Friday The 13th

Friday The 13th

Paramount Pictures/ Warner Brothers

Original Release Date: May 9th, 1980
Running time: 95 minutes

Director: Sean S. Cunningham
Writer: Victor Miller
Composer: Harry Mandredini

Cast: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Kevin Bacon, Peter Brouwer

The End: 01:25:35 to 01:29:20

Deconstructing Cinema: One Scene At A Time, the complete series so far

Every time I go near a lake I have two fears, the first being that a crocodile is lurking (I imagine its eyes watching me) and secondly, something else is waiting to drag me to the murky depths below. It may sound over dramatic, but ever since I was 10 I have been truly terrified.

It was during one of our weekly back-to-back horror film marathons with my parents when my fear of lakes began and when I witnessed one of horror’s most iconic scenes in the classic film, Friday the 13th (1980).

It started with a cursed summer camp, a bunch of rebellious teens and an unknown killer.

Deconstructing Cinema: Friday The 13th

During the late 1970’s, director Sean S. Cunningham, who had previously worked with Wes Craven on the notorious video nasty The Last House on the Left (1972), realised that John Carpenter’s Halloween (1979) was doing well at the box office and decided to create something similar. Working with screenwriter Victor Miller, they came up with an idea, which loosely mimicked Halloween. This was to attract the newly growing audience for the slasher film sub genre made up with POV shots, R-rated nudity and violence.

Milner’s stroke of genius idea was to not set the film in a suburban housing area but instead, an abandoned summer camp, an environment where adults couldn’t save the teens.

Friday the 13th (originally titled Long Night at Camp Blood) has been noted as the beginning of ‘the Pepsi generation being horribly killed’. Working with special effects extraordinaire Tom Savini (who had previously worked on Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Martin (1977) and distributed by Paramount Pictures, the film was released worldwide in 1980.

Deconstructing Cinema: Friday The 13th

Friday the 13th told the story of Steve Christie (Peter Brouwer) who re-opens Camp Crystal Lake, with a handful of counselors including Alice (Adrienne King) and Jack (Kevin Bacon), after many cursed years plagued with murders and bad luck. “It’s got a death curse,” proclaims Crazy Ralph (Walt Gorney), but does anyone listen? No. It’s not long before the teens are killed off one by one by a crazed unknown killer. The films shock twist was the killer’s identity. Mrs Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer), the camp cook was avenging her son Jason’s death, who drowned in the lake while two staff members were ‘busy’ making love. After a dramatic showdown, Alice finally manages to decapitate Pamela’s head with the machete, which she was meant to be on the end of. Still in shock, Alice drags a canoe and pushes it out on the lake.

The next scene is one of my favourite moments in horror film history.

Deconstructing Cinema: Friday The 13th

Waking up in the middle of the lake and still in shock, Alice has her hand in the water. It’s the realisation that she’s overcome all the chaos surrounding the films events. The music is uplifting and the picturesque shots of the lake and the woodland emphasise a new day.

A police car drives down the lane with its siren on; an officer gets out and stands by the side of the lake. Alice smiles as she realises help has finally arrived, removes her hand from the water and sits upright. Her nightmare ordeal is finally over.

Deconstructing Cinema: Friday The 13th

A young deformed Jason then leaps up from behind her, she screams. He pulls her in the water as the canoe tips. A close up of the lake follows suggesting that she has suffered the same fate as Jason.

Alice then rises from her hospital bed in a fit of pure terror screaming. It was a dream. The doctor and nurse comfort her as they carry out medical examinations. Sergeant Tierney walks up to her to inform her that her parents are coming to collect her.

Alice: Is anyone else alive…. are they dead?
Tierney: Yes ma’am, two of my men pulled you out of the lake. We thought you was dead too. You remember much?

(Alice looks quite confused)

Alice: The boy… is he dead, too?
Tierney: Who?
Alice: The boy. Jason.
Tierney: Jason?
Alice: In the lake, the one… the one who attacked me… the one who pulled me underneath the water.
Tierney: Ma’am, we didn’t find any boy.
Alice: But… then he’s still there.

The film then fades from Alice’s shocked face to the lake leading to the end credits.

Deconstructing Cinema: Friday The 13th

For me the final scene was truly terrifying, mainly because I was ten and I honestly didn’t see it coming. The music at first makes you think everything’s ok and leads you into a false sense of security. The music dramatically changes when Jason appears and creates total terror.

Cunningham suggested that the film was missing the vital chair jumper moment so Miller reportedly watched a number of horror films for inspiration and wrote in the dream sequence. It does mimic Brian De Palmas’s film Carrie (1976), its ending too had shocked audiences around the world. It plays on our childhood fears creating a lady in the lake style retelling of the Bloody Mary urban legend. Many films tried to capture this style of ending and in most cases have failed. Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982) is the closest entry to succeed by including Pamela Voorhees rising from the lake and Jason menacing the final survivor on land. After the first two films you learn to expect it.

Deconstructing Cinema: Friday The 13th

This was the beginning of the franchise and the birth of one of the most notorious icons in horror film history, Jason Voorhees.

In the 29 years since Jason rose from the murky waters of Crystal Lake he’s axed, strangled, impaled, crushed, speared, stabbed, burnt and frozen over 159 adolescent teens into the afterlife. But the thought of a deformed young Jason leaping from the lake will remain one of horror films most iconic moments and the main reason I don’t go swimming in lakes.

Brunvand, J.H (2002) Encyclopedia of Urban Legends, USA, W.W Norton and Company INC
Dika, V (1990) Games of Terror: Halloween, Friday the 13th and the Films of the Stalker Cycle, USA, Associated University Press
Maddery, J (2004) Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film, USA, McFarland
Return to Crystal Lake: the Making of Friday the 13th (2003). [DVD Documentary]

Deconstructing Cinema – The Complete Series So Far

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I’m A Cyborg, by Frances Taylor
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About Jamie Suckley

Jamie Suckley

Jamie, editor for Cult Movies at Static Mass, is a 24 year old media studies graduate from Sheffield, who likes nothing better than watching films. If he was to star in a horror film he’d like to be the first one killed (think Drew Barrymore in Scream).

He has a keen interest in horror which started when he was a child. Due to his hyperactive behaviour his cousins made him watch films they thought would calm him down- They were wrong! It was watching Hellraiser and Killer Klowns from Outer Space that his passion for horror began. Over the years this developed into a passion for zombies, madmen, mutated animals and all things gore.

When he’s not working, in his dream world, worrying about zombie epidemics or watching films, he can be found on Twitter sharing his thoughts and bringing his dream world into reality.

You can follow Jamie on Twitter @JamieSuckley.