Written By: Karla Cortes
Edited BY: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Sean S. Cunningham
Producer: Sean S. Cunningham
Screenwriter: Victor Miller
Date Released: May 9, 1980
Adrienne King as Alice Hardy
Jeannine Taylor as Marcie Cunningham
Laurie Bartram as Brenda Jones
Harry Crosby III as Billy Brown
Kevin Bacon as Jack Burrell
Mark Nelson as Ned Rubenstein
Robbi Morgan as Annie Phillips
Peter Brouwer as Steve Christy
Betsy Palmer as Pamela Voorhees
Ari Lehman as Jason Voorhees
Rating = 3/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
After numerous failed attempts to reopen due to contaminated water, arson, and two murders, Camp Crystal Lake, or Camp Blood as the locals call it, reopens. As the group of six counselors prepares the camp on Friday the 13th, they are unaware that a killer stalks their every move while waiting for nightfall to attack. As night rolls around and a heavy storm breaks through, the teenage councilors disperse. Jack and Marcie sneak off into a cabin to get cozy, Alice, Brenda, and Billy get situated at the main cabin, and Ned goes on a walk. One by one, each counselor is killed until the last surviving become brutally aware that they are not alone.
Friday the 13th (1980) starts with a simple, stab to the abdomen for one camp counselor and an off screen kill for the other. This all happened all before the actual beginning of the film. As the film progresses, so does the way each camper gets killed off. From a slow camera pan over, Ned’s lifeless body on a bunk bed to Billy being pinned to the door by arrows, the film has its fair share of low budget gore. And when we say low budget gore, we mean noticeable latex wounds and obvious fake blood pumping from latex wounds.
The Grave Review
Against popular belief, Friday the 13th wasn’t an original slasher film. Cunnningham even noted that Friday the 13th was meant to be a Halloween rip-off more so than a standalone film.
Cunningham also admitted that Jason was not meant to be a villain, but more so a victim in Miller’s eyes. Miller was incredibly displeased when Jason was made into a serial killer, let alone the main villain. He even noted that Jason was dead from the beginning, thus making no sense for him to return as the villain. The idea for Jason to appear at the end was actually suggested by the makeup artist Tom Savini, who had just seen Carrie during production and decided that the movie needed a cliffhanger. What stunned critics the most was the fact that what really got Friday the 13th the most attention was the advertisement before the film was even filmed. Cunningham took out an ad in 1979 of the logo breaking through glass announcing Friday the 13th in big, white letters. In conjunction with the plot twist ending and iconic logo, the eerie soundtrack that whispers “kill, kill, kill, Ma, Ma, Ma” in stutters became a classical horror tune amongst all other horror films.
Although Friday the 13th (1980) is a low budget film with poor acting, low-quality kills, and comical editing, there are some sweet spots to be noted behind all the bitterness. The way the camera switches between first person to third person is mainly what makes the film more suspenseful. It’s interesting to watch a slasher through the eyes of the killer as he or she spies on its future victims. Another thing that makes the film enjoyable is how the killer isn’t revealed until the very end of the film. The unexpected ending of Mrs. Voorhees being the serial killer rather than Jason himself is a fantastic shock factor. It is great to see a woman behind the machete rather than a man, especially in a movie from the 80s where that wasn’t scene as much. Even though she is presented as a psychopath, it is still neat to see a woman take the villain lead in horror alongside another woman, Alice, taking the hero lead.
Lastly, the absence of depth for each character is precisely what makes this film enjoyable. Having no attachment to the characters whatsoever opens the door for the audience to have fun with each kill. Many would disapprove of the film having no real depth, but in the end, that is what a classic slasher is all about. Dumb, free-spirited, horny teens with no care in the world are being killed off one by one in gruesome ways. That is the spirit of a classic slasher. Not to get attached and feel bad for the victims, but to be entertained and held in suspense with each kill. I first watched Friday the 13th when I was in middle school and it quickly became the slasher for me. Not for its plot, nor for its cinematography, but more so for its nostalgic essence and plot twist ending. Compared to modern day slasher movies, Friday the 13th is the laughable, feel good type of horror movie. It’s not really meant to scare anyone, nor to be taken seriously. But more so, to keep you in suspense and have you laughing at what used to be considered horror in the 80s.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Friday the 13th (1980) three graves out of five graves.
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