Friday The 13th (1980)

DVD Cover (Paramount Deluxe Edition)
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Ranked #1,047
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Connections: Friday The 13th

A group of camp counselors are stalked and murdered by an unknown assailant while trying to reopen a summer camp which was the site of a child's drowning and a grisly double murder years before. --IMDb
Review by Chad
Added: April 06, 2005
Here we have the movie that spawned (as of this writing) nine sequels and one show-down with another classic movie villain in Freddy Vs. Jason. The series starts out back in 1958, when Barry (Willie Adams) and Claudette (Debra S. Hayes), two counselors at Camp Crystal Lake, decide to get themselves some wholesome premarital sex. All is good with the couple, that is, until someone walks in on them and dispatches them with a hunting knife. The camp is shut down due to the murders, and each time that someone has attempted to reopen the camp in the following years, something bad has happened... more murders, a poisoned water supply, mysterious fires, you name it. This doesn't deter Steve Christy (Peter Brouwer) however, as he sinks twenty-five thousand dollars into reopening the camp. He hires six counselors to help out: Alice (Adrienne King), Bill (Harry Crosby), Jack (Kevin Bacon in one of his first major roles), Ned (Mark Nelson), Brenda (Laurie Bartram) and Marcie (Jeannine Taylor). He also hired a young lady by the name of Annie (Robbi Morgan) to serve as the cook, but she mysteriously vanishes before even showing up on opening day. Things are going well around the camp, as the work is getting done and the camp is moving closer to being open to the public... however, when night rolls around, the body count starts to build. Whoever could be killing off all of the camp counselors, and why?

I doubt that there's very many horror fans (or movie fans in general) who haven't seen at least one film in this series, but nonetheless, I kept the basic description of the movie up above spoiler-free. This paragraph, however, does contain plot spoilers, so skip on over it if you like. As the movie progresses, we learn that Jason Voorhees (Ari Lehman), a kid attending Camp Crystal Lake, drowned while the counselors who were supposed to be watching him had sex in a cabin. This drove his mother Pamela (Betsy Palmer) insane, so she's dedicated her life to dispatching any camp counselors who dare come back to this camp. Yes, in the first entry of the eleven-part movie series featuring Jason Voorhees, Jason himself doesn't get a single kill and only appears for two whole minutes. Funny, isn't it?

Although 1978's "Halloween" technically started the eighties slasher genre, this is the movie that really kicked it into full-swing. Countless clones of the series have come and gone, but none have quite matched up to the success of this series. So then, that would place the film that started the series quite high on the quality scale, correct? Well, not quite. Although the later films which featured Jason as the head villain had a certain something to them that set them apart from the typical slasher films of the era, the debut for the series was really nothing more than your standard slasher film. Tom Savini does a damned fine job with the effects as always, but when you take an objective look at this film, it's really sub-standard for the genre. For the first forty-five minutes of the movie, the pacing of everything is dreadfully slow with nothing much happening other than two blink-or-you'll-miss-them murders and a whole lot of useless chit-chat between the counselors. After the movie finally begins to speed up, we watch as the body count quickly builds up, but even this doesn't bring the movie up; instead, we get a few original kills and a whole lot of the done-to-death murder methods - stabbing is the preferred method of death here, and most of these either occur off-screen or are barely visible.

That's not to say that the movie doesn't deserve some of the attention that it receives. While it does appear to feature so many things that have been done countless times in other movies, this is due in large part to so many other directors trying to cash in on the success that this movie had with their own clones. Some of these clones work out better, but most do not. After things really start to pick up around the one-hour mark, we're treated to some of the better scenes in slasher history - the pacing and suspense that starts to build up is masterfully done, and the score compliments the feel of the movie perfectly. These are the type of scenes that many slasher films that came out in the years following this film tried to duplicate, but very few managed to properly execute. The last half of this movie is pure excellence in the slasher field of movies, but things could have been so much better had the first half not been so dreadfully dull.

It started a legendary series in the world of horror, a series that very few have matched in either quality or sheer volume of sequels. Therefore, it pains me to say that in my view, the film that started it all is just slightly above average... and that is only due to the great final half of the film. 7/10.
bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 10/21/2005, 08:21 PM
Jason's mother as the killer is just not really as ominous as Jason himself. This series really didn't heat up until Part 3 when he gets the mask, but this was a nice opening installment. 6/10,
Tristan #2: Tristan - added 10/08/2008, 11:32 PM
It's a good movie, but not nearly as good as the rest in the series.

George Snow #3: George Snow - added 10/09/2008, 02:47 AM
BUT this is the ORIGINAL. It's not like they had any more installments lined up. The success of this movie made the rest possible. This was completely original for the time. The arrow through the neck is just one thing that had never been seen before.
bluemeanie #4: bluemeanie - added 10/09/2008, 03:43 PM
I agree it made the rest possible, but "Halloween", "Black Christmas" and "Alice Sweet Alice" made it possible. What made the sequels so memorable is they introduced the character of Jason, which the original was missing. As for the arrow in the neck, there was far more graphic deaths being seen at the time in Italian horror.
George Snow #5: George Snow - added 10/09/2008, 08:42 PM
Jason is great, I've seen all of them, every Freddy and Michael. For myself, it's tough to beat the first, even when the sequels are seemingly better. Because the idea isn't as fresh. As for Italian cinema having more graphic horror, I'd say you know better then I. But, in 1980 I didn't have a VCR or cable, so I'd never seen anything like it before. I don't think many US audiences had.
Ginose #6: Ginose - added 06/24/2009, 09:21 AM
Fantastic fun, but nowhere near as endearing as most people make it sound. Agreed with the rest of you, without Jason a "Friday the 13th" movie just doesn't force itself into the realm of fantastic slasher cinema. Love it, but not the perfect killing-time.
Crispy #7: Crispy - added 06/01/2015, 10:18 PM
RIP Betsy Palmer
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