Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday the 13th (1980) Review:

It's fairly obvious that with the success of John Carpenter's Halloween (1978), that more people would be attempting to make films in that particular genre. Here audiences witness director Sean S. Cunningham dish out his first actual film that everyone remembers even though, this isn't his first time directing. However, what makes this film feel painstakingly similar to that Halloween (1978) is the whole concept in general. Screenwriter Victor Miller even stated himself that he was just riding the coat tales of John Carpenter's movie. Surprisingly though, as much as this sounds like it could be bad, it actually isn't.

Ahh yes,...the young naive campers
The story runs along the same lines as every other slasher horror film - a group teenagers are stalked and picked off by a mysterious killer. However, this time it takes place in a campsite, not suburbia. Also, the fact of how the story plays out is still respectable despite being sampled from Halloween (1978). This allows the movie to stand on it's own without coming up too much as a copycat. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the whole story is the mysterious background surrounding the camp. The real name of the camp is called Camp Crystal Lake, but the folks who live nearby call it Camp Blood. Gee, that sounds real ominous.  However, it's not only this aspect but the tragic story of a boy who drowned there as well.

Starring in this movie are a bunch of no name actors and one who would become real popular among fans. The one everyone knows of now is Kevin Bacon. The rest would either drop out completely of film or continue for a little and then fade away. What's with these actors? There are too many films where convincing actors star in an entertaining film and then drop out completely after that film was released. The two actors I wish had continued their careers were Robbi Morgan as Annie and Jeannine Taylor as Marcie. Along with them are convincing performances by the other unknown actors. Betsy Palmer is probably the most convincing due to her character’s mentality.

Betsy Palmer
For violence, gore fans should be relatively satisfied. It still is not the over-the-top actions that one would see in today's slasher movies, but it delivers; perhaps some moments viewers may not expect. I know there was one scene I didn't see coming. One aspect to the film that helps it stand on its own is the cinematography by Barry Abrams. Throughout the daylight parts of the film, Abrams captures a lot of good shots of the nature surrounding the camp. Adding to that is composer Harry Manfredini's score. If there's one thing that Manfredini got right, it's the whispering voices throughout the running time. It helps give the setting a very ghostly feel. Music wise, Manfredini relies more on screeching strings and not creating actual tunes. It isn't all too effective in most places, but there are times where he does create a tune here and there. It's just not often enough. This is still an entertaining film.

It certainly is not the newest of concepts considering that it took much of its premise from Halloween (1978), but it's atmosphere and story are interesting enough that it shouldn't be turned down. Also watch it for a young Kevin Bacon.

Points Earned --> 7:10

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