Movie Review – Friday the 13th (1980)

1980 Paramount Pictures

Two and Half Star

Friday the 13thThat’s right they were warned, it says so right on the poster. Crazy Ralph tried to warn them but no they didn’t listen now look where they are, six feet under. Serves them right for not listening to Crazy Ralph.

Like many movie fans I went through a phase where horror movies were the best thing since sliced bread. I read Fangoria magazine and stayed up late to watch movies I was too young to see in the theater on HBO or Cinemax. Even though my taste in movies evolved somewhat over the years I never lost my love of a good horror movie cheesy or otherwise. I have the ability to return to the frame of mind I was in when I first watched a particular movie and I can still enjoy them without getting all mature and serious about it. Like I mentioned on my About page I don’t rate a cheesy horror movie on the same scale as a serious drama. I believe equating two disparate genres is kind of silly so I just switch my mind into the proper mode depending on the genre and have fun.

Watching Friday the 13th now it strikes me as a quaint example of how horror movies used to be back in the primitive days of yore. Horror movies eventually kind of outgrew the stalk and slash formula of the eighties as audience grew bored with the same old thing. Now we have slightly more complex story lines and more high tech and realistic gore. It all pretty much boils down to the same end result though, people (still usually teenagers) getting hacked apart. The road taken might have changed but the destination is the same.

Released two years after John Carpenter’s Halloween ignited a mad rush by studios to make their very own super profitable horror blockbuster Friday the 13th upped the gore factor and outraged critics and parents groups which of course made the movie a must see, what a bunch of idiots. The Shining and this movie were the horror movies to see in 1980 and it made it all better to know that it was considered controversial by certain groups.

Set in the glamorous state of New Jersey Friday the 13th follows a group of young camp counselors who are trying to reopen the infamous Camp Crystal Lake, known to the locals as…CAMP BLOOD. Seems a couple of counselors were murdered at the camp in 1958 and the camp closed down. Now it’s opening for business once again and someone doesn’t like the idea very much.  One by one the counselors meet a gruesome fate as Scooby-Doo and the gang try to stop the madness…oops that was the Robot Chicken version, silly me.

Made on a low budget but featuring a well done eerie music score by Harry Manfredini and great gore effects by Tom Savini this movie was a success at the box and spawned a slew of originally unplanned sequels and a remake twenty nine years later. There is nothing to really recommend about this movie along the lines of quality acting or beautiful cinematography but if you like a good silly bit of horror nonsense then this is a movie for you. It’s a cheesy slasher movie but at least it’s a fairly well made cheesy slasher movie.

The good:

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Nice cheesy credits. Look they broke the screen. On my!

Crazy Ralph. Every movie should have a Crazy Ralph.

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Not only is he nuts but he’s also a very stylish dresser.

Great makeup effects.

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See what can happen when you hitchhike? Someone may attach a fake neck to you and slit it open.

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Kevin Bacon falls for the old arrow through the throat gag.

The not so good:  

Unlike Halloween the talent involved in this movie couldn’t quite make up for the lack of a good budget. It lacks the polish and effective storytelling and goes right for the jugular (literally).

Random thoughts and observations:

I remember walking through a department store a year or so after this was released and turning the channel on a TV only to discover this was playing on a Canadian channel uncut. I left the TV on that channel when I left. I hope I didn’t traumatize any little kids who walked by.

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Mr. Voorhees was a linebacker in High School.

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He gets stabbed in the torso…

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…which we should have seen according to where the wound is later on.

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She’s not dead when Mr. Voorhees throws her through the window. She moves her head a bit.

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First Jaws and then this. I’m surprised I ever went swimming when I was a kid.

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This woman…

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…looks a lot like Robert Englund in A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 4. Scary!

Best kill:

Marcie never could get the hang of chopping wood.

Marcie never could get the hang of chopping wood.

Weakest kill:

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No idea what happened to her. She gets shoved through a window later but that’s all we know.

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