If you’re like me, you left “Never Sleep Again” completely sure about your love for all things Krueger, and then wondered if Jason would ever get his turn. Thankfully, the folks at 1428 Films have indulged Jason Voorhees fan boys with an utterly extensive and incredibly detailed chronicle of the “Friday the 13th” series. At an intimidating six hours, director Daniel Farrands pays homage to the series that influenced dozens of copycats and wannabes in the eighties. Narrated by series star Corey Feldman, “Crystal Lake Memories” is another of the classic horror documentaries from 1428 that doesn’t just chronicle the rise of a pop icon, but also pays tribute to independent film.
Through and through, like “Never Sleep Again,” Farrands’ follow up discovers how independent film helped change the horror industry and garnered tons of cash for its parent studio Paramount. Everything from the original movie, to the remake, right in to the loosely adapted TV show are here for examination, and Farrands discovers how the original film was intended to cash in on the slasher craze. It then accidentally helped spawn its own path in to pop culture fame that eventually rivaled the popularity of Freddy Krueger. There’s exploration of how the original film was advertised and titled before there was even a plot created for it. While “Crystal Lake Memories” uncovers the unusual and sordid history of the entire franchise starring Jason Voorhees, it also never minds poking fun at it, and admitting its faults.
This lends a very admirable honesty to the documentary and helps dissect how every bit of pop culture influences the next generation. “Friday the 13th” bears heavy resemblance to “Bay of Blood,” while producers and writers admit that Jason’s early look is a stunning resemblance to the killer from “The Town that Dreaded Sundown.” Deep down the writers and producers know what they did from square one, and this was a formula for incredible success. There are some other interesting nuggets of information, including the heavy homoerotic themes behind “The New Blood,” and the inherent problems that plagued the crew of “Jason Takes Manhattan.” Farrands and co. leave no stone unturned, talking to original cast members, minor players in the series, special effects artists, and even big fans of the series.
Feldman’s narration is thankfully very spirited and enthusiastic, lending great compliment to the entire documentary. Feldman is very self-aware in his importance in the film series, so interviews with him during the documentary are a lot of fun to sit through. Thankfully the story behind “Friday the 13th” and the creation of Jason Voorhees is just as fascinating and rich as Freddy Krueger’s, and he finally manages to get his spotlight for his hardcore followers. Farrands and 1428 have a genuine love for the material they cover, thus “Crystal Lake Memories” ends as a fantastic chronicle of one of the eighties’ biggest horror series.
The Blu-Ray release comes with an audio commentary by director Daniel Farrands, Editor Luke Rafalowski, and author Peter M. Bracke, all of whom discuss the film at length with informative anecdotes, how they converted the book to the screen, and so much more interesting nuggets of information. If fans are willing to sit through the documentary once again, the commentary is a can’t miss.