Friday the 13th (1980)

Director: Sean S Cunningham (1980)
Starring: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Jeannine Taylor, Kevin Bacon
Find it online: IMDB, Amazon UK, Amazon US

After her squiff-headed son dies in a silly camp counsellor related accident, Mother Voorhees seeks out vengeance against the horny stoned youths she thinks responsible. Bad news for Kevin Bacon and his chums, who find themselves on the business end of Not Jason's knife. As you should know, everyone dies but one. A youthful faced Kevin Bacon finds himself with an arrow in the throat, recieving the opening episode's best death scene. The reveal of Mommy Voorhees as the killer doesn't really ring true, but it did give rise to Jason in Part 2 onwards, so we'll let 'em off. And besides, it lends a slight Giallo touch to only see the killer's (usually gloved) hands. And in another aside, Betsy Palmer is at least scarier than the remake's Nana Visitor.

Footloose 2: John Lithgow was havin' none of Kevin Bacon's prancy dancy shenanigans this time around

Of course, you know that Jason isn't the killer in this original piece. It's almost a cliche to mention it now, thanks to the smart-mouthed referential dialogue in Wes Craven's Scream. Jason's mummy dearest is on stabby duties, and Betsy Palmer does a fine job as the wrinkled avenger. A young Kevin Bacon and assorted pretty young things are on hand as stab-fodder, with the mighty Tom Savini handling the special effects and splatter.

The splatter is always the highpoint of a Friday the 13th movie. After all, it doesn't have Elm Street's surrealism, Halloween's use of a Shatner mask or Texas Chainsaw Massacre's pure dementedness. It's fun and influential in its own right, but Jason and his hockey mask are sorely missed in this opening piece. There's much fun to be had here though. The most annoying character dies first, much to this grumpy viewer's delight. All smiles and virginity, our would-be heroine arrives in Crystal Lake's local town only to be warned off and regailed with legends of 'Camp Blood'. Our plucky heroine heeds not these warnings and continues on her (all too) merry way, taking in a little light sexual assault from a sleazy trucker and other such rustic sights as she goes. No sooner has she reached Crystal Lake than the slightly cretinous all-too-cheerful chappette ends up dead.

Next up, Jason Resurrected with a bag on his head and a whole lot more youths to puncture. No Kevin Bacon though.


  1. A definite classic, although not the best in the series. The victims are pretty one note, even final girl Alice. Jason's mom is the best character and I actually root for her each time I watch this film. Betsy Palmer does an incredible job for just 20 minutes of screen time. And of course, we have the CARRIE-ripoff ending that is effective in its own right. Good film that changed horror in the 1980s. Great review.

  2. Yeah, definitely not the best. My pick would be Part 4: The Final Chapter, although I do like parts 6 & 7 too. Thanks dude.