No other would deserve the first rank more than the Friday the 13 franchise. Considering another title was not necessary at all. Of course, it is obvious that the Friday the 13th series are not the most sophisticated movies nor are they an insiders' tip of any kind. On the contrary: it is all about mainstream meeting trash. But that does not matter. As already explained, this list considers things like cult factor, level of awareness, possible (but not yet necessary) meaning of movie in history of film and also the extent and consistancy about a never released uncensored version. In all these areas, Friday the 13th is at the very front. Not only is the franchise including Jason Vorhees with many sequels, several spoofs and a huge number of any kind of merchandise commodities one of the most popular phenomenons in pop culture but it also had a great influence on the slasher genre and the (horror) film itself - especially the first installment. Admittedly, the slasher genre had already established and become mainstream due to the huge success of John Carpenter's Halloween but the incredible handmade special and make up effects by SFX guru Tom Savini established a new trend in the horror film genre: making the kills as brutal and creative as possible. Whether or not this trend was required is not up for debate here because even people who are not so fond of violent movies cannot deny that Friday the 13th was the movie that started (in cooperation with other movies) evolved this trend. Until today, this morbid development is not completed - as the controversial so-called torture porn movies in the last few years clearly show. It does not always have to be Ben Hur or Lawrence of Arabia to make history. Especially when moral values are being left out of it.
The most relevant factor for choosing the Friday the 13th series as number one are never released uncensored versions of course because that is where the series differs from similar legends. On that subject alone, many books could be written. In many countries, the movies had its issues with the rating boards - especially in its country of origin, the US. A lot of the 12 movies were censored for the R-Rating before release. Noticeable is the huge number of movies that are affected by this and also the dimension of the alterations before passing them in to the MPAA. Quite often, the alterations can be told a mile off. To get the R-Rating, any single installment required alterations: from 1 to 10. Especially part 2 and 7 were heavily censored. So far, only the original part 1 and part 9 are available as unrated versions (= uncensored). For a long time, people were under the assumption that the quite bloody forth installment (The Final Chapter) was uncensored as well. Every now and then, one can read it about Jason X, too. But in both cases, that is not true. Direcot Joseph Zito has already explained in an interview that almost every single kill in The Final Chapter was censored in order to get the R-Rating. In the audio commentary of Jason X, this issue being discussed as well.The situation of the remake is still indetermined though. It was rated R in movie theaters. On Blu-ray and DVD, a so-called Killer Cut with more sex and violence is available. But since the Killer Cut got rated R as well, there is a chance that Warner either cut the movie as precautionary measure in order to make sure they would get the R-Rating or they did not have any intention whatsoever to show that version in move theaters in order to have the opportunity to release a longer version on Blu-ray and DVD. Either way, the theatrical version is way more harmless than the Killer Cut.
By a mixture of curiousity, hope and frustration, the discussion about uncensored versions has been started all over again over the years. One of the main reasons is the fact that there is a lot of material - such as production photos, videos, workprints, interviews, outtakes and further bonus material - out there. This goes for many scens but not for all of them. Furthermore, the two major studios that are basically in charge - Warner and Paramount - have managed to ignore and disappoint the fans's request of uncensored versions over and over again. If there was a list of movies with the most online petitions, the Friday the 13th franchise would be on top of it. But it did not make any difference. Often, after a step forward, the following re-release is a step backwards.
Now a summary of the most important milestones regarding the releases since the beginning of the DVD era.
DVD First Edition: same old, same old
Most of the Friday the 13th installments saw the light of day quite early. Back in 1999, Paramount released the first movies on the US market. Important difference: at that point, Paramount had the rights for the parts 1 to 8 for the US while they only had the rights for part 2 to 8 for the European market. Warner had the rights for the first one. Paramount released the R-Rated versions of any movie on unkind barebone discs (= no bonus material whatsoever). Even the DVD of the first one only contained the R-Rated version. In Europe, Warner usually released the Unrated Version of the first one which is why it was a step back from the Americans' perspective. Apparently, requesting the Unrated Version from Warner was not an option for Paramount.In 2002, the European releases of Friday the 13th part 2 to 8 followed (in Europe, Warner still had the rights for the first one). The DVDs were basically equal to the US releases. At least in Germany and the UK, the fans were a bit happy because it was the first time the uncensored R-Rated Versions. Due to national restrictions, the movies contained further alterations before. That is why the fact that the uncensored were not released was not such an issue as it was in the US when the movies were released there. In 2003, Warner released the original Friday the 13th in Europe. Thank God it was the Unrated Version. But then again, it was also kind of standard because it had already been available on VHS for many years. At least, the image quality was improved. Unless one had imported the censored Paramount DVD before.
With the release of Jason Goes to Hell in 2002, Warner / New Line really set an example of how it is done: the DVD contained both the R-Rated and Unrated Version. Quite an examplary release, including the alternate scenes from the US TV Version available as bonus. But in 2003, the same studio blew it with Jason X. The first edition in Europe only contained the R-Rated Theatrical Version.There is a detailled discussion about the alterations in the audio commentary. There were rumors that the Spanish DVD contained in fact the uncensored Unrated Version but it turned out to be a hoax quickly. One year later, the US release by Warner / New Line followed. Just the R-Rated again. Even though the Unrated boom for home theaters had already started.
DVD Ultimate Collection: A few Unrated Deleted Scenes as top seller
5 years after the first release in the US, after millions of mails and what felt like 10,000 online petitions later, Paramount announced an elaborate box set with the first 8 installments for the US. It was released in october 2004, called Friday the 13th: From Crystal Lake to Manhatten – Ultimate Collection.As for Europe it was clear from the beginning that this box set would never see the light of day in Europe because Warner still had the rights for the first one.
As soon as the US box set was announced, intensive discussions in message boards all over the world started. After many many releases, there was realistic hope for the very first time that the release of the Unrated Version might actually be going to happen. The harsher was the disappointment when the box was actually released. While the box was looking well from the outside, the discs themselves were in Slim Cases made out of plastic. Furthermore, there were two films on one disc in order to keep the production costs low. A policy usually known from cheap labels. Even back in 1999, each movie was released on a single disc. But all that wouldn't have mattered of the movies had been uncensored for the first time ever. But the fans were let down once again, ALL eight movies were released as R-Rated Version. Even the first one of which the Unrated Version had already been released in Europe a year before that.
It seemed like mockery that there was a particular bonus feature called Tales from the Cutting Room with several deleted scenes available. Among them scene comparison between the R-Rated and Unrated Version of the first Friday. Only Paramount knows why they produced this feature instead of getting the actual Unrated Version from Warner. The "highlight" of this feature were the deleted scenes of Friday the 13th Part VII which probably suffered the most from the required alterations for the R-Rating. Of course, one could argue that having the scenes as deleted scenes in bad quality is still better than nothing and yet anyone on this planet (ecept the guys from Paramount) would agree that releasing the actual Unrated Versions is what anyone has been waiting for for decades. Moreover, most of the scenes had already been available before - same goes for the unrated scenes of the first one. Above all, the mentioned feature didn't show any unrated or deleted scene from the remaining installments. As a result, the entire feature felt like a drop in the bucket. Regarding The Final Chapter, some plot scenes from the US TV Version were available but none of the unrated scenes. Again.
To be fair, one of the main reasons for Paramount's stoic attitude was the own company policy. Or to be exact, the company policy of Viacom who took over Paramount back in 1994. Basically, Viacom is against any Unrated and NC-17 Versions which is alo the reason why the US videostore Blockbuster had a similar company policy (the belonged to Viacom for quite some time). But apparently, the rules are stretchable at Viacom as well because the own company policy has been broken several times over the years - e.g. for the releases of Presido and Team America: Wolrd Police. The latter one was released only 7 months after the Friday the 13th Ultimate Collection. And recently, it didn't matter either when the Blu-ray releases of movies like Hansel and Gretel or World War Z were up. By this time, Paramound releases Unrated Versions like any other studio - there are numerous examples.
2009 – DVD Deluxe Editions, the first Blu-rays and a few more Unrated Deleted Scenes
In 2009, New Line / Warner Bros brought the "Friday the 13th" remake to the theatres. Curiosly enough, the licensing worked the other way around this time. Warner was responsible for the US market, while Paramount released the remake internationally. Still, the remake was reason enough for Paramount USA - as is often the case when remakes or reboots see the light of day - to re-release part 1 - 8 on DVD to make some more money while the franchise is being talked about. Additionally, part 1 - 3 were released on Blu-ray for the first time.
Thus, things were getting interesting again and the hope among fans rose. After all, this was the third time that Paramount brought the movies on DVD in the USA and the boom of Unrated marketing in the home theatre market was at an all time high. And since the remake was out, fans expected the studio to make some extra effort. Then came the statement that Paramount would release the first part's Unrated movie on both DVD and Blu-ray and fans were very excited for the releases of the rest of the flicks. The new releases were called "Deluxe Editions". Each movie was released separately and "pimped" with a slipcase and hologram cover.
However, part 2-8 again were only released in their R-Rated form. All hopes that Paramount would not only use the Unrated strategy for the first part were gone. Instead of Unrated Versions they only added a few more deleted scenes. Part 4 included a few outtakes that had no audio. Of course, these scenes would not have been a part of the Unrated Version in this form, however, since the scenes were unfinished outtakes that sometimes depicted the exact same sequence, people could get a pretty good impression of how the actual scene of part 4 would have looked like.
Also, a few deleted scenes of part 6, 7, and 8 were included entitled "Slashed Scenes". The feature about part 6 included several scenes that had to be censored to get an R-Rating. The same goes for Part 7's feature. These scenes were already included in the Ultimate Collection enthalten (see above). However, this time the scenes were included with their original soundtrack, while the Ultimate Edition overdubbed them with audio commentary. Part 8's feature mainly included scenes that show the plot, there are also several scenes that had to be censored for the R-Rating (e.g. the harpoon kill).
That was pretty much it. There are still missing Unrated scenes from part 2, 3, and 5. Even with the other movies it is hard to understand why they did not go the extra mile to release a completely restored version of the uncut version instead of including a few more deleted scenes. The fact that the deleted scens of part 8 have a very good quality on the DVD make this even more incomprehensible - there cannot be any quality issue. Also, the fact that Paramount finally released the uncut version of part 1 clearly showed that they made little to no effort when releasing the previos DVDs (see above).
2013 – Blu-ray Complete Collection: Cash-Cow-Box in HD, and a step back in terms of versions and bonus features
In 2013, Warner Bros. rocked the boat when announcing that they bought the US-licenses of all FRIDAY THE 13th movies for three years. This was a sensation for two reasons. One, this was finally a possibility to release a complete box set which was prior to this day impossible since there was no country on earth where only one studio owned the rights to release all 12 movies; also they failed to arrange a cooperation. Two, it was the responsibility of a different studio to take care of part 1-8. Naturally, people were excited and hoped that the new studio might be more interested in what the fans wanted (i.e. the Unrated versions). Why else would Warner make such a huge fuss about the movies, only to then not provide the people with the ultimate release? However, Warners' motif seemed to be different: In 2015, they will release the newest part in the franchise, thus it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take over the entire franchise. In this respect, even the short time of only three years make sense: go in, make some profit, leave.
After taking over the rights from Paramount it was not long before Warner announced the first complete box set for September 13th 2013. This Blu-ray exklusive was called "The Complete Collection". Most of the parts now were released in HD for the first time - which is where the list of novelties stops. Warner even took a step backwards in the direction of double releases and put all 12 movies on only 9 Blu-ray discs. The package is completed with a bonus disc. Of course, the design of the box was pretty nice. It also included the extras and deleted scenes from Paramount's "Deluxe Editions". However, the long-awaited Unrated release was still not there. At first there was even a short suspicion whether or not the first movie might only have been included in its R-Rated version. At least this was untrue.
The biggest disappointment of the release was "Jason goes to Hell". It came as a big surprise that they unnecessarily only included the heavily butchered R-Rated version. Even the Laserdisc already included the Unrated version. Plus a few years back, Warner Bros / New Line had released the great DVD that included both versions (see above). Also, the box set is sold as being "Unrated" - as we now know, this is only due to part 1. Thus, there cannot have been a refusal to release Unrated versions.
When taking a closer look, even the bonus material is incomplete: a few interesting extras from the previous Paramount releases (such as audio commentary) are missing. Thus, a detailed comparison shows that Warner simply re-released the material that Paramount had already thrown on the market.
However, anyone who expected anything different from Warner backed the wrong horse. For years the label is known - both among fans and the press - as one of the least approachable studios. Apparently, Warner are simply too big to react to requests and the fans' desires. Also, they went in the same direction with their own cult franchise "Nightmare on Elm Street" when releasing part 1-5 (see the respective entry from this Top20 list). Thus, it was nothing but a great dream that they might do things differently with a franchise that they (partially) only borrowed. Also, Paramount was the studio that produced part 2-8, so if anyone has the easiest access to the unrated material, it is them - and even they did not give it to the fans. Selling the license to Warner for three years thus means more waiting for the fans since it is highly unlikely that they plan to release another box set once the next part comes out next year. Even if they do it will probably be nothing but a polished nice to look at box and - as a "highlight" - part 9 in its Unrated version.