His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th (DVD)
Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Starring various cast, crew & fans of the Friday the 13th films
Directed by Dan Farrands
Released by Anchor Bay Home Entertainment
30 fucking years. I really can’t believe that a masked killer named Jason Voorhees has been tearing up the cinema for almost 30 years now, but believe it I must; I have the DVD to prove it, goddamn it! His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th will likely go down as the definitive word on any and all things Friday the 13th, and rightfully so. To call this DVD extensive is the very definition of understatement.
The feature itself is hosted by makeup effects master Tom Savini, who intros the various segments of the documentary while following an intended victim through a run-down looking cabin (actually the set of Camp Blood maze at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights). The documentary then follows the entire 11-film series through it’s various incarnations, from the first film to Freddy Vs. Jason and, eventually, the Friday the 13th remake that made this disc possible in the fist place.
It would be impossible, or at the very least incredibly time consuming, to name off everyone who is interviewed for this doc (they had a grand total of 95 peopel), but I can tell you all the Jasons are here, a ton of his victims, and every director of a Friday film save two; Steve Miner and Ronny Yu. Also absent are the writers for either Part II or III, both of which Miner directed. I have no idea why they’re not here, especially considering all the drama surrounding Part III, but they’re absence is more than made up for by the plethora of victims, survivors and fans who make up the rest of the opinions herein.
Fans, lets talk about them for a minute, shall we? The guys who made His Name Was Jason wisely realized that while it’s all well and good to hear from the people who made the Friday films, a look at how influential the series is wouldn’t be complete without talking to those who it actually influenced. Most notable to us, of course, is our own Uncle Creepy, who doesn’t see much screentime in the doc itself but does have two bonus features almost to himself. Ryan Rotten of Shock Till You Drop, Staci Wilson of Horror.com, Rob G and Mike C from Icons of Fright Tony Timpone from Fangoria and Brad Miska from Bloody Disgusting make up the rest of the online horror geeks who get their moments to shine, talking about just how much Friday the 13th shaped the kind of bizarre people they are today.
We also get a heavy dose of Hatchet helmer Adam Green and Wrong Turn 2 director Joe Lynch, who provide some of the funniest bits, not to mention a random assortment of people with ties to the franchise, like the Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash comic creator and Crystal Lake Memories author Peter Bracke. And that’s really only a few of the people they talk to that aren’t directly connected to the films.
My only real complaint about the doc overall is how much they overly examine Jason Voorhees and why he does what he does. To me it’s kinda ridiculous how deeply some of these interviewees look into a story about a boy who was drowned then came back as an adult and killed people similar to those who allowed him to drown. I know they have to have some variety to fill the hour and a half run time, I just wish they didn’t try and make it so damn serious.
The overall feature is still fun and informative, though, but you get the feeling there was some potential gold that was looked over for the sake of relaying “facts”. But no fear; what the feature is lacking, the DVD extras more than make up for!
On disc one we have “The Men Behind the Mask”, a featurette that consists of the full interviews with everyone who embodied the Jason persona, from Ari Leehman to Derek Mears. It’s enjoyable and interesting to see each actors take on the character. Yes, even Ari’s.
All right, on to disc two! First up is “Final Cuts”, an hour + compilation of the interviews done with all the Friday directors, save Steve Miner and Ronny Yu who didn’t show. For me the coolest, but at the same time saddest, segment is with Jason Goes to Hell director Adam Marcus, who lays out what he would’ve done with Freddy Vs. Jason, and his idea is a helluva lot cooler than what was actually used.
Following that you can listen to all the Friday screenwriters, minus the penners behind Miner’s flicks of course, in “From Script to Screen”. For me the biggest revelation on this one is that Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, who wrote Freddy Vs. Jason (a movie I hate, FYI) actually come off as pretty cool guys. Makes me feel a bit better about the Friday redux, which they also wrote.
Random musings, stalker stories, and Uncle Creepy’s incredibly uplifting and heartfelt speech (I’m only being a little sarcastic) can all be found in “Dragged From the Lake”, an assortment of idea, conjectures and stories revolving around the Friday mythos that didn’t fit into the feature or the other featurettes.
“Fan Films” is exactly what it sounds like; a collection of Friday-inspired shorts including the Angry Nintendo Nerd’s review of the Friday the 13th video game. No real gems here, I’m sad to say, but points are given for trying.
”Friday the 13th in Four Minutes” is, again, exactly what it sounds like; the entire film series broken down by Adam Green, Joe Lynch and our own Uncle Creepy! It’s pretty brilliant, I have to admit. Mad me proud to call these men “friends”.
Director Joseph Zito and star Erich Anderson take you back to the cabin where it all happened in “Closing the Book on The Final Chapter”. It’s a tour around the grounds of the cabin where Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter was made, virtually untouched since 1984, and the duo telling stories about the shoot. Particularly of interest are the anecdotes about Crispin Glover, who apparently was weird even then….
Similarly, “Fox Comes Home” features Gloria Charles, who played Fox in Friday the 13th Part III, showing off the barn where the film’s final showdown takes place, talking about the history of the place and regaling us with stories from the set.
Whew…. Moment to breathe here… Hold, on we’re not done yet!
”Jason Takes Comic Con” is my favorite featurette, since it’s the video interviews our team shot at last year’s San Diego Comic Con chatting up the cast and crew of the upcoming Friday remake. Very cool to see their hard work preserved forever on this DVD, they deserved it. You can watch the video online right here, by the way.
Everyone thinks they know how to survive Jason’s attentions, and nowhere is this more evident than in the featurette “The Camp Crystal Lake Survival Guide”. All the tips are good, most are funny, but none of them will really help you if Jason ever sets his sites on you. Ask Kane Hodder, he knows.
“Inside Halloween Horror Nights” is a tour of the Camp Blood attraction at Universal Studios, where Savini filmed his wraparound segments. The creator shows off all their cool jump scares and makes sure to point out which films are being paid tribute to with each interactive diorama.
Finally….finally there’s “Shelly Lives”, a 2+ minute infomercial which features Larry Zerner, who played Shelly in Part III, pretending to be a personal injury lawyer (he is an entertainment lawyer in real life, just without the fro) who can help settle your slashing claim. It’s a cute idea that’s about a minute and a half too long.
Normally I would summarize and offer some last-minute thoughts on this massive set, but really it’s just not necessary. If you call yourself any sort of Friday the 13th fan, get His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th. You can thank me later.
4 out of 5
5 out of 5
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