One of the longest-running horror film series began with this gory shocker from director Sean S. Cunningham, who had previously produced Wes Craven's classic Last House on the Left. Entrepreneur Steve Christie (Peter Brouwer) re-opens Camp Crystal Lake after many years during which it has been cursed by murders and bad luck. The young and nubile counselors all begin to die extremely bloody deaths at the hands of an unseen killer during a rainstorm which isolates the camp. A woman is chopped in the face with an axe, another has her throat sliced in amazingly gruesome fashion, a male counselor (Harry Crosby) is pinned to a door with arrows, and a young Kevin Bacon has an arrow shoved through his throat from below a bed. Victor Miller's script is not particularly impressive, but Cunningham's tense direction, and some remarkable special-effects by acclaimed makeup artist Tom Savini are enough to make it worthwhile. 1950s quiz show regular Betsy Palmer appears as the cook whose son, Jason (Ari Lehman), drowned 25 years earlier while neglected by romancing counselors. Palmer was reportedly cast because she was willing to drive her own car to and from the set. Trivia buffs should note the decapitation scene near the end, in which the female killer exhibits rather hirsute hands clutching at the air. The hands belong to Savini's assistant, Taso N. Stavrakis. Friday the 13th made over 20 million dollars at the box office and spawned numerous sequels.
by Robert Firsching synopsis