While certainly a step up from the previous releases, I think we can all agree that the "Special Editions" for Friday the 13ths parts 1-3 that came out this past February (in time for the remake's theatrical bow) were still fairly lacking. Only part 1 had uncut kills, 3 didn't even carry over the commentary from the last release, and none of them had any real new information. But folks, don't think history is going to repeat itself. Read on for details why you should definitely check out the new discs for Fridays 4-6, in stores now (in time for the remake's DVD bow - funny how that works!)
For starters, each disc is a full-on Special Edition. Last time, only part 1 could really be given that mantra, as 2's biggest bonus was a generic look at how the people from the films attend horror conventions, and 3 didn't have any features at all beyond the lousy transfer of the 3D. This time around, they got everything. All 3 films have commentaries by the filmmakers (including a new one for 6 by Tom McLaughlin, this time joined by cast), plus a bonus "fan" commentary on Final Chapter with Joe Lynch and Adam Green, which is just as worthy as the track with Joe Zito and co. They discuss how the series and Final Chapter in particular has influenced their films, how it holds up as a quality film due mainly to the cast, and generally wax nostalgic about the series as a whole. It is NOT an MST3k type thing (though Green rightfully takes a shot at the part where Trish can't simply walk around a corpse and instead smashes a window to escape), so don't fear.
But who cares about commentaries, we want more gore/kills! Well they turned up short for A New Beginning, sadly, but Final Chapter and Jason Lives both have deleted footage, both of the character and violence variety. I understand that a full blown "uncut" version of these films is simply not in the cards due to lost negatives, missing sound (Final Chapter's deleted footage is entirely silent, but Zito provides a commentary over it to help us follow along), and other factors, so I think this is the best we can hope for.
The biggest addition is a 3 part series entitled Crystal Lake Massacres Revisited, which is a "documentary" that proposes that Crystal Lake is very real (and populated entirely by known horror personalities 0 having Stuart Gordon play Shelly's dad is a stroke of genius), as conspiracy theorists use plot holes in the series to make their case, residents discuss how Jason has affected their lives, etc. They are a lot of fun, true love letters to the series. Last night, I got a chance to watch these shorts with their cast and crew, along with a few notable franchise members like Harry Manfredini, Shavar Ross (Reggie the Reckless!), and David "Sheriff Garris" Kagen.
Also on hand, Vincent Gustaferro from Jason Lives... as well as Officer Pastori from Shocker. Fittingly, the one photo of me that was taken all night is of me with him and Aintitcool's Mr. Beaks, as we discuss - sssh - a possible HMAD/New Bev screening of Shocker later this year:
It's important to note that these new editions were fully supervised by Daniel Farrands, who had no involvement with the first three releases. Paramount recruited him after seeing what he had done for the His Name Was Jason doc, and we can all be grateful that the 'Mount, for once, had the fan's best interests at heart when it comes to these films.
In terms of video/sound quality, they are obviously improved as well. Again, they are low budget films and always will be, so they're never going to look like The Dark Knight, but the colors seem richer and you can spot more detail in the night scenes. They all have remastered sound too, as opposed to the mono/stereo mixes that they all got on the boxed set.
In short, even if you have the set, any self-respecting fan will pick up these new releases. Blu-rays or a new box may be coming (indeed, Blus for parts 2 and 3 are being released as well, and I understand this time 3 has a few bonus features), but you've waited long enough for bonus material for these films! Christ, I haven't even mentioned all of it - Final Chapter even has a special segment on Crispin Glover's legendary body spasm, er, dance. Trade that increasingly worthless boxed set in to make room for the type of respectable special editions these films truly deserve.