Friday the 13th (1980)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Slasher Film, Teen Movie  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Fred Beldin

While Halloween is given credit for establishing the groundwork for the teen-slasher flick phenomenon of the 1980s, it was the success of this underachiever that ensured a glut of routine splatter-fests. Suddenly no summer camp in America was safe, and fornicating youngsters were being dispatched with extreme prejudice, especially on holidays. Friday the 13th is fun for genre enthusiasts primarily as a compendium of clichés, none of which originated here but exist in abundance. False scares, a crusty old-timer who tries to warn the kids, a premonitory dream of rain and blood, a full moon, cut telephone wires, discordant violins -- it's all on display without apology, along with the greatest cliché of them all, a cunning killer who screws up by taking the time to explain her motivation to the final victim. The youthful camp counselors are a lot more wholesome and likable than the crass, amoral bunch that appear in similar films, but it doesn't stop us from reveling in each demise. This is a film with a body count, and the audience isn't encouraged to mourn. Still, Friday the 13th is far less gory than the imitations that followed (despite an effective axe-in-the-face effect), and in a "seen one, you've seen 'em all" genre like slasher films, this is the only entry that most casual viewers will need to witness.