Friday the 13th (1980)

Camp Crystal Lake galvanized slasher movies into the world’s most profitable cinematic genre back in 1980 – one of the best & most influential slashfests to-date: archetyping many now-genres norms with a natural-subversive concept, brilliant setting, brutal POV kills, and shocking final reveal. 8.4/10.

Plot Synopsis: Friday the 13th follows a group of camp counselors as they try to reopen Camp Crystal Lake 20 years alter after it was closed under mysterious circumstances. Ignoring warnings from the locals, they soon find out that there is a crazed killer stalking the camp that will stop at nothing until the camp is closed down again.

*Possible spoilers ahead*

Official CLC Review

Friday The 13th. The day holds power over us (and our calendars) with rumors going back to olden times of ominous auras that come out to play. Accordingly, you’re going to have to come to bat with a pretty brilliant premise for a horror film sharing the title, and luckily for what would go on to become one of the most infamous blood-curdling franchises in movie history: it did. A great, proto-typical slasher – with about everything you’d expect from one (good and bad) – that deserves serious recognition in film and genre history, F13 changed the ’80’s – without even needing Jason either. Camp Crystal Lake galvanized slasher movies into the world’s most profitable cinematic genre back in 1980 – one of the best & most influential slashfests to-date: archetyping many now-genres norms with a natural-subversive concept, brilliant setting, brutal POV kills, and shocking final reveal.

First, the location: the setting of this slasher being a summer camp called Camp Crystal Lake is a different concept as opposed to more traditional locations like an old mansion or deserted warehouse, but invokes childhood fears and makes a once-innocent place fair-game for a killer’s twisted games. The cinematography and location shots are great in this film, and the concept of a killer who is at home in the woods and uses them as a background of night to guard and keep the camp from ever opening again is interesting and alone can justify why this series became such a huge franchise, even if the sequels all take a huge dip in quality after the first one.

Also, the slasher scenes themselves are thrilling and suspenseful, using tricks like POV shots, misdirects, manipulated tension and slow-escalation, and a signature theme music and sound effects that became widely exploited in the tidal wave of slasher movies that followed and somewhat tarnished the brand name after. The pacing is also good in the movie, in that there is a great dispersal of action and the slasher scenes throughout such that the audience’s interest is kept throughout.

Finally, the final killer reveal is absolutely shocking in Mrs. Voorhees. There is not one clue throughout the movie that hints at this idea, and everyone automatically assumes it’s Jason because he’s the mascot of the series and on the cover of all the subsequent movies but not in the original, making it an ultra-effective plot twist and one that you could not have possibly seen coming (a staple of a good slasher movie and one that is very rarely accomplished in the genre). Also, her disturbing look, face, and portrayal by Betsy Palmer is truly unsettling, as well as her genius and frighteningly efficient picking off of the camp counselors and CRAZY setting up of the bodies throughout the movie in horrifying and deliberately macabre poses in the end as Alica tries to escape leading to the final climax confrontation by the lake.

Now, the bad, and there were certainly things present that didn’t work in the movie. For one, the acting. I know no one watches a slasher expecting DiCaprio-level acting, but the acting by many of the camp counselors is downright horrendous, exaggerating simple lines in a way screaming this was probably their first role. With how low the budget must have been to make this movie with the absence of really any special effects in the natural setting, and how much they were going to make on it as a slasher movie in the 80’s slasher movies’ hay-day, they could have spent a little more to get some better actors.

Also, the special effects are just bad and could have been less obviously Ketchup-y in the gore and what-not. Again, not a huge deal and focus of slashers but something that could’ve easily been fixed with a little more attention to detail. Finally, there was a little excessive exploitation of the stereotypical get-out-or-you’re-doomed theme in the beginning, but overall these are relatively minor in relation to the film as a whole which is one of the more satisfying slasher concepts and entries in the Horror genre. Camp Crystal Lake galvanized slasher movies into the world’s most profitable cinematic genre back in 1980 – one of the best & most influential slashfests to-date: archetyping many now-genres norms with a natural-subversive concept, brilliant setting, brutal POV kills, and shocking final reveal.

Official CLC Score: 8.4/10