Welcome back to 80s Bits, the weekly column in which we explore the best and worst of the Decade of Shame. With guest writers, hidden gems and more, it’s truly, truly, truly outrageous.
Today is Friday the 13th and what better way to spend this night than to watch the cult classic named after the most superstitious date of the calendar. Directed by Sean S. Cunningham, Friday the 13th (1980) not only helped to define the horror slasher genre but also planted the seed for a franchise of 12 films spanning almost 3 decades including the 2009 remake and Jason sharing billing with the likes of horror king Freddy Kruger. 80s horror films feed on adolescent fears of the boogie man, the dark, being trapped, blood, guts and death. Friday the 13th in its simple raw form is no exception.
The film is set at Camp Crystal Lake, a secluded summer camp site 20 miles from any signs of town’s folk. It’s a place where kids and teens can swim in the lake, sit around roasting marshmallows while singing Christian songs to a strumming guitar and…get killed. With a long history of murderous occurrences, the locals try to warn the new batch of youths who have been put to work for the reopening of the holiday destination that is jinxed with a death curse.
The group of energetic teens are knocked off one by one in gory and graphic ways that make good use of the camps recreational resources. The flick is full of subtle sexual advances and innuendos, and hormone driven teenagers that have one thing on the mind…to have fun. The climax of the horror finds heroine Alice (Adrienne King, Friday the 13th Part 2) trapped in the camp cabins alone with the unexpected and surprisingly crazy killer. It is not until near the end that the story of Jason Voorhees is revealed, being the start of his on-screen legacy.
The films simplicity and characteristically corny scenes are perfectly accompanied by intense symphonic orchestral music that adds the element of on the edge of your seat suspense and shock. The “Ki-Ki-Ki Mah-Mah-Mah” sound effects paired with this score makes the viewer cringe with the feeling that someone is breathing on the back of their neck.
A notable appearance is made by Kevin Bacon as hunky heart throb Jack who falls victim to one of the more gruesome killings. Friday the 13th is one of Bacon’s earlier films before making it big as light-footed Ren McCormack in Footloose in 1984.
Have a happy Friday the 13th!