31 Days of Horror – ‘Friday the 13th (1980)’

Friday the 13th (1980)

Directed by: Sean S. Cunningham 

Starring: Betsy Palmer and Kevin Bacon 

Review by Eric Scot Lemons

This is not a review. We all know about Friday the 13th and Jason and the camp counselors of Crystal Lake. No, in fact, this is just a unique observation on one of the seminal slasher films of the 80s, that also stars Kevin Bacon. So this is a discussion of the film, and there will be spoilers, but that is exactly what I would like to talk about.

Everyone remembers the class or internet forum or what the fuck ever where they first learned that Robert Frost’s “The Road Less Traveled” was not in fact a statement on going against the grain and forging one’s own path in life. And if this is new information to you, sorry to break it to you. But TRLT depicts two roads in the woods that were exactly the same, and he just chooses one of them. It is about rewriting history, or how none of us are that special. And decisions mean fucking nothing in the end. Or whatever, read it how you like. The point being, many folks believe it to be about one thing, when it is actually about another.

I watched Friday the 13th with my wife and she was like, “This is a Jason movie, right” and I realized, that even though the villain in this is actually Jason’s mother and he doesn’t even appear except for the end in a nightmare as a gargly little Deliverance banjo playing fuck, Friday the 13th is considered Jason movie. So when one realizes that their expectation of a hockey mask wearing ubermensch with a machete as a killer turns out to be a older lady grieving (albeit horribly) the death of her son, that is a sort of twist. And this isn’t a twist created by the film, but by the mythology of the film and subsequent series. Everyone knows the Jason character, but much fewer people have actually seen the first film to realize that his mother is the sole villain.

I don’t know what to say about this. There is probably some super philosophical argument for zeitgeists and their effects on our reality, but I don’t know anything about that. Fun fact: The hockey mask doesn’t even show up until the 3rd movie. Imagine that. The piece of visual information that allows us to most efficiently recognize the iconic character, and it doesn’t even show up until the third installment. That would be like Darth Vader not getting his mask until Empire Strikes Back.

So watch the film or don’t. It’s pretty good. Tom Savini did the effects. He is a boss.

I also tried to think of other films that are as notorious, yet the general public get a major element of it wrong. The only other one I can think of is how a lot of people don’t realize Rocky lost in the first film. If you can think of others, put em into the comments. I am curious now. 

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