Horror Ramblings: Friday the 13th (1980)
February 02, 2015


Yeah, this is a thirty-five year old movie. I still think it's courteous to post spoilers.

I recently rewatched the original Friday the 13th for an October review. Honestly, I've got to say that it's not one of my favorite films in the franchise. Although it does have awesome makeup, courtesy of Tom Savini, and a pretty good soundtrack from Harry Manfredini, it's pretty much your standard chop 'em up. Granted, it set a lot of standards for horror films that aimed to be more cheap and fun rather than serious or metaphoric, but you know how that goes. Humble beginnings, and all that...

But that's not what I'm here to gab about about...

The original film didn't feature Jason Voorhees as the antagonist. Oh, it had Jason at the very end, played by Ari Lehman (who later formed a horror-themed rock band called First Jason), but the villain was actually his mother, Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer). Leading up to the big revelation, Pamela seemed to be an adept killer. She took out almost everyone uncontested, even managing to skewer Kevin Bacon's throat through the bottom of a bed.

...and then the film revealed her to be the murder, and suddenly she becomes the most idiotic serial killer on the face of the Earth. Although she offed eight people, she somehow couldn't dispatch Adrienne King's character Alice. She became clumsy, she missed opportunities, and she JUST. WOULDN'T. SHUT UP. She spent the whole movie silently creeping about, stealth killing everyone, only to begin talking to herself like:

"Get her, mommy! Killer her! Don't let her get away I will, Jason! Don't worry, baby!" Because that isn't going to diminish the element of surprise...

Don't even get me started on her feeble attempts to kill Alice. She apparently forgot how to be an assassin in the process of fifteen minutes, and didn't even bother to sneak up on Alice. There was even one point where Pamela could have strangled her, and she instead chose to repeatedly slap her. Because that's going to frickin' kill someone. C'mon, Pamela! This is a slasher flick, not GLOW.

Here's the thing: Pamela and the unseen assailant that would later be revealed as Pamela seemed to be written with different attitudes and characteristics in mind. When the time came to merge the two, the fusion was awkward. I think this is because if Alice had to face Pamela as she had been throughout the movie, there wouldn't have been much of a final act. Also, if they attributed Pamela's raving lunacy to the untalkative killer, then everyone would've survived.

And what does Pamela get for her troubles? She loses her head. (warning: a bit graphic) Then again, Alice didn't fare much better, if the beginning of Friday the 13th Part 2 is any indication...

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overdrive overdrive - February 03, 2015 (10:34 AM)
You know, the best take on this movie I've read (on 1000misspenthours) makes up another interesting point about this film.

In a way, the makers created a film that works despite how it really shouldn't. The main point in favor of that is how for most of the movie, it's really playing along the lines of an Italian giallo, where it's essentially a murder mystery with various red herrings/suspicious people, along with gruesome killings.

And then, all of a sudden, we get the inclusion of a brand new character in a situation where it's completely obvious she's the killer and immediately switch from giallo to early/proto final girl slasher stuff. In a way, it really is like completely different people filmed the first 2/3 or so than who did the final part. Very weird in a way.
JoeTheDestroyer JoeTheDestroyer - February 03, 2015 (12:03 PM)
Yeah, that sounds about right. I remember watching another movie like that from South Africa called The Demon. IIRC, they actually did switch either the crew or the script partway into filming it, so it pretty much became two incomplete movies shoehorned into one. Unlike F13, though, The Demon is so tedious that it's just about unwatchable. The "final girl" segment of it is downright tense, though.

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