By Darin Skaggs
In honor of Friday the 13th I am going to journey into the series of the same name. I am only familiar with a few in the middle of the franchise, I do know Part 8 pretty well. That is the one where Jason Takes Manhattan. So I am coming into this series of films with a good idea of what is to come but I have only seen Part 8 in its entirety and a few pieces here and there. I am excited, and I hope you are as well, to delve into this series as it slowly (or not) fades into the shear ridiculousness it becomes. So without further ado, here is a look at Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th.
The Horror Movie Clichés
- There is a crazy old man, Crazy Ralph that is, who at first warns a young women on her way to Camp Crystal Lake where the slashing is going to take place. The townspeople say to ignore him. The townspeople seem afraid of the camp. That is another familiar troupe. He shows up later in the film, apparently he rode his bike all the way to the camp. I mean he must be really tired. And he does this just to warn the camp counselors to leave. How does he know that there is danger there any way?
- There are seven counselors staying at that camp, along with the head counselor Steve, which will start in two weeks. Steve goes out to pick up some equipment and leaves the others to stay at the camp. So inevitably the two counselors who are dating run off and have sex. They get killed next, first Jack who is played by Kevin Bacon, then Marcie who is killed with an axe in the girls bathroom.
- Oh yeah, people get killed in this, one by one. This troupe is very familiar and like most of these films we do not know who the killer is. We know Jason is going to be the killer for most of these films, but in this one we have no idea who it is for a long, long time. And I am so used to Jason being so supernatural that it is sort of odd to see a human be the vicious murderer.
- Hey by the way, spoilers, the killer is Jason’s mom. In 1958 her son drowned and died so Miss Voorhees kills the two counselors responsible, they are having sex too. Well she is clearly mentally disturbed. This part is not so much cliché as awkwardly borrowed, but her son sort of speaks through her much like a reverse Psycho where Norman Bates’ mother speaks through him. He says “Kill, mom, kill.” (Hey maybe it was actually Jason talking through her.)
The Not So Cliché
- There is a surprise twist, which is cliché, but I will give the credit to Friday the 13th on this one. It is all normal in the first instalment. Just regular old murders going on here, it is simple to take down this villain (More on that later) but at the end out of nowhere Jason leaps out of the water and takes Alice, the only one left, and her boat under the water. You really don’t see it coming. Good job!
- Also Alice wakes up in the hospital at the end of the film and the cops say they found her in the water. So is Jason there or not? It is really up in the air except I guess he is, but the end of this movie really makes you wonder what the heck really happened.
- Not much for this section so I will talk about the scene where everyone in the camp comes into a room to try and help kill a snake which has gotten loose. I mean there are maybe three people in the room at first, plenty to solve this problem, but no every cast member comes in. Not sure what this has to do with anything but what can you do?
Rank the Deaths
11. Ned gets killed off screen but is on the top bunk while Jack and Marcie have sex. I forgot who this guy was.
10. Jason drowns. It counts. We see a flashback type moment. It is more sad then fun.
9. Hey, they kill the snake so it counts too! They chop off its head with a machete. Foreshadowing?
8. A tie goes to the couple that is murdered in 1958, they are having sex, it may or may not be after Jason drowns.
7. Steve comes up to the mystery killer says “Hey, how have you been?” then is killed. It is mostly funny if anything.
6. Bill is not seen being killed, but he is found on a door with arrows holding him up.
5. After Jack has his fun Marcie leaves, a hand comes from under the bed and an arrow is shoved through his neck.
4. We don’t see Brenda get killed, but hers is interesting. She hears a boy yell for help, goes to help in the rain, gets scared, and goes to the archery range, lights are turned on, she screams and we never see her again. Alive that is.
3. Marcie is part of another Psycho reference, sort of. She looks in the shower to figure out what the noises that are spooking her are and an attacker comes from behind and stabs her…with an axe, by the way. It is kind of cool.
2. Annie is the girl who we first meet in present, she is told the whole story of what happened twenty years earlier and then gets killed before even reaching Camp Crystal Lake. It lets us know there is danger before even getting to the setting.
1. Alice grabs the machete and knocks Miss Voorhees head clean off. Okay, not so clean. It is the craziest moment in the film. This is after Alice is running and running and hiding and running. It looks fake but not too bad for its time and again the series loves killing people in wacky ways and this is a good finale kill for the film.
This film is not great, not really good, but I have a certain amount of respect for it. Most of the kills are cool, the mystery is fun even though most know who the killer is. Honestly I am more excited for the so bad it’s good type films to come, but this is a nice place to start.