Synopsis: Camp counselors are stalked and murdered by an unknown assailant while trying to reopen a summer camp that was the site of a child’s drowning
The countdown takes a turn for the retro with a viewing of classic slasher Friday The 13th. Released in the wake of the popularity of the genre defining classic Halloween (1978), the Friday The 13th franchise spawned 9 official sequels, a number of spin offs, like Freddy vs Jason (2003), and created an iconic horror character in Jason Voorhees and his white hockey mask.
In the last 33 years he has come back from the dead numerous times, offd countless stupid teenagers and even been to space in Jason X (so dumb it doesn’t even bear thinking about). It all started in 1980 though, with the original, if not best, Friday The 13th. I remember watching it when I was 11 or 12 (without my parents knowledge they would hastily add) and thinking it was genuinely scary. Watching it at 29 with a couple of drinks and an unhealthy amount of pizza in me I admit I found it just kind of adorable. The problem being trying to watch in the context of it’s time, and not 33 years on when the slasher genre has been through it’s first phase of popularity and over saturation, a parody phase with Scream, before a subsequent resurgence and over saturation in the late 90’s/early 00’s.
With that in mind I decided not to overthink it and enjoy it for the campy (no pun intended), ridiculous horror romp it was and rather than review it , I thought I’d list some observations points I picked up along the way:
1. Jason Voorhees DOES NOT abide nerds or hippocrites. If the opening scene teaches us anything it is that he has no time for people who do not stick to their principles. Or he has a problem with barn based romping. Either way, best stick to your abstinence guns.
2. Education on the dangers of accepting lifts from potential serial killer looking old dudes was lacking in 1980.
3. In 1980 a costume designer was tasked with putting together an outfit for someone chopping wood and looking macho. They came up with this…
4. After which they came up with this ensemble…
5. Kevin Bacon’s shorts are the true horror in this movie. During the viewing of Friday The 13th we invented a new drinking game, which was drinking to forget everytime it looked like Kevin Bacon’s mouse might pop out of his house.
6. Kevin Bacon and Carrie Fisher evidently shared the same hairstylist in 1980
7. It felt like every character was cliched until I remembered this was probably the genesis point of the stock slasher cast that has become synonymous with the genre and was so well written in Scream.
8. Monopoly might be the worst game in the world to play a strip version of. Particularly in a wet damp log cabin. Hypothermia is the real killer in that situation.
9. The range of activities available at Camp Crystal Lake are pretty shoddy. Even without the presence of a psychotic killer their Trip Advisor score would rightfully be pretty poor.
10. Jason Voorhees’s mum looks remarkably like Jimmy Carter. Personally I’m not sure that Jimmy Carter wasn’t the real killer.
For all the funny things to point out though Friday The 13th remains staple Halloween viewing, along with Jason’s other iconic partners in keeping the teen numbers under control Mike Myers and Freddy Kruger. I would argue that 2 and 3 are better and probably warrant viewing more than the first which is rough watching 33 years on. But as a fan of the slasher genre it’s important to remind myself now and again of the movies that blazed the trail at the time.
Conclusion: Worth watching to get a contextual perspective of the slasher genre’s origins, along with Halloween (1978), and to see a young Kevin Bacon doing something weird with his hand that seemed a little redundant in the circumstances. But I’d recommend the next few sequels to truly enjoy the Friday The 13th franchise.
Cast: Kevin Bacon, Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King