Everyone has reviewed Friday the 13th, but it is a classic, so how can I not? Directed by Sean Cunningham (who got his feet wet helping create the magic that was Last House on the Left), and written by Victor Miller, it was never envisioned that it would take off like it did, and spawn so many sequels and copycats.
We begin at Camp Crystal Lake in 1958, enjoying the lovely singing ability of a group of teenage campers. Two of them sneak off for some fun, and are murdered by an unknown assailant. Fast forward to Present Day, 1980, and we see a young girl named Annie walking through town. She stops and pets a really cute dog, and goes to the local diner to ask about getting to Camp Crystal Lake. Apparently, there’s a curse on the camp, and the residents are shocked that it is being opened again. She hitches a ride, halfway, from a local truck driver, after being warned by the town loony, Crazy Ralph, that she’ll “never come back again”. Maybe Ralph isn’t as crazy as we thought…
Annie hitches another ride from the same unseen murderer, and is subsequently chased through the woods and killed. Meanwhile, the other kids are arriving at camp to help set up, including a young Kevin Bacon. Jack, Marcie, and Ned meet Bill, Alice, and camp owner Steve Christy, and get to work. Cleaning, painting, setting up the archery range, you know. Steve leaves to go into town, and the kids play at the lake. Later, Alice encounters Crazy Ralph hiding in a closet, who spouts the same prior warning.
As night falls, it begins to storm, and Jack and Marcie go off alone. Ned sees a shadow figure, and upon investigating, is killed. The other teens go to play Strip Monopoly, while Jack and Marcie play…something else. Anyway, Marcie leaves, and Jack is killed. Brenda leaves the game, and is killed after being called out to the archery range by someone sounding like they needed help. This leaves Bill and Alice. Of course, the lights go out. Bill is subsequently killed, and Alice is the only one left. Terrified, she sees car lights outside and runs to get help. It is a friendly looking woman who introduces herself as Mrs. Voorhees. The older woman tells Alice the story of her son, Jason, and how he drowned because counselors were not watching him. She turns on Alice, and the classic cinematic fight ensues.
After many violent encounters, an exhausted and terrified Alice ends up on the banks of the lake. Mrs. Voorhees isn’t far behind. After a struggle, Alice breaks free and grabs the machete that Voorhees has been wielding. With slow motion intensity, she raises the machete, and swings it down along Mrs. Voorhees’ neck, decapitating her. Alice is in shock at what she has done, but relieved to finally be safe.
As dawn breaks, Alice awakens in a canoe on the lake where she slept through the rest of the night. She is happy to see a police officer on the shore. Suddenly, a grotesque looking figure emerges from the lake, grabbing Alice as she screams, and pulls her into the lake. She comes to in the hospital, surrounded by the police officer and doctors. She tells them of the lake-boy who grabbed her, claiming it was the Jason that Mrs. Voorhees spoke of. The officer tells her they didn’t find any boy. Confused, she stares her baby blues into the distance and states, “Then he’s still there…” We are returned back to the now calm waters of Crystal Lake as the film ends. Was she crazy? Or was Jason really the thing that pulled her into the water?
While Friday the 13th doesn’t provide the gore we are used to in movies today, it still elicits some scares, some comedy, and some beautiful scenery. Known as one of the first true slasher films, it will always be recognized as a classic, especially in terms of some pretty shitty sequels that would follow in later years. The iconic Mrs. Voorhees will forever be remembered as a kick-ass serial killer, at a time when most movie villains were men or monsters. Launching the career of Kevin Bacon notwithstanding, this film brings us back to a time when filmmakers genuinely wanted to scare us, and before some wanna-be horror slashers became so schtick.