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30 days: Friday the 13th

October 1, 2008

Slasher films are what makes the world go around. Not the “world” world, but the part of it that enjoys slasher flicks. I’ve been enjoying these movies since I was about 10, and they hold a special place in my black, black heart. One of the best out there is Friday the 13th, a woeful tale of attractive youngsters that get murdered one by one. Written by Victor Miller and directed by Sean Cunningham, this movie is directly inspired by another classic, John Carpenter’s Halloween. It was meant to be more of a roller coaster ride than Halloween, and artfully used an inspired score by Harry Manfredini to bring the viewer along with it’s many harsh highs and lows. Well, why don’t we just jump in, then?

Our story starts with a group of Crystal Lake camp counselors in the wild wild year of 1958. Rather than engaging in drunken debauchery, these fine upstanding young Americans are gathered around a fire, playing guitar and singing Christian folk songs. Down in the Valley, River of Jordan… real lecherous stuff! One of the counselors, a boy with blond hair and blue eyes, sneaks off with the guitar player, a girl with blonde hair and… blue eyes… hm. The Nazi poster children sneak into a loft where they start to get busy in a very 50s way. That means we don’t see her boobs.

Enter the stalker. The young Aryan lovers are dispatched with speed. Klaus with a stab to the gut, but you don’t really see Gretchen get it. It’s left to your own sordid imagination.

Jump forward to present day. Present day being 1979, where Camp Crystal Lake is being rebuilt after years of abandonment by Steve Christie and a new group of victims counselors. The first that we meet is sweet little Annie, hitchhiking her way to Camp Crystal Lake and her ultimate doom. Not that she knows about the doom yet. Look, isn’t she sweet?

So happy, so full of hope and excited to be doing what she loves: working with kids. Not that she’ll ever see any. Annie is lucky enough to get a ride with local oil man, Enos, but not before they have a run in with Crazy Ralph, the bastard child of Ralph Norton and a bottle of cheap vodka. Let’s meet Crazy Ralph. He dies too, but not until the second film.

Yes, Ralph loves the death curses, which makes family functions awkward. No one wants to hear about doom at little Toby’s 3rd birthday party.

In the truck, Enos confirms Ralph’s ramblings about the camp being cursed. A little boy drowned in ’57, two murders (remember those?) in ’58, fires, floods, Mormons. The two trade weird insults, apparently Enos is an American Original and Annie has rocks in her head. Then Annie says “Fuck you, old man! You’re not my dad!” and beats him to death with a propane lantern. Wait, that didn’t happen. I’m just waiting for the next kill scene.

Anyways, after Annie is dropped off, we meet with the next 3 counselors, traveling together in a big red pickup truck. We have Marcie, Ned, and…

KEVIN FUCKING BACON? Looks like Johnny Depp is not the only sliver screen stud to get his start in a slasher flick. He was just riding Kevin’s coattails! They make it to camp with a regrettable lack of grisly deaths to meet with their new boss, Steve Christy.

Steve is the pinnacle of the 70s hunk. You can tell because he looks like a modern gay man. Also, Steve swings an axe like a little bitch. That was not an additional comparison to today’s gay men, just a separate observation. I have no doubt that the modern gay man swings an axe just like Paul Bunyan. Moving on.

Alice and her bowl cut will be playing the part of yet another counselor and this films last girl. Aparently, she and Steve had some kind of thing before the events of the film which are glossed over because we’re watching a slasher flick, not The Fucking Piano. I’ll introduce you to the rest of the counselors quickly because they are pretty much just machete fodder.

The two you don’t recognize are Bill and Brenda, aka Other Girl. Hello, soon to be dead kids!

Steve leaves the counselors to continue work on the camp while he goes out for supplies. He drives his Jeep away and we don’t see him again until the second half of the movie.

Off to the archery range, where Brenda is setting up targets. Ned, hiding on the stage, narrowly misses her with an arrow, then placates her with a shitty Columbo impression. Or Bogart, I can’t really tell. He’s obviously the funny man of the film. At least, for 15 minutes, he is.

Cut back to Annie who is still hitchhiking her way to the camp. Someone in a Jeep (dun dun duuuun!) is kind enough to pick her up and murder her after a while. But, I jump ahead, kinda like how Annie jumps out of the Jeep after the tacit driver intentionaly misses the turn to the camp. Annie, now with a sprained ankle, hobbles off into the woods, with the stalker fast behind.

Obviously, the stalker catches up to sweet little Annie after Annie trips and falls. Annie backs up to a tree and gets her throat slashed for her trouble.

Apparently, getting your throat cut is a lot like tasting marzipan, only Annie is lucky as she won’t have to deal with the 4 hour aftertaste of almonds and poo. The kill count is now 3.

Cut back to the counselors who are showing the best of the American work ethic by taking a swim while the stalker watches from across the lake. I could show you pictures of bikini-clad teens, but because I’m feeling mean, you get this instead:

KEVIN BACON’S JUNK! Take that, readers!

After their leisurely swim, Alice finds a snake in her cabin, which is shuffled off by Bill with a machete. Yes, this is the first machete kill of many in the Friday the 13th series. After the snake gets partitioned, we meet another one of Crystal Lakes weirdos, Officer Dorf, played by Ron Millkie. Officer Dorf is a fan favorite, and it’s not difficult to see why:

Turns out Ralph is loose near the camp! Where could he be? The bathroom? Hiding in a cabin? No, turns out Ralph is stalking the pantry where Alice finds him and he tells the counselors, gathered by the ruckus, that they are all, of course, doomed. I think he also mentions that he’s a messenger of Jack Daniels god and that there may be some kind of a death curse. That Ralph, what a kidder! If only he knew that he has five years to live.

While the doomed counselors are cooking, we get a rare glimpse of character development, as we see that Ned has the hots for Kevin Bacons girl, but that is quickly skimmed over in favor of the electricity going out and hero Kevin Bacon and his junk go and start the generator.

Later, Neddie spies Kevin Bacon and Marcie making out, and he does the sad Charlie Brown walk away before spying someone lurking inside one of the cabins. He goes to investigate, very likely meeting a frightening end.

Kevin Bacon and his chick then give us some more character development as she describes a dream about raining blood or some shit. Where are the goddamn death scenes?

It starts to rain and Kevin Bacon and his girl run off into a cabin to fuck (apparently dreams of raining blood were erotic in the 70s) while Last Girl Alice settles doen for a wholesome beer-and-marijuana-fueled game of strip Monopoly. Finally, that fat Monopoly guy is going to get to see some tits!

As Kevin Bacon and his girl are making the beast with two backs, two notable things happen. We see that the bunk above theirs hold the corpse of Ned, whose throat has been slashed. YOU DO NOT CRUSH ON KEVIN BACON’S GIRL! We also see the only time in this movie that Kevin Bacon’s girl’s nipples are not poking out of her shirt. Because she’s not wearing one. This does not bode well for Kevin Bacon’s girl, according to the Horror Movie Survival Rules. She has shown us her boobs and now she must die.

On to the next death scene. Kevin Bacon’s girl goes of too pee in a nice dose of reality for this film. I always have to pee after gettin’ it on, too. After she goes, Kevin Bacon lies down in bed with a nice joint. From under the bed, the stalker holds Kevin Bacon’s head down and shoves an arrow through the bottom of the bed and Kevin Bacon’s throat. This was a very well-done death scene!

Kill count is now 5.

Next, we get to see Marcie (no longer Kevin Bacon’e girl) in the bathroom. I’ve noticed as I’ve watched these that when one is going to the bathroom in a Friday the 13th film, wiping is a major nono. Anyways, she hears a noise and goes to investigate.

Never go to investigate, you idiots! Kill count is now a healthy 6. Now, this shit’s gettin’ started!

Who’s next? Brenda! The rain gets going and she, now down to her underwear, remembers that she left her cabin windows opened. She gets back and puts on her amish nightgown

She settles down for bed with a good book when she hears faint, childlike cries for help outside. Not realizing she’s in a slasher flick, she goes to the dark archery range to investigate. The lights suddenly come on and we hear poor Amish Brenda scream as the camera cuts back to Last Girl Alice.

Alice hears the scream, but wisely stays put until Bill gets back. Bill and Alice go to investigate. Heading to Brenda’s cabin, Bill discovers a bloody axe resting on Brenda’s pillow. Thinking it’s some kind of a joke (of course) they wander around, but can’t find anyone. Of course, we viewers know that only the last girl will find the corpses after everyone else is worm food.

They try the phones, which are dead, they try the truck, which is dead. Back to the main cabin, and we cut to see the stalker turning off the generator. Bill, of course, goes to check it out, breaking not only the don’t investigate rule, but the never split up rule, leaving Alice behind to sleep.

Alice wakes to find Bill still gone, and like the cagey survivor that she is, makes some tea. While the water heats up, she heads to the generator, looking for Bill. But, what of hunky Steve?

While his employees are getting butchered one-by-one, Steve is at a diner where we meet another one of Crystal Lake’s wacky locals.

Jeepers creepers! Now, huge glasses lady does not become a victim. I don’t think anything could get around those lenses anyways. Those things are fucking impermeable!

Steve leaves the diner and his car breaks down. He’s picked up by a kindly police officer (sadly, not Dorf), but has to walk the last bit when the officer has to drop him off to go to an accident scene. As Steve gets to the Camp Crystal Lake sign, the stalker jumps out from behind it and shines a flashlight in his face. Oddly, Steve seems to recognize the stalker, but gets his stabbing anyways.

Bye, Steve! Keep on truckin’! Kill count is now 8.

Back to Alice, who is now officially the Last Girl, a status that has the effect of turning a normal teenaged girl into fucking Rambo. First, however, she has to stumble upon some corpses. She finds Bill taked to the generator room door with several arrows, or as my wife so wittily observed, “hanging out”.

Next, Brenda through a window. Alice really acts out the horror here. Sell it, Alice!

Alice flees the cabin when she sees a Jeep pull up. Thinking it’s Steve, she discovers that the Jeep owner is Mrs. Voorhees, an old friend of the Christy’s. Alice leads Mrs. Voorhees inside where she sees Brendas corpse. As Mrs. Voorhees talks about the little boy who drowned in ’57, we find out that it’s her son. Mrs’ Voorhees is the killer, and she promptly goes batshit insane, talking with her dead son’s voice while trying to kill Alice. I found this to be very creepy, especially considering Mrs. Voorhees’ weirdly flat fucking teeth.

Alice nails Mrs. Voorhees with a fire poker and flees, discovering more of her dead friends.

Annie in the jeep,

and Steve upside-down from a tree, or “hanging around”, if you will.

The chase goes on with a couple fights, showing Alices new-found powers as the last girl. While everyone else was easily dispatched, the last girl always shows supernormal endurance and strength. The final showdown happens on the beach, where Alice snags a machete and chops Mrs. Voorhees’ crazy fucking nugget off.

The killer defeated, Alice takes a canoe out on the lake to sleep. She is woken by police, who have arrived at the scene (and you can see Dorf by the car. Yay, Dorf!), but is attacked and pulled underwater by a monster that gave me nightmares through most ofย  my formative years.

Little dead Jason jumping out of the lake to pull Alice under. Yikes!

The camera fades to the hospital where police are waiting for Alice to wake up. When she does she askes for her friends and is told that they are all dead. When she asks about the “boy who pulled me into the lake. Jason!”, the police tel her that they didn’t find any boy. The camera slowly zooms to Alice’s face and she says, “Then, he’s still there…”

The end, until Alice briefly meets with another killer in Friday the 13th, Part II. The kill count totals at 10, including Mrs. Voorhees’ head. Some interesting notes. The score by Harry Manfredini is interspersed with the sound of a voice making hard consonant sounds. While these sound (to me) like ch-ch-ch ha-ha-ha, it was actually a recording of Harry himself saying the first sound of the words “kill” and “Mommie” from Mrs. Voorhees’ line, “Kill her, Mommy!” So, the real sound is actually, “ki-ki-ki ma-ma-ma”, even though it doesn’t sounds like that.

Hope you enjoyed the article. Sleep tight!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. arthur permalink
    October 2, 2008 12:09 pm

    slasher movies never were scary to me. more grotesque and voyeuristic. the one movie that freaked me out was kurt russell’s Breakdown. It just struck me as so possible.

  2. October 2, 2008 2:53 pm

    I can honestly say that, now as an adult, the slasher flicks rarely scare me. However, I still love them. I agree that more realistic films can be scarier, but that doesn’t take away my enjoyment of seeing a score of coeds taking a machete every now and then ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Ed T. permalink
    October 3, 2008 8:54 am

    You must, must, must review more Kevin Bacon horror movies, like “Stir of Echoes” and “Footloose”! Good start to the month. Maybe a trek into the Italian Horrors or my fave’s the Zombie Genre?

    Maybe my D&D campaign? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    -E

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