Friday the 13th (1980)
Audio Commentary-Sean S. Cunningham (Producer / Director) & Peter Brackey
Featurette-Making Of-Return To Crystal Lake
|Year Of Production||1980|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4,5||Directed By||Sean Cunningham|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
|Smoking||Yes, and mild drug use|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Friday The 13th almost single-handedly created the slasher sub-genre of horror films. Thanks to some clever pre-marketing by the director, the low-budget independent film was picked up for distribution by Paramount and released to an unsuspecting American public on Friday the 13th of June, 1980. It achieved massive box-office success, raking in tens of millions of dollars versus its paltry half-million dollar budget. Warner Brothers picked up the distribution rights for overseas markets and, until now, had chosen not to release the movie on DVD in Region 4. At long last it is now available, much to the delight of its legion of fans I am sure. Well, the wait is over...so was it worth it?
For those unfamiliar with the slight plot, the story centres on the grisly fate of a group of teenage Summer Camp counsellors in New Jersey. Camp Crystal Lake has been closed for many years, following a series of tragic events including a drowning, a double murder and some fatal fires. The locals scorn the place and have even given it a nickname - Camp Blood. It is now under new management however, and the current owner, Steve Christy (Peter Browner), is determined to re-open the camp for the summer. To achieve this, he enlists the help of a group of teenagers who will serve as cooks, events coordinators and counsellors.
The string of tragic deaths at the camp over the past twenty years are, unbeknownst to all, related. The group of counsellors soon realise to their cost that somebody out there does not want to see the camp back in business. During the course of one stormy night, the teenagers are stalked and killed, one by one.
That's about the top and bottom of it. There is virtually no character development and little in the way of a cohesive plot until all is revealed in the final reel - this is fairly typical for the genre of movie which it helped define. The attraction of Friday The 13th lay in the horrifyingly vivid death scenes, with each of the teens meeting a uniquely gruesome demise. The young actors, including Kevin Bacon in his first leading role, and Bing Crosby's son Harry generally acquit themselves pretty well, given that they were often handed the finished pages of script on the day of shooting. Other than the special make-up effects (my personal favourite is Bacon's surprise meeting with an arrow), the most notable feature of this film has to be the highly evocative soundtrack. Pretty much anyone who has seen this film will be able to mimic the haunting signature sound effects as the killer hides in the shadows.
Friday The 13th came about simply because the director of the film (Sean Cunningham) needed some cash, so he set about looking for the latest success in US movie theatres so he could emulate it. As it happened, John Carpenter's Halloween was enjoying huge popularity so he decided to make a horror film. Cunningham and writer Victor Miller then thought up the basic storyline, recruited a bunch of largely unknown actors and headed out to film at a Boy Scout camp in New Jersey. Over the course of 4 weeks of shooting, they created what was to be regarded as a modern horror classic and (almost inadvertently) spawned one of the genre's most enduring characters - Jason Voorhees.
Whilst Friday The 13th is no longer particularly scary, it does still hold a place in the heart of most horror fans. It is a child of its time, and the special effects, whilst innovative for their day, have been surpassed by the subsequent advances in prosthetics, animatronics and of course CGI. Nevertheless, this is an iconic film that, along with (the much better) Halloween reinvented the horror genre. There are now many far better scary movies to choose from - Scream and Final Destination 2 are a couple of more recent stand-outs for me, but they both owe a debt of gratitude to this low-budget baby. This will be a must-buy disc for fans and those completists wishing to own the whole series of "Jason" vehicles.
The video quality of this transfer is surprisingly good, although it is not without its problems.
The video is presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.78:1 which is marginally altered from the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1.
The dark scenes show solid blacks with no low level noise evident. Shadow detail is a little limited however, and the screen frequently descends into impenetrable darkness rather more quickly than I would like. There is some minor grain apparent, particularly in some of the darker scenes, but overall it is not at all annoying. Colours are cleanly rendered and I was pleasantly surprised by how bright they are after 23 years. The red truck and green fields at 12:30 and the petrol pump at 7:00 for example, are both as bright as a button. There is no evidence of colour bleeding. Skin tones are natural for the duration.
The transfer has no major MPEG artefacts. There was a hint of edge enhancement on occasion, but it was never distracting. Aliasing can occasionally be seen (the telephone cables at 6:32, the shirt at 26:13 or the boats at 31:18 for example) but it doesn't ever become annoying. When viewed in progressive scan these instances of aliasing all but disappear.
Film artefacts are present almost continuously, but they are almost always very minor white flecks or brief scratches and can quite easily be overlooked. There are a couple of occasions where the film appears to drop a frame or two (for example at 7:51 and 37:16). I assume this is a problem with the source material rather than the transfer process.
The English subtitles are well timed and very easy to read. They follow the dialogue (and even minor sound effects such as a radio announcement in the opening "present-day" scenes) closely and miss a very few words for the sake of brevity.
This disc is dual layered, but as I could not spot the layer change on my system, I assume it may be placed between the main feature and the extras.
The overall audio transfer is surprisingly clean given its age, with only a few minor flaws.
The English audio track is presented in the original Dolby Digital 1.0 (mono) encoded at 192 kbps. Whilst it is not going to challenge your home theatre speakers much, it is satisfactory with only a very little hiss evident during some quieter scenes. I noted no significant clicks, pops or dropouts. Dialogue is always clear and audio sync was fine with only one minor lapse noticed at 11:12.
The original music is credited to Harry Manfredini and is unforgettable for the sound effect (ki-ki-ki, ma-ma-ma - really, watch the extras!) heard when the killer is at large, rather than the music itself.
The sound is relayed through the centre speaker only. There is some minor distortion present on occasion and the music with its archetypal stabbing strings is sometimes a little harsh sounding, but overall it will not offend.
The surround channels and subwoofer are confirmed dead on arrival.
|Surround Channel Use|
The extras available on this disc are few, but reasonably substantial for fans.
The main menu is a static and silent drawing of the killer's silhouette. It allows the selection of playing the movie, choosing one of twenty-seven chapter stops, language and subtitle options and access to the following special features:
Running for 2:17 and presented 16x9 enhanced in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.
This is not scene-specific, and features various members of the cast and crew talking about horror films in general and the origins of this movie in particular. It is clear and fairly interesting, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 192 kbps.
This important extra runs for 22:04 and features recent interview footage with Cunningham, Miller and a couple of the actors. Interestingly, it transpires that Adrienne King (who played Alice in the movie) attracted her very own real-life stalker, which largely put an end to her film career. The featurette is entitled Return to Crystal Lake. Making Friday The 13th and is presented fullscreen (1.33:1) with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.
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NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 (Paramount) version of this movie appears to be on a pretty bare bones disc, which is in DVD 5 format. The Region 2 (Warner) version of Friday The 13th is due for release on 29th September, 2003 and the press release apparently says it is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Given that our local disc is coded for Regions 2, 4 and 5, I doubt this. Why not buy the Region 4 and show some support for a local release?
Friday The 13th is a classic slasher movie, finally released in Region 4 on DVD. Whilst it holds few scares for a modern audience, it is good to see this iconic feature finally available on our favourite format. Most horror fans will have seen this movie, or one of its multitudinous (and generally inferior) sequels. The main attraction for fans will be the opportunity to complete the set of Jason vehicles. Jason himself does not play a major role here, but this is where it all began for the boy in the hockey mask. A must-buy for fans, and an interesting trip down memory lane for those of a certain age.
The video quality is surprisingly good, albeit with a few age and budget-related problems.
The audio transfer is adequate, with some truly memorable sound effects.
The extras are few, but are of historical importance to fans of the film or horror flicks in general.
|DVD||Harmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output|
|Display||Panasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES|
|Speakers||JensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer|