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Friday the 13th

1980 American independent horror film directed by Sean S. Cunningham and written by Victor Miller

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Stupid, violent, trashy slasher movie that undeniably started its share of negative genre trends.

  • Oct 25, 2011
*1/2 out of ****

I don't believe there's any such thing as "old fashion" when one is speaking of the slasher genre, although without-a-doubt, some might disagree. I bring such a thing up because here is a film that most will refer to when they think "old fashion slasher movie"; an infamous abomination of a horror movie that is completely undeserving of its current reputation, which is the same reputation it's had for several decades now. The fans love it, the critics hate it, and gee, would you look at that; so do I. If horror films, in general, make you want to stay away from your local theater as often and as consistently as you can; then you haven't seen anything yet, because this one's pretty killer, and not in a good way.

It's not so much that I mind the slasher genre, but seldom is it actually done right. Why can't more be like "Halloween" or "Black Christmas"; movie with THEMES and movies with SUSPENSE, not just loads of blood-and-gore? I understand that the 80's were all about pleasing the majority of movie-goers - particularly the young ones - when it came to this genre, but does it excuse such mindless films from any criticism? No, not a chance. "Friday the 13th", which is considered by many to be a landmark on horror cinema, is a violent, sadistic, and boring-as-hell genre picture that insults more than it entertains. In a world where horror movies have the chance to be surreal, bizarre, artistic, and scary; here is one made without wit, style, substance, or any intent whatsoever other than to disgust. It's a repulsive, trashy, and unforgivably stupid piece of shit, but then again, that's just my overall take on it. Others seem to enjoy it; and I worry for many of them.

Angry mother Mrs. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) stalks camp counselors at Camp Crystal Lake to avenge the apparent drowning of her young son Jason, who we don't actually see in this film until the very end. I believe it was the third addition to this on-going series that truly popularized his character and made him the icon that he is today.

There's not much more to the plot than that. I could, of course, go a little more in-depth to please the fanboys, but since I'm not one of them, what would be the point? "Friday the 13th" is as simplistic, one-dimensional, generic, and deprived of imagination as they come. Instead of exercising new ideas, it exploits the brutal killings of teenage men and women; and all the kills are respectably authentic (Tom Savini did the make-up effects for this film, so, what is one to expect?)

Maybe all this is your idea of a good time. If the film had been some sort of tribute or homage to a lost age in horror history, then I might have considered it pretty solid too. But "Friday the 13th" wants to entertain, and it even wants to scare you; and it definitely makes some good attempts. But attempts are not good enough, and since there isn't any substance whatsoever here to back that up, it just kind of falls flat.

Maybe it's a film that makes deep, relevant commentary on the sexual and moral urges of young adults, I don't know. Perhaps it's a piece on violence itself. The director, Sean S. Cunningham, doesn't seem to know much himself; and we never quite get the answers we're looking for. There will be those who are willing to look into this film and find a deeper meaning, a different purpose, and something worth remembering; I mean, there has to be a reason why it's so darned popular, and regarded as a timely horror classic, right? Usually I too can find the reasons behind cultish acclaim, but this time, I see nothing worth admiring; just an endlessly brainless concoction of sex, violence, and uninspired dialogue. I despised this movie; impressive make-up effects, effective finale, and worthwhile performance from Palmer aside. The film itself serves as a pretty darn good explanation to why grades are dropping and why most horror fans are so easily pleased, and perhaps such people enjoy the escapism of it all; I'm not too sure. But it matters not where you stand; this film is not smart, it is not, by definition, good enough to be a classic, and if it's mindless entertainment; then it's quite possibly the lamest of the lame.

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October 29, 2011
heh. I liked this franchise because of the outrageous death scenes and requires little use of the brain LOL!
More Friday the 13th reviews
review by . April 27, 2009
The start of the next generation of horror films.
Friday the 13th kicked started the early 80's slasher film phenomenon that was ignited by Halloween (1978) but fueled intensely by this reworking of the Mario Bava classic "Twitch of the Death Nerve". Once Friday the 13th was released, there was no turning back. The slasher film was part of the American horror film genre and it would remain that way for years to come. A film that launched countless knock-offs, wannabes, sequels, video games and a t.v. series?!       …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie



Genre: Action, Horror, Drama, Adventure
Release Date: May 9, 1980
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 95 min
Studio: Paramount Studios
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