While the first three films hit DVD in new Special Editions before the recent release of the "Friday the 13th" remake, new Special Editions of the fourth, fifth and six films in the series arrive on DVD at the same time as the remake hits home video. While the franchise popularity started to falter a bit by the 5th and 6th film, filmmakers still coasted on the popularity of Jason, who had become a legendary screen villain.
The fourth film in the series - this time directed by Joseph Zito - sees Jason once again on the loose. While he was thought to have been taken out of the picture completely after the third film, it's not long before another wave of violence sweeps through the nearby town. While Jason was carted away to the morgue, he rises again, killing his way out of the facility and storming his way back towards Crystal Lake. This time around, there's both the usual assortment of young adults who get it on before becoming the next victim, as well as a family - Mrs. Jarvis (Joan Freeman), daughter Trish (Kimberly Beck) and son Tommy (Corey Feldman).
What occurs isn't anything unexpected - Jason goes on a rampage with a hard-R (rating, that is) and director Joseph Zito crafts a few fairly well-choreographed moments, but the film as a whole does ultimately feel rather predictable. Still, the performances aren't half bad, with Feldman turning in a fine performance as Tommy, who is - as we see in the ending - more than a little effected by the proceedings of the film.
While the fourth movie was called "The Final Chapter"...it wasn't. The success of the fourth film (over $30M at the box office, which was certainly impressive given the era and the budget) resulted in plans for resurrecting the franchise with "The New Beginning", with filmmakers choosing to focus on the Tommy character, who became seriously disturbed after his encounter with Jason and who is now living in a halfway house for the troubled.
While Tommy (now played by John Shepherd) struggles to become accustomed to his new surroundings and those who also live in the facility, it's not long before a series of murders start occurring in and around the place. While those at the home and other townsfolk want to know the culprit, they don't like what they hear - some believe that Jason has somehow returned and is again out for blood. While the picture is filmed and directed in primitive fashion, it still manages some reasonably decent scares and fine performances from Shepherd and others.
Revived in the fifth picture, the franchise continued on with "Jason Lives", which figured out a most unexpected way to bring the villain back to life: lightning. This time around, Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews) decides that he has to go make sure that Jason is no longer, and tries to dig up the body. Needless to say, lightning manages to hit the corpse, reanimating it (d'oh!) and sending Jason on the warpath, this time in seemingly unstoppable fashion. Of course, he heads back towards Crystal Lake, which is now renamed Forest Green in an unsuccessful attempt forget the past. Although he doesn't get any help from the local authorities who don't believe his warnings, Tommy tries to end Jason's reign of terror for good. More over-the-top than prior films, the picture is a little cheesier, but still remains a fun sit for horror fans.
VIDEO: The fourth film is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and looks a little bit than its age would indicate: while some mild softness is seen at times, the picture is mostly crisp and detailed. Edge enhancement wasn't an issue, but a couple of minor traces of pixelation were spotted. There were a few minor specks and marks on the print used (as well as a reasonable amount of grain), but less than one might expect from a low-budget film from the time period. Colors remained natural and reasonably well-saturated, with no smearing or other concerns.
The fifth and sixth films are also presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and looked a few steps better than the fourth in terms of image quality. While neither sequel looked remarkably detailed, definition was a little better than expected. Some mild-to-moderate grain was seen, but didn't cause any irritation. Flaws included some light specks and marks, as well as a few minor instances of edge enhancement. Colors looked reasonably bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: All three films are presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The audio isn't exactly aggressive - nor would one expect a set of films from this era. Surrounds are not used too extensively, but the rear speakers are brought in for some support of the score, as well as occasional sound effects and ambience. Audio quality is generally satisfactory for the era - while effects can sound a little tinny at times, effects, music and dialogue mostly came across sounding clean and clear.
EXTRAS: The new discs each include commentaries - "IV" gets a track from screenwriter Barney Cohen, director Joe Zito and editor Joel Goodman, as well as another commentary from filmmakers Adam Green and Joe Lynch. "V" has a commentary from Michael Felsher, Danny Steinman and actors John Shepherd and Shavar Ross and finally, "VI" has a commentary from Tom McLoughlin, editor Bruce Green and actor Vincent Guastaferro. The commentaries are generally enjoyable - while they understandably have a few spaces of silence here-and-there, the participants do a nice job recalling a good deal of detail into the production, sharing some amusing behind-the-scenes stories and talking about such issues as casting, ratings issues, filming on location, budget and more.
Each of the new "Deluxe Editions" also includes deleted scenes (including a "Lost Ending" for "The Final Chapter"), the original theatrical trailers and more "Lost Tales From Camp Blood" pieces, which were seen with the "Deluxe Edition" releases of the first three films. Finally, all three titles include "The Crystal Lake Massacre Revisited", a three part (one on each DVD) documentary that looks into the events of the films.
"The Final Chapter" also includes the excellent "Jason's Lucky Day: 25 Years After 'The Final Chapter'", which includes entertaining interviews with cast and crew, who provide some fascinating stories about the production. The fourth DVD also includes a short piece called "Jimmy’s Dead Dance Moves" (footage of actor Crispin Glover's dance sequence.)
Finally, the fifth and sixth films also include enjoyable "making of" documentaries, as well: "New Beginnings: Making of Friday the 13th: A New Beginning" and "Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI".
Final Thoughts: With new extras and mildly improved presentation quality, these "Deluxe Editions" are recommended for fans.