Blood, body parts and raging teenage hormones, after reading these few short words you probably already know what kind of movie i am talking about and if you’re not into that kind of stuff then you’re probably about to click away any minute now……………………………still here? OK then let’s get on with it.
I am of course talking about the slasher genre and while many say that John Carpenter’s Halloween was the first movie to try out the formula, director Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th was was definitely the one that turned Carpenter’s little experiment into a completely separate movie genre. But that was 1980 and between then and now there have been no less than ten different reincarnations of the same name with a few short and not so imaginative captions thrown in to the title to help distinguish one from the other.
But there is something to be said about originality and why most of the times the first movie in a long series is also the best. Friday the 13th part 1 is definitely the best among all the bloody Fridays that came after, partly because of some strong acting from the movies protagonists but primarily because Friday the 13th Part 1 succeeds at least partially, to stay true to Carpenter’s original vision of what a slasher movie should be – A gory and bloody but equally riveting suspense thriller and not just a human slaughter house aimed at somehow entertaining the audience by making them sick to their stomach.
Friday the 13th part 1 is actually scary and you are bound to find yourself at the edge of seat more than once, throughout the roughly 90 minute experience. Part of that scare lies in the fact that the killer is not revealed five minutes after the opening credits, unlike most of it’s successors. In fact for the most part audiences are kept completely in the dark as to who is committing these grizzly murders.
Friday the 13th revolves around the infamous Camp Crystal Lake. Infamous not only to fans of the series but also it seems within the movie as it said to be cursed and is affectionately referred to as ‘camp blood’, by the locals. But as is the case with all apparently cursed camps, sooner or later a guy turns up who ‘doesn’t believe all that crap’ and buys the place with the hopes of turning it into a great summer retreat for teenagers hungry for some guy-on-girl action. Camp Crystal Lake is no different with it’s newest owner Steve Christy.
Soon enough Steve’s efforts pay-off as a group of college kids show up at the camps entrance, just as eager to get to know each other as much as getting to know the sights and sounds of the place. As the sun sets over camp crystal lake in an almost creepy fashion (and yes……sunsets can be creepy), it’s six newest guests Alice, Marcie, Brenda, Jack, Bill and Ned get busy doing what most college kids do when they are on holiday at beautiful paradise retreat. But this paradise hides a terrifying secret – a unstoppable serial killer who is merciless and creative in equal parts. As the cute and the hot get busy doing the horizontal limbo (and by that i just mean SEX) in it’s many forms, the killer starts to make the rounds, taking out one counselor after another in ways that are so imaginative it would probably make Jack the Ripper, stop his “ripping” and take notes.
There’s a lot of thought and painful creativity that has gone into each of the murder scenes. My favorite is the one is where the proverbial “victim” is resting calmly on a bunk and in the very next minute he’s getting skewered from below, through the neck in an agonizingly slow fashion. Friday the 13th part 1 also tries to explain at least to some extent as to why that date is extremely bad news for campers and as the protagonists of the numerous sequels would find out, pretty much anyone unlucky enough to be in slashing range.
The killer’s true identity is revealed the last 15 minutes of the movie and when that happens you are bound to go “WTF”. All in all the first incarnation of chomped up campers at a place called Crystal lake keeps audiences thrilled as much as it grosses them out, with the sheer body-hiding ingenuity of the killer reminiscent of Norman Bates (Psycho) and a background score that is just as much eerie as it is well- timed.
But perhaps the real curse of Camp Crystal lake is not on the unlucky campers but on movie-goers themselves as out of all the sequels that this horror classic has inspired, not one has been able to live up to the original.
If John Carpenter’s Halloween is the Father of all slasher movies than Friday the 13th part 1 is definitely the BIG BAD MOMMA.
written by: Raam