It used to be so bloody easy (insert maniacal Colin Clive-like laughter). Back in the 1980s any self-respecting fan of the horror film genre in general had it all figured out. More to the point, those of us with a hard fought for subscription to Fangoria (thanks, Dad!) and a penchant for bloody special effects and scantily clad women were a safe bet to also have a coveted VHS cassette tape collection of the nigh legendary Friday the 13th film series. For those not in the know, the Paramount Studios born series (which was later parceled out to New Line Cinema) chronicled the ongoing saga of everyone’s favorite burlap sacked/hockey masked serial killer known the world over as one Mr. Jason Vorhees. High art it wasn’t, but what it lacked in intellectual discourse it more than made up for with a veritable bloodbath of cheesy fun. Still skeptical of the seeming value of this twelve film series? That’s quite alright, Old Sport. To borrow a line from jazz great Fats Waller when asked what exactly jazz music was: “Madam, if you don’t know by now, don’t mess with it!” Fats was blunt, but he had a point.
I’ve written about my inexplicable love of the oddball Friday the 13th films before, so I won’t require any diagraming of a longwinded explanation for my childhood predilection in this article. I will say, briefly, that my dog-eared VHS Friday collection contained all of the films up through the seventh entry (romantically subtitled The New Blood. Subtlety was not the franchise’s strongest suit, let’s face it). All seven of those glorious paeans in my collection were recorded by me directly from sources that ranged from Showtime to the USA Network and they crackled on that old VHS tape and the color popped like mad when a particularly loud acid wash jean jacket would flash by and I wouldn’t have given a million and one dollars for my secret paramour. I loved that hokey series dearly.
Fast forward to NOW. Wait a minute, I see the one or two stragglers who accidentally clicked on this article heading for their gloves and appropriate face covering at the mere mention of late April of 2020. Breathe easy, campers. This article is almost coronavirus-free. I’m using the term ‘now’ in the abstract as a means to delineate the sorta-kinda freshness of this news piece. For hints have been steadily and stealthily dropping from sources that are very much in the know that, in recognition of the 40th anniversary of the 1980 debut of the original Friday the 13th film, a brand spanking new 12-movie Blu-Ray box set is due to drop later this year.
The first real clue that this set was an actual thing came when Vincent Guastaferro, one of the actors from Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives (there’s that subtlety again), revealed via the always charming devices of Facebook that he had just recorded a brand new commentary track for Jason Lives. Exact quote you might ask? Sheesh, alright, hold the phone (as my fingers type furiously over my tear drenched, high-stress laptop keyboard, attempting to appease the curious masses)…Alright, I’m back and with Mr. Guastaferro’s exact quote: “Just finished doing the running commentary for the new 12 film box set being released later this summer. Did it with Thom Matthews and we piped CJ Graham in remotely.”
Further confirmation came from Adam Marcus, the director of Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (ostensibly the ninth film in the series and the first post-Paramount installment handled by the aforementioned New Line) when he too landed in the mysterious and vast wilderness of Facebook and confirmed that the set is indeed happening and, in a bit of news sure to send fanboys such as myself into fits of joyous apoplexy, it would reveal for the first time on Blu-Ray the unrated version of Jason Goes to Hell. Marcus went on to say that aside from the unrated debut on Blu, even more new goodies will be presented as pertaining to his – AHEM – stab at the franchise.
This is not the first time the Friday the 13th film series has received the box set treatment: Much to my always patient wife’s chagrin, we own the 2004 DVD set and the massive 2013 Blu-Ray set along with a handful of the individually released DVD’s. Why so many iterations in our collection? This is the explanation that normally involves an eye-rolling sort of reaction when I explain it as well as a desperate search for Tylenol: The two sets I own differ slightly in special features with neither one exactly matching the other. Ditto some of the individual DVDs. Yes. I. Need. Help. Welcome to the bonkers world of Blu-Ray and DVD completism, folks.
An aside: Despite the good news that these films are obviously still relevant enough to inspire yet another box set, I can’t help but look back over the years to my mucho cherished VHS Friday’s that, censored and pan and scanned as they were, still meant more to me at the age of seventeen than almost anything else. The slasher genre as typified by the Friday series almost seemed to benefit by the very fact that they existed in our old Cassette tape collections in an inferior form and added an allure and a taboo nature that was, quite frankly, intoxicating. Watching a bowl cut wearing Corey Feldman go mano a mano with Jason friggin’ Vorhees while battling the tracking button on my old VCR was and remains part of the huge appeal of those much maligned Paramount flicks. If the producers of the upcoming Blu set could replicate that uniquely 1980s visceral experience, well, I’d shell out hard earned dough for a million more Friday box sets.
Keep an eye on this space for further updates on the new Friday the 13th Blu-Ray box set and a big thank you where they’re due to our ghoulish pals over at Bloody Disgusting for initially breaking this news.