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Film Review: Friday The 13th 1980 - An Icon Of Film

It’s difficult to look back at a film like Friday the 13th and give it an objective treatment.  The film is, as I’m writing this, over 30 years old.  In this time it has become, to many, a beloved part of cinema and a film that – whether you love it or hate it – will always been remembered as one of the greatest horror films of all time.

Let’s take a step back to 1980, though, shall we?  On the tails of John Carpenter’s booming success with the indie film Halloween, filmmaker Sean S. Cunningham was inspired by Carpenter’s accomplishment and decided to make his own brand of horror film.  With a lot of work and a little trickery he managed to obtain the capital to make his film, and in the process made his own mark on the world of horror cinema.

Friday the 13th is to many a Halloween clone, but I argue that it is it's own beast entirely.  Cunningham’s film uses a completely different backdrop, albeit to the same ends. Summer camp, a place most of America’s youth were familiar with, especially in the 70s and 80s.  It was a safe place, but a place wrought with tales of killers in the woods and grisly secrets.  Whereas Carpenter made us afraid of Anywhere, USA, Cunningham made us afraid to go to camp.

Also, the twist ending to Friday the 13th was something completely out of left field.  I think that today we have a hard time appreciating it.  I spoke to my father about the film a few years ago, and he harkened back to seeing it in theatres in 1980 with my mother.  As he explained it, no one saw the twist-ending coming and in the final minutes of the film he was scared so witless, he practically jumped out of his seat.

The acting in the film may be subpar, but that’s something as horror fans we’ve learned to overlook.  For us it gives the films a bit of an endearing quality.  The films we love were made on shoestring budgets, and the money goes to the scares, and boy did Friday the 13th ever deliver!

The special effects of the film were unlike anything anyone had seen before.  Special effects artist – turned guru – Tom Savini began his career with Friday the 13th and some of the things he did in that film still look amazing to this day.  People were expecting to be scared, but I don’t think they ever expected to be as shocked as they were the first time they watched this movie.

As is the case, again, with Carpenter’s Halloween, Friday the 13th’s musical score has become as celebrated as the film.  Harry Manfredini created heart-racing, haunting music for this film that has also endured the oft-mentioned test of time.  Also, if you ask anyone about Friday the 13th, many will instantly recall the notorious “ki-ki-ki ma-ma-ma” sound effect, which was another invention of the film’s composer.

Friday the 13th has become an icon of film.  Here we are 30+ years later still talking about the movie.  Today it has all the hallmarks of a great slasher, but what we have to realize is this: the reason we have a slasher genre is because of Friday the 13th.  It is a film that everyone should see once, not just genre-fans like us and, in my humble opinion, is a film people will still be talking about in another 30 years.

5/5 Machetes

Review By: Ryan Hollohan
Ryan's YouTube Channel


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