Monday, April 30, 2007

Friday the 13th (1980)

Director: Sean S. Cunningham

Scary? No. Thrilling? No. Logical? No. Entertaining? No…oh wait, I mean yes. Yes, it’s entertaining. If you want to evaluate "Friday the 13th", you need to keep in mind that it was revolutionary to the slasher genre at the time. What are clichéd elements now, were truly groundbreaking in 1980. This movie is a nostalgic journey through all that which your parents said was bad for you. It conjures up images of being huddled up against the TV set in a crappy basement watching it for the first time. It’s really more about the feeling than what the movie’s merits or lack thereof are. Judging by modern horror standards, it still packs a punch. It's probably the best example of a slasher out there.

Camp Crystal Lake, or “Camp Blood” as the townsfolk refer to it, is reopening. It’s been closed since the tragic deaths of some of its campers. Well apparently it’s time for a few more deaths. A batch of new kids (including a young Kevin Bacon) arrive in town to help run the camp, and meet Crazy Ralph; a bicycle riding prophet of doom. According to “Crazy”, Camp Crystal Lake has a “Death Curse.” I guess that’s as opposed to one of those life-enriching, good curses. Sure, they should’ve turned back then. If not then, then they probably should’ve turned back when they met their new boss, who apparently just came back from a Ned Flanders look-alike contest, wearing a pair of disturbingly short shorts. Well those damned teens engage in drugs and sex, and that’s enough to piss some killer off. Right off the bat, we deduce that the killer has a normal appearance. We know this by the unassuming greetings the psycho gets through some classic killer P.O.V. shots. The teens begin to drop like flies through a series of less than creative death scenes; a few of which are off camera. Some of the deaths include: an axe to the head, a machete to the gut, an arrow to the neck, a knife to the neck.The killer, I guess, has some sort of "neck fetish." The franchise hadn't found its stride yet. Well, I guess when this one came out, it wasn't a franchise yet, so I'll let them slide on the deaths.

Finally, there’s one teen left -- Alice (played by Adrienne King). Alice isn’t going down as easily as her fellow campers. Then Mrs. Voorhees (played by Betsy Palmer) shows up. She's a former camp cook whose son drowned in the lake when the irresponsible counselors were “making love" (Mrs. Voorhees has a way with words). Turns out she's the psycho who's been chopping people up, tossing them through windows, and decorating the camp with their dead bodies like they were party streamers. She proceeds in killing campers to avenge her son’s death. That son’s name is… Jason!! Jason's birthday is Friday the 13th, hence the title, and it also takes place almost entirely on that day (see, everything makes sense). Alice and Mrs. Voorhees engage in an interminable battle to the death around the camp. They run in circles, and Mrs. Voorhees gets knocked out on three separate occasions. Yet Alice doesn’t use that as a prime opportunity to bash her head in. Well that bitch won’t stay down, and they finally have it out on the shores of Camp Crystal Lake -- how poetic. Alice gets a face full of dirt, after being bitch-slapped repeatedly. Jason doesn’t bitch-slap like he used to, but I digress. After all is said and done, Mrs. Voorhees ends up getting her head chopped off, and Alice decides to go row-boating. When dawn breaks, Alice is first greeted by a police officer, and then by a young, deformed Jason, who springs up out of the lake like a trout heading up river to spawn. He ain’t interested in spawning, though(at least I hope not). He’s pissed!! Alice wakes up in a hospital bed, where she learns everyone is dead (yeah, we knew that) and that they never found Jason’s body. “He’s still out there.” Alice remarks in classic horror film inflection. I get the sense that they never even looked for him. Oh well, how could this ever come back to haunt them?

Best Death: Kevin Bacon gets a neck full of arrow.

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