Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday the 13th - 1980

Can you keep them in the dark for life?
Can you hide them from the waiting world...
 - Danzig

And so the marathon review begins with the original classic that started it all: Friday the 13th.

I forgot just what a nifty little slasher film this was. Although the concept of kids alienated from most adults and being picked off one by one is not new (Sean Cunningham willing admitted he stole from Halloween),it has several little clever moments that allow it to hold up on its own merit.

Let's start with a quick recap for the two people in the world who have never seen it. A group of young camp counselors arrive at Camp Crystal Lake to set up for the camping season. Among them we have the bright and spunky Alice, sensible Brenda, young couple in love - Marcie and Jack (Kevin Bacon!) and other assorted nice likable young people who look forward to the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, the rest of their lives lasts only a few scant hours as they meet their doom by an unseen killer. Most of y'all know the rest as it leads up to the unlikeliest killer in movie history.

Betsy Palmer (Mrs. Voorhees) once said in an interview that she thought the movie would be forgettable trash and I understand how she thought that way. After all on paper, it probably didn't sound like anything interesting, just kids getting killed in the woods. But, there's quite a few things that sets the original F13 a cut above (yeah, my puns suck) other slasher films.

First of all, the kids are memorable and well-acted. While most films just put the dudes and chickies out to slaughter, F13 actually gives them personalities, hang-ups and smarts. They aren't dumb. They don't do dumb things. They don't know a killer's on the loose so going to the bathroom by yourself,checking on a generator, sneaking off a quickie, or accepting a ride from a friendly stranger is no big deal. In essence they act like kids act.

Second of all, the killer. Yes, she comes out of nowhere. SPOILER ALERT! It's Mrs. Voorhees whose son drowned years ago while counselors were having sex and she wants to avenge his death. The Mom was never mentioned, the son was never mentioned so it may appear as though the audience was gyped. But dang if Betsy Palmer isn't one of the most awesome killers ever to grace the silver sceen. She looks so friendly in her cable knit sweater, like she'd bake you cookies. But as we learn....Mrs. Voorhees would cut a bitch. And by bitch, I mean anyone. But especially camp counselors. Damn, does she hate herself some camp counselors.

So far from being "forgettable trash", the first movie stands up on it's own as a decent little slasher/thriller. Some of the special effects are a little dated (sorry Tom Savini) but mainly because you can see where the actor's skin ends and the prosthetic begins, but the kills are still fun to watch. And Mrs. Voorhees death scene is certainly a thing to behold.

Next up: Friday the 13th Part 2. Returning to Camp Blood for more gore and mayhem!

Favorite Moments (may contain spoilers):
  • Poor lovable Annie hitching a ride in a jeep with some unseen character and getting more than a little freaked out that they passed her exit.
  • Mrs. Voorhees explaining to Alice about Jason's death and growing more and more unstable and crazy.
  • Decapitation in slo-mo with kickass incidental music!
  • Jason jumping out of the water at the end and pulling poor Alice into the murky depths below.
Fun Facts Kids!
  • The date of Friday the 13th is mentioned only once in the movie
  • The perenial F13 sound "chi chi chi, ha ha ha" is actualy "ki ki ki, ma ma ma". Harry Manfredini took the sounds from the "Kill her Mommy" dialogue and used his own voice to record the Ki and Ma sound through a reverb. The result is classic.
  • During Mrs. Voorhee's decapitation, look closely at her hairy hands. Those hands were actually played by Taso N. Stavrakis who worked with Tom Savini on the special effects.
  • The final scene with Jason jumping out of the water was not in the original script. But the filmmakers were influenced by the ending of Carrie and wanted a good "jump scare" ending.
Agree? Disagree? Or just have a random string of curse words you'd like to share? Comment!

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