Dave’s Score: 8.5/10
On Friday night, Barry and I had the distinct privelage of going to the world premier of His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th while up at the Denver Film Festival. I have to be completely open and up front and say that I’ve only seen Jason X, Freddy Vs. Jason and the end of the original Friday the 13th. This gives me a unique perspective when it comes to a film covering the history of the poor kid who died at Camp Crystal Lake. The great news is that this documentary will appeal to both fans of the series and those who are curious about this film legacy.
One of the challenges in taking on a subject with as much content as this one has is finding the right way to present the material. I was curious as to how the creative team behind this would find a way to cover 12 movies coherantly in 90 minutes. Instead of being overwhelmed, writers Thommy Hutson and Anthony Masi took a step back and found the perfect place to start: the beginning. The film begins at the first film and essentially takes the viewer on a quick tour of all 12 Jason movies. There are referrences to the plots, the stars and the blood. This is done in such a fun way that it gets Jason veterans in the mood for some fun and brings newbies (like myself) up to speed and lets them know that they’re in for a bloody good time.
From there, the discussion turns to the cultural impact of the Friday the 13th movies, both at the time they were released as well as how they’ve shaped pop culture today. Covering everything from the movies themselves to the video game to the tv show, this movie is a very comprehensive look at the entire series. Oh, and it wouldn’t be a movie about Friday the 13th without plenty of blood and boobs. Believe me, this movie delivers on both counts.
What makes this film special, however, is the sheer number of cast and crew recruited to recount various stories about working on and promoting these films. Tom Savini serves as your host through this journey, and he does a great job keeping the tone light and fun. It would be common sense to have the biggest star of the franchise, Kane Hodder, in this film, but it looks like every single actor who’s donned the hockey mask (or potato sack or makeup) is interviewed and given equal time to share their recollections. It would also make sense to have director/producer Sean Cunningham and Jason’s mom, Betsy Palmer, interviewed as well. Don’t get me wrong, all of these people have great stories to tell, but there are SO many more people in this fim that it’s almost overwhelming, and I mean that in a good way. Not only do we get the various heroines who have faced off against Jason, but we also get former victims as well as Felissa Rose from the Sleepaway Camp films. Also appearing to give context are writers Steve Barton from DreadCentral.com, Staci Layne Wilson from Horror.com, Brad Miska from Bloody-Disgusting.com and Ryan Rotten from ShockTillYouDrop.com. There are even interviews with members of the cast of the upcoming Friday the 13th film set to release next year!
All of these elements result in a film that is a ton of fun to watch and get involved in. There are enough stories from the actors to satisfy the hardcore fans, but it finds a way to keep from being intimidating for newcomers. The DVD hits on February 3rd from Anchor Bay Entertainment (it will also be brodcast on February 13th on Starz) and it gains enthusiastic approval from us here at ScreenGeeks.com. If you’re curious about the series, this is a great starting point and will let you have a lot more fun with the series.