Friday the 13th was a film this writer was able to attain for free when younger. For some reason or another this was one of the movies that my cousin’s friend decided to give her despite the fact she hates horror films. Last year as I proceeded to pop in my VHS copy of Friday the 13th, though owning VHS tapes still is probably not the hippest thing about myself to admit, and realized that the tape was practically played out. In fact, even being able to actually make it through the entire was an amazing feat in itself. Soon thereafter, my friend and I began to talk about upgrading the pitiful VHS. Thankfully this year at Walmart, one of the horror DVDs being offered currently is the uncut original Friday the 13th for $7.50! There is even a special reunion feature on the DVD among special features. Sadly this writer has yet to have time to sit down and watch the special features as of yet, but being able to see a clear widescreen version of the film is far better than watching a shoddy VHS copy. Slight spoiler alert ahead! I hope not since this writer hopes most everyone has seen the original by now, the fact that Mrs. Voorhees is the serial killer in the first installment is one of my favorite aspects of the film. For some reason people undermine the fact that women can be serial killers in these types of films. There’s even a quote in Scream (1996) that does so during the beginning that is said between Tatum (Rose McGowan) and Stu (Matthew Lillard) which states, “Yeah, Casey and Steve were completely hollowed out. Takes a man to do something like that” and she comes back with “Or a man’s mentality.” And I have to agree with Randy (Jamie Kennedy) in Scream 2 (1997) when he states, “Mrs. Voorhees was a terrific serial killer,” while trying to explain to Dewey (David Arquette) that one of the killers could be a woman. With that being said that is one of the aspects of the original that is sorely missed in the remake of the same name in 2009.
Friday the 13th is part of the slasher genre that was born after the original Halloween (1978). Part of what makes Friday the 13th so unique and so original is by taking a random day that most people dread anyway for superstitious reasons. The other is by using limited screen time for who is behind all the murders at Camp Crystal Lake. The basic synopsis behind Friday the 13th is about a group of teenagers attempting to reopen Camp Crystal Lake. This is after something horrific incident occurred that the majority of the young counselors have no clue about at the time. As the counselors attempt to show up at the camp to make everything perfect for the opening, various deaths begin to take place. The odd part is that most of the teens seem none the wiser at first. With the added affect of the camera keeping hidden the killer’s identity this makes the film even more intense. There is something about not knowing until the very end of the film who the killer is that was quite amazing about watching the original feature. With the remake, Jason is the killer. The same Jason that we have all seen in the previous sequels, and probably most famously played by Kane Hodder. Granted, some of the sequels are decent, but nothing beats the techniques that Sean S. Cunningham used to film the original version. In many ways the audience became the killer. We are the ones chasing after these poor defenseless teenagers until the very end. By putting that point of view on the killer even more tension is created.
In terms of acting, while most people would mention that Friday the 13th brought Kevin Bacon to the forefront. While some people might not know this was his first acting role it was just that for the actor. There are two main people within the film that should be focused upon though acting wise. While Bacon was not bad by any means, there are two sensational women in the film that must have attention brought to them. First off, there is Betsy Palmer who played Mrs. Voorhees. Despite the fact that she is not onscreen all that long, but toward the end of the feature, she steals the show. Slight spoiler alert ahead that was stated above. Maybe part of this is the fact that she is a female serial. This was one of the shocking aspects of the film then and even for new viewers today. No one expects the person who has been murdering all of these camp counselors would turn out to be a female. Everyone expects the killer to be a guy, this is probably in good part because of the sequels to be honest. The other person within the film that deserves some praise is Alice Hardy played by Adrienne King. In all reality she is one of the only people within the entire film that has any redeeming qualities about her. She is determined to make sure that the camp is ready to be up and running. Alice even goes as far to make sure that everyone else around the camp is behaving as well, at least to the best of her ability. In fact, she seems to be the only person within the film that appears to be safe. In the end, we realize just how crazy Mrs. Voorhees is however and she goes after Alice too. Alice also show audiences how she can put up one hell of a fight too. Thank God for strong female characters within these films and Friday the 13th definitely amplifies that standing.
In conclusion, Friday the 13th continued the slasher genre. This is also one of the low budget horror films that succeeded at the box office. For instance, the film was made for $550,000 and in the opening weekend alone the film grossed $5,816,321 on one screen! That is impressive to say the least, especially for having opened on one screen. Overall Friday the 13th grossed $39,754,601 total in the USA. There is something to be said about the power of low budget horror films. This was discussed more in detail earlier this year when this writer post the trailer for Paranormal Activity 3 (2011). By keeping everything minimal within the realm of horror films, more scares and thrills can be made. The script and smaller details could be focused on that has made Friday the 13th one of the greatest horror films of all time. This writer is sure there are those who disagree, since I’m positive there is not one film that has ever been made that everyone can agree on enjoying sadly. The truth is the original Friday the 13th is a classic and should be dubbed as such because of the way the material was handled. There could have been tons of gore, tons of premarital sex, which granted there is a little bit of within the film, but they could have stretched the R rating for all it was worth back then. They could have made sure to utilize the blood and guts like in the 2009 remake. Instead, Sean S. Cunningham took the script Victor Miller wrote and created an atmosphere that was not only creepy, but also realistic. By maintaining a realistic stage and a adding a creepy old man who tells the tale of Camp Blood in Ralph (Walt Gorney), Cunningham helped continue to make the slasher film what it is today. Instead of merely grabbing the remake grab the original and enjoy a delicious tale that the whole town knew about, but no one would believe.
If you are interesting in renting Friday the 13th, make sure to check out this title through your local Austell Blockbuster, Videodrome, Movies Worth Seeing, Netflix, or movie channels based upon your cable or satellite provider around Halloween. To purchase any Blu-rays or DVDs mentioned in this review please check out your local Austell Best Buy, Walmart, Target, or Kmart.