The slasher genre of horror movie is a thing of beauty. You take a bunch of teenagers doing “bad” things (having sex, drinking alcohol, doing drugs) and toss in a maniac with a machete to “punish” them. To death.
The 1980s was lousy with slasher films, many of which are being remade today, but arguably the best is tonight’s feature: Friday the 13th.
Year Released: 1980
Written By: Victor Miller
Directed By: Sean S. Cunningham
Starring: Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, Betsy Palmer, Kevin Bacon
It’s 1958 and we find ourselves at Camp Crystal Lake, where a large group of children are busy enjoying the sunshine and refreshing lake waters, while the two teenage counselors in charge of watching over them are busy enjoying each others bodies. So busy, in fact, that neither of them notice the young boy by the name of Jason Voorhees who is struggling to stay afloat in the lake. One year later, on the anniversary of young Jason’s watery death, the two camp counselors are found brutally murdered. The murders shock everyone and Camp Crystal Lake is close down. Forever.
It’s now 1979, twenty-one years since the horrific murders, and Camp Crystal Lake is set to reopen to a whole new generation of young victims. I mean children. Young children. Since a camp isn’t a camp without a staff of irresponsible teenage counselors, a new batch of fresh faced is hired on the run the place. These fresh faces include Annie, a young woman with what can be assumed is a bright future ahead of her. Annie is hitchhiking to Crystal Lake, because apparently her parents didn’t love her enough to ever tell her not to, when she comes across a local crazy person who warns her that Camp Crystal Lake is cursed and tells her she should go no further. She ignores this local crazy person and enlists the help of a truck driver who agrees to give her a lift, but after learning her destination is the lake, tells her about the drowning of Jason Vorhees and the subsequent murders, and decides to drop her off halfway to the camp instead. He does so, leaving her outside of a cemetery because fuck her, that’s why.
While on her scenic walk past a bunch of headstones, a jeep pulls up and the unseen driver offers her a ride. Annie, being once again the victim of poor parenting in the “don’t get in cars with strangers” category, agrees and they go off on their merry way. Once they reach the entrance to the camp, the driver surprises Annie by driving right by it. Annie begins to freak out and asks the driver to stop, but her request is met with not only silence but also an increase in speed, at which point Annie decides to get the hell out of there and so she jumps out of the speeding car and makes a mad dash for the woods. She doesn’t make it far before she trips and falls, because of course she does, and when she makes it back to her feet, the faceless driver has caught up to her and slits her throat, killing her.
Annie’s blood is only the first to be spilled, as the other counselors at Camp Crystal Lake begin meeting similarly gruesome fates, one by one. Are these killings at all related to the deaths twenty-one years prior? Have you ever seen a horror movie before?
Let this film be a lesson to you, teenagers: Don’t have sex. Ever. It just complicates things and causes little boys to drown in lakes. Also, if a crazy old man warns you away from a creepy camp in deep in the woods because he says a curse hangs over it ever since two teenagers were murdered there over two decades earlier, you should probably go ahead and listen to him. Maybe just this once.
Friday the 13th is the seminal 1980s slasher flick, in fact most would call it the first slasher film, though I disagree with that. However, I will agree that it kicked off the decade-long love affair with masked maniacs brutally killing sex crazed teenagers that seemed to grip American movie goers throughout the 1980s.
Should You See It:
If nothing I said in the above review has convinced you to see it, you might want to skip it. But if you want a true understanding of the “slasher” genre, specifically the string of movies released in the 80s, I recommend you give it a shot.