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You are here: Home - - - > Book Reviews Index - - - > "Making Friday the 13th: The Legend of Camp Blood" Book Review
Making Friday the 13th: The Legend of Camp Blood
By David Grove
Published by FAB Press, UK
Review By: Matthew Dean Hill

Talk about your niche audience! There's certainly a built-in audience for this book, but really...does anyone with the brain capacity to absorb this much information really care about the Friday the 13th series after, say, The Final Chapter? Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows. We have to assume, though, that FAB Press, long the (arguably) finest purveyours of genre cinema reference books, knows their audience. Thus, we have David Grove's typically exhaustive and totally exemplary book "Making Friday the 13th: The Legend of Camp Blood", a book whose very title is a bit misleading. You see, the book doesn't just deal with the first film in this increasingly irrelevant and shoddy franchise. No, it goes to really muddy depths to scour the entire series (yes, even that "outer space" one) for enough information to, well, to fill a weighty genre cinema reference book. Now, I'm no curmudgeon. I realize that for some fans, Jason can do no wrong. They absolutely lap up his every (mis)adventure like pigs at the trough. However, I ain't one of those fans. Furthermore, the only entries in the series I can even bring myself to watch anymore are the first, the fourth, and occasionally, the second. So, I'll go on record here and say that, to this reviewer, with the exception of those three films, the entire series should never have been made. They're crap. Ahh, but there's the rub, right? Most horror movies are crap, right? It's kind of a case of "trash taken seriously", to borrow a column title from "Asian Cult Cinema" magazine. Still, every fan's got to draw the line somewhere, and for me, it's the incessant, cash-grabbing stupidity of the Friday the 13th series. That said, I'm sure you're all wondering if I can actually write a fair review of "Making Friday the 13th: The Legend of Camp Blood". Well, you'll just have to wait and see for yourselves.

Let me just say right off the bat that David Grove has done a smash-up job with this book. He's clearly an authority on not only the Friday the 13th series, but also on horror and, in particular, 1980's "slasher" or "teenkill" movies. This knowledge is demonstrated quite nicely in the introduction and the first few chapters, where Grove has the opportunity to fill us in on some of the landmark horror moments that led directly to the Friday the 13th's of the world. He also goes in-depth about the entire pre-mid-and-post production process of the first Friday, including casting, special effects (with many oft-seen and several not-so-oft-seen stills courtesy of Tom Savini), and nearly every other aspect of production. Grove also gives us some perspective on just why Friday was such a box-office powerhouse, delving into how Friday didn't just change horror films, but the way all films are marketed and distributed. It seems, if Grove is to be believed (and he probably should be), that the release of Friday the 13th was indeed a watershed moment in mainstream cinema, if only for strictly financial reasons. And let's face it...the Friday series (with the possible exception of the taut, scary first entry) aren't exactly Citizen Kane, are they? It's to Grove's credit that he intrinsically understands and accepts this concept, as it would be far too easy to just laud and praise these flicks far beyond their reasonable level of deservedness.

After spending a suitable amount of time on the original film, Grove then launches into the dubious task of treating the rest of the films with the same scrutiny. Let me tell you something here, it doesn't take a big, pretty book to tell me that the Friday the 13th series...particularly everything after the so-called "Final Chapter"...doesn't hold up too well to this much scrutiny, much less repeated viewings.

Whatever. If you're going to buy this book, you're going to love it. Whether or not you view the Friday films as high art doesn't really matter. This book is extremely informative, ridiculously well written (given the subject matter), and exceptionally well put together. The absolutely vast collection of promotional stills, candid shots, and other purty pick-chahs is alone worth the price. So, the bottom line, this is a great book, and it never tries to gloss over the fact that much of its subject matter is, shall we say, less than worthy of such lavish attention. David Grove is a fine writer, too...I can't wait to see something from him about a subject a bit more akin to my own tastes in horror.

"Making Friday the 13th: The Legend of Camp Blood" comes with my highest recommendation (as usual for a book from FAB Press). Just remember that if you're not the biggest fan of the series, this book won't change your mind. But then again, it doesn't try.

- Matthew Dean Hill