Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (2013)
Director(s): Daniel Farrands
Writer(s): Daniel Farrands,Peter M Bracke (based on the book by)
Starring: Sean S. Cunningham, Corey Feldman, Kane Hodder, Tom Savini
There’s always an allure of a good documentary to me, no matter what the subject. For me, the hallmark of a good doc would be to make you interested in a subject that you had no prior knowledge. I’ve seen documentaries about subjects that I had little to no interest in, but the way the narrative of the doc was presented, I found myself HOOKED. I’ve enjoyed stories that ranged from the competitive world of old-school arcade gaming to the day to day operations of a male host club in Japan. I had no interest in either subjects (well, perhaps the thought of being a Male Host did cross my mind…), yet I was so intrigued by every detail of the story they were painting. Documentaries are that perfect middle section in a Venn diagram where you are entertained as much as you are educating yourself and to me, that’s a beautiful thing.
As much as I enjoy being pleasantly surprised by a good doc, I also enjoy peeking behind the curtain to things that I do enjoy such as food, music oh and yes…horror movies. As part of my purchase of the Shudder streaming app (still waiting for dem CHECKS!), I noticed that there was a healthy number of documentaries available for my viewing pleasure. The first one that popped out was Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th…yes, there’s a reason I listed out the title; it’s quite obvious what the doc would be about but what caught me by surprise however was the 6 HOUR AND FORTY MINUTES RUN TIME. Holy shit. I love a good doc, but over 6 hours of watching the behind the scenes shenanigans of a franchise that consists of TWELVE movies (series, remakes, collaborations) AND A TV SHOW (yeah, they went there) seemed intimidating. It took me all of 15 minutes to decide if I was going to embark on this journey but there I was clicking ahead due to sheer curiosity on the formatting of this doc and how they would cover the flicks.
For anyone that’s not into these series of slasher flicks, first off, I get you. I’ve heard all the criticisms of the series and how the very origin of the Jason flicks started off as an abomination of the slasher genre that was paved by pioneers like John Carpenter’s Halloween. Okay, now that my snooty nose has been wiped, I LOVE THESE FLICKS. I understand that a good chunk of that love might be based solely on nostalgia, the entertainment value of these movies always stayed with me throughout my life so watching how it all came to be was such a treat. Even if you don’t enjoy the Friday the 13th franchise per se, as with any good documentary, I think one would appreciate the highs/lows of production, the drama between actors, the curious reasons why decisions were made during filming, the introduction of folks who would someday be legends in their fields and the overall tone that these films were being celebrated, which to some of the folks that created the flicks, came as such a surprise.
From a learning standpoint, this doc was filled with kernels of surprising truths and entertaining anecdotes that were so interesting, it made me want to watch the flicks again because now I had a different context to refer to whenever I saw a specific scene. The format of the doc is pretty straight forward, with each flick having it’s own slot for about 45 minutes. For each flick after the first, there would always be a segment where the people involved were almost surprised that another one was coming out and that was always entertaining to watch but then you get to see the people come up with these ludicrous stories justify their thoughts on why things like Jason fighting a telekinetic teen was a great idea (not making fun of this by the way, Friday the 13th Part 7 is one of my favorites but yes, the story was ridiculous). The stories that some of the writers and directors would share in making each movie seemed like they could be a documentary of their own. I understand that every production will come with troubles but the fun part about this doc was that it never seemed like anyone on the production team of any of the flicks ever took themselves too seriously. There were some writers that were hilariously blatant in their intentions on making the next flick more ridiculous than the last which is always a treat to see when trying to move a series forward.
One of my favorite segments was the slot that focused on the short lived, Friday the 13th TV series because it had nothing to do with Jason Voorhees and ended up being a nice anthology horror series that had a nice central storyline involving a haunted building with cursed items. This series came out around the same time that Freddy Krueger had a series of his own with a similar sort of horror anthology format but the huge difference was the presence of its lead ing slasher. It was fun to watch the people behind the show be passionate about what they were trying to accomplish because they knew a series about Jason Voorhess would not work in segments so instead they took the momentum that the films had built and tried to introduce the audience to new stories. Although short lived, it did make me scour the internet to watch some episodes, so mission accomplished!
Since each of the film series had a dedicated slot that was in chronological order, one can only imagine the sheer number of actors, directors, producers, make up artists, fans, etc. that participated in this doc but it’s always great to see the legends such as make up artist Tom Savini talk about his work in one of my favorite flicks in the series, Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter. Speaking of which Corey Feldman (who also narrated the entire doc), was a pleasure to watch recounting his days as a young Tommy Jarvis battling Jason Voorhees…apparently he was also a little shit on the set to the point where the actor playing Jason himself would try to scare the crap out of Corey every chance he got! Of course, the man, the myth, the larger than life legend, Kane Hodder recounted his glory days of playing the legendary slasher but the most interesting part of his participation was his genuine disappointment that he wasn’t able to play Jason Voorhees in the meeting of the legends, Freddy vs. Jason since he was one of the actors that was pushing for that flick for so long. It was heartbreaking to hear him recount how he found out he wasn’t going to play a part that he perfected and it left me daydreaming a dimension where it did work out and if that would have made a difference in the Luke warm reception of a movie that fans had demanded for decades.
Overall, this 6 hour doc was pretty much finished in about 3 days and it was enjoyable every single time. If you want to watch it in one setting, Gods speed and I’ll pray for your behind to not fall into the crack of the couch. Enjoy but also learn my friends, Cheers.
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.