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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Friday the 13th (1980)


In this era of remakes, reboots, re-imaginings, remixes and rehashes, I like to go back and look at the original version of many of the films being made these days- like 1980's "Friday the 13th".

Twenty years after the death of a some camp counselors, Steve Christy hopes to reopen Camp Crystal Lake- despite the claims made by "Crazy Ralph" that the place is cursed, and that him and the rest of his staff will die.  While getting the camp ready, staff members start to disappear...

What can I say about "Friday the 13th"?  Just this: iconic movie.  Pure and simple.

While, the plot is basic and simple, it is still enough to allow the movie to develop the characters- and give us a movie twist that- at the time of release, was unexpected, and unprecedented.  It is this twist that helped to differentiate it from John Carpenter's "Halloween".  It also helped to keep it from simply being another slasher film.  A great little bit of storytelling.

The characters were decent, and helped to serve as the basis for slasher films of the future, by having the different "types" of characters.  I actually LIKED the characters- which is a rare thing for me to say about most of the more recent horror movies.

Of course, the characters wouldn't have been as likable if the acting hadn't been really good for a low budget horror movie.  Adrienne King as Alice was great.  She really brought her character to life, and made you want her to survive.  It was also fantastic to see Keven Bacon in one of her earlier films (it was his fifth movie in a two year span- starting with "Animal House" in 1978).  I absolutely loved Crazy Ralph- played by Walt Gorney.  The joyful expression on his face as he pronounces the camp staff as doomed was just an excellent touch.  He made that small role a memorable one.  Of coruse, we certainly can't forget the wonderful performance given by Betsy Palmer as Mrs. Pamela Voorhees.  Once she appears, she OWNS the screen.  She gives us a great example of "Crazy Eyes" in this movie.

I have to say that I also really quite enjoyed the kills in "Friday the 13th".  While not all of them are on screen, and there isn't a whole lot of grue shown, they are still good.  Kevin Bacon's death was especially good.  The first time I saw that years ago, my jaw dropped.  And the "banana death scene" was also a great one to see too.

The camera work isn't superb, but was certainly enough to frame the action in unique and interesting ways.  There are some stills that are just great to look at.  I loved the way the lighting seemed so natural, while still allowing us to actually see what was happening.

When all is said and done, "Friday the 13th" is a great film to watch by yourself, or with friends.  I'm putting it in The Good.

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