Let's Get Exhaustive With Crystal Lake Memories and His Name Was Jason

In 2009, a neat little documentary about the Friday the 13th films came out on DVD called His Name Was Jason. It was a little on the fluff side, but it had a lot of good content, and was definitely fun for any fan of the series. Even better was Anchor Bay's two disc Splatter Edition, which practically doubled the amount of F13 content and got past the basics fans already knew and delved into details that were new to us. But then in 2013, the same guys came out with a new, almost 7 hour documentary titled Crystal Lake Memories (named after a book of the same title), which everyone agreed was far meatier and covered a whole lot more. But what does that mean for His Name Was Jason? Does it still have anything of exclusive value anymore, or has it been completely invalidated? And what about the rare "bonus disc" that pre-order copies of Crystal Lake Memories came with? How much more content could there be leftover from a 7 hour doc?
So let's start with the fluffier entry. His Name Was Jason is definitely a neat little film, especially in how it includes the sequels almost as much as the original, where usually horror documentaries only seem interested in the first entries of the big franchises. You know, maybe one expert on The Howling or Hellraiser movies would give an embarrassed smirk and say, "oh and there sure were a lot of silly sequels," and leave it at that. But real fans love all the Friday films (well, except maybe the remake... and Freddy Vs Jason's a little divisive), want to see them all respected, and are just as interested in delving into their stories as the original's. And that's what these filmmakers got right.

Unfortunately, 90 minutes is a little short for, oh, 11-12 movies and a TV series; so that's where this film suffers the most. Important things are just touched on briefly and then we move on, interesting people are interviewed for a minute or two, many of viewers' biggest questions are skipped over entirely. Things get more frustrating when the film's host (the well chosen Tom Savini) hams it up in a Crystal Lake theme park exhibit. With time so short, you can't help thinking that every second of him playing with a rubber hand is less time being spent on what we really want to see. And if you already owned a bunch of the Friday the 13th special edition DVDs, a lot of the stuff that did make it in was what you already knew.

And the sad part is, that's where a lot of viewers left it. They saw the doc somewhere, said eh, that was alright; but not worth buying the DVD. So they wound up missing out on all the stuff on the Splatter Edition (the single disc version has some extras, but way less). And not only does the Splatter Edition's content make the package an overall better experience, I believe the extras are flat-out better than the movie itself. I'll detail it all later on in this piece, but suffice to say, it's full on substantial interviews with a ton of the key players. While the main doc is a fast-paced, engaging good time; it's probably best suited for viewers who don't know the films too well. You know, catch it on television and later say, "oh, did you know Jason wasn't even the killer in the first one?" But the disc 2 stuff is for the fans who'd roll their eyes at that, "of course, everybody knows that!"
Yeah, I used to be a pretty big pusher of that film, especially to those who dismissed it, like if you haven't seen disc 2 you haven't even really seen His Name Was Jason. I say "used to," though, because holy crap: Crystal Lake Memories. This time it's hosted by Corey Feldman (relevant, of course, for starring in Friday the 13th 4), and I don't need to tell you that the five and a half hours allow it to get substantially more in depth. Where the first one broke the film into cheesy sections like, "Jason's Greatest Hits" and "Super Slasher Hero," This one just tackled every single film individually, from beginning to end, giving every film equal time (yes, including the remake, Freddy Vs Jason and the TV show). Tons more people, including a lot more of the casts, have been interviewed and included here, and this time they're allowed to share whatever they've got to say rather than just brief soundbites. Tons of stuff from the film and those great Splatter Edition extras are brought in, along with a ton of new material. And I don't just mean the same people cover the same facts... I mean, a lot of Crystal Lake Memories is footage directly imported from the previous film (and its extras).

Just how controversial that is will vary from viewer to viewer, but I'm sure I'm not alone in being quite happy about it, as it allows this film to feel definitive. Still, it's interesting just how much has been recycled, especially how so much of it has been completely re-edited. Practically every sentence series creator Sean Cunningham is in a totally new order the second time around, appearing at different points in the film. And more than interesting, it's also confusing. What's new, what's the same? What's been changed around, and is there anything leftover in His Name Was Jason to make it worth buying if you've already got Crystal Lake Memories? Well, I've got the Splatter Edition and the 5-disc blu-ray/DVD combo pack with the mysterious bonus disc right here, so let's get to the bottom of it.
Crystal Lake Memories blu on top, CLM DVD middle and His Name Was Jason DVD bottom.
(Would you believe this scene was inspired by a moment in Bob Fosse's All That Jazz?)
First let's just talk blu-ray basics here. I remember when it was first announced this was going to be a 4-5 disc set, and fans got really excited. Then we found out it was a combo pack, so 2 of the discs were just going to be redundant standard def repeats of the 2 of the other discs, and they got disappointed, if not downright worried. Is two blu-rays enough for such a massively long movie? It'll be too compressed, the blus might as well just be DVDs. Some fans said they were just going to buy the DVD-only version because spending money on the blus would be a waste (although, you have to give online debaters a little hyperbolic leeway when they say things like that). But, a little over three hours with virtually no video extras per blu turns out to be pretty fine. Could you maybe get better results spreading it out more? Sure, I guess there's a little artifacting that could go if this were presented over an extra disc or two; but really it's fine. You can certainly see how much better the blu is than the DVD, reaping all the HD benefits.

And it's really interesting to see how far footage has come from His Name Was Jason. To be clear now, not all footage in HNWJ is in CLM, I had to specifically find shots that were in both. Even when the same interview pieces are in the same film, they're often presented differently. So, for example, in one movie we see Cunningham say a line on camera, and in the other, we hear him say it in voice over while we look at a clip from Friday the 13th. But look how the footage that does appear in both has been reworked. They didn't just copy the file from one Final Cut project into another. Not only are the colors and resolution been neatened up in the interview shots above, they've been totally re-framed to be a lot tighter - even though both docs are presented in 1.78:1. Meanwhile, the shot from Friday the 13th 5 has been color corrected, appears in a higher resolution and has more picture information on all four sides. Some of this is probably CLM benefiting from new HD scans of the original films made for blu-ray and HD broadcast, but it's great that they took the time to freshen it all up. This movie looks a lot better, even when just comparing HNWJ to the DVD version of CLM.
Crystal Lake Memories blu on top\and His Name Was Jason DVD bottom.
Now you might be looking at this next set of comparisons and be thinking, boy, you sure suck at matching frames. But no, what you see here is an intentional mismatch, because it's time to answer one of the key questions about these two films. Is there anything, besides Savini's narration, that's in HNWJ that's not in CLM? Yes. What we see here is clearly footage from the same interview. And again, the footage has been sweetened, and the colors especially look much better in CLM. But the particular clip from the interview shown in HNWJ, where Carey and Camilla More are making a joke about how their characters were quickly dispatched, is not in CLM.

Now is it essential? No, it's just a little joke. But it's just one example that shows that not everything from the old film has been ported over to the new one. And, less surprisingly, the stuff from the top shot in CLM does not appear in HNWJ. In HNWJ, their appearance is mostly just amusing for the novelty that the filmmakers managed to find the twins from Friday 5, and we get to see what they look like today. However they're really not given the space to say much of anything. Covering all the films in 90 minutes, and they were just victims in one of the middle sequels? Gotta get 'em on and off the stage in a flash. Their appearance here is really more of a (very welcome) bow to the loving audience than a proper interview, like they finally get in CLM, where we actually get to hear some thoughts and memories from them. ...And there's even more on the bonus disc. So there's no doubt CLM wins this comparison every single time. But yeah, if you're a completist, you should know that there is still exclusive content in HNWJ that you might still want in your collections.
So what else did the Splatter Edition have besides the core film? Well, first of all, even the first disc had one set of extras that was even included in the single disc edition. It's a series of interviews with the actors who played Jason in the different movies. It even had the guy from the remake, the movie the main film pretty much glossed over, which I know had annoyed a few fans. So that's very cool, and they're allowed to speak longer here, giving us our first taste of the CLM's possibilities.

And we get a heap more of that on disc 2. Again, this is where it's really at for HNWJ. Final Cuts is probably the main section. Here they interview the directors of the Friday films, like they did with Jason actors on disc 1. They're all separate interviews and we learn way more here than in the doc itself. And there's more sections, like From Script To Screen, where they interview some of the screenwriters or Dragged From the Lake, where they more Friday cast members. There's features where they go visit filming locations, convention footage of the remake crew; and they're just really now delivering what we want to see on disc 2. Remember when the director of Friday 4 goes back to the old house in CLM, or when the biker chick goes back to the old barn from Friday 3? Well, all that footage came from here.

Then you've got the sillier extras. There's a collection of Friday the 13th fan films with titles like Jason Hurts and Freddy Vs. Jason In 30 Seconds With Bunnies. Youtube's Angry Video Game Nerd is on here, reviewing the old F13 Nintendo game. There's a Camp Crystal Lake Survival Guide, where interviewees from the film give tips for surviving a Friday the 13th scenario. Perhaps the goofiest of all are the fake law firm ads by the character of Shelly from Friday 3, played by the original actor. Oh, and if you were intrigued by that Crystal Lake exhibit Savini was hosting from, there's a featurette on the making of that. And finally there are two Easter Eggs where a pair of cast members get to show off their musical abilities. Oh, and a couple of bonus trailers for other horror titles that start on load up of disc 1. Really, until CLM, it was hard to believe you could get much more thorough than the Splatter Edition.
And curiously, I've never seen it mentioned anywhere, but CLM has Easter Eggs, too. Like HNWJ, CLM has a hidden feature where one of the actors who played Jason shows off his musical side via a performance with his band (a different one from HNWJ's egg, where he sings a ragga song about Jason acapella). Also, I'm not sure if you'd count this as an Easter Egg exactly, but after the bonus trailers on disc 2, there's a commercial for Crystal Lake Wine, because the lead actress from the original Friday has started her own line of F13-themed wine.

CLM also has an audio commentary by the filmmakers, which is pretty impressive when you consider how incredibly long this film is. They do start to struggle a bit in the second half, but they actually have a lot to say and keep things lively through the entire run.

But the real joy is in the bonus disc. I mean, don't get me wrong; it's not like HNWJ where disc 2 is the superior film compared to the actual film. CLM itself is the best here. But this disc 5 comes close to rivaling HNWJ's disc 2. It's four hours and twenty minutes long! And it's no silly stuff (sorry, Angry Video Game Nerd); it's all more serious interviews with the cast and crew. And like the main CLM doc, it's broken up into sections for every single F13 film. It goes further off on tangents than the main film, with the star of F13 showing off her paintings or the director of F13 6 giving us a tour of a cemetery where he does his writing. And some of the interview footage is "untreated," i.e. the colors haven't been corrected in post, and some of the clips show the speakers in front of bare green screens. But otherwise, it's really just like... more movie. Another four and a half hours of Crystal Lame Memories. I understand you have to be a pretty die-hard fan to want this much material on the series, but anyone who heard about Crystal Lake Memories and thought, "7 hours about Friday the 13?th? Yes, please!" will absolutely want the bonus disc as well. It's not disposable fluff like Freddy Vs. Jason In 30 Seconds With Bunnies.
So, for most fans, I'd absolutely recommend Crystal Lake Memories. It's a wonderfully detailed trip back through all of the films to a degree most of us never thought possible. And honestly, I think I get more pleasure out of revisiting this doc now than I do the original films. I grew up on those movies and enjoyed them as a kid, but today I don't own them on DVD or blu... I've just got these docs.

And I definitely, absolutely recommend the version with the bonus disc, which I think deserves a better title than "bonus disc" because it's like a whole additional third of the film, and 11 hour epic. But you'll have to work to find it today, since it was only sold with pre-orders of the film direct from the production company. I'm sure there are second hand copies to be had, but you may have to sink some extra effort and cash into the endeavor. Another cool treat you could get from pre-ordering, by the way, is what you can see in the scan of my copy up top: ordering the film through Dark Delicacies netted you an autographed copy, where a total of 24 cast and crew members of both the CLM doc and original Friday the 13ths signed your copy. That's pretty neat, huh? But unless you're a super die-hard collector, there's no real need to find one of those copies... Just try to find a bonus disc.

And as for His Name Was Jason? What's the verdict on that one? For most people, I'd say CLM is (more than) enough. Almost all of the content of serious substance has been ported over to - and even improved in - the new film. But devoted completists will want it for the scraps and tidbits that didn't quite make it, though I wouldn't bother unless it's the Splatter Edition with the additional lighter, sillier stuff on disc 2, like the fan films, just for a cheap laugh. Another good thing about CLM is that if you do still want HNWJ, its arrival in the marketplace just made the the cost of HNWJ discs drop. Plus, if you're not in the mood to put your on serious academic hat and just want a quick, breezy watch, say to casually reminisce over the films with a buddy, it can be nice to have the light-hearted 90 minute version, goofing around with Tom and plastic bodies.

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