One might wonder what’s gay about the Friday the 13th series, and the answer would be “Friday the 13th Part 7: The New Blood,” at least according to Peter Bracke’s Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (Sparkplug Press, $39.95). In this gorgeous, encyclopedic coffee-table book, gay author-editor Bracke digs deeper into the horror genre’s most successful franchise than Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom’s Marlin Perkins exploring a next of prairie dogs. For instance, gay actor (and now writer-director) Bill Butler recounts to Bracke the exploits of F13: 7’s other gay cast members Kevin Spiritas, Craig Thomas, and Jeff Bennett. (Of course, I won’t spoil the good gossip here—buy the book!)
But to dwell on the few choice gay tidbits would be to ignore the main draw of this book, which is the overwhelming amount of information contained therein. At over 300 pages, this meticulously researched tome literally covers every base of the 11 films and one TV series. There are over 200 interviews here—with actors, directors, writers, special effects artists, editors, producers, even that one girl who got stabbed in the neck while eating a banana in Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter. (It was Bonnie Hellman.)
And pictures? We got pictures. With at least one photo on every page, there are almost 1,000 film stills and behind-the-scenes photos, most in full color. This book is so heavy in both content and actual poundage, it could be used as a bludgeon if you felt the need to take out a camp counselor or two.
If you like dish, you’ll have a steaming plate full of bloody tidbits. In each chapter the reader is walked through preproduction, production, and finally the aftermath of one film, all in first-person narrative from the people involved. Whatever his interview technique, Bracke convinces all of his subjects to open up and get honest, almost to a fault. As you read the book you’ll realize that all is not rosy at Camp Crystal Lake—there is seemingly no conflict, whether it’s over bad catering or being cheated out of credit and money or on-set romances, that isn’t examined in excruciating detail by multiple perspectives.
Coffee-table books are far too often vanity projects, seemingly created so the subject or author can say, “Look! This book is about me!” and hand them out as Christmas gifts. But to call Crystal Lake Memories a vanity project would do it a grave disservice. Bracke realized at a late-night screening of Friday the 13th 3: 3-D that there were no books dedicated to the meat of the F13 film series, and he set out to change that, not realizing it would take three years and the loss of his day job to do it.
Crystal Lake Memories sets the bar rather high for anyone contemplating, say, a Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street equivalent. The author’s obvious love of the subject matter and the beautiful production values make this the book to beat in the genre of film tie-ins. This hardcover edition is being printed in a limited run, so get one fast or be left without adequate protection on your next camping trip.