Friday The 13th (1980)

Friday The 13th (1980)

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Just a harmless old lady, right? Right?!
Just a harmless old lady, right? Right?!

Twitter Plot Summary: A group of teenage counselors are systematically killed at Camp Crystal Lake.

Five Point Summary:

1. Killer-POV cam is always a winner.
2. Running out in the rain dressed in barely anything is apparently normal.
3. The camp should have stayed closed to be fair…
4. If you have sex, you die. Slasher movie 101.
5. After all that, it turns out to be… well, that particular person? Rilly?

Drawing inspiration from the success of Halloween a couple of years previously, Friday The 13th marked the first in what was a series of ten films (eleven if you count Freddy VS Jason) before the series was rebooted in 2009. It marks yet another entry in the unseen slasher killer horror genre, where a group of nubile teens are bumped off by a killer who remains at large until the final act, their identity hidden from the audience until the very last minute, thanks primarily to experiencing the killer’s perspective in first person.

The story opens with a killing taking place at Camp Crystal Lake in 1958. Fast forward to the modern day of 1980 where the camp is about to be reopened with a brand new group of youngsters taking up residence, despite the previous problems experienced at the camp, and the doom-laden words of warning from a slightly mad local man. It goes without saying that things do not end well for this batch of youngsters.

Friday The 13th will never be classed as a well made film, but historically it marks a changeover period where the old Grindhouse sub-genre made its way towards the mainstream having been released by a major studio to a wide audience. By modern standards the gore is quite tame, and the various deaths have now become cliche, but at the time they had the potential to genuinely scare the audience.

The score by Harry Manfredini is used well, with the music only ever kicking in when the killer is nearby. Whilst this does tee up the audience for when the scares will happen, it does also help build up the suspense again as you know something will happen, you just don’t know when. On the other hand, it’s worth mentioning that the score does rip off Psycho and Jaws on several occasions, so perhaps it’s not as good as you may initially think.

Place your bets now on who out of this group of unlucky teens will survive.
Place your bets now on who out of this group of unlucky teens will survive.

It’s no wonder the killer is able to bump everyone off so easily – they take forever getting to their destination, wherever that may be (a short jog to the toilet leaves enough time for someone else to be bumped off), and they’re constantly going places by themselves, so they do themselves no favours. Bearing in mind the camp has been closed for twenty years following a tragedy, you’d likely expect them to be a little more cautious, especially when they start noticing that other members of their group have not been seen for a while.

Kevin Bacon marks the biggest name in the cast, although at this point in his career he was still to hit the big time. Much like fellow slasher movie teen Johnny Depp, this was the start of a long career for Mr Bacon, although in this case his role is to snort derisively a couple of times and fondle a female member of the cast before being unceremoniously bumped off. He did better than everybody else anyway, all of whom have faded into obscurity in the intervening years. In hindsight, that’s probably for the best.

Score: 2.5/5

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