Friday the 13th (1980)
They were warned... they are doomed... and on Friday the 13th, nothing will save them.
Year of Release: 1980
Running Time: 95 minutes (1:35)
Director: Sean S. Cunningham
Betsy Palmer ... Mrs. Pamela Voorhees
Adrienne King ... Alice Hardy
Jeannine Taylor ... Marcie Cunningham
Robbi Morgan ... Annie
Kevin Bacon ... Jack Burrel
Harry Crosby ... Bill
Laurie Bartram ... Brenda
Mark Nelson ... Ned Rubinstein
Peter Brouwer ... Steve Christy
Walt Gorney ... Crazy Ralph
Ari Lehman ... Jason Voorhees
Tom Savini ... Man The Knife Killer (uncredited)
Terror and suspense abound in this 24-hour nightmare of blood. Camp Crystal Lake has been shuttered for over 20 years due to several vicious and unsolved murders. The camp's new owner and several young counselors are readying the property for re-opening despite warnings of a "death curse" by local residents. The curse proves true on Friday the 13th as one by one each of the counselors is stalked by a violent killer. This film is widely acclaimed for its horrifying and creative murder sequences.
Friday the 13th, the movie that reminds us there's nothing so priceless as a mother's love. Anytime I watch this one I get the urge to call Mom an tell her how much I appreciate her willingness to brutally slaughter anyone whose negligence might lead to my untimely demise. This is probably why our health care costs so much in this country. It's dangerous business being a doctor. As if the demanding schedule wasn't bad enough, they've also gotta worry about avenging mothers if they so much as have a finger twitch at an inopportune moment. We may not have an affordable health care system, but it's generally top notch care at least. You can all thank your mothers for that. Well then, onward. I'm sure you all think you know who likes this one. Pretty much everyone, cause watching obnoxious teenagers get shish-kabobed is highly entertaining. Wrong! The average person can only enjoy this movie so much when their affinity is based upon how many teenagers go to the big pinball arcade in the sky. The guys that really, really love this movie are; the crazy, unkempt, malnourished, drunken doomsday prophets that stand out in front of the K-Mart an tell everybody they're wasting their time buying Snuggies cause the world's about to go tits up. Representing that segment of the population in this movie is Crazy Ralph, who lays down a prediction of calamity an knocks it outta the park. That was a proud day in loon history, and we who witnessed the carnage salute you, Crazy Ralph. Alrighty, well, Friday the 13th is probably the most commonly cited modern horror film when it comes to laying down the ground rules of surviving a horror film. Although Halloween did it first, and did it better. Just the same, Friday did a lot of solid cliche reinforcement, so while the lessons to be learned probably aren't anything new, it's always a good idea to take a refresher course now and again. First thing, locations which have frequent, 10 hour long monsoons are probably not ideal for your summer camp. The more time the kids are stuck inside, the more likely they are to be murdered. Even in the absence of a slasher.
Second, always look under the bed before sex. You never can tell when there might be some fundamentalist whack job under there ready to initiate a much less enjoyable form of penetration. An third, I'm pretty well convinced now that most middle aged waitresses are sexual predators. So if the diner is nearing closing time an you're the only customer, do keep an eye on your Coke an make sure it doesn't have a blue tint to it. Important, if obvious rules to live by. But what I'd like to go over in a little more detail are the differences between Monopoly and Strip Monopoly. The movie gave a brief overview of the discrepancies, but I think a more thorough examination is in order. Now, as the movie pointed out, you must pay off debts to other players by removing clothing. It's your basic "how to purchase beads at Mardi Gras" formula. However, all other debts are paid with standard Monopoly money. This is important, because something they don't mention is that, owing $1 is the same as owing $1000. This makes strategy critical, as there's no sense in buying up Boardwalk when you can get just as much bra for Baltic Avenue. You also don't wanna run out of money cause if that happens, you loose all your clothing/dignity in one fell swoop. So balance is key. Additionally, dressing in layers is not allowed. You cannot wear gloves. And rings, be they finger or otherwise, do not count as clothing so get that scam outta your heads right now. Same deal with watches, if it's not fabric, forget it. An don't think you can pull belly button lint out either, I've got these loopholes locked up tighter than Lady Gaga's hoo hoo. Also, as in standard Monopoly, deals are allowed between players. But the Strip Monopoly rules still apply, if you want a property from someone, it's gonna cost clothing. And once clothing is gone, it aint comin' back. So with all those things in mind, plan your strategy carefully, and whatever you do, don't play with anyone against whom your victory is ultimately a defeat. Remember, what has been seen cannot be unseen.
The movie begins in 1958 where a bunch of fruity camp councilors are sitting 'round a fireplace singing Kumbaya. The girl workin' the guitar is battin' her eyelashes at one of the dopey guys so hard that he's gettin' windburn on his face but it don't bother him none cause he's pitchin' a tent big enough to house the entire staff. Mercifully, the sing along ends, an the two go upstairs to make the sign of the double humped Howler Monkey, only before anything interesting starts showin', a point of view villain ascends the stairs an starts pokin' holes in the guy's gut bucket. After a brief slow motion chase, the girl is also overtaken an Henry Manfredini cues up the string quartet of terror while the credits roll. The time is now the present, an some sweaty geek has decided to reopen the camp. His lunch lady, on foot, is passing through town an stops to get directions to the camp. Only when she tells the local yokels where she's headed they all look at her like she just sawed the head off a puppy. After they're able to suspend their disbelief of her unfathomable ignorance, a truck driver offers to take her half way. He's actually a pretty swell guy, he doesn't even invoke the "ass, grass, or cash" clause in the hitchhiker's guide. However, as they're leaving, the local nutter stops them an warns them about the "death curse" on the camp, an lets her know that if she goes out there she'll end up lookin' like partially digested Beef Wellington. The truck driver threatens to give the crazy a pit stop if he doesn't beat cheeks outta there. Once he's ridden off on his circa 1912 Schwinn, they hit the road. En route, the trucker pretty much tells the girl that Crazy Ralph is probably right about the place, but he's afraid to say it in front of the other locals or they'll make him into a pariah like Ralph. Ralph used to be the mayor, for fucks sake. But anyway, they reach the crossroads an the girl (Annie) hops out, an the trucker heads back to the freeway so he can try to pass other trucks going half a mile an hour faster than they are. Elsewhere, Kevin Bacon an two other chunkheads pull into the camp with the Dukes of Hazzard theme blasting in the background an the sweaty geek that's trying to reopen the place (Steve) has his assistant (Alice) show them to their hovels. Then Steve gets real creepy with Alice for no apparent reason, an he tells her that if she still wants to leave in a week he'll pay the bus fare. Course he will, by then he'll have her tied up in the basement clad in full S&M gear. So with that straightened out, he leaves his instructions for the chunkheads an drives into town.
Meanwhile, Annie's been picked up on the road again, but the driver's not real chatty an between the "Insured by Smith & Wesson" bumper sticker an the fact that they've blown by the road to the camp like it wasn't even there, she's startin' to get a little nervous an decides to bail out. After the French judge deducts a full 3 points off her score for landing on her face, she hobbles off into the woods. Being a good Samaritan, the driver backs up to check on her, only she won't stop gimping along the trail an once the driver steps in a pile of bear shit, they've just about had it with this ingrate. Eventually, the point of view villain is able to catch up to Annie an her throat starts lookin' like Donald Trump's tires when he parked his car overnight in D.C. Back at camp, the chunkheads get the docks set up out on the lake an the obligatory practical joker in the bunch (Ned) pretends to drown so one of the girls (Brenda) will feel sorry for him an give 'em mouth to mouth. Squintz from The Sandlot approves. That kinda breaks up the party an Alice heads back to her cabin, only there's a super huge icky snake in there an she starts screamin' like somebody stuck a hot branding iron on her nipple an Bill runs in wielding a machete. Then all the other chunkheads pile in an after about a half a minute of what appears to be a Three Stooges skit, Bill's able to dispatch the snake an gives it the kinda look you'd expect Captain Ahab to give the corpse of Moby Dick. Then some asshole cop shows up an starts dick waving at the kids so they know just what a big man he is, after which he explains that he's looking for Crazy Ralph. Apparently he needs to wave his dick around at Ralph too, but the chunkheads haven't seen 'im so he heads back to town to tell his wife about how hardcore he was when confronting the kids. Course he'll have to tell her the story while he rubs her feet at gunpoint, but it's still pretty impressive. Anyway, that's some fine police work there, Lou, cause Ralph's in the kitchen pantry an he starts tellin' all the dopey teens about how God sent him to warn 'em about their impending doom, an to drop off copies of The Watchtower. Then Kev an Marcie go fool around an Ned watches 'em real sad like cause the only way he can get makeout is through kiss rape. After he wanders off all dejected like, he spots some movement near one of the cabins an goes to investigate. Anything to separate himself from the knowledge that he'll be a virgin for the rest of his life. Then Kev an Marcie have to head inside cause the Crystal Lake tsunami warning system just went off an they're about to get wetter than an otter's pocket.
Back at the main (big, central, I dunno what you'd call it) cabin, Alice, Brenda an Bill are gonna play strip monopoly. I guess cause poker's too complicated. Not too complicated for Kev an Marcie though, she's getting thoroughly poked. It's obvious she's into Bacon, although at the moment she's really digging the sausage. But unbeknownst to the two porkers, Ned's hanging out on the top bunk with most of his important neck arteries severed an eyes glassier than Sammy Davis Jr. Once Kev an Marcie are done makin' bacon, she heads for the bathroom to wash off her shame, only when she leaves, a hand flies out from under the bed, grab's Kev's forehead, an shoves an arrow with a broadhead on it right through his Adam's apple. Marcie doesn't fare much better. While she's attempting to wash off her shame, the point of view villain sneaks up on her an parts her hair with a splitting maul. Elsewhere, the game of strip monopoly gets broken up when the front door flies open an all the currency starts flyin' all over the room like that time Mitt Romney got on the Gravitron. Which is just as well, cause Brenda left her windows open an she has to run out to her cabin an shut 'em. She's in such a big hurry she doesn't even have time to put the majority of her clothes back on before she bolts outta there like an agricultural crew that's been tipped off about an ICE raid. Meanwhile, in town, Steve's gotten... whatever the hell it was he needed to do finished. And once the elderly waitress offers to pay for his meal in exchange for services, he pays and heads out. How do YOU like it ya big creep? By this time, Brenda's gotten back to her cabin, only she starts hearing Timmy O' Toole cryin' about how he fell down a well an after she stumbles around in the mud bowl lookin' for 'em, the stadium lights at the archery range kick on an... off screen death. That's not gonna do your score any favors, guys. Back over to Alice an Bill, where Alice thinks she heard Brenda scream a moment ago while Bill was out usin' the outhouse. He didn't hear nothin' but he'd kinda like to get in Alice's pants so they decide to go lookin' for Brenda. They don't find Brenda, but they do find an axe that some menstruating gal must have used as a tampon, an they decide their ass better call somebody. Phone's dead. Kev's truck's dead. Oh an Steve too. He makes it back to the camp but the point of view villain jabs him with a buck knife an drains him like a keg at a frat party. So to recap, most everyone's dead, an things don't look good for Alice an Bill. Will cut it here since most people just claim to have seen this one, when in fact they've only seen the sequels.
Alrighty, well, Friday the 13th has the distinction of being the only horror series I can name where the first movie is the worst. (I'm counting Freddy vs. Jason as part of the Nightmare series) Which is not to say it's terrible or unwatchable or anything like that. But unlike the other entries in the series, the original is more of a "who dunnit" than it is a slasher movie. Jason is, of course, a much more interesting character than the villain is here. Something many fans of the series have, and will continue to debate, is what really happened to Jason after he was alleged to have drown in Crystal Lake as a child. Although why there's any debate, I cannot comprehend. For Jason to be the villain in all the sequels (except for V), and a grown man, he cannot have drowned as a child. But on the other hand, the film makers weren't expecting this movie to go anywhere, and the idea of sequels never crossed their minds. So, to rationalize what is canon, you have to assume that at the end of this, the original, (spoilers) Jason didn't pull her under water, she just fell in. She hallucinated, yadda yadda, there's really no good solution here. You just have to pretend it didn't happen, basically. Or maybe Jason exists in two forms. The one that drowned an the one that didn't. So whatever makes the most sense for you, figure it out an go with it. Additionally, the series is a classic example of individuals willing to shelve their morals and ethics in the name of profits, because at the time, Paramount considered these movies to be garbage. And they really weren't in line with the other types of movies they produced, they were considered to be an embarrassment. Yet, only a single year in the 1980s (1987) did not yield a new Friday the 13th movie back when Paramount owned the rights. They just quietly made them, scooped up the money and paid them as little acknowledgement as possible. These days of course, there are several versions available on DVD, including more than one box set, packed with extras, that they're all too happy to cash in on. The critics of the time, of course, panned it. Too graphic, they say. Although many of the same critics loved Halloween, which, to be fair, is less graphic and more about what you don't see. That and it has characters that the viewer gives half a shit about I suppose. I personally think Halloween is over rated.
Okay, time to do that thing with the important element dealies to come up with a numerical rating-mabob. The plot is about as razor thin as they come, but I really fail to see a problem with that in and of itself. It's only a problem if you're trying to make a movie that's a real big deal blockbuster, or a movie that is intensely complicated plot wise (the Saw series comes to mind). Friday the 13th is not complicated. Doesn't try to be, doesn't market itself as such, so I don't consider it any serious detriment. That said, it's as bare as they come. Only a Friday the 13th sequel has less. The acting is adequate. Most of the characters are one dimensional body count fodder, with the exception of Betsy Palmer, who is fantastic as the looney tunes Mrs. Voorhees. Walt Gorney isn't bad either as Crazy Ralph. The important thing is, nobody mucks it up with anything unbearable to watch. Kevin Bacon and Tom Savini (Savini's face is never shown) need no introduction, so here are the other players which warrant mention, and the reason for it: Adrienne King (Friday the 13th Part 2), Ronn Caroll (Deep Star Six, House, House II), Ron Millkie (Satan's Playground), Walt Gorney (Friday the 13th Part 2 & VII, Day of the Animals, King Kong 1976), Ari Lehman (The Girl, Terror Overload, Hell-ephone, ThanXgiving), and Irwin Keyes (Dahmer vs. Gacy, House of 1000 Corpses, Disturbed, Bloodrage). The shooting locations are really good. I suppose one summer camp is as good as another, though you do have to narrow it to one with a lake. The towns used for filming (Hope, New Jersey & Blairstown, New Jersey) are great choices for the small, sleepy village near Crystal Lake.
Blairstown has a population of around 6,000 while Hope is below 2,000. Points scored for authenticity on this front. The special effects are great, but then, it's Tom Savini, that is to be expected. There aren't too many effects to speak off, in fact, three of the deaths happen off screen. But what does show up on the screen is pretty good, particularly Kevin Bacon and Robbi Morgan's death sequences. So, good stuff there. One thing not a lot of people seem to mention, is the killing of an actual snake. I'm not sure how that got past the animal rights activists, because it's plain to see when an actual animal is killed, versus a special effect. The scene's also not what you'd call critical to the plot, although I can see how, from the "who dunnit" perspective, it casts the guy that kills it in a negative light, perhaps to make people think, I dunno. So, even though the snake was unnecessary and a mistake, the special effects are quite good. The music, composed by Harry Manfredini (who did the music for every Friday the 13th movie and many others) is great. It's pretty manic, but for these kinds of movies, it works. A Friday the 13th movie wouldn't be the same without his music composition. Overall, it's a classic. That said, many things are "classic", and that doesn't necessarily make them particularly great. Like Halloween (which granted is definitely superior to Friday the 13th), Friday the 13th is over rated. Probably for no reason other than it's so widely known, because it has so many sequels. But it's not bad, it did some things for the first time, and in general is entertaining to watch. Though I prefer the sequels, with Jason.