[THIS REVIEW CONTAINS HUGE SPOILERS!] As a critic, I try not to choose favorites and do my best to review every film from an unbiased viewpoint. Who are we kidding? Every critic has favorites and everyone knows it. That being said, I’ll just put it out there for the readers. My name is April and I’m addicted to campy horror from the 80s. There, I said it. And so begins the quest to review every film in the Friday the 13th series.
Remember the days of horror gone by? The days when doing drugs or having pre-marital sex was punishable by death via a machete? I miss those days, I truly do. With so little of today’s horror films resulting in any type of fear, I often wish we could go back to those days when horror was campy and outrageous. It was a fun fear, a time when you worried that embarking on a secret rendezvous with your crush might just get you dead. I tip my hat to the King of Campy Horror (appointed by me, of course), Jason Voorhees. Sure, he didn’t reign campy films all by himself. Krueger was there. Myers was there. But Voorhees, he was the best. C’mon, the man wore a hockey mask.
Friday the 13th, released in 1980, started the game a bit late, as Halloween came out in ‘78. Not to worry, Jason makes up for lost time, appearing in eight films in one decade. I love this movie. I do. I fell in love with Voorhees watching this movie, which is crazy because it’s not even about Jason really. Friday the 13th is about a group of camp counselors who are trying to re-open Camp Crystal Lake, years after a young boy named Jason Voorhees drowned. The first reason why this film is awesome is because Kevin Bacon is in it. Kevin Bacon appearing in Friday the 13th makes the film exponentially more awesome, just as Johnny Depp appearing in A Nightmare on Elm Street raises its stock. The audience quickly learns that there is someone at this camp who is killing off the counselors. You assume it’s Jason, since it’s his film series, but you are wrong. Turns out, his mother, Pamela Voorhees, is seeking revenge on the counselors for Jason’s death because a different set of counselors years ago were having sex instead of watching her child swim in the lake. Betsy Palmer plays a perfect psycho mother and terrorizes these teenagers to their very end. Only one escapes, Alice, and she has to chop of the woman’s head just to survive. Alice then hops in a canoe for what one can only assume is a refreshing lap around the lake; falls asleep (beheading someone is exhausting); wakes up to see that the police have arrived; and just starts to smile when a grotesque and deformed boy leaps from the depths of the lake and pulls her under. Hello, Jason Voorhees.
This film is wild. It’s a joy to watch Pam Voorhees kill these counselors in magnificent ways and torture them for a crime they did not commit. But they do commit other crimes. Drinking, drugs, sex... she punishes them for all of their bad choices. She’s like a really twisted MacGruff the Crime Dog. I’ll admit, I was shocked when I saw this film and found out it wasn’t Jason in the end. I thought, “What genius! Launching a series about a character who isn’t even the killer in the first one! Genius!” The ending is original; the slow-motion beheading is memorable; the deaths are gross and disgusting; the characters are idiots who ultimately waltz right into their deaths; and the final moments lull you into a false sense of security only to scare the hell out of you. This film has it all and Kevin Bacon. There is no question that horror island is a better place with the Voorhees family in it, maintaining order and enforcing good behavior. Watch out, horror inhabitants, one bad move and a Voorhees might put a machete in your face.
If you liked Friday the 13th, you might also like Friday the 13th Part 2, Friday the 13th Part 3 and Friday the 13th (2009).