REVIEW: Crystal Lake Memories Documentary

It has been a long journey for Friday The 13th fans to receive the definitive look at the film franchise on film. Heck, it's been a long time between the first word of the documentary back in July 2011 and the final release of the film this past Friday The 13th. In-between these dates, there have been a plethora of images and information released, including the official announcement of the documentary in April 2012. Of course, everyone was anxiously waiting for an official website to surface and a release date to be announced after that fact and we brought everyone the Exclusive first word on both of those subjects and more this past May!

With all of the build-up and anticipation over the past two years, is the final product Mrs. Voorhees approved? We say a resounding yes!

Packaging And Disc Offerings
When the specifications and disc offerings were first announced (the film was originally to be released on Blu-Ray only), many fans expressed their displeasure with only having one film format available to purchase. So, 1428 Films listened to the fans and created an awesome 4 disc Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack that services both sets of fans with their own preference of home video viewing. There is also an added commentary track for the documentary with the creators of the show!

The cover art is a great nod to the banned poster art of Friday The 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan, with the difference being now that instead of Jason slashing through the I Love New York sign, he is slashing through the Crystal Lake Memories book art created back in 2005. Inside the blue clam-shell is nice assorted display of each disc that is easy to remove for viewing.

(Note: There is no Ultraviolet or download codes to use for adding the documentary to a portable device)

The Documentary Film
One of the big complaints about the original Friday The 13th documentary, His Name Was Jason, is that it never had a real serious tone about it. The film plays out as a parody of itself with a hodgepodge of cast and crew interviews coupled with commentaries given by people who had no direct link to the Friday The 13th films at all. The end product of that documentary leaves an empty feeling among fans who all know that there was so much more to experience and find out about their beloved franchise. This is all corrected by Writer/Director Dan Farrands and the crew of 1428 Films and Hutson Ranch Media.

The Film
What the Crystal Lake Memories documentary creators have done is taken past interviews, brand new interviews (some very rare), and enlisted the talents of film franchise star Corey Feldman, to create a much more cohesive narrative explaining the history of each film in the Friday The 13th franchise. As opposed to the aforementioned His Name Was Jason Documentary, each film is broken down into its own chapter, fittingly, and the production explained through the eyes and words of the cast and crew that were part of the films.

What makes Crystal Lake Memories so unique and engaging is the inclusion of not only so many cast and crew from the films, or the sight of unique behind the scenes images, but the inclusion of Corey Feldman to the fold. His appearance in the clever opening prologue and concluding Epilogue of the documentary lend a nostalgic feel to the film and make fans wonder what a brand new film would be like with Corey's return to the franchise as his marquee character Tommy Jarvis.

Corey's narrative voice throughout the documentary gives crucial information about each film and adds to production memories given by cast and crew between each interview segment. With excellent direction getting key information from the appearance of very rare cast members, coupled with behind the scenes photos seen for the very first time, each film's chapter is like watching the film for the first time all over again.

The Music
We all know films can only be as good as their music, and what better way to convey a retrospective look at Friday The 13th than to enlist series veteran Harry Manfredini to create a brand new score for Crystal Lake Memories! Throughout the documentary, Harry's new score resonates between film chapters and also in the background of interviews as well as Feldman's narrative pieces. His new score is truly a hybrid of his older Paramount scores along with his newer New Line scores. One can hope that 1428 Films releases a soundtrack of this music as there is some pretty good cues in there.

The Interviews
There cannot be a proper review of this film without mentioning some of the truly rare interviews recorded. Some of the top interviews have to be the inclusion of former Paramount Producer Frank Mancuso Jr., Jason Lives Final Girl Jennifer Cooke, Jason Takes Manhattan's first Sean Robertson, Lee Coleman, and the surprisingly engaging Lloyd Albin, who was the owner of the camp in Friday The 13th Part 2.

Frank Mancuso gives a very frank and real reveal of his experiences with the Friday The 13th film franchise and lends great explanation as to why certain films worked and didn't work during the 80's. His screen presence throughout the documentary was refreshing and it would be a coup to have this man return to produce a new Friday The 13th.

Jennifer Cooke looked great in the documentary, and was very well spoken throughout her segment. She didn't offer anything new about her time on Jason Lives that we didn't already know, but just having her on camera talking about her character Megan Garris was a treat all in itself.

Lee Coleman was trooper in his interview. Our website found out about Lee a few years back when we acquired the Call Sheets for Jason Takes Manhattan. It was the first time his name was ever mentioned in any documentation seen previously, and it was always wondered why he had been replaced. He answered those questions and a little more during his segment and you could sense a little resentment in his voice, still, about his departure. One of the more anticipated interviews for this writer.

Finally, Lloyd Albin was a treat. The soft spoken elderly man has a better memory than most people in their teens and twenties. We wrote a story about him a few years ago where he had explained his experiences with Friday The 13th Part 2 and he still to this day owns the decapitated head prop of Mrs. Voorhees from the film as well as the Camp Crystal Lake sign. It was great to see Lloyd venture into the town used to shoot Part 2 and have him explain the different scenes and where they were shot.

The Bonus Disc
For those fans that ordered their disc before October 1st at, you were treated to a fifth bonus disc (DVD) which contains extended interviews with the cast and crew that were not included in the actual documentary film. Now, this is not to say that these extended interviews are worthless to watch, not at all. There is some fascinating stories about filming contained within these interviews, they just would not fit into the narrative of the film itself.

Just like the documentary, each chapter represents a film and makes for easy viewing and possibly more information to learn that you did not know of before.

Final Thoughts
Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History Of Friday The 13th truly is a definitive look at the Friday The 13th film franchise. In every sense of the word, it documents all of the great stories and history related to the creation of these seminal films which greatly impacted motion picture cinema in the 1980's. Not only did the films impact cinema, but generations of film goers who would take their experiences with Friday The 13th as youths and parlay their passions into ventures as a adults that would please them creatively and financially.

Writer/Director Dan Farrands, Producer Tommy Hutson and all of the 1428 Films crew took their love of Friday The 13th and created this documentary for the fans by the fans, and it shows in the final product. This film is highly recommended to not only Friday The 13th fans, but Horror fans and general film fans alike.

With any Friday The 13th film release, we always wonder, will there be a sequel? Well, with this documentary, we may just have to wait and find out.......
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