Title: FRIDAY THE 13th
Year of Release—Film: 1980
Year of Release—DVD: 1999
In the world full of Horror Franchises, none have stood the test of time as well as the FRIDAY THE 13th franchise. Twelve films, a TV series, video games… for 29 years now, Sean Cunningham’s iconic slasher Jason Voorhees has dominated the modern Horror scene, outdistancing even his closest competitors, Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger. However, few remember that, when it all began, before there was a killer named Jason, there was his grief-deranged mother Pamela, and the first blood-bath at
Following the success of John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN, which major studios ignored but went on to earn millions—in a series of regional releases—for Cannon, the heads of the various majors began to reconsider their objection to distributing Horror Films, especially Slasher films.
The plot, what there is of it, is almost superfluous. It exists merely to place the characters into the situations that lead to their violent, gory deaths. Decades after two camp counselors were brutally murdered at
There are many reasons that this film became the standard-bearer for the Slasher sub-genre—the inventive, over-the-top death scenes, the huge body count, the copious amounts of blood, gore and nudity—all no doubt contributed greatly to the film’s success. The film is very much an American Giallo, sharing many features and plot devices with those staples of Italian cinema. Indeed, many similarities exist between FRIDAY THE 13TH and Mario Bava’s classic 1971 thriller REAZIONE A CATENA ~aka~ A BAY OF BLOOD. The setting by the water, the creative modes of inflicting death upon the ever-growing body count, and the shock ending are only a few of these similarities.
Paramount Home Video’s 1999 DVD has been superseded by a newer release with additional materials, nice to have but not really necessary. The original presentation is adequate for viewing the movie, and, as it came in a set of the first three films in the franchise, for less than $10, I have no complaints about the paucity of features on the disc. Paramount Home Video seldom goes overboard on bonuses for it’s customers, and this disc is certainly no exception to that rule.
Still, as I said it is sufficient for viewing the film, and that film is one of the seminal movies of the Slasher genre. Not as good as HALLOWEEN certainly; and we wouldn’t gain the series’ iconic “man in the mask” until the sequel a year later, in the person of Jason Voorhees. That sequel would transform its predecessor, a little, low-budget summer movie that defied critics, astounded studio executives, and amazed audiences, into a franchise that is still going strong today. The importance of FRIDAY THE 13TH, Pt. II notwithstanding, the original is by far the better movie. It’s also a film that every Horror fan must own in some form.