Why You Should Watch: Friday the 13th

From IMDb: A group of camp counselors are stalked and murdered by an unknown assailant while trying to reopen a summer camp which was the site of a child’s drowning and a grisly double murder years before.

Continuing with the horror “summer blockbusters”, it’s hard to not think of Friday the 13th when it comes to summer movies. Released on May 9th, 1980, it spawned one of the most infamous horror film franchises – nearly synonymous with all the most negative associations about horror. Made to be a money-making copycat of Halloween, it leaned into all the wrong lessons from Halloween: a masked killer stalks and kills teens who engage in sex and drinking.

Friday the 13th is polished schlock that became the standout among a sea of peers by cementing the tropes of the slasher genre with its seemingly unstoppable sequels. It is really magic. Frantic strings and freeze frames startle and excite the viewer. It conflates shock with scare but works anyway.

And it does include brief moments of wonder, like when Marcie recounts her reoccurring nightmare:

Yeah I had this dream about five or six times when I’m in a thunderstorm. And it’s raining really hard, it sounds like pebbles when it hits the ground. I can hear it! I try to block out the sound with my hands only it doesn’t work, the sound keeps getting louder and louder. And then the rain turns to blood, and it washes away in little rivers, and then the sound stops.

Marcie

This and the dreamlike ending give the movie some additional weight.

It is also pretty unique in having a middle-aged woman as the villain even if the series quickly became synonymous with Jason.

It is not the movie you’d probably suspect based on what the series became, but it lays the foundation for its many sequels and copycats.

Not too scary yet definitively horror, it is like comfort food to watch. It was my first slasher in elementary school, and it really shaped my tastes. I may prefer Ginny’s boldness as a final girl in Friday the 13th: Part II or the disco 3D of the third, but I will always love the original and the legacy it created.

This is perfect to watch outside on a breezy summer night where you might hear a nearby branch snap or the wind whistle menacingly through trees. But if you hear the soundtrack pick up, that’s truly the cue to run.

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