Film Review: His Name Was Jason (2009)

His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th

SYNOPSIS:

Exploring the legacy of a villain who’s fueled a franchise for nearly 30 years and is on a first-name basis with horror fans everywhere, this documentary pays tribute to Jason Voorhees, the hockey-masked star character of the Friday the 13th films. Hosted by special effects legend Tom Savini, the film includes movie clips, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with actors, filmmakers and devotees.

REVIEW:

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly thirty years since “Friday the 13th” first hit theaters. It introduced us to one of the best slasher films in history, as well as a franchise that has lasted for eleven films and a remake, re-imagining, or whatever you want to call it.

Anchor Bay is behind this two disc set (just like the “Halloween 25 years of Terror” set that was released a few years ago), and they pulled out all the stops for this release. The main documentary is hosted by Tom Savini as he wanders in and out of the “Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights Friday the 13th Camp Blood” attraction, offering little tidbits and lead-ins for each segment. Every actor who played Jason is interviewed, as well as nearly all of the directors and writers for each film. Cast members and a few online journalists round out the interviewee’s, with everyone offering some sort of interesting commentary about the series.

Of course, this isn’t a perfect film by any means, as the whole thing comes across a little more like a Discovery Channel special with more swearing than a real documentary, like “Halloween: 25 Years of Terror” or “Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Genre”. Hearing three different people argue about who came up with the concept of putting the hockey mask on Jason is both hilarious and silly. Each person’s account of the story is completely different than the others and at this point it doesn’t even matter who came up with the idea.

It’s nice to see so many people who were involved with the film speaking about it, but it’s the fans that are in the film that help bring to light how important this series is. Seth Green makes an appearance, as well as Felissa Rose (Angela in “Sleepaway Camp”), and Tony Timpone, the fearless leader of Fangoria Magazine, sits around chattering like he actually knows something about horror movies.

Where the film itself is lacking, Anchor Bay totally makes up for it with special features, such as extended interviews with all the Jasons and most of the writers and directors, including the director and writers of the new Friday reboot/remake. There’s extensive odd ball bits that made small appearances in the film itself, but are more fleshed out as their own sub-features. People nitpick things about the films, and Dread Central’s “Uncle Creepy” gives a speech about horror films and expressing the need to introduce the next generation of fans to series like “Friday the 13th”.

What else does this disc have, you ask? A free fold out mini poster, a $5 movie cash coupon good toward a ticket to see the new “Friday the 13th”, and a small collection of fan made “Friday” films and a full walk through of the “Camp Blood” attraction at Universal Studios.

Nerd that I am, I loved watching the interviews with the directors and writers. I mean, who doesn’t want to hear what Sean Cunningham has to say about the first film? Personally, I think one of the best interviews on the disc, with regard to the directors, is with Tom McLoughlin, the director of “Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives”. He offers some of the best insight into what he was trying to do with the film and where some of his ideas came from, that it makes me want to dig out my copy of “Jason Lives” and watch it again.

For all you fans who hate the team who wrote “Freddy vs. Jason” and the remake/reboot of “Friday” that just came out, they do offer up a pretty good interview where they explain that they didn’t write anything about Jason being afraid of water. That was something even they thought was weird when they saw the film and that they don’t see the new Friday as being a remake or a reboot, but more inline with just being another sequel.

If you’re a die hard Friday fan, this DVD needs to be on your shelf as soon as possible. If you’re just a fan of horror documentaries, then you need to get this. If you’re just a casual fan, or even someone who’s not really a slasher fan, then you’ll probably find this movie boring as hell and not worth your time, but this was made for the hardcore fans and it shows that even though Anchor Bay loves to f*ck the fans over when it comes to multiple “Special Edition” releases of films, that when they want to, they can put out a hell of a release.

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