2009 - 90m.
With the six hour Crystal Lake Memories documentary out there, His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th, really feels like training wheels for director Daniel Farrands. At a mere 90 minutes this never reaches the thorough level of his follow-up (or even his four hour Nightmare on Elm Street doc, Never Sleep Again) and tends to go over topics fans of the franchise already know while glossing over the series quickly with basic plot summaries making this more of an introduction of Jason and his machete wielding mayhem to casual fans rather than those of us that grew up familiar with the strains of "che-che-che-ha-ha-ha".
That's not to say this doesn't offer up a few tidbits for fans but, honestly, with the arrival of Crystal Lake it just feels redundant. Hosted and narrated by effects wizard Tom Savini, I liked the structure Farrands has come up with by breaking up the numerous interviews by having our host popping up while a nubile girl is being chased down by our killer - filmed at the Friday exhibit from that year's Universal Studios Horror Nights. It breaks up the talking head sequences by having fun with slasher movie formula rather than just tossing out various movie clips. They've also tried to separate things into various sub-categories focussing on the series' formula, various Jason make-ups, final girl, and struggles with the censor happy MPAA. However, like I said, this being a made-for-TV documentary it's not as in-depth as a long-time fan like myself wanted and does feel a bit scattered at times. Throw in the fact that the end section about the 2009 remake gives the entire thing a cash-in sort of feel. I also didn't really dig them trying to give Jason a psychological profile - the dude's an indestructible killing machine, let's just leave it at that!
Farrands and company have gathered together a pretty decent batch of interview subjects though and I've always found it fun to see how the guys and girls I either rooted for to live (or die a horrible, horrible death) have aged and how their participation in what most mainstream critics consider to be lowbrow flicks has affected their lives. We all know Sean S. Cunningham, who directed the 1980 original, has moved on to produce some pretty cool genre movies (1985's House to name an awesome one) and that Kane Hodder, who portrayed our hockey masked killer from part seven to Jason X, has become a beloved cult figure but you might not be aware that, to this very day, Ari Lehman who portrayed the gnarly teenage Jason who makes a surprise visit from the lake in the original has been keeping his finger in the pie (as it were) by making various convention appearances, playing key-tar in a metal band dubbed First Jason, and even slapping his name on a Jason themed hot sauce. There are also seemingly random interviews from various non-Friday related actors and journalists to break things up and they don't really add much to the proceedings. I found the whole section about the series' continuity to be pretty damn amusing though.
His Name Was Jason works as the TV produced documentary it is but really doesn't rise above a lot of the retrospective featurettes scattered throughout your DVD collection. I wasn't bored during it but I also didn't learn anything new. Perhaps if Crystal Lake Memories didn't exist I could recommend this a little easier but, as is, I can only tell the most casual of fans to check this one out if they don't want to commit to the (admittedly) daunting six hours that follow-up contains. Still, it's obvious Farrands loves the genre having written the much maligned sixth Halloween entry (The Curse of Michael Myers) as well as making the aforementioned Never Sleep Again, a TV documentary on Wes Craven's Scream, and acting as a producer on the upcoming Amityville: The Reawakening. (Chris Hartley, 8/5/15)
Directed By: Daniel Farrands.
Written By: Thommy Hutson, Anthony Masi.