Friday the 13th (1980)
Directed By: Sean Cunningham
Starring: Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, Kevin Bacon, Laurie Bartram, Mark Nelson, Jeannine Taylor, Betsy Palmer, Ari Lehman
Synopsis: A group of camp counselors are working diligently to prepare for a new season of camp, but an unseen antagonist has other ideas and begins to kill off the counselors one by one.
Thoughts: There are a lot of good and important movies in the horror genre, but very few can be considered watershed films. While not the first slasher to come out, Friday the 13th started a flood of countless slasher movies in the 80s, each trying to outdo body counts, inventive kills and insane plot twists. It could be argued that none of them topped the original, but it sure did give us horror hounds something to watch and is surely a watershed movie in the horror genre.
Friday the 13th was itself a copy of Halloween, intended to cash in on the infant slasher genre craze, and cash in it did, bringing in almost 40 million dollars on a budget of $550,000. Mulitiple sequels and countless copycats would soon follow. While none of the sequels can quite stand up to the original, there are some pretty good slasher movies to be found in the series, along with some real duds.
Following up his success with Dawn of the Dead, Tom Savini was in charge of the special effects here and once again delivered the goods. Like most of the Friday the 13th films, the MPAA required cuts to the death scenes, but the uncut version is finally available. Savini’s work doesn’t quite hold up to todays standards, but for me, that is part of the charm. Pioneers like Savini operated on a shoestring budget and created some amazing effects using latex, tubing and fake blood. One of my favorite bloopers from the first Friday is when the killer gets decapitated at the end. Take a look at the killer’s hands in the slow motion sequence. They don’t quite match up to the killer
The cast is pretty standard for 80s slashers, consisting of fresh, young unknown faces to play the victims, with one exception; Kevin Bacon plays one of the counselors. I wouldn’t say his acting was anything special, but it is always cool to see a young actor in a horror flick that goes on to be a pretty major star. The movie also features Betsy Palmer, a veteran actress, as Pamela Voorhees, the distraught mother of poor drowned Jason.
Another iconic piece of the puzzle here is Henry Manfredini’s score. I have no idea how many times the “ki ki ki, ma ma ma” riff has been used in pop culture, but I am sure it is a rather large number. Manfredini would go on to score many of the Friday the 13th movies.
I can’t imagine many horror fans that have yet to see this movie, but if it has somehow slipped by you, this is a must see film, not only because of its importance to the genre, but because it is actually pretty damn good.
Favorite Death Scene (SPOILERS): Seeing as how they are often the focal point to the Friday the 13th movies, I figured I would point out my favorite death scene from each Friday the 13th movie. For the original, it came down to two scenes. The runner up was the last death of the movie, the decapitation of Mrs. Voorhees. Not only was it a cool scene, but without it, we would probably have never had all the sequels.
My favorite, which probably comes as no surprise, is Jack’s (Kevin Bacon) death. Jack is kicking back in his bunk when he gets an arrow through the throat from underneath the bed. At the time, the FX here were amazing. Now, with high definition and gigantic home screens, you can see the makeup pretty clearly. It is still pretty damn cool in my book.