One of the most enduring horror film franchises of all time, Friday the 13th: The Ultimate Collection arrives on DVD just in time for Halloween. This particularly configuration is aimed at people who have not yet purchased Friday the 13th parts one through eight (the installments produced by Paramount; the later films were produced by New Line). The saga of Jason Voorhees first arrived on DVD in boxset form in 2004. Updated stand-alone releases were issued in 2009, with new bonus features (but minus the features from the ’04 boxset). This new collection gathers up the ’09 DVDs in a new deluxe package.
In other words, it doesn’t live up to its “ultimate” billing. For starters, there is no Blu-ray counterpart. The individual Friday the 13th movies have been trickling out in high definition, with parts one through three available so far. But if you’re holding out for a complete set, the wait goes on. The new collection is housed in a thin, flexible plastic box. Each box is numbered, as this is release is limited to a run of 50,000. The eight DVDs themselves are slotted into sleeves inside a book. Understandably, this is bound to tick some folks off. Discs that are stored in cardboard sleeves are prone to scratches. Consider yourself warned.
Besides the “limited edition” aspect, the other big gimmick is the inclusion of a miniature Jason hockey mask. Be aware this mask would only fit a toddler, as it is only about as big as a DVD case. That said, it is kind of a cool trinket. The mask is well-constructed and might look neat when displayed with other related collectibles. But then again, if it’s only the movies you’re interested, this particular chotchkie might not be a very enticing selling point.
As for the movies themselves, even the most hardcore fan of the franchise is liable to admit they are a mixed bag. After the first one (unrated in this set, featuring ten seconds of footage not in the theatrical version), they start to feel a little interchangeable. Everyone has their own favorites, with part six, Jason Lives being mine. It stands out as being generally more entertaining than the other sequels, with a healthy dose of humor balancing out the creepiness. Arguably none are as bad as the execrable Jason X from 2001 (not included, or missed, in this set). Each movie is supplemented by a decent array of special features (all carried over from the 2009 releases), with the exception of part three. The third one is presented in both 2-D and 3-D, with a couple pairs of cardboard 3-D glasses included.
If you already have the 2004 boxset or the 2009 individual releases (or both), I recommend avoiding this triple-dip. And eventually they are likely to all be available on Blu-ray, so if that’s important to you then you might as well wait. If you don’t care about Blu-ray, Friday the 13th: The Ultimate Collection is reasonably priced (you can easily find the set for under forty bucks), making it a decent buy for anyone who doesn’t already own these films.