Despite being a clear imitator of John Carpenter’s Halloween, Friday the 13th is as much responsible for the rise and domination of slashers in the 1980s. In fact, it’s less comparable to the 1978 classic than it is to the swarm of textbook slashers that followed. Particularly in behalf of the summer camp setting, violent deaths, and fucked off killer, did it have such an influence on films such as The Burning or Sleepaway Camp as one could guess. It was seen as profitable, like a lot of slashers, and created because of the fact.
Friday the 13th (1980)
Unmistakably the most popular of the franchise (excluding its remake) and while not the strongest, as I last recalled Part II took that place, cinema’s first Friday was initially bombarded by negative reviews despite its box office profit of nearly forty million. In my opinion, Friday the 13th is a quite underrated milestone in horror and an important film for a horror fan to see. Special make-up artist and legend Tom Savini’s work doesn’t rival some of his latter, but goddamn is it nearly exquisite here. Also, his suggestion for a shock ending was due to the fact he had just seen Carrie, which too ended with a jumper of a scare.
I admire Alice, though she isn’t the perfect final girl, but she is smart and strong; two things a final girl needs to be liked and cheered for. The other campers are usually too lively to even notice their situation correctly, acting dumb and very vulnerable. I cared for each one in their time of expiration, though, considering the film took a reasonably good amount of time with getting to know these characters, with little deadly point of view shots of the killer shown.
It’s probably one of the slowest paced film of the series in its early years, through its minimal kill count compared to the following and its friendly interaction with the counselors entertainment, but nonetheless, Friday the 13th is a wicked and welcoming slasher that works just about right. For its time, it was the next big thing in the world of horror.
Friday the 13th Part II (1981)
The second chapter in the murderous and money-making Friday the 13th franchise not only introduces a brand new killer, but let’s us treasure the fact that Amy Steel is our final girl. She brings the series’ finest presence in what is particularly her movie, and in my opinion, it’s the down-right best and number one Friday of the lot. Exciting in many instances, padded with sublime kills, and a creepy and enduring Jason, not too mention with a sack on his head (and one eye hole!), Steve Miner’s Friday the 13th: Part II is the go-to film of the series to have a seriously fun as fuck time.
It’s exactly what makes a textbook slasher great. It knows what it is, without going too overboard. Like the first, it lets the audience almost mingle with the characters as we get to know them in the film’s first half. Between, it kills a couple of disposable characters, however, it’s done quite ominous, but on the other hand being a little unnecessary. I admire the campy quality to some campers, when really all they want is sex sex sex, and each main character has a moment or two where they’re showcased with who they are. I gotta say, no one was worth loathing, they’re more annoying than that, which almost makes them likable.
One of the genre’s finest, Friday the 13th: Part II sticks much to the slasher formula and doesn’t let go. It essentially is the first Friday, but conceivably more thrilling and oftentimes more technical in aspects. Its kills are great; violent and over-the-top at times, while offering a small hint of realism that strikes fear into its viewers. This being my fourth dose of the film, I can securely say this is the one Friday the 13th to see. And yes, this is a pretty great slasher, too.
Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
To think that Part III in the Friday the 13th series started the obnoxious run of three-dimensional horror films in the 1980s is a pretty spot on statement. At the time when 3D was making a comeback in Hollywood, such studio executives pondered the idea of fusing horror with the format, resulting in the next year’s Amityville 3-D and Jaws 3-D. With the tagline, “a new dimension in terror”, Friday the 13th: Part III is notably the reason for the resurgence, despite its the three-dimensional horror that nearly defaces the end product.
Steve Miner returns to direct, and while his original idea of having Amy Steel return as Ginny in a completely different setting was scrapped, his involvement with anything other than directing is minimal despite producing Part II. Still, the film made a considerable amount at the box office, knocking out E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial from its No. 1 spot. What can I say? I’d flock to the theater to see a 3D Jason, especially if it was the first ever 3D slasher. However, watching it in 2D now is troubling, yet laughable. They really went all out.
Perhaps it detracts from the story when some nonsense flies at the screen. An instance with a yo-yo is one too mention; stretched out for a while and almost awkward to endure. But it does have a cheesy 80s charm, no matter how stupid it is. The fact that every kill utilized the 3D effect is pretty damn hilarious. One second you’ve got a spear in ya face and the next apples being juggled.
I can’t say much about the group of characters. A few are completely disposable and there for the sake of kills. No doubt its final girl is the finest, solely because she provides a wicked and entertaining final chase, despite her preceding tedious performance. Shelley, the afro-headed and overweight prankster is a jerk and one that doesn’t really learn from his actions, but we give thanks to him because Jason steals his hockey mask and harpoon, so there’s that.
Really, Friday the 13th: Part III borrows a whole lot from the previous films and does little to enhance it. Hell, incorporating the three-dimensional factor was their means of improving it. But like any other Friday flick, it does right with its gnarly kills and exciting chases. Perhaps those are its only redeeming qualities in a film where it was done for the sake of 3D.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
The supposed final chapter in the Friday the 13th franchise is one that is close to being the best of the series. Joseph Zito, known for his direction in the 1981 cult classic and slasher The Prowler, stepped up to direct and kill off Jason for good, however, today we know that isn’t such the case. The characters are tolerable, satisfying enough, and split into two groups for that matter, and Jason is clearly the best and most tenacious we’ve seen him so far. These two things are what essentially make Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter and any other Friday fun to watch.
This is the first film in the franchise that feels somewhat different. It strays away from the typical slasher formula, applying a family of three as its main group, while also throwing in the horny and youthful teenagers that are accustomed to the series. Crispin Glover as the hilarious dork receives the most attention. So many great and campy dialogue from him, and not to mention the oddly amusing dance moves he brings out are sublime. His buddy Ted played by Lawrence Monoson of the cult comedy The Last American Virgin is another fun watch, especially when the two somewhat squabble considering Glover’s situation. Two words thrown around between the two is ‘dead fuck’. It should be mentioned that Corey Feldman is a slightly annoying brother, but useful to the story, especially when its ridiculous ending that mimics Part Two’s rolls by.
The film keeps a well consistent amount of time sharing the two groups on screen, and when Jason enters the whereabouts, it’s a ball to watch. Perhaps, the final chapter contains his greatest onslaught of kills. I both loved and hated seeing some cute and enjoyable characters die at the hands of Jason. That shit was crazy.
In all honesty, Part I, II, and IV are the perfect trilogy to watch in the Friday the 13th series. As things progress, the final chapter is a damn entertaining film to end the franchise. Perhaps, it could have been the film to do so.