Friday the 13th [retro review]

rfriday1“You’re doomed if you stay here!”

The Scoop: 1980 R, directed by Sean S. Cunningham and starring Betsy Palmer, Kevin Bacon and Adrienne King

Tagline: You’ll wish it were only a nightmare…

Summary Capsule: Some kids skewer marshmallows at camp — and get skewered in turn

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Kyle’s Rating: Probably why my parents never sent me to summer camp (ki ki ki… ma ma ma…)

Kyle’s Review: It’s not the flashiest of film series, nor is it particularly smart or original or inventive. But the Friday the 13th horror franchise is not only incredibly successful and well known, but the latest installment (Part 10!) is in production as I write this. Wow!

Yeah, I know it’s morally wrong to enjoy movies centered on a serial killer and the ultra-graphic gory murders he commits. But they’re not real, they’re reel. F13 films won’t change your life or make you smarter, but they’re aren’t the soul-leeching murder manuals your parents and loved ones might claim they are. Use this simple argument to defend your choice of entertainment: all horror movies are simply packaged experiences in scares and special effects, no different than a roller coaster at an amusement park. Stick to that and you can defeat any logic thrown at you! I’m still not sure how to justify porno, however.

Back to the film: despite what certain “professional” critics might say, F13 is a classic. Great bloody visuals, effective woodsy atmosphere, and a pared-down plot that doesn’t ask too much of you except to gasp at each and every shock. Even the “acting” is good. You can truly believe these are a bunch of idiots out in the middle of the woods, with one or two people you actually care about. I salute Adrienne King and Betsy Palmer for their performances, though I won’t reveal who they play or if one of them is the killer like a certain film with the initials S-C-R-E-A-M did. Sigh.  Sure, it’s just an outdoor rip-off of the excellent and superior Halloween. But it’s still fun stuff, assuming you like slasher movies. And really: who doesn’t?

Did I forget the plot? It’s 1979 and in New England Camp Crystal Lake is about to reopen its cabins after many years of disuse due to a series of mysterious accidents that began way back in 1958 when two counselors were sliced to gooey strips of flesh by an unknown assailant. Maybe the camp’s reputation is still poo (locals refer to it as “Camp Blood”) but an optimistic dude with money thinks some paint and new rain gutters are all it’s going to take to restore the camp to summer eminence. So there this guy and his “dedicated” group of counselors are, getting the camp ready for kids and fearing nothing because despite what some crazy drunken fool is preaching what is there to worry about except maybe a stray snake or bear. But wait! There’s someone spying on them! And when night falls and the rain comes pouring down, the lurking stranger brings them… flowers and chocolates! No, I’m just kidding. The lurking stranger brings them… death and dismemberment! That’s how it goes!

No, really. That’s the plot! I told you it’s just a simple experience in thrills and bloody special effects. And I mean bloody! Tom Savini cemented his reputation as The Man of gore effects with this, and his stellar work on future installments and other films helped make him a really scary guy.

All we are saying is give Friday the 13th a chance. It lays the groundwork for the rest of the series, it has functioned as a template to follow for countless films since its release, and 9 out of 10 college students polled had this to say: “urgh gurgle pop wheez fizz.” Running this through my Drunk-o-matic language processor, I got this: “When my brain is fried and I don’t have tickets to the Lakers game, I’ll pop in Friday the 13th and because I know it’s not real I enjoy the sights of young people getting massacred. Sometimes I pretend the people getting butchered are my enemies! And sometimes I wear my grandma’s rubber underwear just because it feels naughty.” There you have it!

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Justin’s Rating: Tater tot surprise!

Justin’s Review: Horror films really serve an important role in our society. Some people think they exist to scare the jeebers out of our noodles, but I think there’s something more primal, more Darwinian at work here. Horror films, to put it bluntly, weed out the morons from our society. Selective genetic breeding through axe chopping, as it were. Even in our modern horror flicks, the cast doesn’t come across as firing with all cylinders. “Gee,” they commonly say. “Five people have been slaughtered in the past twenty-four hours, all in my immediate zip code! Why don’t we throw a party?” And compare those Mensa members with the horror movie sheep of the 70’s and 80’s, the ones that sometimes ran TOWARD sharp implements to speed their deaths. The only qualifications they had back then to be in a film like this was that you had to be able to use both feet in a tricky, coordinated “walking” sequence, and also scream like the dickens while holding the stump of whatever you lost.

Friday the 13th doesn’t have a bad guy, per se. It has a bad camera. I’m not quite sure who ever thought that point of view shots from the killer’s perspective were scary, but boy do we get a lot of it here. I know, they’re trying to conceal the killer’s identity and all, but it’s downright silly to have characters scream and whimper and run away from a bad guy hoisting a 75-pound piece of machinery. I mean, the bad guy wouldn’t even catch up with the victims if they didn’t trip over every stump, root, leaf, mild breeze, gum wrapper and beam of light that came along. Pretty much the only weapon that the camp counselors have to combat bad camera is bad acting. “Oh, don’t kill me! Please! For, you see, I do not wish to die!”

Of course, I can kind of understand why Crystal Lake’s camp counselors would stay on staff at this “Camp Blood” where all these murders are taking place. Everyone practically eggs them on to do it. The townsfolk are all nervous, like out of a western where they’re afraid that Black Bart and his gang are going to come back. Then there’s crazy Ralph, who gets the sheer pleasure of jumping out of closets yelling “You’re all DOOMED! DOOMED!” Heck, after that, there wouldn’t be anything that would tear me away from working at a place like that. Plus, Kevin Bacon’s there, and I’d be constantly hoping that he’d launch into a Footloose-inspired dance at any moment.

Friday the 13th succeeds in every respect of fulfilling a horror movie role, except for being scary in the slightest. It is remarkably cheesy, the counselors culling the best laughs when being straight-faced. They’re so cute in their naivete, prancing around in skimpy panties (especially the men) when a full Kevlar suit and a loaded Glock might be more appropriate.

They’ve got creative deaths of all bloody varieties, along with a nice ominous thunderstorm that is movie lingo for “You’re all DOOMED! DOOMED!” My favorite death shot is when a female counselor is about to get an axe in the head. She has a few seconds before the blow lands, and instead of say, ducking or defending herself, she employs the age-old self-defense mechanism of closing her eyes and wishing the bad camera away. Tsk, tsk. Later on, our heroine Alice starts running around the camp, and all the corpses keep springing out like a pop-up book. Big props to the killer for toting around a half dozen corpses and setting them up in very surprising places. Got to be hard work.

It turns out that the killer has had this eternal grudge against the camp, even though its current counselors weren’t even alive when the cause for the grudge began. Let… it… go, why not? Get some therapy. When you end up with nine sequels of rampant killing and mayhem, perhaps death therapy isn’t right for you. Maybe you need a hug or something. Just a suggestion.

andiebanner

Andie’s Rating: Anybody up for strip Risk?

Andie’s Review: So in honor of my favorite holiday in the whole wide world, my birthday, I decided I needed to watch some good old fashioned horror movies. Last night I treated myself to a viewing of Friday the 13th and frankly I kind of freaked myself out a little bit. I had forgotten that although this movie is pretty cheesy and lame, it also has some really scary parts in it and is a great first installment to one of my favorite horror movie sets.

Now, when it comes to the original Friday the 13th, there are a lot of things I don’t like. We all know the plot, right? A bunch of teenagers go to camp, fool around, there’s a storm and they all get killed. Everybody with me? Pretty lame. The camera from the killer’s point of view is pretty hokey, and I especially hate when we might get to see a little bit of the killer and it’s two little legs and some shoes. I mean, what is that about? Also, frankly, the death scenes are comical. They’re so bad. Everybody just either stands there and screams or they lurch forward and hold their stomach. The only decent death scene in the whole movie is when Kevin Bacon bites it. Not only because it IS Kevin Bacon getting skewered through the neck, but also because he lays there writhing around while the killer twists the arrow. That’s pretty sweet. But the rest of the death scenes suck.

Alright, now we’ll talk about some things I did like from the movie. The music is classic. It’s the second-scariest horror movie music after Halloween. Oh, and Psycho. So it’s the third-scariest. Anyway, I think it’s scary. The “cha-cha-cha” and “ha-ha-ha” are very creepy. I love the part in Scream 2 when Buffy is talking to some girl on the phone and she thinks she hears someone upstairs in the sorority house and her friend on the phone is like, “Cha-cha-cha, kill-kill-kill, ha-ha-ha.” It’s a great homage to Friday the 13th.

Also, I think it’s very scary that Dead Ned is right on the bunk above the two love bunnies while they’re getting it on. When the camera pans up to reveal his bloody corpse laying right above them, that always creeps me out. The setting is fantastic because nothing is scarier than woods at night. They’re hard to see in, they’re hard to run through and every little noise sounds scary. For me, though, the scariest part is when Marcie is in the bathroom cabin. You just know the killer is lurking around somewhere, but you don’t know where and it’s storming and there are shower curtains to look behind and oh my god, there’s nothing behind the first one and OH MY GOD, there’s nothing behind the second one, phew, I’ll turn around now and OH MY GOD THERE’S SOMEBODY THERE WITH AN AXE!!! SHUT EYES AS TIGHT AS POSSIBLE AND SCREAM!!! And then of course, Brenda is in the bathroom next and she thinks something is suspicious and when she looks over at the shower curtains, you can see a hand start to creep around the edge and then pull back and that’s scary.

I also have to give props to the performances of Alice, the heroine, and the killer. They were both great. In my opinion, Alice was the only of the teenagers who could actually act scared, I was completely convinced at how freaked out she was. I like the scene where she barricades the door, that’s classic. And the killer, of course, gets props of course for being a believable psychopath, but also for having the strength and stamina to not only kill a bunch of kids but also to take their bodies and strategically place them around the camp ground so they can pop out of nowhere and scare the living crap out of Alice and the audience. Way to go killer!

So, Friday the 13th. Rent it. Make a marathon out of all 9 of them. They’re fun. They get less scary as the series goes along, but there is more stuff to make fun of. It’s a good time. I’m off to watch Part 2. OH! And by the way, in the beginning of the movie when Annie the Cook gets a ride with the trucker, he goes to help her into the truck and he just plants his big meaty hand right on her ass and gives her a shove. What is that? I can’t believe she just let him do that. I’d’ve turned around and smacked him one.

friday

"Will you be my swim buddy?"

Intermission!

  • Apparently Betsy Palmer only got her part because she was able to provide her own transportation to and from the set!
  • The summer camp they filmed F13 at was Camp Nobebosco, located in New Jersey.
  • At the end of the film, when Alice is attacked by Jason in the lake, the trees in the background have changed color, as if it were autumn and not summer
  • Bikinis back then could be just as skimpy as bikinis we have today
  • The great snake hunt of ’79. Remember kids: pillows are not effective weapons against snakes – machetes are.
  • Apparently, in the 70s, you don’t move a lot when you’re having sex
  • When little voices start shouting “help me! help me!” outside in a thunderstorm, best be to just ignore them.
  • We can see the first dice roll in the Monopoly game is 1-2, but it’s announced as “double sixes.”
  • Annie says she hates it when people call children “kids.” Yet earlier, she says she’ll be cooking for 50 kids and ten staff.
  • When Alice discovers Bill’s hanging dead body, his right eye twitches slightly.
  • When Alice finds Steve’s body, his wound has moved from his stomach to his chest.
  • Supposedly, this film is a modernization of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None
  • So wait, is Jason a mermaid or what? How could he be living underwater for 20 or so years?
  • I (Kyle) have to say that while I find Friday the 13th a solid scary movie, you might be a little disappointed by it. Why? Because, as other wise horror aficionados and The Simpsons have noted, a LOT has changed since 1980. What was once ohmygoddidyouseethatAAAAHHH ultra-scary is a walk in the park for today’s mature and experienced audience. Remember that this was before cell phones, pepper spray, and the ingrained idea in your head that every person you meet might be the next Ted Bundy. I don’t care if you were indoctrinated into horror movies by Scream and modern movies; if you’re watching this with a group keep your sarcastic comments to yourself and try to enjoy the movie that inspired all those recent films you like so much.
  • SEX AND DEATH AND BLOOD AND MONEY: the final death toll by the credits is 10, with two of the victims having participated not only in premarital sex but also in the partaking of marijuana! No wonder they died, eh? Remember the supposed moral(s) of these films: sex = death, sex + drugs = very violent death, sex + death + tight revealing clothes = it will take you fifteen minutes of intense pain to die. The bloody special effects of this film were groundbreaking then and still astounding now, especially the death scene of a certain man of bacon who get offed in an incredible blood gurglin’ way. The domestic box office gross of F13 was $37.5 million, and compared to the film’s budget of $700,000 that means this movie was a smash hit! And that means sequels!
  • There were a number of scenes changed to avoid getting an X rating instead of the R they wanted. Most of the cuts pared down seconds from the death scenes.
  • Friday the 13th was another project of makeup/special effects guy Tom Savini. The special effects artist also worked on George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.

Groovy Quotes

Girl: I hate when people call them kids. Sounds like little goats.

Girl: [talking to a DOG] Hey boy! How far is it to Crystal Lake? That far, huh?

Guy: Now if you were a flavor of ice cream, what would you be?

Girl: We’re going to play strip Monopoly! I’ll be the shoe.

Cop: I told you to sit on it, Tonto!

Ralph: I’m the messenger of God. You’re doomed if you stay here!

Alice: The boy… is he dead, too?
Tierney: Who?
Alice: The boy. Jason.
Tierney: Jason?
Alice: In the lake, the one… the one who attacked me… the one who pulled me underneath the water.
Tierney: Ma’am, we didn’t find any boy.
Alice: But… then he’s still out there.

Random character: Ahhhh! urk!

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