Man, let me tell you something. I’m really starting to get caught up in all this excitement for the Friday remake. I know what I usually say about these things, but I’m also the king of exceptions and I can find a way to justify anything that contradicts something I’ve said in the past. Try me sometime.
I’m a Jason fan. I was a little kid back when the movies were in vogue. I was too little to see them, of course, but my friend’s older brother went to all of them and would come back and regale us with tales of machette mayhem. I might as well have seen them all by the time that I caught up to them. Friday the 13th marathons became a staple of my Halloween experience. I thought Freddy Krueger quipped too much, Michael Meyers had no personality, Chucky came too late for me and he was a fucking doll anyway, but Jason really resonated with me and I’ve never been able to explain it. The Nightmare on Elm Street series was probably the most consistent franchise in terms of quality and had some really creative kills in it but Jason and the hockey mask had my dollar every time. Maybe it was their willingness to go buck wild and throw caution to the wind with the sequels that got me. Friday was constantly trying to reinvent itself around the concept of Jason Voorhees. At first there was no Jason, he just a dream sequence and a woman’s motivation for slaughtering a camp full of horny couselors. Then he was a badass with bag over his head, then there was t iconic hockey mask, then they left him out of the movie altogether (and had Tommy Jarvis magically age ten years), he goes to New York, then to space. The series was completely ridiculous and that’s probably why I love it so much because I tend to like shit that is unapologetically absurd. And for my money, the only real competition that Jason ever faced was from Freddy. I think I was totally turned off to Freddy because he was child murderer and that always suggested that he probably was also a pedophile. So there. Freddy Krueger was a pedophile. Deal with it.
What can you expect from His Name Was Jason? Cast and crew, fans and horror website “journalists” sit in front of a green screen and wax romantic about the man in the mask. Friday’s original effects man and cockmaster supreme, Tom Savini, acts as the host, standing around during these segues making goofy quips about Friday the 13th while Fridayish scenes play out around him. Just about everyone involved takes part in a lightning round recap of the entire series, which is one of the best parts of the whole show. Thankfully, it comes first. If you’re a Friday the 13th fan and you were wondering what Dread Central rock star, Steve Barton, has to say about Friday, this is the place to be. Otherwise, it’s your typical documentary with cast and crew talking about making the movies. For instance, similar to the ways that the different men in the Godzilla costumes “act” as Godzilla, you get a look at all the guys who wore the mask and they each tell you in their own words how they played out the character to make him their own.
Obviously, your average horror fan has already made up their mind about His Name Was Jason and was going to purchase it the moment they first laid eyes on it. And coming from a Jason fan, it’s pretty much what fans would want to see. Half of the feature is anecdotes from the cast and crew about making the movies and that’s a lot of fun but the other half is people stating the obvious and philosophising about the nature of Jason Voorhees. It seems like no less than twenty minutes is spent while everyone from Seth Green to Seth Grahame-Smith explains that Jason is really just a little boy who saw his mommy decapitated. Similarly, you’re going to be pounded over the head with an examination of the slasher girl popularized by Halloween but perfected by Friday the 13th. Most fans are going to know about everything said in the movie right from the outset. It’s just a chance for fans to nod their head in agreement for a little while.
But you know what? It’s fun and we’re all Jason fans here, right? I suspect that when Platinum Dunes reboots the Freddy franchise, we’ll get a Nightmare On Elm Street retrospective that does the same thing. If you haven’t seen any of the recent Starz produced horror documentaries, this is easily the best of them all. Personally, being such a fan of slashers to begin with, their slasher doc, Going To Pieces, was a treat but this one zeroes in on the undisputed heavyweight champ of the entire lot. It is exhaustive and leaves no stone unturned. Sure, Betsy Palmer comes across as totally crazy, but I’ve met that woman and I wanted to bring her home with me.
Anchor Bay certainly doesn’t skimp on the extras, either. Spread out across two discs is the feature, more freakin’ interviews, a highlights reel of Jason’s kills and so on. Bargain priced at around $14, you just can’t go wrong. If you’re a fan of the series and you’re either getting amped for the remake or you’re grouchy about the whole thing, entirely, you’re going to want to pick this up. Short of the outstanding book, Crystal Lake Memories, this is where the buck stops for fans of Friday the 13th. Everything you could possibly want to know is all right here. Sometime delivered with staark sobriety, other times brought down with the laugh laugh courtesy of Seth Green and Shavar Ross.
Look, get excited. If anything is to be pulled from this documentary it’s that Jason Voorhees has become a permanent part of the American mythology and with this new remake about to hit, the cycle is about to start over. Jason isn’t going anywhere.