I love documentaries.
I love commentary.
I just love hearing and learning about people’s experiences, especially in film and television.
Now, it has taken me this long to watch this documentary, mostly because of time and until I got Shudder, I probably wouldn’t have found the time to watch. I am talking about Crystal Lake Memories, the long look of the Friday the 13th series. I had previously seen its cousin Never Sleep Again, which is about Nightmare on Elm Street and I loved that, heard about Crystal Lake Memories but again, didn’t find the time to watch it.
Friday the 13th and its sequels are iconic, influential, some are liked more than others and it’s amazing that a film made in 1980 could create an icon in Jason or Mrs. Vorhees and be still relevant today. It’s an in depth look at the franchise and the highs and lows of production, writing, directing, casting, box office numbers and overall influence over the horror genre.
As I watched it, I did begin to have a bigger appreciation for the franchise than I ever did. For me, personally, Friday the 13th isn’t my go to franchise or an immediate favorite like it is for a lot of people. I think of Nightmare on Elm Street, and how it changed from a serious tone to then more goofy, thanks to the MTV era but also I kinda prefered a… engaging, charismatic “character” aka Robert Englund over whoever was playing Jason at the moment. No shade. And ANOES was more imaginative with use of space and color and artistic standpoints with the dreams and as someone who is creative oriented, that was my jam.
Friday the 13th was the same formula, different Jason, but the outcome was gonna be the same and I think that kind of predictability caused me to not really look at the franchise at all. Constant reruns on Spike or AMC during October has helped me to watch it a little bit more but the documentary opened my eyes like wow, we’re dealing with a lot of internal conflict of what the director wants or his vision than what the studio wants. Or how ONE film in the franchise kind of derails the rest because it took a big risk in having a “fake out” Jason and that kind of bad blood caused the later series to not be what it could have become.
I could put Halloween in that same category but Halloween took MORE risks with their films. I mean I did see Halloween H2O in theaters so that says something.
But that comes with… you make a movie, not intending for it to have any sequels or predicting that it’ll become huge and it does and you gotta figure out stuff, different directors come in and does something different and I like a cohesive storytelling in franchises which is kinda becoming a thing now. More consistency, the audience nowdays are not dumb, they are very smart and remember everything.
In conclusion, I enjoyed it. It was very long, maybe too long, it reminds me of Horror Noire where when you go from book to film or vice versa, you gotta know what to cut out or keep in. I think only the length of time is the biggest con out of all of it.
*Personal favorites: original, part two, I don’t mind 3/3-D, enjoy 4 for the Jarvis family dynamic, 6, and 7. The remake isn’t bad but I think fans have this obsessive love and adoration for original (no matter what remake) that they aren’t open to seeing something different. Instead of having Mrs. Vorhees as the killer, we already have our Jason and he’s not the bumbling type. He’s smarter, he’s a woods/forest man who uses the environment to his advantage. It’s the same with Suspiria but I really enjoyed the remake or Zombie’s Halloween.
You either get mad because they remade the same movie and did nothing different OR you get mad because they took risks and did something different.
If you haven’t seen Crystal Lake Memories, be aware of the time frame, have enough time to watch. Also check out His Name was Jason, Never Sleep Again which is ANOES version and the franchise of Friday the 13th in its entirety.
Crystal Lake Memories is available on Shudder.