The superstitious day brings forth blood, screams, and fright onto camp counselors.
Ten years ago, this was my first introduction to the Slasher genre. It’s been far too long.
The intro was nicely done. It perfectly summed up the type of the film one was going to receive. With its cinematography, music, direction, and of course, the kills.
Taking directions from “Halloween” (1978), there were plenty of POV shots utilized for the killer. A good use of this was during the introduction as the camera was hovering over the sleeping children. Other cool ones were when the killer would be observing the counselors from afar while hiding behind the trees.
Outside of POV’s, unlike “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974), the movie took patience and let the camera sit to capture some very nice wide shots of the environment. These were effective in peaceful moments when displaying the scenic wilderness of Camp Crystal Lake. As well as creepy moments whenever the film needed to convey a sense of loneliness for a character in the scene. It was in those nerve-wracking scenes the camera showcased nice tracking when it followed a character’s every single movement. There weren’t any fast edits or jump cuts to disrupt the mood.
Music in the film was really good. The famous “ki, ki, ki, ki, ma, ma, ma, ma” is one of the most iconic scores in horror history. But besides the theme, there were a few other pieces that delivered the goods at keeping the suspense flowing throughout.
The movie had a few jump scares, but for the most part, director Sean S. Cunningham’s direction seemed focused solely on giving the viewer a sense of realism. There were plenty of moments sprinkled throughout that bad horror filmmakers today would do to ruin the chills. Perfect moments to add unnecessary jump scares but they weren’t present which was surprising. While aspects of this parallel to “Halloween” (1978), there were things in here that made this movie stand out.
Makeup artist Tom Savini really brought forth the terror with his skills. The kills in this were cool. With the axe to the head or arrows to the body, it was executed well. The best kill in this involved the knife going Jack’s neck in the bed. That still gets to me rewatching this. The reveal of Bill’s body pinned against the door by arrows was quite a surprise, even after forgetting it a while back.
One aspect that definitely stands out from “Halloween” (1978) and other prominent slasher movies that came before/after, was the reveal of the killer herself, Pamela Voorhees. At the time in 1980, it must have been quite something to have a woman be the killer. It’s a shame that a vast majority of slasher films, leading in the 80s and beyond didn’t experiment. But she was good in the movie. As her motivations were understandable and actress Betsy Palmer did good at portraying a crazed mother bent on revenge. The film did a clever job of keeping her reveal tightly-wrapped until the end.
As far as the other actors, there wasn’t anything deep for them, notably the camp counselors. However compared to “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974), I will say the characters in this were a bit better. It was probably due to their performances or how the dialogue was written. Cunningham stated that he wasn’t looking for great actors, but in the very least, find people who were likeable and relatable. To which I say it was pulled off fine. So yes, the characters in this weren’t too bad.
Not to nitpick or pick apart questionable things, but I have to. Mrs. Voorhees being behind the tree while the character of Alice walks by, was highly unusual. Well maybe that correlated to the scene where that one cop toward the end was talking about the bad things that happen on Friday the 13th. Maybe some supernatural force was fueling Voorhees, IDK.
There were some pacing issues in a few scenes. There needed to be more development, not just with the characters but maybe some other portions of the plot.
Approximately forty years ago, this movie came out. To this day the lawsuit of who owns the rights to the characters portrayed still persists. With no end in sight. But with that said, the film had great cinematography, classic music, some nice performances, nice direction, and it did one or two things to make it stand out amongst the slashers around the time. While being somewhat of a ripoff of “Halloween” (1978), this was still a nicely done horror movie and horror classic that one should see.
YouTube: Tk Theater Productions/LoneCentric Pictures