Happy Friday the 13th! Today is one of the greatest days to be a horror fan, thanks to one particular 1980 horror movie.
I’ll say this at the start— I absolutely love Friday the 13th.
Released all the way back in 1980, Friday the 13th is basically the blueprint for a perfect slasher film. It has since seen countless attempts to be duplicated, even by some of its own sequels, but there’s nothing that comes close to matching the beauty that is the original Friday the 13th film.
It had it all. You had the creepy, unique setting with Camp Crystal Lake. We had a string of brutal deaths perpetrated by an unseen maniac. The story was very interesting. Even the music was horrifying. It was the perfect recipe for a slasher movie, which is why it basically kicked off the whole concept of them.
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After the accidental drowning death of a mentally-handicapped boy named Jason Voorhees in the late 1950s at Camp Crystal Lake, two camp counselors were murdered the following year. Since then, the camp had remained closed down, but now— in 1980— a group of teenagers prepare to reopen the abandoned campground, only for the prospective counselors to start turning up murdered again.
One by one, all of the new counselors are killed before the doomed campground is even able to officially reopen. We see some pretty memorable death scenes along the way, such as a young Kevin Bacon taking an arrow through the throat. It all sets the stage for things to come in the Friday the 13th saga.
Even the twist ending, which most people nowadays will have heard about before actually seeing the movie, was very well done. When a sweet, older lady named Pamela Voorhees shows up on the campground, Alice— the sole survivor— thinks she may have found help, only to discover Pamela is actually the killer herself.
The late Betsy Palmer portrayed Mrs. Voorhees in the climactic scene, and I just don’t know if it would’ve worked as well with anyone else. Her acting was very believable, and she added a layer of sympathy to the character that wouldn’t have come otherwise.
The way she presented the character as schizophrenic, with “Jason” telling her to kill people, was totally convincing and downright creepy as hell. Just thinking of those sound bytes in my head seriously makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
Pamela doesn’t get quite as much credit as her son, but the truth is that she’s just as horrifying.
As I’ve outlined above, I consider the original Friday the 13th film to be the quintessential slasher movie. I’ve watched it dozens of times and I absolutely love it. I’ve enjoyed many of the sequels, and I’m also a mark for other horror franchises like Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
But we will never, ever see anything else quite like Friday the 13th.
FINAL RATING: 10 out of 10