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13 Weeks of Friday the 13th: Friday the 13th (1980)

With the 30th anniversary of the original 1980 horror classic.  Greg and Zechs look back at the film and in the coming weeks every other Friday the 13th film and comic book adaptations of the series. A thirteen part column on every Friday starting on Friday the 13th of August until October 29 (the weekend of Halloween. Yeah how could we resist that?)

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:



Directed by: Sean S. Cunningham


Written by: Victor Miller and Ron Kruz (uncredited)

Cast


Betsy Palmer as Mrs. Voorhees
Adrienne King as Alice Hardy
Robbi Morgan as Annie
Jeannine Taylor as Marcie Cunningham
Kevin Bacon as Jack Burrel
Harry Crosby as Bill
Laurie Bartam as Brenda
Mark Nelson as Ned Rubinstein
Peter Brouwer as Steve Christy
Walt Gorney as Crazy Ralph




Review:


 



Zechs: Ah the original Friday the 13th (1980). When Halloween (1978) opened it launched the slasher genre (old brutal murders that shatters town, flash-forward some time later with a whole new batch of victims daring to step foot in said area, and carnage ensues until the virgin female is left to fight the slasher). What this movie did in particular was usher in the gore fest that would forever be associated with the slasher picture and reinvent the rules of the slasher film (though really that part comes with the sequels). So enough talk on the history.
The story like I said follows the slasher formula to the letter. The movie opens with a murder of two hormonal teenagers at Camp Crystal Lake in 1958. Twenty-one years later, the very camp site these two where murdered is being reopened. Cue the slasher from the previous era to begin anew now with a bigger body count to feast on.
That pretty much sums up the original. However, what makes the original still so damned good is the way it deviates from the formula. Take for example in the opening, we're treated to the introduction of the character of Annie (Robbi Morgan). One can almost figure she's our main protagonist of this story, given we're finding out all the bloodied history of Camp Crystal Lake by the townsfolk and Crazy Ralph (Walt Gorney). Not soon after, the film tosses the rug right from under you and literally slices her off the list of being the survivor.
When we finally get to that character, Alice (played perfectly innocent by Adrienne King) we're almost taken back that she's the final person left standing. I mean honestly this sweet little thing is the only one left from making it a perfect sweep for the killer? She's utterly pot roast. That's what I love about the character of Alice. There's a nice overall innocence to the character of Alice that you almost don't expect her to survive this. That when it comes to the end you're almost glad she lives this horrific event and brutally takes down the slayer of her friends. King for me and no doubt others, easily set the bar for which other survivors would follow and honestly, she's still one if not THE best survivor of this series. Just that she still isn't my all time favorite, just that she started the mold which other female characters in this series would be like for the most part.

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Greg: Kay, first thing I want to say is how pleasantly surprised I actually was in watching this film. While, yes, I am a horror nut, I’m not one to really go out of my way to catch a slasher film, despite my love for the original Halloween and later on Scream. It’s not the gore I find so glorifying or disgusting, it’s the fact that the stories don’t do squat to appeal to me. I’m of the fan of the old black and white horror days, the Val Lewtonesque, or The Innocents days.

As a kid I knew of Friday the 13thand Jason Voorhees and I knew of Mrs. Voorhees. I have seen bits and pieces of the later Friday the 13th films, nothing to catch my attention. So, Zechs, you asking me to do this with you was greeted with a bit of hesitation, but since you scrapped your knees begging, why not?
Zechs: Oh come on now. It's the thirty anniversary review on Friday the 13thfollowed by thirteen more reviews (aka thirteen weeks) that just so happen to end on the weekend of Halloween. HOW CAN SOMEONE WHO IS A HORROR FAN NOT RESIST THAT!? Why I had to plea to you're inner slasher fan to make do this. And it's the original Friday the 13th! .
 Greg: Yeah, yeah. I don’t want to admit I’m glad to do this, so I won’t say it... But going back to what I was originally saying, I was surprised at this film. Now we all know the rules of the original slasher films. You have sex: you die. So when we see a teenage couple sneaking off to commit some sin, we’re already anticipating to see how they’re gonna be offed. And how wonderful it actually is as we’re watching these two characters through the killer’s point-of-view to the point where we watch the first character die as if we, the audience, killed him. We don’t even see the guy get stabbed, we see his reaction and then he backs away we see the damage, and then we go for that hussy girlfriend of his who screams to the opening titles with a beautiful score/soundtrack to reminds me of the old Psycho theme. And a special nod to the music, throughout the movie I found it to be bloody gorgeous! The hard and violent screeching, then the abrupt silence with an echoing of whispers. That repeating musical piece was definitely pleasing to my ears.

But enough of these praising thoughts! I’m not gonna let this movie off that easy, Zechs. These characters were freakin’ weak.

Yes, I know coming into this film that I’m not expecting Oscar worthy stuff, but please give me some solid characters. I don’t even remember most of the characters names. They’re clearly all there to be victims of the killer. Came to the point where I was just waiting to see some of the characters dies or seeing how they react to seeing the piling dead bodies. None of these characters had much characterization or reason to really care for them. We didn’t really get any sort of story or characterization until Mrs. Voorhees finally introduces herself. And while I was generally enjoying the film since the beginning, the introduction of Mrs. Voorhees made the film even more fun. We finally got some sort of story development, characterization, and one of the best horror villains ever.

And I’m sorry, Zechs, while you may dig the Alice character, this chick was too dumb to be branded as this great survivor you make her out to be. Just HOW many times does she have to knock out Mrs. Voorhees, only to not take advantage of it by striking her even more to make sure she doesn’t get up but instead to run away? Towards the end, this happens so much that Alice pretty much deserved to die. And I give plenty props to Mrs. Voorhees as a villain, that crazy witch, giving the Terminator a run for his money as chick just keeps getting back up to take more damage to ensure that pathetic Alice hussy goes down. When Alice finally takes down Mrs. Voorhees, I screamed to the screen, “Finally!” But at that point, I was cheering for Mrs. Voorhees. If anything, she was the protagonist with the goal to achieve and continually pursuing it. Sheesh! And she was great! Poor Mrs. Voorhees.

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Zechs: Aw come on, Greg. That sort of guessing game of who's going to be the last person standing was always great to have at least in the first six Friday movies. Just when you enjoyed and thought one character be the main point of the film. *cue murder* Nope they're dead. Though eventually, there was some people you just hoped a horrible end to and sometimes you where rewarded for it. Which is probably why near the later half of the Friday films the cast of characters became more one dimensional. The hero you rooted for was more Jason Voorhees, than the actual last standing person because they where poorly written. We'll both go more into that when we reach that point with the particular film that started all that at least I will in the Friday series, so back to this film and Alice.
Greg: Well, I’m not saying I didn’t like the guessing game factor. It indeed was a lot of fun.  Despite that, though, this movie could have been much stronger if these characters were, well... characters.
Zechs: You're right. This movie had piss poor characterization. You felt nothing but, “Yeah these idiots so deserved what was coming to them.” Well save for the first modern victim, Annie. You got some characterization with her. I couldn't help but stand wide eyed at her fate.

Greg: Psycho-style. I loved that they off’d the girl who you expect to be the hero.
Zechs: Honestly, I do see your point-of-view, Greg, about Alice. But come on, I had the same thought of Jaime Lee Curtis's character Laurie Strode in the original Halloween. She was such a stupid idiot when it came to these sorts of things (leaving the butcher knife on the ground THREE TIMES for the Shape to pick right back up). You wanted to scream at the character to just keep the damn weapon and finish the killer off. But you gotta give kudos to Alice. Unlike Laurie, she really did finish the job on Mrs. Voorhees. It took Laurie freaking seven movies until she figured that out.
When talking about this particular Friday movie, we have to go the one key point this film introduced the genre too and it forever kept, the gore. With the talents of Tom Savini, the macabre magician of splatter. The kills in this film still hold up to this day (Kevin Bacon's Jack getting it in the neck with an arrow plus the grisly machete decapitation of Mrs. Voorhees, which is my favorite kill of the film). They still make the little kid in me wonder, “How the heck did they do that?” It's something that'll go on in some of these Friday movies while others will leave me with a, “Meh that looks fake.” Still, it's quite easy to see why this film was so controversial for it's time. It's not as bad as some other Friday or slasher films by any means. You can see why critics lambasted the hell out of this. Regardless, they know diddley when it comes to enjoying a nice jolt which this film fully supplies.

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Greg: I’m glad you mentioned greatness that is Tom Savini! Watching his work in this flick was something even me, a hater of pointless gore, can even enjoy. Not that it wasn’t enjoyable, it damn was. Like an arrow through the neck!
Zechs: I still get a nice jump when that arrow goes through the neck or when Jason pops out of that water. Even though my mind knows the event is coming the jolt still comes. It's why I am suddenly having a better liking of the Friday series with the slasher genre more or less has lost that imagination of, “How'd they do that?” and is so very tame compared to the films of yesteryear.
Greg: Ha! The ending with the boat actually had me cracking up. While I may not have seen this film, I do know that scene very well and was expecting it, but it still didn’t make it any less perfect. The somber and welcoming finishing track to the happy smiles of Alice believing that everything was over. Then BAM, a deformed humanoid thing jumps out of the lake and grabs Alice down. I cracked up, clapping, only for Alice to have survived and awoken in a hospital and the final shot centering on the lake and seeing ripples to indicate that Jason, the son of Mrs. Voorhees, is there. Damn Alice and her horrible acting.
Zechs: Sure, the acting in this is downright laughable. But come on, given that this was a low budget horror film to begin with. My mind already knows I'm not going to expect some Oscar winning performance here. I came to be entertained and this film sure as hell delivered it.
Greg: I’d say it did. But drop that bias hat and put on my cap. Start with the criticism!
Zechs: Oh I will! There are still flaws I have with this film and honestly it's not my favorite Friday film (which one is well again I'll get to it when I do). My flaws with the picture are pretty much that there is no real suspect of who the killer is in the film until near the start of the climax. I hate to even admit it, but to me Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning (1985) does a better job at introducing the suspect than this film does (oh I know I'm going to catch hell for that). I was almost expecting a better moment or hint. The seeds are there when Steve Christy recognizes his attacker. Plus that's not to say the actual killer in this, Mrs. Voorhees, is tame by any means. She's an awesome slasher. Just that this film could have been much more superior to me if she had an appearance somewhere fully in the beginning.
Greg: I do agree that she should have been at least introduced in the beginning. It was as if she was tacked onto the film to find a reason for the killings than having no reason at all.
Zechs: Heh, It does feel like that. I still love that you're almost like a newbie going into this and I cannot wait to see your reaction down the road when there are even better scares or repeated telegraphed ones. Though even I haven't even done this watching all the Friday films on a weekly basis. So I cannot wait how I can compare each truly to the next. Regardless, this was the film that started and laid the foundation to what future Friday movies would go back to. It was an fantastic beginning to a series even if this was originally thought to be a one and done film.
Greg: I’m actually dreading the rest of this. I actually sat through all of Jason X (2002) and doing this means I’ll have to do that again. Damn you to Freddy’s Nightmare, Zechs!
Zechs: Yeah? Well welcome to my nightmare bitch! (I'll wait till part 11 when you get that line.) If I have to sit through Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) I'm dragging you with me into this! You think Jason X was bad? Oh you don't know how awful this series can get when it gets bad or is mangled into nothing by the MPAA! But then you also don't know how good this series can get as well. So I can't wait for your reaction when it comes to future Friday films.
Greg: I overall enjoyed this movie despite the flaws. It was a very fun flick with some beautifully executed deaths. While films with no real stories/characters filled with death never do much for me, and therefore the deaths do nada for me, I found the deaths in this particular film to be so well done that I didn’t mind it. Especially the death of that girl who I believe was going to be the main character. That’s right, I’m not even gonna bother to find out her name if the movie itself didn’t want me to. Oh right... Anne. Anywho!
Zechs: Anywho's dead?! Damnit! Sometimes I wish I had eltopo's witty tongue at times.



Zechs:
4.5 out of 5
Greg: 4 out of 5

Kills (come on we just got to rate the kills in this series): 5 out of 5

Zechs' Favorite Kill: The Decapitation of Mrs. Voorhees. I loved the hands up in the air as her head's off. I couldn't help but crack up, since it's just a fun kill.

Greg's Favorite Kill:
Tie between the first kill done in the first person point-of-view and the neck slice of Anne. Just being taken aback of the "main girl" being killed in that particular manner was damn cool.

 



Tune in Next Friday when Greg and Zechs look at the first sequel with Jason making his grand Friday debut in Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)!!!






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About the Author - Zechs


Zechs is the lord and master of The Toy Shed, Character Spotlight, and Cartoon Reviews. He's also an aspiring comic book writer trying to get some of his works published on the Outhouse. If there's any greater quality to Zechs, it's that he's an avid fan of comic book characters and would defend them to the bitter end against the companies that use them wrongly. Zechs walks the lonely path in Chicagoland area.

 


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