Review: His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th
Friday the 13th certainly may have started life as a way to cash in on the Success of Halloween but it created a icon of horror that is known throughout the world. With a total of 10 starring roles, a costarring gig with Freddy and a new remake hitting theaters in a week Jason has become a superstar of slasher films. While the quality of the films may vary from entry to entry it hasn't quenched the thirst the public has to see him do his thing. In anticipation for his latest outing in the "re-imagining" due to be release on Friday Feb. 13th we've been treated to a new documentary spanning all the films called His Name Was Jason.
Make up effects legend Tom Savini performs hosting duties and gives us a full retrospective on Jason from conception to death, rebirth, death again and now another rebirth. If you’ve read Peter Bracke extremely detailed Crystal Lake Memories then you may already know all you need to ever know about the series. His Name Was Jason doesn’t really add anything to that and instead tries to summarize it all in 90 minutes and even in that running time it sometimes seems to drift off the rails a bit. Interviews with the cast, directors, producers and fans take us through all the movies including the new remake. The only director that’s absent from this documentary is Steve Miner who apparently Is too busy making horrible zombie movies to be bothered talking about the iconic character he helped create.
There are some really great parts to this documentary such as when the man behind the mask in part 4 says that Corey Feldman was a brat or when several parties from Friday Part 3 take credit for the Hockey mask or perhaps how serious the first Jason, Ari Lehman, seems about the “development and character” of his Jason. Really?
However he’s not the only Jason to be a little over the top with his remarks. Apparently there were 2 people who played Jason in part 2 and one of them refuses to acknowledge the other. However the overall funniest part has to be the girl who played Alice in part 1, who looks amazing for her age still as do most of these women, waxes philosophical about how important her role was and how the fans have touched her life so much. It’s a nice thing to say but she goes on and on about it for some time in her extended interview.
Ultimately what I noticed about the actors, stuntmen and even some of the directors was how tied they are to these movies because their still touring conventions and charging $20 to sign autographs. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t begrudge an actor for trying to make some money but it seems a little sad that when that’s what they get reduced to.
Some of the guest interviews such as Robot Chicken Creator Seth Green seem perfectly natural to have. The most bizarre guest though has to be the actor from the TV series Psych, who appears in this documentary with no ties to the film series whatsoever and no explanation as to why he should be there at all.
The bonus features are extended interviews with the men who played Jason which seem to range from bitter, to proud with what they did (Kane Hodder), to oblivious to how bad their Jason was (Ken Kirzinger from FVSJ). The Second Disc has the extended interviews with the cast and crew of the films. The directors bits are pretty interesting and even the actors have their moments. There’s also a short tour through Jason’s Haunted House in Universal Studios which is cool but they filmed it before it opened apparently so they have no footage of the actors during a show which is a little disappointing. Lastly they have also put in some Fan films which are actually quite funny and entertaining to watch.
His Name was Jason is a comprehensive overview of everything that’s happened in the Friday Films since the beginning. It’s definitely worth its price and it should satisfy even the most Rabid Friday fan, of which I am one. All said and done this is a much better documentary than Halloween: 25 Years of Terror that came a few years ago for the Halloween fans. Halloween’s Documentary skimmed over most of the Halloween movies, did sparse interviews and wrapped it up with a terrible monotone narrator. The biggest mistake of the Halloween Doc though had to be its video after video of insane fans doing everything from offering up their own storylines to singing songs about how much they love Michael Myers. It’s hard to watch and it feels really disrespectful to the series and to what the fans want. His Name was Jason never sinks into this at all and what little bit they do show of fans is actually good and steers clear of crazy singing fans altogether. This is definitely one of the best retrospectives given to any film series and a must have for any Friday fan.