Friday the 13th (1980)

October 22, 2009 - 10:33pm | Johnny D
  Tags: 80's, 80's slasher, Adrienne King, Betsy Palmer, blood, Debra S. Hayes, friday the 13th, gore, Harry Crosby, jason voorhees, Jeannine Taylor, Kevin Bacon, Laurie Bartram, Mark Nelson, masked killer, Peter Brouwer, Robbi Morgan, Ron Millkie, Ronn Carroll, Sean S. Cunningham, slasher, Walt Gorney, Willie Adams

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Sean S. Cunningham
Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Jeannine Taylor, Robbi Morgan, Kevin Bacon, Harry Crosby, Laurie Bartram, Mark Nelson, Peter Brouwer, Ronn Carroll, Ron Millkie, Walt Gorney, Willie Adams, Debra S. Hayes

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past year, you're fully aware of the "re-imagining" (does anyone else absolutely DESPISE that term?) of Friday the 13th hitting multiplexes. In true greedy Hollywood fashion, it's time for Paramount to crank out a new edition of the original film...this time in a brand spanking new Uncut form. And, for those of us with blu-ray players, in High Definition!

If you're reading this review, then I'm under the assumption that you're a horror fan. And if you're a horror fan, then I'm under the assumption that you have seen Friday the 13th at least once in your life. If not, then kindly take a moment and give yourself a swift kick to the ass for committing such treason. I'll wait..........Done? Good, now we can continue. To make a long story short, over twenty years ago mongloid child Jason Voorhees drowned at Camp Crystal Lake while the counselors were off swapping bodily fluids. Over the next few years, whenever the camp attempted to open again, tragedy would strike. Now, the camp is under preparation to be brought back to life once again by a group of counselors who choose to ignore the death curse warnings. It isn't long before someone shows up and dispatches these pot smoking fornicators.

Even the most diehard fanboy will have to admit that Friday the 13th is far from a crowning technical achievement. It lacks the tension building skill that made it's slasher predecessors, Halloween and Black Christmas, the chilling classics that they're known as today. But there's no denying that Friday, much like all its sequels, is the exemplification of entertaining, fun 80s cinema. While admitted by the filmmakers to have started out as merely a Halloween knock off, Friday the 13th had enough charm and personality to make a mark of its own on the horror genre. The imitator soon became the imitated.

With its abandoned summer camp location, we really get a sense of isolation and vulnerability that was missing from the house lined streets of Haddonfield, Illinois. The film also played around with a "who done it?" mystery. Of course when the killer is revealed, it's a total cop out because it comes completely out of nowhere. Since they don't harp on searching for the identity of the killer, it's almost forgivable. While the characters themselves are nothing noteworthy, their demises are what put this one on the map. Man, Savini really was doing some great work back then, from the throat slit all the way up to the epic decapitation. And, to the credit of the writer and director, there's plenty of playing with the audience in order to deliver the unexpected. For example, when Kevin Bacon is lying on the bed, blood begins to drip down on him from up above. The mind automatically assumes that something is going to happen from over him when BAM! from under the bed and through the body comes that nasty little spear. Or how at the end, with the authorities arriving and the peaceful music swelling up, they hold the shot just long for us to expect the credits to roll when HOLY SHIT IT'S JASON!

The acting, including Mr. Bacon, is pretty amateurish but with a few exceptions. Adrienne King as the last girl standing, Alice, did a fine job with what she was given and really gave her all during the finale. But the real star here is Betsy Palmer in the role that she will forever be associated with, Mrs. Pamela Voorhees. Some may find her absolutely terrifying, other's may think she's hysterically over the top. Either way, she commands your attention during her too short screen time. For someone who initially didn't want to do the role, she sure seems to be having one helluva fun time tearing up the screen.

The uncut version runs just ‘bout 35 seconds longer than the original cut. While less substantial than say, the uncut My Bloody Valentine, they're still noticeable differences for those familiar with the film. The big stand outs here are Kevin Bacon's elongated death where the blood continues to pump from an upfront shot, and the ending decapitation with a longer shots of hands grasping for a missing head. The cinematography is surprisingly professional and looks fantastic transferred onto blu-ray. My favorite shots are still those of Alice running in the pitch black woods, as her white shirt comes in and out of frame. It truly makes you believe that she had unquestionably nowhere to go.

Friday the 13th may have its fair share of flaws, but its entertainment value, along with the place it's created for itself in the genre's history, make this film required viewing for all slasher fans. The uncut version is a much welcomed added bonus.

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