Friday the 13th


Camp Crystal Lake has been the source of several tragedies over the years including the drowning death of a very deformed little boy, the murder of two camp counselors, and numerous fires, but none of these will come even close to the horror awaiting a group of kids intent on reopening the now abandoned camp.

The movie that started it all, the film that this zombie still gives thanks for, the original creepy middle of the woods story of sexed up camp counselors being murdered one by one in what should be the happiness of childhood camp visits. Summers spent at camping retreats seem to be kind of a thing of the past now, but back in the day it was common for a kid to go camping for at least a week during the summer time at any one of various camp grounds dedicated to childhood retreats into the wilderness. Even the worst of us have fond memories of our time spent at camp, hiking through the woods, seeing new things, and enjoying the freedom that only time away from the city can give you. That (in my humble opinion) is what made this film franchise work so perfectly for a few years before descending into hilarity, the fact that these people were all being murdered during something that so many of us could remember as the epitome of childhood innocence (well, except for those teenage camp years when you started noticing the opposite sex and had to spend most of your time inventing new and hopefully unsuspecting ways of hiding your crotch). While I reminisce about the funs of camp, why don’t we get into the actual movie?

Our first in the franchise film begins with a couple of counselors going to do the nasty only a year after a terribly deformed boy drowned. After both sexed up teens are dispatched by an unknown assailant, our film fasts forwards a couple of decades to the present (1981 present anyway), where the camp formally known as Crystal Lake but now affectionately referred to as Camp Blood by the locals is being reopened after years of neglect. Here is where we are introduced to all our counselors (some of whom don’t even make it to camp), and the kind hearted but easily targeted head counselor who comes across as Mr. Rodgers in the woods minus the creepy puppets and penny loafer based obsessions. He’s the type of victim whose death you knowingly await, hoping only that the death is both brutal and eviscerating. Anyway, as the camp moves toward its opening weekend, it becomes more and more apparent that things are not quite right in Camp Crystal Lake and there may be a very good reason the grounds have been named Camp Blood.


{Welcome indeed}

How does someone write a review of such an iconic film? I may be giving away my youth in saying that this film came out the same year I was born, so I was never a part of the generation that found this movie terrifying. It was only years later that I caught a Friday the 13th film (part 8, the infamous Manhattan entry, something that was even ridiculous to me as a child despite being my favorite in the franchise) and I couldn’t help but fall in love with the hockey masked killer. It would be a few more years until I would finally sit down to watch the original entry, imagine my shock when I discovered the killer was really (should I give it away, does anyone not know who it is in the first film that kills our poor camp counselors)…okay, I guess I’m not going to be giving it away, but it was a shock if you didn’t know. Fine, it’s the guy’s mother, it isn’t actually Jason murdering camp counselors in this installment, the big guy doesn’t take up his trademark machete till part 2. I guess the only way I’m going to be able to write the review for this film is to simply write it and stop rambling like a 12 year old school girl at a Justin Bieber concert. And I know many people are asking why I’m reviewing this during the Year of the Undead. Well, as I stated in my interview with the big guy, he does eventually become a zombie, even if it isn’t until the sixth movie that he does so. I’ve got a big problem reviewing an entire franchise once I’ve started it, and I really want to review the zombie versions of Jason Voorhees. That means I’ve got to review them all, even the one where he’s some kind of an imp thing. Please forgive my reviewer’s OCD.


{Don’t look so surprised}

For a movie made in 1981, I’m happy to report that the film hasn’t aged all that bad over the years. Yes, it’s a little hard to take seriously considering some of the sequels that came out afterward, but you have to remember that the first in the series wasn’t made to be a campy comical ride through Jason’s quest for vengeance, but an honest to goodness horror flick meant to have you leaving the theatre with the desire to change your underwear and to this purpose the original film stays true. Monumental achievements done later in the world of horror would of course relegate this one to the back of horror movie history, but for what was achieved at the time, at least in this humble reviewer’s opinion, it still deserves a spot on the top of best horror flicks ever made. Not because it started such an iconic series, but because what was done in the beginning was easily worth a spot on the top.


{Plus you get all the awesomeness of 1980 fashion}

The story is of course tired and played out by this point in cinema, but at the time it was an original attempt to cash in on the newly created slasher genre. While summer camps have gone the way of the Dodo, Disco, and what’s left of Donald Trump’s hair, they were at one time a summer past time for kids. Camp had an innocence to it, a place where a child could learn to grow while at the same time remain a child, the idea of a psychotic killer running around in the wilderness was supposed to be the stuff of legends and stories made up to scare kids who all listened intently as one counselor or another told them about the man hiding in the woods threatening to kill them all. This was how the perfect killing ground of Camp Crystal Lake was born and it works great. Besides, who doesn’t get a little visceral pleasure in watching a bunch of snotty teens being knocked off one by one?


{This was always on your mind during night at camp}

One of the things that helped this story so much was something lost as the series went on, the suspense. The very first flick really does have more suspense than any of the other ones, making this almost more of a thriller than a horror movie. The next few would continue to try and hold onto that suspense, but none of them ever quite achieved the same level of apprehension achieved here. The chill factor is brought up another notch by the first person viewpoint of the killer, giving you the odd feeling that you could be the person dispatching these buffoons. The musical score helps add to this suspense, including the infamous Ki, Ki, Ki, Ki, Ma, Ma, Ma, Ma (actually the first two letters of Kill and Mom looped over and over again from Mrs. Voorhees crazy little speech at the end).

friday the 13th -- 1980 -- Paramount Pictures

{No suspense here at all, just a scene from everyday life}

The effects haven’t aged as well as the rest of the film unfortunately. It’s not that they’re bad, in fact Tom Savini does a great job with what he had available to him, but they just aren’t that great and come across as more than a little simplistic with one exception. That exception is Kevin Bacon’s death by upward thrust spear as he’s lying in bed (something repeated in nearly every film afterwards as if it’s supposed to pay homage to the best death in the first film). Other than that, most of the effects are fairly mediocre.


{He was so young to have an arrow through the throat}

There is one more thing I can’t go without mentioning and that’s the amazing Betsy Palmer’s performance as Mrs. Voorhees. She does a truly great job portraying the psychotic mother who had to watch her little boy drown years prior. The movie would not have been what it was had it not been for her ending scene in which she actually splits in two and becomes both herself and her “long dead” son. She does a truly amazing job and no one else could have pulled off the part with even close to her performance and had it not been for her desiring a new car she wouldn’t have even been in the movie. Palmer hated the idea for Friday the 13th and wanted nothing to do with it but needing the money for a car she took the role. She even referred to the movie as a complete piece of shit and took a lot of heat from her fan base for being a part of it. This reviewer is happy she needed a new car at just that moment.


{The woman just looks crazy}

If you’ve never seen the original film then I would definitely recommend checking it out, hell, even if you have already seen it, take an hour and a half and watch it again. Is it the best horror movie ever made? No. Still, it’s an incredibly enjoyable watch that will give newbies an insight into early 80’s horror and old fans a great sense of nostalgia and a nice smile whenever needed.


For the Friday the 13th series I’m going to start doing a weapon kill count and kill total for Jason. I can’t really do that here since it isn’t really Jason but the madman’s mad mother. I’ll just have to record the deaths here as other incarnations of Camp Blood’s hero.

Mrs. Voorhees’ Kills: 8 Kills

Series Total Kills: 8


The Undead Review


Directed By: Sean S. Cunningham (Deep Star Six, The New Kids)

Starring: Betsy Palmer (Unveiled, The Fear: Resurrection), Adrienne King (Friday the 13th: Part 2, Walking Distance), and Kevin Bacon (Tremors, Flatliners)

Released By: Paramount Pictures and Georgetown Productions Inc.

Release Year: 1980

Release Type: Theatrical Release

MPAA Rating: Rated R

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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