Directed By: Sean S. Cunningham
Starring: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Jeannine Taylor
Tag line: "If you think this means bad luck...YOU DON'T KNOW THE HALF OF IT"
Trivia: Sally Field auditioned for the role of Alice Hardy
Here's the movie that started it all. Released in 1980, Friday the 13th would spawn an entire franchise; a multitude of sequels, spoofs, and even a television series that ran for 3 seasons. Apart from kicking off one of the most, if not the most, successful horror franchises of all-time, Friday the 13th is also a great slasher film in its own right.
Decades earlier, the authorities were forced to close Camp Crystal Lake following a string of tragedies, including the drowning of a young boy in 1957 and the brutal murders of two camp counselors the following year. Now under new ownership, the camp is scheduled to re-open, and a new group of counselors has just arrived to help prepare the grounds for the busy season ahead. While these teens may be too young to remember the camp's bloody past, there's someone lurking in the woods who'll be more than happy to give them a history lesson, with a course in terror thrown in for good measure.
As you might expect, there's no shortage of blood in Friday the 13th; before the opening credits, we witness the slayings that forced the closure of the camp in 1958, when two horny counselors were butchered by a mysterious killer (a scene that adheres to two important slasher traditions: the murder of teens having sex, and seeing those murders through the eyes of the killer). But these two kills merely set the table, in preparation for the feast of gore that's soon to follow. One young girl (Robbi Morgan), hired to work as a cook at the newly-reopened camp, has her throat cut before she even gets there, and another counselor (played by a young Kevin Bacon) is stabbed through the throat with an arrow as he lays in bed. Make-up artist Tom Savini, who by 1980 had already made a name for himself thanks to his work in George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, really goes all-out in Friday the 13th to make the kills look as realistic as possible (the arrow-through-the-throat scene with Kevin Bacon is especially difficult to watch), all leading up to one of the most shocking endings ever to appear in a horror film (it had me jumping about 5 feet out of my chair the first time I saw it).
Obviously, box-office receipts are the determining factor in whether or not a movie will become a franchise, and the success of Friday the 13th pretty much guaranteed more films would follow (with a budget of only $550k, the film made over $39 million in it's initial run). Because money plays such a big part in the process, it's not unusual to see a crappy movie spawn an even crappier series. Fortunately, that's not the case here; whatever your opinion may be of the plethora of sequels that followed it, the original Friday the 13th is still a fun, fun movie.