Proof Review: Friday The 13th (1980)

Release Date
May 9, 1980
Director
Sean S. Cunningham
Screenplay
Victor Miller
Distributed By
Paramount Pictures
Budget
$550,000
Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Rated R
95 minutes

Friday The 13th

Most people think they remember the story of Jason Vorhees and Camp Crystal Lake, but if you travel back to the original Friday the 13th film, you realize most of what you thought you knew was false. Seeing the 1980 version of Friday the 13th in the year 2012 is enjoyable on so many levels. Not only are you seeing the start of what would be become the matriarch for current formula slasher films, but your expectations are being toyed with what you know will eventually be produced out of the series.

There are ten murders in the original Friday the 13th (including one of a young Kevin Bacon) and [spoiler alert] none of them are actually committed by Jason Vorhees, though we often “forget” that he isn’t the killer in the first film. That is where our expectations are played with. If you haven’t seen the first film in quite some time or ever, but feel like you know the story from all the years of hearing about the franchise and the serial killer, as the deaths are occurring, you assume, as the original audiences did, that Jason is killing everyone. We hear his story and even see his drowning in the beginning of the film, but until the reveal occurs towards the end of the film, we are never quite sure. That sets this film apart from the rest. The Friday the 13th franchise has become notorious for recycling its formula, but if you look at the original, it is so different from the rest (as is Part 2), that you cannot help but respect where the franchise came from.

This series is all about sexually charged teenagers and brutal murders, and Friday the 13th definitely delivers on that front. Cinema was not quite at the current gore level in 1980, though there are some graphic scenes like throat-slitting that even surprised me for their era. The infamous “kakaka-hahaha” score sends effective chills, but the voyeuristic camera angles are in much need of perfecting and the entire film lacks the actual scares to keep the viewers on their toes.

Friday the 13th is a staple in the horror movie genre. With our assumptions played with and the difference between the original and the series to follow, the film offers a very interesting origin to such a prolific body of work and though Friday the 13th will never win an award for best horror film of all-time, it should at least gain “classic” status in the horror genre.

 

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