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Considering that FRIDAY THE 13TH ($30) is rapidly approaching its thirtieth anniversary and has spawned the most successful franchise in the history of horror cinema, there is nothing I can say about this movie to change the long held opinions of its legions of fans. That said, FRIDAY THE 13TH is the same thing it has always been- an ultra-low budget slasher movie, made for the sole purpose of cashing in on the success of HALLOWEEN. Looking at the movie for the first time in a long time, FRIDAY THE 13TH proves to be a bit slow, not to mention somewhat tame by the standards of later horror films. However I still give FRIDAY THE 13TH all the credit in the world for having Tom Savini produce some very cool gore effects on a shoestring.

The premise of FRIDAY THE 13TH follows the reopening of Camp Crystal Lake, which closed down in 1958 after the murder of two counselors, the year after the accidental drowning a young boy. Over the last twenty-five years, other attempts were made to reopen the so-called Camp Blood, but a series or mysterious fires and poisoned water prevented it. This year, Camp Crystal Lake is closer to reopening than it ever has been before… which draws the ire of some unseen individual, who begins picking off the newly hired teenaged counselors one by one. Of course, the camp’s isolated location doesn’t help the handful of counselors, who are unaware they are being stalked by a deranged killer until the are face to face with a grisly demise. The cast of FRIDAY THE 13TH features Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Jeannine Taylor, Robbi Morgan, Kevin Bacon, Harry Crosby, Laurie Bartram, Mark Nelson, Peter Brouwer, Rex Everhart, Ronn Carroll, Ron Millkie, Walt Gorney and Ari Lehman.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made FRIDAY THE 13TH available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Considering the film’s age and budget- the 1080p presentation comes across like a revelation- I marveled how good this movie could look in high definition. Sure, FRIDAY THE 13TH is nowhere near demonstration quality, but for what it is- it really is quite excellent. Image sharpness and detail are quite impressive during bright daylight scenes, darker sequence don’t hold up as well, and it is here, that age and budget limitations become apparent. Colors are rendered at a fairly realistic level of saturation. Blacks are just adequate, but the whites appear crisp. Contrast is at its best during daylight sequences. Those shot at night or in low light situations can appear somewhat muddy and far less dimensional. Shadow detail can be lacking, but that should be no surprise. The elements from which FRIDAY THE 13TH was transferred appear surprisingly clean. Grain is ever-present; appearing milder in bright sequences and heavier as lighting is lessened.

FRIDAY THE 13TH is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Talk about a silk purse from a sow’s ear… FRIDAY THE 13TH was originally released in monaural three decades ago, but sounds like a whole lot more now. There isn’t a whole lot of gee whiz sound effects spread throughout the outlying channels, but soundtrack has far more presence here than I think it ever had. Again, not demo material, but the producers of this disc went above and beyond the expected. Henry Manfredini's musical themes are given a nice spread and have far more impact than I remember. Other sonic elements show their age- sounding a bit canned. Dialogue is usually quite understandable, but there are a couple of instances where it seems a tad fuzzy. English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital monaural tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some supplements. Starting things off is an Audio Commentary with Crystal Lake Memories author Peter M. Bracke, whose comments are edited together with those of director Sean Cunningham, editor Bill Freida, composer Harry Manfredini and actors Adrienne King and Betsy Palmer. Featurettes include Fresh Cuts: New Tales From Friday The 13th (fourteen minutes), The Man Behind The Legacy: Sean S. Cunningham (nine minutes), Friday The 13th Reunion (seventeen minutes), Lost Tales From Camp Blood: Part 1 (eight minutes), The Friday The 13th Chronicles (twenty-one minutes) and Secrets Galore Behind The Gore (ten minutes). A Theatrical Trailer closes out the supplements.

Considering its longevity and the successful franchise it established, FRIDAY THE 13TH is one of the most significant low budget horror movies ever made. The Blu-ray presentation is surprisingly good- appearing and sounding far better than one might expect, even if its miles away from demo material. For fans, this is a must own disc.



Friday the 13th Uncut [Blu-ray] (1980)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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