How do you celebrate one of horror's most enduring franchises on its 40th birthday? Apparently you reissue the same disc that's been available since 2009 in a fancy new SteelBook case with digital copy! Paramount lets Camp Crystal Lake soak in blood with Friday the 13th 40th Anniversary Limited Edition. It's the same disc that's been available now for over a decade without any update in transfer, audio, or bonus features - but the packaging sure is snazzy offering up a near-perfect reproduction of the original theatrical poster art - when you get it right the first time there's no need to redo it. This disc really is for the collector and diehard fans of the franchise. For Fans Only.
"It's got a death curse!"
Back in 2009 High-Def Digest offered up excellent coverage of the disc contained in this 40th Anniversary Limited Edition - which you can read HERE
We also covered the entire franchise in 2013 with the now out of print Friday The 13th: The Complete Collection
While that review was a little less favorable, I'm inclined to increase the first Friday the 13th - and Jason-free - film a single star simply for no other reason than misty-eyed nostalgia. I quite literally grew up watching this movie and its sequels. WXON TV20 out of Detroit would regularly show this film and the sequels in their Saturday afternoon Thriller Double Feature program. By the time I was four I was watching edited for television versions of these movies with my sister and it was great. By the time I was in my teens I had rented the uncensored versions and copied them onto a two-tape extended play VHS set with all 8 original Paramount movies that I would run over and over again.
I replaced those tapes with DVDs as soon as each disc landed. When Warner Brothers owned the franchise rights and ran their 10-disc set of all of the films released between Paramount and New Line - I snagged that too. About the only format I've never owned these movies on is LaserDisc and that's simply because they're always too damn expensive! If they ever go 4K... pretty obvious by now I'll pick those up too.
Sure, Friday the 13th - and likewise the franchise as a whole - isn't the greatest movie ever made. Nor is it the best slasher film to come in the wake of Halloween - but it's still probably my favorite of the pack. I only watch Halloween movies during the specific holiday, but Friday the 13th is good anytime I need something fun and creepy on in the background while I work. They're just fun and this film kicked off what amounts to roughly 34 years of movie-watching fun for me. I hope all parties involved sort out their rights dispute so we can slip in another semi-pointless remake/reboot for the franchise!
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Paramount delivers Friday the 13th back to Blu-ray in a single-disc Blu-ray + Digital copy set. The digital copy offers only the R-rated cut. The same BD-50 as previously available comes packaged in a nice SteelBook case with the iconic silhouette theatrical poster image. On the back in bold white lettering against a red blood splash it reads "Kill her mommy, kill her." Inside is a blood-red outline of the camp forest looming over the black water with an outline of Annie in her boat from the final moments of the film. The disc loads to the same static image main menu with traditional navigation options.
While not the best upon release - Friday the 13th certainly looked better than any previous home video release by a long stretch offering up impressive details, a nice organic film grain structure, and bold colors - especially very strong crimson reds. And it still looks pretty damn good 11 years from release. But that doesn't mean it couldn't have used a little extra over-powering love from its mother at Paramount. A new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with HDR transfer would be a welcome sight indeed - especially after what we've recently seen come from other niche studios.
Again - the same decent enough Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track and solid Dolby Digital Mono audio tracks are included here. I'm a bit of a purist so when I throw on this disc I tend to run the mono track - but I have to admit that the 5.1 track is pretty decent offering petty clear dialog and some welcome surround effects during the storm scenes - when Brenda meats her untimely end at the archery range is a great example. But after that - it's mostly a front/center channel affair without much dynamic activity in the extra channels to make the effort worth it.
Likewise - the same set of semi-decent bonus features is included - the cobbled commentary is still a decent listen while most of the package is simple padding.
Did the world really need another reissue of the same Friday the 13th disc that's been in circulation for over a decade? Well… no - no it didn't. But we get some pretty damn slick SteelBook packaging with this release, a digital copy of the film's R-rated cut… if you want less gore? If you already own the big Complete Collection set from 2013 or any of the numerous releases to date - there's no real need to spring for this 40th Anniversary Limited Edition beyond the want for stylish SteelBook packaging - which isn't bad for the price and isn't limited as a retailer exclusive. This truly is for collectors or if you simply haven't bought the film yet. For Fans Only