I came home from a long day at work earlier this week and there, sitting on my doorstep, was the first three Friday the 13th movies. In conjunction with the upcoming release of the new Friday the 13th remake, Paramount is understandably trying to cash in by re-releasing several of the films on DVD. Despite loving slasher flicks, I've never been a fan of the series, but that night, with nothing better to do other than watch the utterly boring Miracle at St. Anna, I figured I might give the franchise another chance.
Friday the 13th, the 1980 original, is better than I rememberd. It's still not great, but it works well enough for what is a blatant attempt to rip off Halloween (which, according to the bonus features and Wikipedia, is the actual truth). Some good-looking tens get murdered one by one, and eventually it comes down to one seemingly innocent girl to kill her pursuer. There's a little bit of nudity, a little bit of gore and a few jumpy scenes.
The movie can't claim it's high-quality entertainment, because it isn't. Compared to Halloween, it isn't as smart, creative or suspenseful; the decision to show the murders primarily from the killer's point of view, though crucial in some ways, is not particularly effective. While there is some gore, the movie doesn't rellish in its murders the way you'd expect. It's not all that scary or suspenseful.
Nevertheless, it has its charm as a low-budget horror flick. Most importantly, Betsy Palmer turns in a great performance as the creepy Mrs. Voorhees; when she starts talking to herself as if she's Jason, that's classic. Equally satisfying is an audience interview session with the now-elderly woman, who says that her first reaction to the script was, "This is a piece of shit." It's a shame that she isn't in the movie more, and not because she's creepy; in an effort to keep the killer's identity secret, her character isn't even introduced to the end. She just comes out of nowhere; I would have liked to see her interact with the cast earlier.
Of course, Friday the 13th features the first starring role for Kevin Bacon.
Friday the 13th is an OK horror movie, but it's still surprising that this movie was successful enough to spawn ten sequels.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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