Ki-Ki-Ki, Ma-Ma-Ma…Sorry, just had to get that out of my system. Good morning, good afternoon or good evening fellow creatures of the night, all of course depending on which time of the day you are reading this one. We have reached the penultimate chapter of my Countdown to Halloween series, a collection of posts diving into all things horror. In a week from now, it will be the 31st of October, and it will also be the night he came home. And if you know your horror classics, you will know to which “he” I am referring. But that is a campfire tale that I will save for next week. So what about today’s post huh? When it comes to us horror fans I guess we all have our favorite horror icons. For some that might be the glove wielding Freddy Krueger from the A Nightmare on Elmstreet franchise, for others it’s serial killer Michael Myers from the classic Halloween, and there might even be people that are rooting for Jigsaw from the gruelling Saw movies. Whatever kind of poison you prefer, all of these have become a part of popculture in some form or another. Not to mention inspiring loads of merchandise items, ranging from lunch boxes, action figures, puzzles or even more obscure items. Now do I have a favorite of my own? Well, you know me, and of course it will come as no real surprise that the answer to that question is a bloodcurdling yes!
Friday the 13th is one of the first slasher movies that got released after the huge succes of John Carpenter’s Halloween. Taking place at the lovely summercamp of Crystal Lake, it tells the family friendly (not) tale of how a bunch of hormone crazed teenagers were picked off one by one, by an unknown killer. Quite often in very bloody ways. In the movie audiences were also introduced to the story of Jason Voorhees, a young boy that drowned at Crystal Lake year’s earlier while his camp counselors were having sex. Little did they know, much less the creators of that first film, that this story would give birth to one of horror’s most iconic characters. When the first sequel came out, it was established that Jason somehow survived his drowning and he has a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. Well, that’s quite the understatement I guess, as Jason would go on a killing spree that spawned 10 sequels (not counting a remake), culminating in a clash with his biggest rival Freddy Krueger, in 2002’s Freddy vs Jason. Now I’m not even going to deny it, all of these are B-movies, with maybe the exception of Freddy vs Jason. They are all pretty bad, have some questionable acting performances, and are not what some people would consider Oscar worthy material. Yet….I love them!
And I am not alone in this either. The franchise has made hundreds of millions of dollars, and is one of the most profitable horror series to date. Why exactly is that? I guess a part of the answer to that question is Jason Voorhees himself. Even though he’s a horrible figure, his iconic hockey mask that has been a part of him since the third film, and the way he creatively kills people is part of the fun of these movies. Well if you love horror films that is. Films like these are part of that genre of movies that I always like to call “ They are so bad, that they are good”. It’s simply a guilty pleasure, and I guess we all have things like that in our lives, or maybe that’s just me. I own all of the movies on dvd, and it’s become kind of a tradition to at least watch one or two of them every Halloween. But in this post I’m not going to be reviewing any of the films, but rather a fantastic book that covers the entire franchise called Crystal Lake Memories. This book is a Friday the 13th fan’s dream come true. The fantastic cover for this coffee table book immediately manages to draw you in and works as great preview for the good things to come. It’s a massive 320 page book, that weighs a ton, and could be used by Jason himself to kill someone. Or for home defense, whatever you prefer I guess.
Author Peter M. Bracke has spent more than three and a half years in doing research for this book and it totally shows. This book really is the definitive source for the entire franchise, and chronicles the making of all 11 original movies. The only film that isn’t covered in this one is the remake from 2009, but seeing as that is honestly a totally different movie anyway, I’m not the least bit disappointed in that. Each film has it’s own chapter comprised of hundreds of interviews with cast and crew alike. You might think that this would become quite boring after a while, but it totally didn’t. It was very nice to get the perspectives of everyone that were involved in these films, and honestly I wasn’t prepared for quite a lot of problems that came up during the filming of some of them. Ranging from budgetary restrictions, to actors and crew clashing on the set, it at times even felt you were on a talkshow where family members talked trash about each other. It was very refreshing to see the author not having any judgement on which of these people were right or wrong. It’s up to the reader to decide who to believe, and I definitely rolled my eyes a couple of times during certain interviews that offered different points of view on a particular issue.
And then of course there are the photographs that are contained within the book. There are hundreds of them, covering stills from the movies but also a lot of behind the scenes photography, as well as pictures that deal with the horrific and often bloody kills that the movies are famous for. Each chapter ends with details on how the movie eventually performed at the box office. You won’t believe how much profits the films at times gathered. As they were relatively cheaply made films, at least in terms of Hollywood blockbusters, Jason was a real moneymaker for the studios involved in releasing them. Our favorite hockey mask wearing killer hasn’t been seen in the cinemas for quite a while, and there aren’t any rumors about a new film being in development either. That said, some legends never die, and it would not surprise me if mr. Voorhees were to eventually reappear again. Crystal Lake Memories is a fantastic book for fans of horror. It gives an insightful look in the entire process of making these films, as well as the hard work and dedication of the people that bring these movies to life. It goes without saying that if you are a Friday the 13th lover, this book is an absolute must buy, that won’t disappoint in any way.
I give Crystal Lake Memories a 10 out of 10 score.