While I'm not a fan of the Friday the 13th horror franchise, I am often interested in the behind-the-scenes happenings of horror movies; and it's hard to ignore one of the most successful slasher film series ever.  The documentary  His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th takes a loving, somewhat insular look at the world of Jason Voorhees, Camp Crystal Lake, and a myriad of teenage victims.

Hosted by Tom Savini (who did the special effects for several of these movies, including the original), His Name Was Jason consists mostly of interviews with the actors, producers, and directors from the gamut of Friday the 13th movies.  (Sadly, Kevin Bacon isn't here.)  The folks discuss everything from shooting the movies, to their favorite kills, to Jason becoming the movies' protagonist and almost sympathetic, to teens who actually survived.  There's the series' impact on horror -- described as twelve movies in three decades, making half a billion dollars -- and its merchandising, enduring popularity, and 2009 reboot.

While the number of folks interviewed is impressive, it's almost 100% positive about the movies.  The only real disagreement is who gave Jason his now-iconic hockey mask, and everyone had a universally good time making the movies, with plenty of success afterwards.  The continuity issues between movies are glossed over (one person's reply to those errors: "So What?"), and the criticism of the series for violence and stupidity (Roger Ebert called Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter "an immoral and reprehensible piece of trash") are met with the response that it simply made the movies more popular.

 His Name Was Jason also doesn't go outside the franchise too much.  While the documentary discusses the wide-ranging impact the series has had on slashers, the only movie mentioned in this manner is Hatchet.  There's also no mention of movies that may have inspired or influenced the first Friday the 13th, notably Halloween.

Someone described the Friday the 13th movies as "simple and scary," and that's the approach His Name Was Jason takes to the movies.  There's not critical analysis of the movies or deeper look at the movies beyond how fun and awesome they were.  Fans of the movies will be happy hearing the actors talking about being in the roles.  Non-fans (like me) will still find the stories and history interesting, if a bit shallow.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch

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