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  Friday the 13th They Are Doomed
Year: 1980
Director: Sean S. Cunningham
Stars: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, Laurie Bartram, Jeannine Taylor, Kevin Bacon, Mark Nelson, Robbi Morgan, Peter Brower, Rex Everhart, Ronn Carroll, Ron Milkie, Walt Gorney, Willie Adams, Debra S. Hayes, Dorothy Kobbs, Sally Anne Golden
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Back in 1958 in the summer camp at Crystal Lake, something terrible happened. A couple of the counsellors were getting to know each other intimately one night as the kids were asleep and the others were holding a singsong, but before they could get very far someone interrupted them and they were found dead soon after. This resulted in the camp being closed down - until now, as a new batch of counsellors arrive there to reopen the establishment to the public. One of them is hitchhiker Annie (Robbi Morgan), who is warned by the truck driver to get away... if only she had listened to his advice.

Chi chi chi, ah ah ah! If only all of them had listened to what the local had to say on the subject, then they would have saved themselves a lot of trouble. On the other hand, one of the most enduring horror franchises of all time would have not got off the starting blocks, and Sean S. Cunningham, the producer and director of this, would have been a far poorer man financially. That's because Friday the 13th was conceived of to make money, and as close to the previous year's mega-hit Halloween as possible, with a dose of And Then There Were None added for good measure.

With Halloween the benchmark for the new slasher movies, it seemed the easiest way to make your fortune in the movie industry was to rip it off: round up a collection of young actors and actresses, then have their characters killed off by a madman (or woman), release your opus and watch the readies accumulate. Even Friday the 13th had its imitators lining up, with a popular location for your mayhem being a remote place in the countryside, just as it was here. Yet somehow Cunningham and company struck gold with this one, as it seemed the world's youth could not get enough of these shockers.

Helping out was an expert in his field, makeup artist Tom Savini who provided all the gory deaths with some flair and made sure that when a character was killed, we knew that there was no coming back from that. Unless you were the actual murderer, in which case there was no getting rid of you as the sequels attested. Contrary to the controversy that this spawned in its day, this film was not made to exploit the kids by exhibiting a love of sex and violence, and simply by being a character who takes their clothes off was not enough to see you die, as what the villain represented was the puritanism of horror movies' critics.

Therefore the killer is not leading the audience astray, not even Mr Cunningham was doing that, it was the ranting conservatives who were the real bad guys - according to this, at any rate. The identity of the murderer was not same as it was in the following movies, and did not go on to be a horror icon in the same way, but there's little in the rest of the series that is quite as bizarre as the reveal and subsequent chasing around as there is in the original. Funnily enough, for almost the entire film none of the potential victims have any idea there is any danger at all, and there's a lot of padding masquerading as tension-building such as about five minutes of Alice (Adrienne King) brewing two cups of coffee. As it was, Friday the 13th certainly satisfied a lot of punters in 1980, and can still thrill to an extent, but you're always aware that it's cynicism passing for entertainment. Music by Harry Manfredi.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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