One of the first of the "next generation" of slasher pics to emerge following the success of Halloween, was this offering by Director Sean Cunningham and producer Steve Miner.
Set at a lakeside summer camp, called "Camp Crystal Lake", the film charts the mishaps of a group of teenage councillers who are making preperations for the camp's grand re-opening, but end up falling prey to an unseen killer.
The summer camp has been closed for years following a bad string of event's, that all started when 12-year-old "Jason Vorhees" accidently drowned in the lake one night. A flood of catastrophe's would follow, including 2 of the councillers being brutally murdered the following year, and other attempts to re-open the camp being met with mysterious fires, as well as the lake water becoming mysteriosly polluted.
It has almost been as if someone has been deliberately trying to keep the camp shut. As the body of young Jason was never actually found, many of the locals believe the camps misfortunes to be the work of the undead youth, who has returned from the depths to seek revenge.
Not withstanding, the camps current owner Steve Christy and his girlfriend Alice ( Adrienne King ) are determined to put these problems behind them and re-open the camp once more. Unfortunately they pick the wrong weekend to do it, the anniversary of Jason's death, and someone is lurking in the shadows to stop the camp re-opening, at any cost.
A bloodbath ensues, as the poor unfortunate teens are picked of one-by-one and disposed of in the most gruesome fasion. One particularly memorable death scene is that of Jack ( a young Kevin Bacon ) who's impaled right the way through the neck with an arrow whilst lying in his bunk, by somebody lurking underneath.
In the end, poor old Alice is the only one left alive, but she manages to uncover the killers identity, Jason's Mother - Pamela Vorhees, who has been seeking retribution on the camp for the death of her son. Alice ultimately manages to defeat her, but we are left with the possibility that Jason may just still be alive.
Although somewhat derived from John Carpenters "Halloween", Friday the 13th went on to become a true classic in it's own right, which was mostly down to depiction of the murders. Whereas the killings in Halloween did not rely on sudden outbursts of blood and gore to scare the audience, these killings where extremely bloody, and considered quite shocking for it's day.
The film can be viewed in one of two ways. As a stand alone horror movie it's great, with all the typical trademarks you would expect from a good slasher film, plus it did have the advantage of this level of gore and violence not being done before. However, as viewed as the first in a string of seemingly endless sequels ( the saga has so far run to 9 films, and a 10th is in production ) it tends to lose its impact on reflection.
Overall marks : 8/10
Friday the 13th is owned by Paramount Pictures, but is available in the UK on Warner Home Video. Parts 2-8, which are also owned by Paramount, appear on their own label CIC video.
The film was edited in the US to acheive an "R" rating. The UK cinema release however, was of the full uncut version, as was the original UK video that came out in the early 80's. However, following the introduction of the "Video Recordings Act" in 1984, Warner decided to replace this with the edited US "R" rated version, which shortens the scenes where the female counsellor's throat is slashed, Kevin Bacon gets an arrow through his neck, another girl gets an axe in the head, and Mrs Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) is beheaded.
Production members Sean Cunningham and Steve Miner had previously worked together on the exploitation shocker "The Last House on the Left", which was directed by Wes Craven.
The music for this film was by Harry Manfredini, who also scored virtualy all the sequels. The Make up and cosmetic effects where by Tom Savini, who actually made a name for himself on this movie. But unfortunately he turned down the chance to work on part 2 to do the cosmetic effects on "The Burning", which was a copycat of Friday the 13th.
Pamela Vorhee's claims during the film that "Jason was my only child", but in part 9 we find out that Jason had a younger sister, so she must have also had a daughter at some point. Of course, she could have been given up for adoption after birth, leaving her with only her son Jason or, Jasons sister could have been from the same father but from a differant mother.
The part of "Jason", played by a young lad called Ari Lehman, had the biggest shock impact of the whole film as he pops up at the end, despite the fact he was only seen for a few seconds. Although we don't get to see Jason properly until part 2 (then played by Warrington Gillette).
Friday the 13th has also spawned a "spin off" TV show entitled "Friday the 13th the series". This owed nothing to any of the film's and was about a mysterious antique shop, who's products where all possesed and subsequently caused a lot of misfortune for the buyers. A lot of it was rather like those old Twilight Zone stories, the only connection to the films being that is was by the same production crew.
The TV series was shown in the UK on terrestrial TV back in the early nineties, and is still occaisonally shown on the Sci-Fi channel. The pilot episode was released onto video under the title "Friday the 13th the Legacy", and subsequent episodes under the title "Fridays Curse".
The full uncut version of Friday the 13th was available on Japanese laserdisc, which was released in 1990. The re-issued Greek video, available on the Warner label (not the CIC/Paramount version), is apparently also the full uncut version. Most recently, the uncut print has found it's way onto Hong Kong Video CD, again on the Warner Bros label.
Extended Gore Scenes.
A good old fashioned throat slashing. (207KB)
Arrow through the neck. (198KB)
Axe in the Head. (126KB)
Pamela tries not to lose her head. (281KB)
Buy the video from Blackstar.
Buy the TV pilot episode from Blackstar.
Buy episodes from the
series from Blackstar.
Buy the US R1 DVD from Amazon.com.
Notes on affiliate sites.
Other films in the series.
All Time Classics.
Reviews index. Home. Menu.