This movie is a true slasher classic. What was supposed to be a cash-in on the highly-successful Halloween, became a american hit, spawning at least 12 sequels along the way. It's also one of the few slasher films to highlight the archetypical tropes that have many other slasher films done to death til this day: an attractive young cast, a setting in an anbandoned, isolated area, the old man who knows the truth, the truth behind the killer's motive, etc. And although Halloween was the first slasher and kicked-started the craze, Friday The 13th paved the way for many slasher movies in 1980's. Yes, some were pale comparisons but at least it was a cultrual trend of that decade. Friday The 13th stands high on one of my favorite horror films, along side Halloween and A Nightmare On Elm Street.
Now Let's begin The Story: In 1957, an 11 year old(supposely) drowned in the waters of Camp Crystal Crystal Lake.
The blame is quickly falled upon two careless camp counslers who were making love during the fatal incident. One year later, the same (alleged) two camp counslers were found brutally murdered.
So 21 years, after many attempts of opening and closing down the camp, Steve Christie heir to Camp Crystal Lake decides to re-open the camp, once again, bringing in a new nublie group of teens to fill in as camp counslers. As the night get darker and full moon rises, things get more intense, when an unknown on-looker terrorize the group where they all disappear one by one.
I thought the acting was mostly good. The majority of the cast is pretty likeable and relatable and just to put this out, although Annie is set up to be the main protangist, it could easily be any of the three main girls. You have future housewife Annie, sweet girl-next-door Marcie, motherly-level-headed Brenda, and The shy, creative Alice. And that's what's so effective about it. You never know who lives or dies. You never know who will be the hero or the heroine. This was way before certain horror films define the main characters based on thier stereotypical personality traits( the jock, the cheerleader, the prankster, the nerd, the virgin, etc.). In this the teens are not protrayed as stereotypical. They are seen as realistic people of that era. Just check out the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the First Halloween. They may not be fleshed out in terms of character development but there is a likeable and charming quality about these characters that when you see them die in such horrific ways, it's still shocking.
Clearly the strongest actor is Besty Palmer. She really brought on chilling performance and it was pretty ballsy for the filmmakers to have a female serial killer in american slasher film. I know it's been done before then, but not quite like this. I really felt that Ms. Palmer gave it her all and gave such a malicious approach to the character that actually came off as beliveable. And to only think she took the role to rent a car. Wow. Just wow.
Now what I heard about the behind the scenes casting is pretty suprising. I couldn't believe that filmmakers once considered.....
Sally Field as Alice. Sally Field (although come to think of it, Adrienne King does kind of look like a blond Sally Field). It's quite jarring to have an oscar-winning actress in a low budget slasher film. People might even say 'how she/he would be in such a repulsive movie'. it would often question the actor/actress credibilty into being in such a film. During some time, the career of that actress or actor would've fallen downhill in the middle somehwere. Now back then this wasn't a favorite genre for the critics. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre had bad reviews when it came out and even Halloween opened to poor reviews before word of mouth regained it's success, which ultimately happened to Friday the 13th. This is why it is a best bet to cast a group of unknowns. Sure it's okay to shove in a few hollywood vetrans by the tail but it's only because they had their heydey in the spotlight way back when. It's a way for the filmmakers to play it safe....and probably it would cost less money for them anyway. But oh, Here is the casting of Ms. Voorhees, boy it is a hoot! The original actress to play Ms. Voorhees was.....
Estelle Parsons. It's pretty funny considering the fact that she's known for playing Roseanne's Mom but get this, not only would have Roseanne's sister (Laurie Metcalf) killing a bunch of college students in Scream 2, before that, you would have Roseanne's Mom killing a bunch of camp counslers in Friday The 13th. Roseanne's Family would be even more fucked up! lol.
Now let's get to the special effects, which are pure gold in this movie. It shows that Tom Savini is the master here. Behind The Scenes, the make-up were used of simple contractions without making it too fake-looking. Yes, less is more. And it's a shame that these filmmakers are so lazy these days that they would have CGI blood instead of using practical effects. And the killings are quite realistic. They are never shown to be over-the-top or cartoony-looking. It's quite cringe-worthy.
The suspense is top-notch. I know it takes a while for something to happen already, But I think the build-up to those moments work. The movie is also known for it's point-of-view camera shot, which are popular with films like Black Christmas and Halloween. In the golden age of slashers, this particular camera shot works becuase it makes it look like were inside the mind of that killer. Very effective.
The cinematography is beautiful, capturing the peaceful, quiet scenery of Camp Crystal Lake but also the dark and ominus. It definitely blended in well in the climax. But oh let me get to the climax.....
This is pretty much the moment that started it all, including the surprise ending that will set Jason up for the rest of the series....
Now before I end this review, let's place two scenarios in both Friday The 13th and Halloween. In Halloween, it is set in a suburban neighborhood. Yes, I know, It's the scarier movie but in any given situation, Laurie could've been helped and in the end, she was saved by Doctor Loomis anyway. Whereas in Friday The 13th, it is set in the middle of the woods where no one can hear you scream and in the end, Alice saves herself. In real life, Friday The 13th's situation would be the more scarier.
Oh and just to put this out.....Kevin Bacon in a speedo.
So those are my thoughts, it may not be up to anybody's standards, but at least it holds up as a slasher classic til this day.
My Last Word: Yes, Watch it!