Friday, 20 February 2009

His Name Was Jason

Like many of you out there, I’ve been looking forward to the new Friday 13th remake/reboot. And other than the thrill of having Jason returning to the silver screen, I did hope the new movie would trigger a re-release of the original franchise films. So far Paramount have released editions that have had no remastering and very little in the way of the special features, so the forthcoming remake would seem like the ideal time to issue the entire Jason saga uncut, digitally polished and with plenty of bonus material…

And lo Paramount did re-release all eight Friday films in their catalogue! However bar some remastering of the first couple of movies, the only change made was to the DVD sleeves. And if I can just stop you now before you all start shouting “Boo! Paramount you SUCK!”, I have to point out that New Line, who own the rights to the last two films Jason Goes to Hell and Jason X have been equally shoddy, if not worst. They haven't bothered to re-release either flick and even allowed Jason Goes To Hell to be out of print in the UK at the time of the remake’s release.

However where the parent studios have faltered, in steps Starz and Anchor Bay with the release of a ninety minute documentary His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday 13th. Featuring interviews with a veritable galaxy of talking heads including cast, crew and fans of the franchise, and hosted by the legendary Tom Savini, this documentary seemed to perfectly fit the DVD releases’ Special Features vacuum…

Now it has to be said that this is a fantastically entertaining tour through the history of the world’s #1 slasher saga. Most of the major players are interviewed and we get a host of fascinating recollections and anecdotes. And of course there are plenty of clips from the original movies to illustrate the material plus a great many backstage and production stills to boot. If you are a fan of the series, you’ll love this, and if you’re not a fan, then this documentary is the perfect introduction to the blood soaked saga.

However if you’re either a die-hard Jason fanatic or just a cinema, you may come away from this wanting a little more. This production was originally made for US television and it really does show in the format and content as it’s very much geared up for the casual viewer. And while the light and frothy tone is *OBLIGATORY BAD PUN ALERT* bloody good fun, at times I did wish for a tighter and more serious approach. There is a tendency to skip from one topic to another rather rapidly, and often I wanted to hear a bit more on some subjects. For example, it would have been nice to hear about the franchises run-ins with the MPAA in more detail. And a good deal more critical commentary on the individual films would have been very welcome in the style of Going To Pieces –The Rise & Fall of the Slasher Film or Halloween: 25 Years of Terror. Considering the huge number of people involved with movies interviewed, it’s hard not feel that this was a bit of a missed opportunity. It looks like we’ll have to wait a while longer for the definitive Friday retrospective…

But while it may lack some critical chops, His Name Was Jason succeeds as a joyful celebration of the franchise. It’s a timely reminder of all the fun this franchise has to offer and respectfully underlines Jason’s iconic status as one of the legendary screen monsters. It’s also makes a great appetiser for the new film… All together now kiii kiii kiii … ma ma maaa

PS – Paramount & New Line – YOU SUCK! May the execs in charge of DVD releases receive machetes in unfortunate places.

No comments: