Eastern Statesman

Student newspaper of Eastern Oklahoma State College

A tribute to Friday the 13th (1980)

By CULLEN MURRIN, Staff Writer

The original Friday the 13th is one of my favorite slasher films. The pacing is good, the setting is there, and we get one standout performance from Betsy Palmer as the killer, poor Jason Voorhees’ mother, enacting crazed revenge after her unattended child drowned some years earlier at Camp Crystal Lake, a summer camp for kids in the middle of the woods. The camp counselors, teens, were “too busy having sex” to watch him.

The film does take place years after the incident, but given that in slasher films a fair amount of teens are sex crazed and “dilenquents”, they’re all fair game for the vengeful killer. She sees them as the exact same kinds of people who let her poor Jason drown. All of them must die!

The characters in the movie are teens who have been sent to Camp Crystal Lake to clean it up and get it ready before reopening (it was shut down after the drowning). They are to be there for a few days, along with an adult supervisor. This supervisor leaves near the beginning of the film, though,  leaving the teens completely cut off and alone for the remainder of the movie, which largely takes place at night.

Let’s talk about pacing.The movie doesn’t fully show the killer until the last few minutes of runtime. Every kill or stalk scene up to then is shot POV style from the killer’s perspective. These scenes are slow and deliberate, taking their time to build palpable tension, as the killer first observes the unsuspecting victim, then moves in for the shocking and violent kill.

When the killer is revealed, we are treated with a scary and exciting cat and mouse sequence, as the killer chases after and repeatedly tries to murder the last surviving character, who repeatedly knocks her back or escapes.  This sequence culminates with the “final girl” disarming the killer and then using her weapon against her. She charges the killer, who is visibly shocked and terrified at the sudden turn of events, and slices her head clean off, showcasing impressive gore effects. We, the audience, are triumphant!

In conclusion, the original Friday the 13th is a fine horror movie, and shows that you can create something  tense and overall entertaining even with less at your disposal. Cheers to the filmmakers.

Leave comment