besides the largely-extras-less third installment, this is the lightest-on-special-features disc in the set.  Speaking of which…

Disc Three:  Friday The 13th Part Three, 3D

The disc is 3D, but not the new-school stereoscopic version (side note:  I recently purchased a huge, LED, 3D television, and I cannot recommend owning one enough.  The video quality is second-to-none, and 3D gaming is a blast.  3D movies…eh, I can take ‘em or leave ‘em, but what I have tried out on the set looks incredible), and comes with two pairs of 3D glasses.  There’s also an original theatrical trailer, because, hey, of course there’s gonna be an original theatrical trailer.

Disc Four:  Friday The 13th, The Final Chapter

Who were they kidding with that title?  Pssssh.  Whatta they think we are, suckers?  It’s all the more ridiculous when the “Final Chapter” comes midway through a massive boxed set (that doesn’t even contain every film in the series).  But whatever!  This one’s got a ton of special features, including:  commentary with director Joe Zito (?!), screenwriter Barney Cohen, and editor Joel Goodman;  Fan commentary by Adam Green and Joe Lynch, two directors whose work you may or may not be familiar with (I met ‘em at the Drafthouse the other night;  they’re super-nice);  the fourth part of the “Lost Tales From Camp Blood” doc;  deleted scenes; a 25-years-later featurette about the film;  an alternate ending; “The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited:  Part One”; something called “Jimmy’s Dead Dance Moves” (no, I won’t tell you what that means); and—last but not least—the original theatrical trailer.

Disc Five:  Friday The 13th Part V, A New Beginning

Holy crap, this review is now 1700 words long, and we’re only halfway through it.  Here’s what’s on this disc:  commentary with co-writer/director Danny Steinmann, cast and crew;  “Lost Tales From Camp Blood, Part 5” (note:  I just realized that “Part 3” of this doc isn’t listed on the third disc, but is on there;  don’t worry, they didn’t forget one of the “parts”);  “The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited Part 2”;  a making-of featurette;  and something called “an original theatrical trailer”.  I have no idea what that means.

Disc Six:  Friday The 13th Part VI, Jason Lives

This one’s got the most “Kills” in it (which I know because—like we mentioned above—each “page” in the set’s “book” tells you how many “Kills” each film has;  this one features “death by X-Acto blade, outboard motor, and Jason’s bare hands”)(!!!), and might be one of my favorites of the series.  It’s also—like the other discs here—packed with extras:  commentary by director Tom McLoughlin, cast and crew;  “Lost Tales From Camp Blood Part 6”;  “The Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited Part 3”;  a making-of featurette;  a featurette called “Meeting Mr. Vorhees”, which is exactly what you think it is;  deleted scenes (note:  all “deleted scenes” are referred to in this boxed set as “slashed scenes” because, come on, how clever is that);  and one of those newfangled “original theatrical trailer” thingamajigs.

Disc Seven:  Friday The 13th Part VII, The New Blood

Ye Gods, man.  They really did just keep pumping these out back in the 80’s, didn’t they?  This one’s got commentary from director John Buechler, Kane Hodder, and Lar Park Lincoln;  a making-of featurette;  a featurette about telekinesis (a subject dealt with as brilliantly as you’d expect a Friday The 13th movie to in The New Blood);  a behind-the-scenes featurette about the makeup effects used in the film; and deleted scenes (with intro).  Holy crap!  There’s no original theatrical trailer.  I call shenanigans on this entire set.

Disc Eight:  Friday The 13th Part VIII, Jason Takes Manhattan

This one might just be the all-around worst Friday The 13th movie, but it’s here (but Jason Goes to Hell isn’t?!  Poppycock, I say) with commentary by Scott Reeves, Jensen Daggett, and Kane Hodder;  a making-of featurette;  deleted scenes;  and—inexplicably—a gag reel.  Again, no theatrical trailer, which is a shame, because I seem to remember this one having a somewhat amusing trailer.  Or am I thinking of something else?  Eh, whatever.

The overall effect here—as you might be able to guess—is “exhaustingly awesome”.  This set contains virtually every scrap of “special feature” that’s ever been released on a Friday The 13th disc, from special edition DVD’s to laser-discs.  If you’re a Jason-nut, you’ll go bananas for what they’ve put together here, and the documentaries—particularly “Lost Tales From Camp Blood” – are really well-produced and worth checking out.

Final Thoughts

Look, I might not be the biggest Friday The 13th fan in the world, but I’ve gotta give credit where credit’s due:  this is a fantastic, all-inclusive, well-produced set with some really cool bells and whistles.  I think that, even with the obvious omission of several key Jason Vorhees films, the set’s a winner, owing mainly to the ridiculously elaborate packaging (everything from the mask to the limited edition-ness to the “Kill” counts for each film).  If you know someone who’s a big-ass slasher film enthusiast, I have no doubt that they’ll be overjoyed to receive one of these sets for Christmas this year (or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or whatever:  Jason’s an equal-opportunity slasher).  Very impressive work done by Paramount here, so much so that I can’t help but feel that the gauntlet’s been thrown down for New Line to do something similar for the Nightmare on Elm Street series.  Where’s my scale-reproduction of Freddy’s glove, New Line?  Until that arrives, I’m declaring Friday The 13th the king of the Ultimate Edition boxed sets.


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