Throwback Thursday: Friday the 13th
Friday the 13th (1980) movie review
Released in May of 1980, Friday the 13th follows a group of young instructors at a summer camp who are targeted by a killer. Not that anyone should need a recap of the story…. Despite a mixed critical reception, the film went on to make almost $40 million on a budget of about half a million dollars, spawning nine sequels and a remake. Something that took the Halloween franchise until this year to match. And with the latest slasher entry opening this weekend, we thought we’d look back at the knockoff that started the summer camp trend in horror films! What a claim to fame…
Full disclosure, we watched this film for the first time a few days ago. And you know what? We hated it. It actually put us to sleep and I had to finish it without Rachel the next day. So look, if for some reason you haven’t seen this iconic flick, you’ve put it off for a reason and I am not here to change your mind. You don’t need to see it. If you have- well I’m just going to rip on this movie for a bit. And I will get into some spoilers here and there, so this is your official SPOILER ALERT! For a 41 year old slasher flick…
All good? Okay cause this movie actually starts off strong. We get a very typical setup, but one that is quickly shaken up by the sudden death of Robbi Morgan, who we simply assumed was the protagonist by- well everything about her character introduction. I told Rachel that if she died I would give the film no less than a 6/10. Now I cannot uphold that, as the film snaps right back into a dull, predictable Halloween (1978) copycat as soon as she dies. But wow what a great moment!
Friday the 13th is poorly shot, visually dull, badly paced, and altogether uninteresting. One of the things that makes it so uninteresting is how they play with the rules of horror. Now in a typical horror film, you want to keep the killer a secret for a while. The characters don’t know about him, so why should the audience get to see him? Only as the realization begins to hit the victims do you see more and more of the monster or masked killer. My only thought watching this movie was… “Why does this rogue cameraman want these kids dead?” Because gosh the POV killer is a bad idea.
First of all, Sam Raimi did it better. Sure Evil Dead (1981) came out AFTER Friday the 13th, but that film at least had some intend being it! An inexplicable evil force is a bit hard to visualize, so let the audience’s imaginations run with it! Or from it…! Want to know what’s not scary? A woman in a sweater. And yes the campers aren’t scared either, but why then should the audience be? Am I picking on the core of the film too much? Yes, yes I am. Here’s why!
Cause this movie makes absolutely no sense. So Mrs. Voorhees is killing camp counselors because her son drowned a while ago- but in the opening we see her kill the counselors responsible? Okay she’s crazy though, sure. She’s all Norman Bates and that’s fine. I almost want to give a point back- except I still don’t get it. So the camp reopened and she’s going after the councilors. Fine whatever. But in the flashback, we see the counselors all sitting around the fire singing a song indoors. I don’t remember but I think it’s night? Anyway two run off to have sex because horror movie and she kills them. Now when Mrs. Voorhees is telling Alice this, we know that she blames these two for running off and having sex and not watching Jason while he was swimming. But… was Jason night swimming? Okay maybe it wasn’t night! The councilors, including the two in question, were all sitting around a fire indoors singing. I don’t think any of them were watching Jason… Probably because they didn’t know he was swimming. Otherwise she should have just killed all of them! Did she? I don’t remember. Anyway I think it’s dumb either way. She’s obviously projecting her own guilt- hey you know what! That’s not bad! It’s not what the movie is going for, but that could be good!
Oh yeah the movie. I don’t like any of the characters because I don’t care about any of them. I also don’t find every single kill very believable for a woman in a sweater to constantly get the drop on teenagers, but whatever. What really drives me nuts, aside from the lack of anything until the last act where the killer herself catches you up as to what is going on, is the finale. Alice finds out its Mrs. Voorhees. Great. Which is followed by ‘ Mrs. Voorhees attacks, Alice knocks her out, Alice runs to a new building or location, Mrs. Voorhees goes after her.’ And that happens like three freaking times in a row! Gosh what originality. And then Alice, who has obviously tried her best not to kill Mrs. Voorhees, cuts her head off with the machete. Cause why not.
Oh yeah, and sequel bating of course, because this was pretty much a prequel to the movie with Jason as the actual killer. Gosh how did this get so famous? Look, if you are okay with a poorly shot film where a bad camera angle kills off teenagers we don’t care about until we reveal it’s a woman in a sweater out for revenge against people she’s already killed while “Chhh chhh chhh Hahh hahh hahh” comprises the entire score- knock yourself out. I for one thing it’s pretty terrible. Now I would love to give it a 4/10, but I’m giving it a 3/10 for animal cruelty. Dear filmmakers, please don’t murder real snakes on camera. Not a fan.
So yeah, the original Friday the 13th? Have you seen it? (Statistically you have…) Let us know what you think about the film in the comments! And should we watch any of the sequels? How about the remake? (I mean we own the remake, so I’m going to watch it soon anyway…) But hey, got something else we should talk about for a Throwback Thursday? Leave a like and a comment and let us know! And as always, thanks for reading!
-review by Ryan Prince