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Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th



You read correctly. Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th runs for a butt-punishing 400 minutes, which signals two things:

1. It's not required to be consumed in one sitting.

2. It's not for the casual Friday the 13th fan.

Based on Peter Bracke's 2006 book of the same name — as indispensable as it is expensive — this documentary comes from Daniel Farrands, the director of 2010's Never Sleep Again, the 480-minute retrospective of the Nightmare on Elm Street series. He also directed 2008's His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th, which ran a mere 84 minutes. This is essentially a super-sized version of that, and appears to incorporate some of its interview footage, which would explain why mulleted Jason Lives helmer Tom McLoughlin appears to age not-so-gracefully from one talking-head shot to another. 

As with Farrands' previous docs, Crystal Lake Memories examines each entry in the Friday franchise, from the 1980 original to 2009's remake, and every machete-slicing spree in between, including the terror titan mash-up of 2003's hit Freddy vs. Jason. Even the three-season syndicated TV show, Friday the 13th: The Series, merits its own segment, too, despite having next to nothing to do with the movies. 

Participants on both sides of the camera share their recollections of making the films (most embrace it, although they didn't always) while Corey Feldman — young star of 1984's far-from-final Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter — narrates. The interviewees don't hold back; they're rather frank about what they think worked, what didn't, and who pissed them off. Fans will delight in getting glimpses of gore scenes cut by the MPAA, although their quality resembles third- or fourth-generation VHS dubs.  

Through it all — best parceled out over a weekend or so — Crystal Lake Memories is an absolute blast for anyone who grew up on Jason Voorhees' bloody misadventures (and the one of his crazy mom). The documentary grows too self-congratulatory at the tail end, but that's easy enough to forgive, given its thoroughness, immense scope and incredible entertainment value. —Rod Lott

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