Today marks the 40th Anniversary of Friday the 13th. It’s one of the best horror films ever made. It inspired many memorable sequels, including a crossover and a remake. Funnily enough, the series began as a Halloween copycat. Sean S. Cunningham (director/producer) borrowed Halloween’s formula and applied it to a title he thought people wouldn’t be able to ignore. Turns out, he was right. Friday the 13th hit theaters May 9, 1980, and cracked the top twenty highest-grossing films that year.
A young boy drowned at Camp Crystal Lake in 1957. The following year two camp counselors were brutally murdered. The summer camp closes soon after. After several years, a group of counselors work to open Camp Crystal Lake up for the summer. The counselors get killed off one at a time by an unknown attacker. The killer isn’t revealed until the final act, their identity kept secret through POV. It turns out to be an older lady, Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) seeking revenge for the tragic drowning of her young son Jason.
Friday the 13th changed the slasher genre for the better. The total kill count is nine, not including Mrs. Voorhees. It would become a common theme in the sequels that followed. Tom Savini and his special effects crew made the film. The bloody kill scenes looked all too real. The final scene is the stuff of nightmares. Alice wakes up in a canoe out in the middle of Crystal Lake. Jason’s corpse jumps out of the water and grabs Alice, dragging her into the murky depths. All we’re left with is a couple of ripples on the lake’s surface, then the credits start rolling. Was it real life or was it just a dream? The sequel ran with it, and it paid off big time.
A group of camp counselors are stalked and murdered by an unknown assailant while trying to reopen a summer camp which was the site of a child’s drowning and a grisly double murder years before.