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Where are you, Jason? Where are you, Jason?
by Asa Butcher
2006-10-14 10:30:51
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Friday the 13th
Sean S. Cunningham
Paramount, 1980

Jason Voorhees' hockey mask has become just as much of an iconic image of horror as the fangs of Dracula and the bolt of Frankenstein's monster. He is one of the greatest horror figures of the 1980s, alongside the likes of Freddie Krueger and Pinhead, and the character managed to spawn over ten sequels, plus one more due to be released next year. He has killed countless people in his 26-year history and the shocking part of all this is that until yesterday I had never seen one of the films.

Horror movies have never held any attraction, especially not the slasher flicks of the late-70s and 1980s, but I consider myself a film lover and it is amiss that the Friday the 13th series has passed me by for so long, so in honour of today's date I watched number one. Firstly, where the hell was Jason and where was the hockey mask? What was going on? I was all prepared to watch Jason massacre a group of innocent teenagers, but he never appeared.

The scene was set. Friday June 13th*, black cat day, a full moon, thunderstorm rolling in, isolated camp by a lake, which has a history of drowning, murder, fires and poisoned water, and a young Kevin Bacon running about, but there was no Jason…ok, they did show him drowning as a young boy but flashbacks do not count in my book. It was disappointing not to see him, but the film still had its share of scary moments.

However, I couldn't help watching this film without thinking of the Scream horror movie rules, such as 'Never say "I'll be right back"', "Never have sex", 'Don't drink or do drugs', 'Don't ask "Who's there?"' and 'You will not survive if you go out to investigate a strange noise.' Each of these rules applies to Friday the 13th, which is probably because it inspired the damned rules in the first place.

This is the point that you must remind yourself countless times, since this is a film made almost three decades ago and laid down the foundations for future slasher flicks. The film inspired the future by using the past, for example, Harry Manfredini's music is eerie and reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann's score for Psycho. The make-up isn't too far-fetched, the sound effects are effective and top marks must be awarded for the wardrobe of Mrs Voorhees, Jason's mother, although can somebody tell me if those are her real teeth.

Understandably, Betsy Palmer, who plays Mrs Voorhees, was nominated, along with Sean S. Cunningham, for a Razzie Award in 1981, because she truly is lacking in too many aspects. On the other hand, I don't know why the director was nominated because the film felt quite fresh with its handheld cameras, low budget and raw style, plus the knife fodder each portrayed a decent character, although you didn't really mourn the death of any of them - ok, perhaps Kevin Bacon because he is Kevin Bacon!

The problem I had with this film was the fact that Camp Blood, I mean Camp Crystal Lake resembles too many summer cottage locations in Finland. The film also brings to mind an infamous multiple homicide that took place in 1960 at Lake Bodom when three of four teenagers camping on its shores were murdered. Two local similarities that don't inspire me to return to the woods or lake any time soon, especially if the Finnish version of Crazy Ralph stumbles through the trees shouting, "Doomed...You're all doomed!"

*Friday the 13th fans will be happy to know that Jason's birthday next falls on a Friday in 2008.

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