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Crystal Lake Memories - If you don't buy this book, Jason will kill you ... or I will.
I bent down to pick up the package left for me by the postman. Damn, this thing is heavy! It was a book-shaped box, so I figured it was a long, flat stone shaped like a book. >THUNK< went the package onto my kitchen table and I reached for a letter opener. What's this? A book about hockey? No hockey book could have this much content. No! It was a copy of "Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th," and I yelped, quite audibly, muttered a nice long chorus of "coooooool," and sat down to see what this massive tome had to offer. And let me tell you longtime gorehounds something: This book has a LOT to offer.

Weighing in at nearly five pounds, swollen with over 320 pages and 600 photographs, measuring a healthy 9 x 12 coffee-table book standard, and packed to the blood-soaked rafters with absolutely everything you'd ever want to know about the Friday the 13thseries, "Crystal Lake Memories" is, quite simply, one of the finest books I've ever seen. (Keep in mind that this is coming from a guy who, as a kid, devoured the Friday the 13th movies as if they were crack-laced pop-tarts.) Reminiscent of a book that'd be put together for something like The Godfather or Citizen Kane, "Crystal Lake Memories" is simply all the Jason-fans will ever need. Well, this book and the DVDs, obviously.

I could rattle off the specs found in the press release (over 200 exclusive interviews with various cast & crew members, production histories of all eleven F13 films, never-before-seen production & publicity stills, storyboards, concept art, rare archival materials, extensive indices, bibliographies, and "coroner's reports"), but that wouldn't even scratch the surface of what author Peter M. Bracke has put together here. (If the author's name sounds familiar, then you're probably someone who used to read DVDFile back when Pete ran that particular ship.)

In his unending quest to mine every single Friday-factoid under the sun, Peter tracked down and interviewed Sean Cunningham, Wes Craven, Frank Mancuso, Victor Miller, Steve Miner, Kevin Bacon, Jeannine Taylor, Adrienne King, Tom Savini, Betsy Palmer, Harry Manfredini, Ari Lehman, Amy Steel, Warrington Gillette, Larry Zerner, Dana Kimmell, Richard Brooker, Joseph Zito, Crispin Glover, Corey Feldman, Ted White, Danny Steinmann, Tom McLoughlin, CJ Graham, John Carl Buechler, Lar Park Lincoln, Rob Hedden, Kelly Hu, Kelly Rowland, Ronny Yu, Robert Shaye, Adam Marcus, Erin Gray, Greg Nicotero, Jim Isaac, Todd Farmer, Lexa Doig, Lisa Ryder, Monica Keena, Ken Kirzinger, Toby Emmerich, Jason Ritter, Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, Tony Timpone... I mean, wow. And that's not even one-third of the participants. (And if you recognized at least half of those names, then you are precisely who this book was written for.) You remember the goofy cop from the first Friday and the tubby banana-eating hitchhiker from Part 4? Even they got interviewed!

Proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he's even more of a Fridayfreak than yours truly, Mr. Bracke spent over three years compiling interviews, digging through Paramount and New Line archives, and writing numerous essays on the finer points of Jason Voorhees and his stab-happy exploits. And the result is pretty damn phenomenal. To be completely honest, I'm only about halfway through this book, partially because I'm a busy guy and this is a massive book, but mainly because I want to take some time to savor the gory goodness, but there's simply no denying that this book is a class act from stem to stern. It's precisely the sort of piece that a hardcore and unashamed horror freak would proudly display atop his swankiest coffee table -- if he wasn't afraid of spilling Pepsi on it and ruining such a lovely collector's piece.

And there's something else about the sterling quality of this book that pleases me to no end. By treating the Friday the 13th films with such even-keeled and matter-of-fact respect, a book like this brings just a little more legitimacy to a genre that the nose-in-the-airs love to hate. The author and the numerous interview subjects have no allusions as to what the Friday films are: Good, goofy, gory fun. Sometimes stupid, sometimes scary, but still a memorable and colorful piece of American cinema history. Dismiss the Jason movies as mindless crap if you like, but I don't believe that mindless crap could inspire a book this entertaining. (Unlikely you'll ever see a book like this about the Leprechaun series.)

Right now, without even having looked at Amazon to check the sticker price, I'd say this book is worth at least fifty bucks to the serious slasher fans. Yes, even if you're presently unemployed and will have to go without DVDs for three weeks in order to afford it. Those who find the F13 series endlessly fascinating, and there are tons of us, believe me, will consider the coin money well-spent after, say, two full chapters. (And now I go to Amazon.com to check the price...)

Well, gee. Forgive me for sounding like I'm Peter Bracke's shill here, but Amazon offers this book for the price of 27 bucks. Twenty-seven bucks. Jason junkies, this is an absolute steal, and I'm being the pinnacle of sincere here. Based only on the quality, the size, and the presentation, I'd have guessed this thing would be 35-40 bucks, easy.

Hey, I've got nothing to gain by hawking this book, folks. I've never dealt with Peter Bracke nor am I married to his sister. I already have my own copy of this amazing book, and I think I might just ask to be buried with it, thank you very much, so I've no ulterior motives here. I'm pushing this release so hard because it's just that damn good -- and they're only printing 5,000 of 'em.

Clearly a long and difficult labor of love for Mr. Bracke, "Crystal Lake Memories" might just be one of the very coolest movie books I've ever seen. And if you're even half the Friday-fan that I am, there's simply no way you'll be disappointed with this gloriously grue-strewn gift.

I'm not kidding, horror-fans; "Crystal Lake Memories" is a mammoth treat that'll take you weeks to sift through, and if you buy a copy and somehow end up disappointed, drop me an email, because I love talking to insane people.

Official Site: Crystal Lake Memories / Amazon.com Link: (27 bucks!!).

- Scott Weinberg

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