Craptastic Cinema

Celebrating The Best Of The Worst Movies

Friday the 13th

Year : 1980 Director : Sean S. Cunningham Running Time : 95 Minutes Genre :
Movie review score

It has been said on more than one occasion that everyone loves a good scare.  In the world of movies, this is especially true.  It is next to impossible to count all the horror movies that come out each year.  In fact I tried for 2012 alone, and lost count just after I got past 200 movies.  Even then, I still had several hundred to go on the list.  The argument could be made that horror movies are the most popular genre out there.  That being said, not everyone likes the same type of scare.   Some like a psychological thriller, while others prefer monster movies.  One horror sub-genre that is considered the most controversial is “slasher films“.

The first slasher films date back to the 1930’s, and they had modest success.  The first major slasher movie was Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho in 1960.  Several films came out after Psycho to cash in on the new found popularity, but that didn’t last long in America.  However, in Italy, the slasher film continued to evolve and had huge audiences.  In the mid 1970’s, the directors Bob Clark and John Carpenter took what they saw in those Italian slasher films and revamped the genre in America with their movies Black Christmas and Halloween respectively.  Halloween was without a doubt the granddaddy of all slasher films, and became the blueprint of many films that followed.  One of those films happened to be 1980’s Friday the 13th.

Friday the 13th takes place in 1978 at a fictitious summer camp called Camp Crystal Lake.  The camp had been closed for twenty years after the unsolved murders of two of the camp’s counselors.  The camp has a new owner, who hopes to reopen the camp that summer.  He had his counselors arrive several days before the children do to fix the place up.  We are first introduced to Annie (Robbi Morgan), one of the new staff members, who is hitchhiking her way to the camp.  She is warned by the local townspeople about the murders, and other strange occurrences that have happened around Camp Crystal Lake since then.  One of the people that gave her a lift frightened her, and so she jumped from their car.  The driver’s face is never seen, but what we do see is that this driver gets out of their car, and murders Annie.  Thus making her the first victim of this new staff.

Back at the camp, we meet the rest of the counselors who were tasked with fixing the place up.  Of course these teens are obsessed with sex, drugs, and having a good time.  The most straight lased of the group is Alice (Adrienne King).  If one were to single out the “main character” of Friday the 13th, it would be Alice.  Among some of the other counselors are Jack (Kevin Bacon) and Bill (Harry Crosby).  As the night progresses, Bill and Alice notice people are disappearing around them.  After a game of strip Monopoly, they hear Brenda (Laurie Bartram) scream outside as she headed back to her cabin.  This begins the final sequence of events that puts Alice against the one who has been murdering all her friends and coworkers. Who was it though????

Okay okay, by now pretty much everyone knows that Jason Voorhees is NOT the main antagonist in the first Friday the 13th, and that it was his mother Pamela, played by Betsy Palmer.  It has became pop culture trivia at this point, cemented as such in movies like Scream.  Pamela blamed the counselors for the drowning death of her son Jason twenty years prior to the events in this movie.  She was the one murdering everyone, while Jason’s voice was telling her “kill them mommy”.  Alice’s final battle is against Pamela, and she chops off her head.  Alice escapes onto the lake in a boat and waits for the new day to rise.  Just before the cops get her out of the lake, a disfigured boy jumps out of the water and pulls her down.  Yep, Jason (Ari Lehman) is in the first Friday the 13th.  Anyone who tries to tell you he wasn’t, needs to watch the movie again.

On the Craptastic Scale, the first Friday the 13th gets a 4 out of 5.  This is an excellent horror flick.  It is suspenseful, gory, and has plenty of moments that will simply scare the breath right out of you.  There are two versions of this film out there.  I own both, but the one most people have seen, is the Rated R print.   There really isn’t much of a difference.  The filmmakers had to cut about 10 seconds of the movie out to prevent a “X” rating, the old version of NC-17.  The edits actually improved the movie in my opinion.  Most of the murders now happened off camera, and you only saw the aftermath.  This allowed the viewer’s imagination to run a little wild, thus adding to the scare factor.  After years of fans demanding the original print, it was finally released on DVD and BluRay as the “uncut” version of the film.  Most modern box sets have the uncut version, and not the Rated R print included in them.  In fact, I have only found the Rated R print on eBay, Netflix, and the original box set of the first 8 films.

Friday the 13th spawned a franchise which, so far, has totaled 12 films.  It, and Jason Voorhees, are considered among the “big three” in the world of slasher franchises.  The others being Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street, with Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger.  Just like those other franchises, there were some good and some bad sequels that followed.  However, the first Friday the 13th can stand on it’s own as a great movie.  It can be viewed time and time again, and every time equally enjoyable as the first.  It will make a perfect addition to any movie collection.  Friday the 13th should be considered as one of the best horror movies of all time.

How did it rank against the other Friday the 13th film?  Check out our ranking here

-Matt Camarco
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