Hey all, this is a brief one today, and I am sorry I missed yesterday, but the weekends are going to be hinky between now and the end of it all. I will try to make it up sometime this week.
Check out the original "Friday the 13th" today and hopefully this thang will get back on track soon.
Pleasant nightmares, fiends!
Friday the 13th (1980): Directed by Sean S. Cunningham. Starring Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, Laurie Bartram and Kevin Bacon.
The Skinny: The one that started it all! This first film in the franchise follows a group of teens working to re-open a summer camp when a mysterious killer starts picking them all off one by one in a grisly fashion.
What's Good: Ten sequels, a crossover film, a bunch of comic books, a television series, and one reboot later, people still love this series about a maniacal killer who seemingly defies death at every turn to slaughter humping teens and wayward drug addicts. Problem is, the killer in the sequels - Jason Voorhees - was never intended to be the killer. In fact, the series wasn't supposed to follow the same character at all. The director wanted to produce a series of horror films with no interconnection except the fact that they all took place on the titular date. The first story - about a mother whose love for her only son caused her to kill - was just supposed to be the first story in the anthology. Instead, it proved so popular that when they were approached to do a sequel, it was suggested that the supposedly dead kid become the killer. Well, that proved to be a lucrative change, because this series is an unstoppable juggernaut and a cornerstone in the horror film industry. However ...
What's Bad: Low budget, so that means bad lighting and no talent (well, very little talent). And there is the fact that the movies weren't very scary past the second one. After that, they became campy thrillers in the mold of the latter "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies. But the first one, with its killer perspective shots and creative deaths, still has some chills for those willing to sit through it.
Why We Like It: I think this was probably the movie that both attracted and repelled me the most as a youngster. I was scared - nay, terrified - by the movie, particularly the second and third films. For whatever reason, I was convinced that this non-existent movie monster was going to kick in my door and hack me to death with his machete. Yet, I couldn't stop myself from watching it over and over again, late at night on CineMax, and giving myself nightmares time after time. And when I re-watched it recently, I saw that it indeed had some genuine moments of real horrific fun where you are kept guessing the entire time who the killer truly is. The director is definitely having fun ripping off both John Carpenter and Alfred Hitchcock, but it's still a worthy entry - if not a defining one - in the genre. It started that trend of sex and death that permeates modern horror, so curse it or love it.
Memorable Stuff: Really the finest moment is when the killer is revealed to be Ms. Voorhees, the camp cook, whose son Jason drowned while his counselors were screwing around. Betsy Palmer gives the film its most chilling moments as she seems to hear her dead son's voice calling her, telling her to "Kill her, mommy! Kill her!" And while her denouement is less than climactic, her revelation in the film's final moments takes the chill factor up a few notches. And no discussion of this film would be complete without a mention of the score - those whispered, hushed repeating notes that you only hear when the true killer is at hand. For the record, it isn't "ch-ch-ch-ch, ah-ah-ah-ah," okay? It's actually the first syllable of the words "Kill" and "Mom," the words Mrs. Voorhees says through "Jason's" voice. And that's really frigging disturbing.