Friday The 13th (1980) Review

Hey, guys. My name is Dice Rollen. Today we’re going to be taking a look at an absolute classic of the slasher sub genre. Friday the 13th was written by Victor Miller and directed by Sean S. Cunningham. It was released, ironically not on the 13th, but May 9, 1980.
A group of counselors go to an old summer camp to prepare it for a grand re-opening. However this camp was the site of a tragedy years earlier that’s come back to seek revenge. It’s a premise that’s been paid homage to and blatantly copied for decades after.
So without further ado, this is my review of Friday the 13th.

The movie opens with something of a prelude to what we can expect to see later on. The year is 1958 and while the other camp counselors singing kumbaya by the fire two of the young adults, played by Debra S. Hayes and Willie Adams, have snuck off to do other activities. What follows re-enforces the age old horror rule that having sex is an unwise choice.
Cut to 22 years later and a new group of soon-to-be counselors are head to Camp Crystal Lake. Or Camp Blood, as the locals call it. Speaking of the locals-
This is Ralph, played by Walt Gorney, who acts as the town’s creepy dude and first red flag. But ignoring him Annie, played by Robbi Morgan, hitches a ride with a truck driver here, played by Rex Everhart, to get to the camp.

The trucker driver proceeds to provide one of the most awkward and ominous rides I’ve ever witnessed. He tells Annie about some incidents that happened at Camp Crystal Lake in an effort to try to get her not to go. This doesn’t work and he drops her off near the camp…right outside a cemetery. Subtle. On the bright side Annie doesn’t actually go to Crystal Lake. On the not so bright side that’s because a mysterious killer slits her throat. Meanwhile Marcie, Jack and Ned; played by Jeannine Taylor, Kevin Bacon and Mark Nelson respectively, arrive at Camp Crystal Lake and meet their boss Steve Christy, played by Peter Brouwer. We’re also introduced to Alice, played by Adrienne King.

Apparently she and Steve have a bit of a complicated relationship that isn’t exactly clarified. It’s made more muddled by the fact that Alice doesn’t exactly want to be here, but Steven convinces her to stay a week longer. And while Steve heads off to take care of some business Brenda, played by Laurie Bartram, and Bill, played by Harry Crosby, join the group. They all continue working on fixing up the place and fucking about. Because why not try to re-open this abandoned summer camp where murders took place? It just needs a little sprucing up.

At some point during the day a police officer arrives looking for Ralph. But Ralph is too busy hiding in the pantry and jumpscaring counselors with more ominous messages from God. You know the only difference between Ralph here and those religious solicitors that come to your door is he smells better. Around dinner time Ned spots an unknown person lurking around one of the cabins who just so happens to be the same person who’s been spying on them a majority of the day. Unfortunately for Ned no one notices as he goes to investigate. Especially with the storm that’s rolled in.

No matter Jack and Marcie have managed to find a way to keep warm and dry…in a manner of speaking. They’re obviously unaware that Ned’s in the room.
While the others play strip Monopoly and Marcie takes a restroom break Jack is introduced to the pointy end of an arrow. And Marcie meets Jack Torrance. After taking his sweet ass time Steve finally heads back to camp when his Jeep stalls. He gets a ride from a police officer who could come in handy since there’s still a murderer taking out his counselors one by one. Speaking of, Brenda is lured out into the pouring rain by what sounds like a kid calling for help.
Brenda, darling, let me give you a piece of advice. If you hear a child’s voice in the middle of a dark and stormy night in a location where you know there are in fact no children present… Do NOT investigate. Bolt that door and clutch a weapon!

Unfortunately Brenda ends up being a deer in the spotlight out on the archery range where we can only assume she meets a rather unpleasant end. Seeing the bright ass lights Bill and Alice go to check things out and find a used ax.
Aw, so nice of this faceless killer to tuck it in like that. I do the same thing every night.
A search of the camp turns up none of their fellow councilors which causes great concern for the both of them. Just to elevate this concern they find that none of the phones available are working and neither is the truck.
The officer is called away to a car accident leaving Steve to hike the rest of the way back to camp. He barely arrives before he’s greeted by our killer. Or rather the killer’s knife. Next up to die is the generator leaving the remaining councilors in darkness. So Bill goes to see what caused this and I think we know by this point that he ain’t comin’ back. Alice seems to feel the same way because she goes looking for him. Aaand she finds him.

Brenda also re-appears…by bursting through a window. Alice notices a Jeep pull up and frantically removes all the stuff she’d used to barricade herself in the cabin with. All of this only to find that the person who’s arrived isn’t Steve, but Mrs. Voorhees, played by the late Betsy Palmer. Alice attempts to explain the everyone else is dead so Mrs. Voorhees decides to take a look for herself. She tells Alice that Steve should never have tried to re-open Camp Crystal Lake because of all the misfortunes that had happened there. It’s at this point that Mrs. Voorhees gives some background on a particularly important incident that happened years ago.

And here’s one little additional information. The plot twist here is that Mrs. Voorhees went a little mad seeing her only child killed because of the negligence of the camp councilors at the time. So she decided to take any measures necessary to prevent the camp from ever opening again. And that included killing everyone that tried this time. Faced with the killer and the evidence that all her friends are dead Alice does everything she can to fend her off. That doesn’t prevent a sound bitch slapping from Mrs. Voorhees though.
Alice manages to get away and hides in the same place she started. Maybe not the best move. I’m just saying…
Remember, kids. In the game of rock, paper, machete skillet wins. Alice and Mrs. Voorhees have a showdown at the lake. Say what you want about Mrs. Voorhees, but that woman has some stamina! She does have one weakness though.
And now with the murderer dead Alice takes a canoe out into the lake where she wakes up the next morning safe and sound as the police arrive. The young actor playing Jason was Ari Lehman, by the way. There is one more psyche to be had here. Turns out that last bit was just a nightmare on Alice’s part. However she insists that Jason is still in the lake.
And with that the credits roll leaving the story open for many sequels to come.

The plot of Friday the 13th is pretty simplistic. A group of young adults are spending time in a semisecluded area and are killed off by someone seeking revenge. If you’re someone who doesn’t like horror movies that take their time you probably don’t like this one much. It is one of the disadvantages. Not saying that I can’t appreciate that it takes it’s time and tries to build tension.
This was a movie that set the standard for a hell of a lot of other slasher movies. Like I said, it’s been parodied quite a lot. And a lot of horror tropes that we know by heart were set by this movie.

The actors did a decent job with their characters giving them just enough personality to make them distinct. But let’s be honest, the real star here is Betsy Palmer. She did a really good job with the role of a grieving mother wanting to avenge her son’s wrongful death. She initially comes across as a sweet woman and does a full 180 into unhinged territory. So for that reason I’d be giving her the award out of the rest of the cast.
Overall the acting isn’t impressive and with some characters it’s even kind of annoying. But let’s keep in mind that this was a low budget film with mostly unknown, young actors. I can’t be too harsh with it.

The practical effects, done primarily by Tom Savini and Taso N. Starvrakis, are what’s really fun here. And thankfully this is something that was carried on in the Friday the 13th sequels. While you may not care all that much about the characters, what you do care about are their deaths. Each death is gruesome and unique. Practically all of the effects hold up still today. I must admit that Mrs. Voorhees’s decapitation is a bit obvious though.

The atmosphere and settings are charming in a way. Many people have said that it reminds them very much of the times they spent at summer camp. Speaking as someone who never went to summer camp I can only say that it feels authentic. Not just because they filmed at an actual camp. It also holds that vibe that I think a lot of us look for in low budget indie films set in the wilderness.

The music created by Harry Manfredini for this film is obviously recognizable. All you have to do is hear that whispered voice echoing and you immediately know. I’d put the theme on the same level as the theme for Halloween. At least as far as how iconic it is. And just for those who are unaware, it’s not Ch ch ch ha ha ha. It’s Ki ki ki ma ma ma. As in ‘Kill her, mommy.’

With all that being said, I’m giving Friday the 13th 7.5 out of 10 bloody thumbs up.
This is another horror movie that had a big cultural impact. It was not just heavily influenced by Halloween, but it essentially tried to copy it. And it’s kind of ironic that through that one of the most popular slashers and horror franchises was born. Not to mention that said slasher doesn’t even really show up in the first installment of the franchise until the very end. Plus to have the main villain and killer be a middle-aged woman. A mother no less. That must have been a very shocking thing in the early 80’s when people were just starting to assume that the mysterious killer would be a burly guy possibly wearing a mask.
On it’s own Friday the 13th isn’t a fantastic film. It’s decent and fun to watch, but it’s nothing extraordinary. It wasn’t meant to be. It was just meant to be good enough to get young adults and teenagers to the theater. Clearly it worked. And through this is has gained a sort of nostalgic following and a certain amount of respect for having launched us into the world of Jason Voorhees.

So I hope you enjoyed this if you did give it a like to let me know. Don’t forget to leave a comment down below telling me what you think of this movie. And if you have any suggestions for horror movies you’d like to see me review in the future. You can support the channel through my Patreon where you can get exclusive content and early access to videos like this. Also don’t forget to share this to help the channel grow and subscribe for more.
See ya later!

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