What started out as a title only, went on to become
both a trend setting horror classic and an American cinema success
story; Friday the 13th and its many sequels launched the slasher
film craze in 1980. Call it timing, luck, or well-crafted
filmmaking, Friday The 13th found a niche and fans went wild.
Remember how people went to see it over and over again? Forty
million dollars or so it grabbed that year, not bad for a low budget
slasher film that was shot after first coming up with just a title
as an idea and a few ad slicks to begin with. You have to admit it
is a damn good title for a horror film! It's safe to say that this
film and the series were easily the most imitated slasher movie
ever. Seeing the bucks that could be made by offing teens, producers
scrambled to get their "hit" out soon after. The home video boom,
which hit a few years later, was filled with 13th wannabes.
While Psycho, Bay of Blood, Black Christmas, and Halloween all
slashed away before Friday the 13th, for some reason, Friday The
13th struck a certain chord with its extremely gory, in-your-face
murder scenes. Even though some of the blood was trimmed, for its
time, the movie packed a wallop that mainstream moviegoers hadn't
seen before. It's well done, fun, and had enough titillation between
the killings to make people scream for more. Maybe it was the strip
Monopoly, maybe it was the killer turning out to be just an
overprotective mom, or maybe it was watching Kevin Bacon die; Friday
had something special that few since, even within the film's own
series, have duplicated. The musical score and sound FX have to be
given some credit also, as both are among the most memorable in
fright flick history.
The simple plot makes it just plain enjoyable to kick back and
watch! Kids go to help reopen old Camp Crystal Lake years after two
counsellors were murdered. Kids party when new camp owner leaves
them alone for the night, and are soon killed off by unseen maniac
in a variety of cool, sadistic, and gory ways. By the end, we see
that it's all done out of love and revenge as a mom just wants to
stop any more needless drownings caused by sexually preoccupied camp
counsellors. Heads roll! The strange, surreal ending leaves a
lasting impression and room for sequels, which came in spades. If
director Sean Cunningham had not put that very last sequence in for
the sake of investors, there may have never been a Jason. But he
did, and there was.... many times.
Friday the 13th and Jason Voorhees have pretty much become one and
the same now. He took over for momma in part two, which was an
excellent and fun sequel, dawned that most familiar goalie mask in
part three, yet another fun movie, and has held the reigns since.
Jason and the mask now are inseparable from the Friday the 13th
legend. Jason's black, evil presence has even managed to
possess others (in nine), come back from death more than a
telemarketers mailing list, attack New York, and become an
astronaut. Friday the 13th now stands as the reigning horror
franchise in terms of number of films and body count. Perhaps one
day it will reach its own lucky number. Nothing short of total
financial failure it seems will ever stop Jason Voorhees.
"They were warned... They are doomed... And on Friday the 13th,
nothing can save them."