FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 - Blu-ray Edition (1981)
Director: Steve Miner
Paramount Home Entertainment

Back in 1980, a low-budget slasher film with the catchy title FRIDAY THE 13TH made waves in theaters across the nation. Although it was essentially a rip-off of 1978’s HALLOWEEN, the unexpected success that FRIDAY THE 13TH had was enough to convince Paramount Pictures executives to give a sequel the go-ahead for a1981 release…just a few months before HALLOWEEN II graced the screens.

The result: FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2. As to how it managed to become the big cult item that it is is well beyond me. For starters, the shoot was rushed. The production was troubled. And the actors were so wooden that even a Saturday morning kid’s show from Canadian television wouldn’t want to hire them. Of course, setbacks like that have never stopped Hollywood (WATERWORLD, anyone?).

Picking up a few years after the last film, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 finds a new batch of counselors and dumb horny teens looking to re-open the campground at Crystal Lake. At first, things seem all hunky-dory: the open woods, a lake, kids in short shorts, and even braless babes. This is paradise! And the only thing that would ruin it all for everyone would be the arrival of maniacal killer man-child intent on avenging the death of his maniacal killer mother.

Since Pamela Voorhees, the antagonist from the first film was last seen grasping for her noggin after being decapitated by the film’s heroine, the chances of bringing her character back to continue killing seemed unlikely. And, yet, just as unlikely, FRIDAY THE 13TH, PART 2 introduced a fully-grown Jason Voorhees as the series’ unstoppable killing machine (hey, it’s plausible: Jason’s body was never recovered after he allegedly drowned and Mrs. Voorhees could have very likely tended to him in the woods in secret -- and besides, it’s a slasher movie, kids).

Presented in a widescreen 1080p 1.78:1-framed ratio (the original offering was framed at 1.85:1), FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 looks better on Blu-ray than it ever has on DVD. Granted, there is still a bit of grain here and there (it was a low-budget film from the early 1980s after all), but this High Definition transfer is by and far the best version out there (both this Blu-ray edition and the previously released “Deluxe Edition” on DVD were taken from the same HD master).

The new English 5.1 Dolby Digital mix from the prior DVD is given a Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 lossless upgrade, and comes through fine. While the film’s music score probably could have been turned up a notch on the TrueHD mix, the dialogue and sound effects emerge well. Although I think there should have been more for the rear speakers to do, it’s still a good mix. Additional audio options consist of the original English, French and Spanish mono soundtracks. Optional Subtitles are included in English (SDH), English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish and English Closed Captioning is also available.

Special features on this Blu-ray release are identical to the “Deluxe Edition” DVD released in February 2009 and include the featurettes “Inside Crystal Lake Memories” (11:15); “Friday’s Legacy: Horror Conventions” (6:50); “Jason Forever” (29:27); “Lost Tales From Camp Blood, Part II”(8:54); and the original Theatrical Trailer (2:12). The plus here is that everything except “Jason Forever” is presented in 1080p High Definition.

Although the movie has more holes than a colander following a good wash in strong acid, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 is still required viewing for any fan (or newbie) of the series: it introduced us to Jason Voorhees as the principal killer and raised the bar a bit for exploitation/slasher films for years to come. And it’s that much better on Blu-ray.

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3: 3-D - Blu-ray Edition (1982)
Director: Steve Miner
Paramount Home Entertainment

Despite a lot of backlash from several groups of outraged conservative parents nationwide, slasher films proved to be a surefire hit at the box office. Actually, when you think about it, having several groups of outraged conservative parents mentioning your film on every television and radio program is some of the best advertising you can have (just ask the distributors of the movie SNUFF). And so, with moms and dads screaming bloody murder left and right all over, brothers and sisters were sneaking into theaters to catch a few bloody murders themselves.

Jason Voorhees is back from the semi-dead for a third time in this epic FRIDAY THE 13TH sequel. While it isn’t “epic” for its script, acting, or production values, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 escalates into its larger-than-life status for setting the course of the many, many Jason Voorhees vehicles to come. More good kids get to go camping. Then they get naked and naughty. Then they get killed. Bad guys are introduced in this soirée, giving Jason even more bodies to hack. Jason himself gets an upgrade by dumping that old flour sack and stealing a prankster’s hockey mask.

And, best of all, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 was filmed in the wonderful (and slightly retro) process of 3-D. Following its golden era in the 1950s, the 3-D process pretty much laid dormant. Granted, there were a few attempts to revive the practice in the 1960s and 1970s, but it wasn’t until the 1980s rolled around that filmmakers said, “Hey, I have an idea!” Several horror pieces -- such as AMITYVILLE 3-D and JAWS 3-D -- were some of the more sought-after titles from ticket buyers, but it’s FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 that probably gets more attention from horror aficionados than any of the other big 1980s 3-D films.

Sadly, it took more than two decades for FRIDAY THE 13TH buffs to see this film in its original version, courtesy the “Deluxe Edition” DVD released in early 2009. Featuring both 2-D and 3-D versions of the film, the anaglyphic presentation of the film did a fairly good job of spilling out all of the onscreen chills into your lap, although some of the effects just didn’t seem to cut it. This new Blu-ray edition features the same 2-D and 3-D transfers (the same High Def master was used for in each instance), which look about the same here as they do on the “Deluxe Edition” DVD. The Blu-ray edition carries the slightly better-looking transfers, of course, which are presented in a 1080p AVC widescreen ratio of 2.40:1. There is still a lot of grain and debris noticeable during each version of the film, but that can be blamed on the original production’s low-budget to begin with. Also like the previous DVD, 2 pairs of 3-D glasses are included.

Sound-wise, viewers can choose between the newer 5.1 Dolby TrueHD lossless audio, or the older English, French, and Spanish mono tracks. Like the 5.1 DD mix on the “Deluxe Edition” DVD, most of the action takes place in the front three speakers. Someday, somebody somewhere will figure out what to do with those two rear speakers -- and, by that point, all home video releases will include 7.1 soundtracks. Sad, really.

Some of us (I for one) really felt like we had been left in the dark upon discovering that the “Deluxe Edition” of FRIDAY THE 13TH, PART 3: 3-D contained only a Trailer in its Special Features department. Thankfully, that mistake has been rectified here. Included only on this Blu-ray release are the featurettes “Fresh Cuts: 3D Terror” (12:52), discussing the film as well as the 3-D process; “Legacy Of The Mask” (9:33), which focuses on the now-legendary hockey mask; “Slasher Films: Going For The Jugular” (7:09), a look at the genre; and “Lost Tales From Camp Blood - Part 3” (4:49), the third in an alarmingly bad series of short horror films as seen in the other FRIDAY THE 13TH, PART 3 “Deluxe Edition” DVDs. Rounding up the special features is the original theatrical trailer (2:09). All special features are presented in 1080p High Definition.

The bottom line here: sure, it would have been nice if PART 2 and PART 3 were released on Blu-ray when the original FRIDAY THE 13TH was. It would have saved a lot of us from double-dipping. But, between the High Definition audio/video upgrades and the addition of some much-needed special features, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3: 3-D on Blu-ray is worth it. (Adam Becvar)