Friday the 13th – USA, 1980

‘On Friday the 13th, they began to die horribly, one… by one.’

Friday the 13th is a 1980 American slasher horror feature film directed by Sean S. Cunningham (Trapped AshesDeepStar Six; Case of the Full Moon Murders; producer of The Last House on the Left) from a screenplay by Victor Miller and [uncredited] Ron Kurz.

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The film concerns a group of teenagers who are murdered one-by-one while attempting to re-open an abandoned campsite and stars Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, and Kevin Bacon (The Following; FlatlinersTremors) in one of his earliest roles.

Prompted by the massive success of Halloween, the independent Georgetown Productions film was made on an estimated budget of $550,000.

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The movie received mainly negative reviews from critics, but grossed over $39.7 million at the box office in the United States, and went on to become one of the most-profitable slasher films in cinema history. It was also the first movie of its kind to secure distribution in the USA by a major studio, Paramount Pictures.

Friday the 13th‘s massive box office success led to a long series of sequels, a crossover with the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise and a series reboot released on February 13, 2009.

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Reviews:

“Beyond the mystery and the story wait the visuals. And the visuals are something truly special. In addition to a great set location and wondrous natural lighting that helps create a dreadful atmosphere we’re also treated to special effects from maestro of realism, Tom Savini. Some of his death scenes are genius.” Matt Molgaard, Addicted to Horror Movies

Friday the 13th is no great movie and there were even better slashers from around this time.  The makers of the movie however realized its power and quickly capitalized on it by creating a bankable killer in Jason Voorhees and the rapid release of sequels (something that Halloween sputtered on). JP Roscoe, Basement Rejects

“There’s remarkably little T & A given what was to come, but the murders (especially Kevin Bacon’s bed spearing) are memorable and the denouement is a tour de force dominated by Betsy Palmer’s creepily grinning, unflatteringly dressed portrayal of Mrs Vorhees.” Steven West, Horror Screams Video Vault

” … it is not only self-evidently made on the cheap but is almost completely lacking in style or invention. About the only interesting aspect of the film, really, is the slavishness with which it attempts to duplicate elements of Halloween: title, construction, even visual effects…” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

“The blood looks very real, and no two deaths are alike. There’s also good suspense when the camera takes “killer’s eye view” and chases screaming victims through the woods. In the history of film there are good imitations and there are bad imitations, and this one is good. Cunningham obviously recognised what made Halloween so successful…” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

Friday the 13th soundtrack cover Waxwork Records

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Cast and characters:

  • Betsy Palmer … Mrs. Voorhees
  • Adrienne King … Alice
  • Jeannine Taylor … Marcie
  • Robbi Morgan … Annie
  • Kevin Bacon … Jack
  • Harry Crosby … Bill
  • Laurie Bartram … Brenda
  • Mark Nelson … Ned
  • Peter Brouwer … Steve Christy
  • Rex Everhart … The Truck Driver
  • Ronn Carroll … Sgt. Tierney
  • Ron Millkie … Officer Dorf
  • Walt Gorney … Crazy Ralph
  • Willie Adams … Barry
  • Debra S. Hayes … Claudette
  • Dorothy Kobs … Trudy
  • Sally Anne Golden … Sandy
  • Mary Rocco … Operator
  • Ken L. Parker … Doctor
  • Ari Lehman … Jason

 

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FRIDAY THE 13th

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One Comment on “Friday the 13th – USA, 1980”

  1. A series close to my heart for being the one that kicked of my love of horror. The notoriety of this film series in the 80s and early nineties was palpable in high-schools across the land. I had to get in on it and when I did it sent me on a glorious gore-flecked journey that I am still enjoying/enduring to this day. Sure it’s much maligned, sure it’s a rip off, but it raised a young boy from mild mannered geek to the level of absolute freak over night!

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