Film Review: Friday the 13th (1980)

SYNOPSIS:

Some plucky college aged kids find themselves reopening a summer camp despite the dark cloud and pile of dead bodies that surround it. As the partying begins, the clothes come off and the pots smoked, the kids find them selves killed one by one in increasingly creative ways. Who is behind this killing spree and who will survive the night at camp Crystal Lake?

REVIEW:

Seriously no one reviewed this yet? It’s like going to 7-11 and not getting a slurpee, makes no sense at all. Well in light of the impending remake I have taken it upon myself to review every movie in the series for the 2 or 3 people left out there that haven’t seen the Friday the 13th films yet.

For the first film in a very long series, Friday the 13th is a pretty good start as it sets the tone for a good portion of the films that follow it. The set up is simple but by no means is it original considering some of the films that came before it (Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre to name a few). But what Friday the 13th does that previous films didn’t do prior is that it goes out of its way to be fun, even if it’s in a Grand Guignol style. Here’s how it goes: You get a group of teens or 20-somthings that the target audience relates to in some way due to their cookie cutter personalities. You let the teens do things the target audience knows they aren’t supposed to be doing like partying, drinking, drugs and %$%*@, and then you “punish” them one by one usually via an over the top murder at the hands of a gimmicked killer. You follow the teens as they try to figure out this who-dun-it usually with a startling end result. The only characters that live are usually the ones that are totally innocent.

The film from the start has the strength of Tom Savini behind the films effects makeup. Still relatively unknown beyond the George Romero universe Savini gets more room to flex his muscles in some great effects and the invention of Jason’s famous “Mongoloid” look. We get the start of some great Friday the 13th effects including an axe to the face, some great slit throats, and Kevin Bacon’s classic arrow through the neck. Plenty of red stuff flows in the first installment of Friday the 13th so gore hounds won’t be disappointed. Also showing up to become part of the backbone the franchise is the methodical score by Harry Manfredini who invented the trade “Kill-Kill-MOM-MOM we all know so well.

The film its self isn’t that bad if you ignore everything that came after it and view it as a stand alone film. The action and suspense is kept intense thanks in part to the pacing and editing of the film which is handled with skill. What would really happen if one night some maniac started offing some teens at a summer camp? Friday the 13th isn’t much of a stretch. It’s really not until you get Jason introduced into the series do you get to throw common sense out the window.

By it’s self and as part of the series the first entry into the Friday the 13th series is pretty damn good. The scares are genuine and the film is tight and I recommend it as essential viewing for any horror fan.
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I am however not done. I don’t see any point in writing a Friday the 13th review unless I am doing something that hasn’t been done before. So in each review I am going to do something I feel hasn’t been done before regarding the franchise and the specific movie I’m reviewing.

On the character of Jason Voorhees:

*Spoiler* Jason Voorhees isn’t the killer of the first film, his mother is, and it’s a shame she stays dead after the first movie because she’s one crazy bitch.*Spoiler* That isn’t to say Jason isn’t in this film he’s just here in a form most fans aren’t used too. Jason here is for the most part a sad flashback, a child that dies tragically due to the neglect of some horny teens, and maybe just maybe you’re supposed to relate to his mother Pamela and her quest for revenge.

Now the question posed at the end of the film is Jason really dead? Is he a delusion? That’s defiantly possible considering the events of the second film. Has he been alive the whole time? Again if you take the events of the second film into consideration it’s a real possibility, but I pose this what if. Perhaps the appearance of the famed Necronomicon in Jason goes to hell hints that Ms. Voorhees was dabbling in the dark arts, and certainly looking for a way to bring back her son. What if she did? And the fruits of her labor are at the end of the film? This is not cannon it’s just a what if from a crazy fan boy, nothing more. Check out this youtube clip if you want a taste of how this theory might have went down.

Another thing I am going to do in each review is point out the reasons or character flaws each movie gives for killing a character and compile an on going list.

Friday the 13th’s offences punishable by death:
1: Smoking Pot
2. Drinking
2. Pre-marital sex
3. Being a tool (see: the Steve Christy character)
4. Using the bathroom after sex
5. Trying to get laid, and failing
6. Opening Camp Crystal Lake despite everything everyone including crazy Ralph has been telling you.
7. Having the name Kevin Bacon

Body count: 9
Best kill: Kevin Bacon’s Arrow Tracheotomy

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4 Responses to Film Review: Friday the 13th (1980)

  1. M.B. says:

    Yes, that is terrifying when Kevin Bacon has his throat ripped out in that scene! But there’s something more scary about knowing that an old lady did it.

    The music score is definitely more creepy in part two, which is why I like part two slightly better. But there is a very dark atmosphere in the 1980 movie. There’s just something about imagining Mrs. Voorhees lurking in the shadows, watching their every move, grinning that demented grin of hers and plotting murder.

    It is very sad too, because the only reason she kills people is because she went batsh*t insane after her only child died. So we’re left to wonder if she would actually be a normal person had Jason not drowned.

    And of course, it was classic when Alice beheaded Mrs. Voorhees….that scene in slow motion with the scary music will always be an iconic moment in American horror.

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