There are times when a movie succeeds in creating a whole new sub genre. This is often a positive development, since variety is the spice of life. Hollywood flicks all too often get bogged down in the same old, same old cookie cutter formulas. In the case of the 1980 flick Friday the 13th and the slasher sub genre that it spawned, this was not a positive development. This is especially the case since the new sub genre came with a brand new cookie cutter formula that subsequent slasher flicks have rigidly adhered to.
Friday the 13th has an absurd premise. Camp Crystal Lake is reopening after 23 years. The reason why it had closed is that a six year old child, Jason Voorhees, was presumed to have drowned while camp counselors were engaged in immoral acts. The next year, two camp goers were killed. 23 years after the drowning of the young Jason, with the camp reopening, the crazed old mother of Jason Voorhees who is still known as “Mrs. Voorhees” (Betsy Palmer) wants revenge against the new camp counselors even though none of them had anything to do with Jason’s death. If anything, none of the reopened camp’s counselors even look old enough to have been born by the time of Jason’s tragic drowning. However, Mrs. Vorhees has become crazed to the point of becoming utterly psychotic and she must have her revenge no matter what.
There is at least one person in the community who is on to Mrs. Voorhees’s evil plottings. This is an old man known as “Crazy Ralph” (Walt Gorney) who warns both prospective campers and camp counselors that the camp is doomed to face unimaginable horrors. Naturally, everyone disregards his warnings. Likewise, there is a truck driver named Enos (Rex Everhart) who tries to warn a prospective camper named Annie (Robbi Morgan) about how Camp Crystal Lake is “jinxed.” She ignores him to her peril.
Camp Crystal Lake opens up and it turns out that just about everyone who shows up, both counselors and campers alike, are nothing but a bunch of perverts. Then the killer shows up and runs amok spreading havoc despite getting repeatedly whacked in the head with blows that would knock a full grown man down. When the killer is finally revealed as Mrs. Voorhees, the absurdity of such an old lady sustaining all that physical punishment becomes apparent. In the end of the movie, the presumably drowned son Jason springs up from the lake to wreak even more havoc and set the stage for a whole series of awful slasher flicks.
Friday the 13th is an awful flick in almost every regard. The writing is horrible, the acting is terrible and the cinematography is mediocre. The screenplay is amateurish. Although the idea of teenagers being killed at a summer camp at night is a good premise for a horror movie, it is poorly executed in this movie.
Unlike almost all of the pre-1980 horror movies, Friday the 13th and the slasher flick sub-genre that it spawned is not with the victims. These poor excuses for movies are with the killers and the whole point is for the audience to anticipate the next murder or killing spree. Slasher flicks like Friday the 13th are movies to avoid like the plague.