Since there’s over 187 film reviews of the flick, and likely every cinematic fan, especially the horror fiends, fans, and gurus it is thoroughly impossible to discover anything new about this creation, add-in all the books, interviews, documentaries and convention morsels and appears everything that can be and has been said. Therefore, why toss another log onto the campfire because many of those previous reviews either gone to the dead link graveyard or written well before little kernels popped, besides none of that has stopped me from diving into well-known territory and woods. Most likely know I am a massive fan of the franchise, like many others, I collect the films, figurines, soundtracks on both vinyl and CD formats, and have all original posters many of them signed. Often the reviews seem to fire off in all sorts of directions, and note the franchise rather just the one film at hand, I shall attempt to stay in one straight lane, though it’s difficult. Some have tried to compare the film as a cross between a mystery and horror but perhaps that’s just a little too much credit after all the filmmakers didn’t have the intention of creating directly. I thought of re-watching the film, and thinking of it as my first time viewing, that was nearly impossible, as all audiences know the killer, tempo, pacing and other treats, although in 1980 the audience had no clue, as the ‘net’ didn’t exist only television and newspaper ads and the local word of mouth informed teens to check-out this flick. Regardless of one’s introduction to this movie, it’s fair to say that it spawned one of the longest lasting franchises with a solid dedicated following through the good and bad over all these years.
Let’s start with how this all come to together Sean S. Cunningham (DeepStar Six ) had flirted with little success since working on Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left (1972) as Costume Design, he then met with Victor Miller who aspired to become a screenwriter. They collaborated in 1978 to make a rip-off called Here Come the Tigers, which based from The Bad News Bears (1978), then freely admitted in interviews that they used inspiration from Halloween (1978) and Meatballs (1979) (a teen T&A comedy, set as a summer comedy) to make their low-budget feature. Miller channeled Psycho (1960) into his script, while using his past experiences (i.e. writing what you know) to create the names ‘Jason’ and ‘Voorhees’, all in the effort of instead having a son with split personality it was the mother. Although, others on set would later add in scenes and elements to elaborate on the thin script backstory, namely Ron Kurz (for the inclusion of character Officer Dorf) and Tom Savini (the false ending). Sean also brought along his friend Steve Miner, who he had known since 1972 and worked with a few films before this one, as an Associate Producer and Production Manager, he later directs Friday the 13, Part 2 and Part III. As the film generated incredible box office returns on an initial investment of $550,000 which resulted in over $39-million at theaters, thanks to the distribution company Paramount Pictures. Likely many individuals involved wanted a quick return of the investment, and chose the available marketing date of May 9 on the calendar rather looking ahead to June 13, a Friday and one month later to work into the marketing promotions; then again no one expected the movie to garnish such attention. The movie also since created a massive debate of trying to determine the Friday the 13th universe timeline, this is a serious point for many fans, and once more I’m focusing on only part one.
Often fans of the slasher genre point to Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th, as the father and mother of this genre, with numerous films becoming in a manner their off-spring, so-much that one could note a grandson’s birth in 1996 as Scream. However one seems to omit more of the background of this genre, namely the family tree therefore let’s solve that mystery the great parents would be And Then There Were None (1945) and Ten Little Indians (1959) then the grand-parents Black Christmas (1974) and Psycho (1960) their children Carrie (1976) and Halloween.
In 1957, a mentally challenged young boy drowns, due to sheer incompetence, ignored by camp counselors more interested in carnal knowledge of each other, no one held responsible and passage of another year has the place opening once again in 1958. Then a double homicide occurs, the killer unknown, results in a summer camp nightmare and shutdown, a few tries to regain footing, but a series of strange incidents occur rendering it abandoned, dead to the world, with haunting memories lingering at the place now called Camp Blood by the locals. However, in 1979 Steve Christy(Peter Brouwer), seeks to restore the camp to its former glory that remained in his family for nearly 50-years, ignoring the past. Deep in the wilderness six counselors Alice (Adrienne King), Bill (Harry Crosby), Brenda (Laurie Bartram), Marcie (Jeannine Taylor), Jack (Kevin Bacon) and reckless Ned (Mark Nelson) gather in preparation for the upcoming season, with the kitchen cook Annie (Robbi Morgzn) practicing the pitfalls of hitchhiking and stranger danger. Just as things being to settle into a routine, Crazy Ralph (Walt Gorney) appears who acts as the film’s doomsayer, another element taken from Hitchcock, this time from The Birds (1963) and his appearance suggests murderous tendencies, but rides off into the sunset. As dusk descends over the camp, Ned goes on a personal adventure while time passes along darkening the camp in blackness, the remaining teens pair off, with Jack and Marcie learning how to practice intercourse while Alice, Bill and Brenda play a mild form of strip monopoly. All of it becomes filler, soon the massacre begins execution one-by-one, until Alice provides a screaming good time and Betsy Palmer as Mrs. Voorhees arrives. Her appearance was aided by oversized clothing making her have a more bulky and masculine build. The final portion of the movie, incorporates a chase sequence, deploys the routine for the final girl and a struggle for survival while attempting to layer tension and suspense for the jump scare conclusion.
One of the largest factors that works incredibly well comes first from the score created by Harry Manfredini (Friday the 13th, Part VII: The New Blood ), who admitted in interviews and horror conventions he derived inspiration from Bernard Herrman’s composition for Psycho, and honestly that’s clearly heard in the film. Although some critics point that the cue of impending doom with the infamous “Ki, Ki ki; ma, ma, ma” is similar to that of Jaws, created first by John Willism, however that’s slightly incorrect as these score cues actually originated in The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) from composer Franz Waxman, and since then enhanced throughout the cinematic years. Fans of slashers know far too well that casting is often hit or miss, with later occurring with a high frequency and the dialogue volleys greatly, nonetheless standouts come from Betsy Palmer whose long-time fan base slightly upset with this role and Kevin Bacon went on to star in both horror productions i.e. Hollow Man (2000) and Tremors (1990) (notice a trend) as well as numerous dramas. However the slasher formula started to show the typical stereotypes in these films, namely the comedic character used to break tension with a one-liner or joke, here its Ned. The next big factor that works the hardest in any film, but especially in horror is location, here both the camp and later the diner are both real and one you can usually visit. After the producers provided the Boy Scouts of America with a sizeable donation the Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco in Hardwick, New Jersey became Camp Crystal Lake, only requiring a few minor adjustments for their usage, otherwise what we see is very close to what there was on set. It led to a very big disagreement with screenwriter Miller who objected to the inclusion of the character Officer Dorf, the reason as to make them seem abandoned on a distant planet, extremely rural and isolated without any help. The other place is the Blairstown Diner, I mention this as it appears more horror fans make the plumage to venture to places where either urban legends or their favorite films were shot, also include is Moravian Cemetery, however be extremely thoughtful when any location, the camp is off-limits. Lastly, the special make-up effects came from the talented Tom Savini, who obtained the job as the producers loved his work on Dawn of the Dead (1978) and mentioned he enjoyed making realistic kills, as he had plenty of nightmarish imagines in his mind from being a combat photographer in Vietnam. Savini contributed to the script by suggesting the tack-on scene of a deformed young Jason emerging from the water to snatch Alice, this inspiration came from Carrie (1976); and important to note Tom assisted with his friend Taso N. Stavrakis (He Knows You’re Alone (1980).
Regardless of how one feels about this movie, no one can deny the impact of the horror genre, fans, and future filmmakers, while some of the first-time watchers of then found tension, it now resides with the briefest elements of atmospheric creepiness, that came for the budget limitations. However, reflecting, it ranked in the top-20 of movies for a 1980 release. In fact, performing well against then scream-queen Jamie Lee Curtis’ The Fog (1980) and Prom Night (1980), as well the psychological horror thrillers The Shinning (1980) and Dressed to Kill (1980). As previously mentioned some fans try to elevate the film above the status of slasher and incorporate the mystery genre, however I think its rightfully in the slasher and revenge subgenres. This film led an increasing popular method of up the ante of gross killings, and challenging the unfair practices of the MPAA, trimming a flick downward for the blessed ‘R-rating’ for adults that saw a tsunami of copycat productions for the gore galore of the eighties.
- On Friday The 13th, They Began To Die Horribly, One……By One (UK – Theatrical Tagline)
- Lucky 13? I think not.
- If you think it means bad luck…YOU DON’T KNOW THE HALF OF IT.
- Kill…Kill…Kill…Uncut (Deluxe Edition DVD)
- Don’t make plans for Sunday.
- You’ll wish it were only a nightmare…
- Fridays will never be the same again.
- A 24-hour nightmare of terror.
- They were warned…They are doomed…And on Friday the 13th, nothing will save them.
- You may only see it once, but that will be enough.
IMDb Rating: 6.5/10
Baron’s Rating: 6.0/10
Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Jason X (2001)
Twisted Nightmare (1987)
Friday the 13th (2009)
Friday the 13th: A Film by John C. Gritton (2014) (Short)
Hollywood Burn (2006)
Friday the 13th: The Series (1987) (TV Series)
Friday the 13th (1989) (Video Game)
Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
Friday the 13th: The Game (2017) (Video Game)