While John Carpenter’s Halloween helped to ignite the Slasher genre it was the original Friday the 13th that showed just how far the horror genre could fall. This film is a dumb mix of over the top gore, repetitive violence, and weak storytelling. It is not a highlight of the horror genre and didn’t deserve the long line of sequels.
The “plot” follows a group of underdeveloped teenagers who go to Camp Crystal Lake. As you will most likely guess from the start they are all picked off one by one until only the lone heroine is left to face the homicidal maniac who has been slaughtering them. Where have we heard this story before? Well, in Halloween except where John Carpenter’s film was interesting and engaging Friday the 13th has practically no story at all, which might come from the fact that the film was shot without a finished script. The actress who played the heroine admitted this! While the story lacks any sort of style the final scene is one of the scariest moments that I have ever seen in a horror film.
You can blame this film for the absence of any decent effects in the subsequent sequels. There is nothing here, but gallons upon gallons of gore which fail to scare you on anything more than the surface level. It is so sad because if you can believe it the original of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre had little to no blood and that was a thousand times scarier. I would have thought that after the pitch perfect Halloween someone would have had the balls to tell the director or the producers that it takes a little more than a bit of on screen blood to scare the audience. There is nothing worth mentioning in a positive way because the film has nothing to show except excessive amounts of fake blood.
These characters are so devoid of life that it is impossible to feel sympathy as they are killed in ever more ugly fashion. Alice is the heroine of the story, portrayed by Adrienne King who is not at all bad in the role. Peter Brouwer does his best as the mildly likeable Steve Christy who could have been a good character if there was some talent in the script. Walt Gorney acts unconvincingly as crazy Ralph who is just too out of place to be taken seriously. Betsy Palmer takes up the role of the psychopath, Mrs. Pamela Voorhees who dominates the screen towards the end, but that’s only because her performance is so barmy that it is hard not to feel a bit uncomfortable. The problem with this gorefest of a film series is that there are hardly any genuinely good actors and instead we get people who you would think never acted in their life. They are just so unconvincing.
The original is not always better than the rest. Friday the 13th is mired by an unfinished script and a distinct lack of any kind of half-way decent effects. If you want gore then go and play Call of Duty: World at War don’t waste your time with this mediocre attempt at horror. Alternatively you can just go and watch some more accomplished films.