Friday the 13th (1980)

Friday-13

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
I’m kinda confused.

Happy Friday the 13th, everyone, muahahaha. I thought it was an appropriate time as ever to review another prominent series in the horror universe. Obviously, that series is Friday the 13th. I’ve never seen the series before, personally, but I know of Jason. Jason joins Freddy in the most memorable horror villains ever faced. We start now with the 1980 film that started it all. One thing you might note is that Jason isn’t even in the first movie. This isn’t really a spoiler, considering you don’t even know who Jason is when watching…unless you know of the series as a whole. What does that mean for me, though?

So…Camp Crystal Lake. The site where a couple was killed years before, and is considered cursed – labeled with the name “Camp Blood”. Still, teenagers from all walks of life show up, ready to face that curse and start the camp anew. Like it’s a huge surprise, people start dying off, one grisly death after another, and for no apparent reason or way to stop it. By the end of the film we get some answers, but none that we’re happy with.

I’m struggling. I am having a really tough time trying to figure out what makes this film scary…how it is welcomed in the “most memorable” of horror film franchises…how it even obtained a sequel. I’ll be honest, because I just don’t get it. The villain in this film is not memorable, is not one that you love-to-hate, there were never any clues as to who it would be, so when they showed up out of the blue, we’re confused. People might hate me for saying this, but this film was really poorly put together. There is no suspense, there is no main character on either side, no character we like to watch, not even Kevin Bacon was interesting. The scariest element I will admit this film has is the real on-screen killing of a snake with a machete. That was not needed. I’m not an animal activist, but you don’t need an activist to know that’s horrible and wrong.

All the movie really has is its gore. There were respectfully some memorable death scenes in this. I can easily see people remembering some of the deaths in the first film far into the other sequels. However, anyone that watches a movie just to see the variation of how people die clearly don’t understand film. Even the best of slasher films have a plot you can be interested in. Also, the first-person perspective of the killer was never needed. The only reason films do that is to conceal the identity of the killer – typically because we probably know who it is. But we don’t in Friday the 13th, so it was pointless to conceal it. They could have easily shown us the killer, and it wouldn’t have made much more of a difference, I just don’t like the perspective of first person. It’s too…video-gamey.

I am sorely disappointed, gentle readers. I wish I could say why this fits into the most memorable horror films, but unfortunately I can’t. Friday the 13th is just a horror film’s excuse to kill off random people that you don’t even care about without as much as a plot that is interesting or makes sense. I guess what the film was missing in order to make it special was in fact Jason. I’ve never seen the series, but I know about Jason, which must mean that he is a memorable character, right? Only time can tell. See you next time.

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14 thoughts on “Friday the 13th (1980)

  1. Whoa. Skip it? Sorry to read you didn’t dig this one. It’s my favorite, hands down, of the entire franchise. The sequel comes a close second. Much like the Freddy films, there are hits and misses, but if you dislike this one out of the gate you may not dig the rest. I would still give them a shot, though. You may actually like the 2nd part since the mythology really picks up. I may not agree 100% but your review was still insightful and a fun read. Thanks, bro!

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  2. Wow, surprised you’ve never seen a F13 movie before. Like Vic, this is my favorite of the series. To be honest, none of the stories in any of these movies is particularly engaging. The thing is that in 1980 this literally was one of the first of its kind. There was Halloween, a better movie to be sure, but this one upped the ante in terms of body count and gore and rode that to success at the box office because lots of people do watch movies just to see the different ways in which characters die. For better or worse, that’s a large part of the reason why horror flicks, including the high-minded Saw, seem to generate way more sequels than any other genre. And also, in 1980, the idea of going away to camp and being slaughtered was a fairly original and scary idea.

    Even though I’m a fan of the franchise, in a guilty pleasure sort of way, I agree the plot and the characters (and their acting) are all very thin. It’s that way for the whole series. It is a franchise built on showcasing creativity when it comes to manner of death, and later, both cheesy and dark humor. And if you thought the way Freddy kept coming back was wild, just wait until you get deep into this franchise. As a guy who practically grew up on these movies, it was insightful to read something by someone coming into it with fresh eyes.

    Loving all of these collections you’re doing. Great work!

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    • Oh ok, you guys like it for its original affect on the 1980 audience. That’s not how I review, I review for people who live in the modern world and haven’t seen it before. People that have expectations for how a movie should be. I respect how it affected people back then, but that makes no difference for my reviews. That helpful?

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  3. I understand your review perfectly. I’m really not trying to defend the movie, just trying to explain how it became a phenomenon which was because of its effect on the 1980 audience. For me personally, slasher flicks, especially F13 movies, are a guilty pleasure, but I’m fully aware that none of them are what I would call “good.”

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  4. Pingback: Friday the 13th – Part 2 (1981) | Dave Examines Movies

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