Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Friday the 13th (1980)

"His name was Jason, and today is his birthday"

And we finally get to my favorite horror movie of all time. Some of you might be saying stuff like, “well Friday the 13th is just a cheap rip off of Halloween”, well some of you are correct. But, how many slasher films that came after Halloween weren’t a rip off? Not many is the answer.

Friday the 13th is about a Camp Crystal Lake, about to reopen it’s doors after many years. The film follows a bunch of teenage camp counselors as they ready the camp for it’s grand reopening. The film actually begins in the 1950s when 2 camp counselors are killed after making out at the camp. We then flash forward to the “present day” as stated on the screen. We find Annie (Morgan) on her way to the camp. She stops in a diner for directions and is told all about camp “blood” as the locals call it. She hitches a rid with a truck driver who then tells her all about the oddities that have happened there when it was going to be reopened before and warns her to quit. She doesn’t listen and eventually is picked up by the killer and has her throat slashed! Steve Christy (Brouwer) the owner of the camp leaves the teens alone to go off and get supplies. While they are alone the counselors are picked off one by one, until we are left with our final girl, Alice (King).

I love this movie for a few reasons. I think that having the killer be Betsy Palmer was a wise choice. Granted I hadn’t even been born yet when this movie came out, I have read things about people knowing that Palmer was an actress known for playing the “nice girl” roles. So to see her in this movie at first threw out something that said, everything will be okay, then to turn it on it’s ear like that and have her be the killer was pure genius! This idea was then copied a million times over, so a new viewer of this movie (as I was at one point) you kind of know when she shows up she is the killer.

Back to the case of it being a rip off of Halloween, it many cases it is. I did enjoy how they used the camera as the killer, though in this movie it was done for a different reason. In Halloween it was used that way simply to create fear in the audience. In Friday the 13th it was done that way too, but it was also done that way to keep the identity of the killer a complete secret, so you wouldn’t even know it was a woman. In fact, they never even mention Pamela Voorhees or Jason in the movie until she appears. I’m not sure if people were trying to guess who the killer was or not, but if they were nobody would have gotten it since neither of the characters were ever introduced.

Friday the 13th also did something Carrie had done some 4 years earlier, but made it a requirement of all slasher films to follow. That being the jump scare at the end of the movie. In the movie, Alice has defeated Mrs. Voorhees and taken a canoe out into the lake to rest. While there the police show up and this triumphant music (composed by the great Harry Manfredini) begins to play and you feel at ease, just then the mongoloid Jason pops out of the water and drags Alice down. Something we’ve all seen a million times over, this was something somewhat new at the time. Movies didn’t end with a jump scare like and people were scared out of their minds because they didn’t expect it, especially at that point in the triumphant music. A great idea!

Friday the 13th is a staple in the horror realm. It is the only series of horror films to hit 10 films and even have a spin-off with A Nightmare on Elm Street in 2003. The sequels began to follow the character of Jason instead of Mrs. Voorhees, which was a bold and right move. The sequels jump back and forth from being good (Jason Lives) to being flat out terrible (A New Beginning), but overall I love the Friday the 13th series, they are my favorites!