Russo Rating: Part One 8/10, Part Two 5/10, Part three 4/10
In the thirties, the Universal monsters fascinated audiences seeking thrills. In the sixties and seventies, the monsters from the Hammer Horror pictures captured their imagination. In the eighties, a new generation of monsters emerged from the minds of ambitious, young filmmakers. Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, Leatherface and Jason Voorhees have become equally important staples of the horror genre. Starting as low budget pictures, these franchise characters have transcended their films and spawned impressive series that set the rules for the modern slasher.
In the case of Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th, the immense popularity of the franchise’s juggernaut, Jason, has skewed the character’s actual history in the minds of the populace. Guess what? That new Michael Bay produced entry into the series due out on the 13th of this month is not a remake. That’s right, Jason as we have come to know him was not actually in the original Friday the 13th. In fact the supernatural killer didn’t even dawn the trademark hockey mask until the third installment.
To help get audiences prepared for the franchise’s latest installment, a new BluRay release of the original classic, and remastered DVD reissues of its two follow ups should help clear up any confusion concerning Jason Voorhees cinematic history. The first two discs are equipped with brand new retrospective features concerning the making of the film and its legacy, and the third comes with 3D glasses, taking advantage of the picture’s cheesy three-dimensional effects.
The first film, by far the best and most creative of the three, certainly shows its age in 1080p, but even its shoddy lighting doesn’t stop Tom Savini’s effects from looking masterful. Steve Miner’s two sequels are infinitely inferior, even with Jason lurking around, however they do mark important steps in the character’s history, most notably his unstoppable presence and how he acquired his trademark look.
It is easy to see how and why the Friday the 13th franchise continues to resonate with audiences, thanks to Jason’s place as one of popular culture’s favorite monsters. Whether or not Paramount will be able to again resurrect the franchise remains to be seen, but until another group of talented filmmakers can shake up the genre and introduce a new era, it sure will be fun to watch Camp Crystal Lake’s longest resident put his machete to good use on a new batch of victims.