Friday the 13th (1980)

Friday the 13th (1980) ⭐️⭐️

Director: Sean S. Cunningham Cast: Betsy PalmerAdrienne KingJeannine Taylor, Robbi Morgan, Kevin Bacon

I couldn’t let this Friday the 13th go by without acknowledging the existence of this 1980 classic.

However, I’m somewhat baffled about how this could have actually become such an enduring pillar in horror history and one of the most enduring franchises of its genre.

For a start, there’s nothing particularly new here, not even for 1980, since Carpenter’s Halloween had already played pretty much all the same tricks a couple of years earlier, with much better results (though at the time interestingly even that one had been panned and unfavourably compared to Hitchcock and Brian De Palma and even Argento): even the point-of-view shot from the killer’s perspective, giving voyeuristic feel, was by then a cliche. Today many horror lovers want to read this as a cautionary tale or a warning about the teenage sex, but I think this is just reaching as far as I’m concerned.

The film is really just an excuse to bump off annoying cardboard characters one after the other, with some boring bits in between with mostly bad actors and a terrible terrible terrible script.

The music (if it can be called such) is probably one most iconic thing of “Friday the 13th” (and its sequels). It is indeed quite effective playing the “jaws” trick, as being the personification of the killer.

But crucially, Friday the 13th, despite it eerie mood (probably the only decent thing going for it), is just not frightening at all (definitely NOT for today’s standards, but also it can’t have been that much more, back in 1980), and for a horror film, that’s unforgivable.

The first couple of deaths in particular are so badly done that they are almost laughable (with an added bonus on freeze frame, which then burns to white: ludicrous for 1980s and pathetic now).

The budget is so low that it can hardly pull off most of the gore, which is what people come to see these movies for. The death of Kevin Bacon (poor guy what a lousy breakout role) is one of the most effective in the film and possibly the high point of the whole film.

As for the final scare, even that one was already a cliche in 1980 and it pales in comparison with De Palma’s Carrie.

So please, can anyone tell me why was this film so successful? Were the audiences really so hungry for slasher films? And if they were, why did these films have to be so bad?

Oh and by the way, if you’re expecting to see Jason with his white Hockey mask showing up at any point, you’ll be disappointed to find out that he only came into action from the sequel… but then again if you’re an horror fan you should know that already (if anything because “Scream” told you so).

So in the end 2 stars is the most generous rating I can give the film, mostly for its iconic place in history, the music cue, and Kevin Bacon’s first role… and for starting up a slasher series which will (mysteriously) endure for decades

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