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Friday the 13th is a 1980 film, which kick-started the Slasher sub-genre and is regarded as one of the best known slasher films in history. The film was made in 1980 and was directed by Sean S. Cunningham. It starred Adrienne King, Kevin Bacon, Harry Crosby, Taso Stavrakis, Laurie Bartram and Betsy Palmer as "Mrs. Voorhees".

The film was very successful at the box office, reaching $59.8 million on a $550,000 budget. Retrospectively, the film has become a cult classic, despite initially, the film gained negative reviews. It has spawned eleven sequels, an NES Game, a 2009 reboot, a 2017 game an upcoming film, and an expanded universe. Like Halloween, it is one of the most successful independent horror films ever made.


The film begins at Camp Crystal Lake, a summer camp for children, on Friday, June 13, 1958. It is nighttime and through the eyes of an unknown person, we watch as two teenage counselors sneak away from a campfire sing-along to have sex in a nearby barn. The two counselors, Barry and Claudette, are surprised by the unknown person and the person proceeds to murder Barry. Claudette tries to flee but is eventually cornered and murdered.

Twenty-two years later, in 1980, the camp is being reopened after being shut down for the murders of the two counselors by a man named Steve Christy. One of Christy's newly hired counselors, Annie, decides to hitchhike to Camp Crystal Lake. She manages to hitch a ride with a truck driver named Enos, but before leaving she encounters the town crazy, Ralph, who warns her that Camp Crystal Lake has a death curse. While driving with Enos, he also warns her about the camp and tells her about a boy that drowned in Crystal Lake and the two counselors that were murdered. Annie dismisses these warnings and continues to Crystal Lake, only to then hitch a ride from an unseen stranger who proceeds to chase her into the woods and murder her by slashing her throat.

Three of Christy's newly-hired counselors, Ned, Jack, and Marcie arrive at the camp and meet Mr. Christy, as well as a few other counselors; Bill, Brenda, and Alice. They all begin refurbishing and setting up the camp without Annie.

After a while, Mr. Christy heads into town leaving the six teens to finish their tasks. They eventually take a break and go swimming, where an unseen prowler watches them from the other side of the lake. Ned, the jokester of the bunch, pretends to drown only to get mouth-to-mouth from Brenda.

The counselors start making lunch for themselves when a police officer arrives at the camp to warn about Ralph, the town crazy, and soon after he leaves, Ralph surprises Alice in the main cabin and warns her and the other counselors about the camp's death curse.

As night begins to fall and as a thunderstorm rolls in, Ned wanders off down the lake and sees someone lurking in one of the cabins and investigates. Jack and Marcie enter the same cabin to seek shelter from the incoming storm and have sex, unaware that Ned is lying on the top bunk above them with his throat slashed. Alice, Bill, and Brenda smoke pot and play strip Monopoly in the main cabin. Marcie and Jack finish and Marcie leaves to use the bathhouse. Ned's blood drips down onto Jack from the top bunk but before Jack can investigate, he is murdered by an arrow through his neck from underneath the bed. The killer then follows Marcie to the bathhouses where she is too murdered with an axe to the face.

The rain has picked up and Brenda leaves Bill and Alice to close the windows in her cabin. Meanwhile, Steve Christy finishes up in town, stopping at a local diner and then heads back to the camp only for his car to break down. He hitches a ride from a police officer, Sgt. Tierney, and is given a lift to the camp. Upon arrival, Steve Christy encounters someone flashing a light in his face. He soon recognizes this person and is then stabbed in the stomach by the unseen killer.

Back at camp, Brenda is lured out of her cabin by a strange, child-like voice to the archery range, where she is seemingly murdered. Her screams send Bill and Alice searching for Brenda and the others, but to no avail. They try to use the phones and the vehicles to discover none of them are working. The two decide to wait it out for Mr. Christy and Alice falls asleep in the main cabin. Bill leaves to check the generator in the shed. Alice wakes up and leaves to find him and when she reaches the generator shed, she discovers Bill, dead, pinned to the door of the shed with multiple arrows. Screaming, Alice runs back to the main cabin, barricading herself inside and arming herself. After it gets quiet, Brenda's body is hurled through the window at Alice, and headlights appear outside. Fleeing from the body, Alice runs outside, thinking the headlights belong to Steve's Jeep, but a woman named Pamela Voorhees steps out of the vehicle.

Alice shows Mrs. Voorhees the carnage and Mrs. Voorhees begins to comfort Alice, but eventually begins raving about a young boy that drowned in 1957. She explains that the boy's name was Jason and he was her son, and Friday the 13th is his birthday. Mrs. Voorhees becomes aggressive and proceeds to reveal herself as the killer, seeking revenge on the counselors who let Jason drown by not watching him, charging at Alice. Alice manages to fend off the crazed killer with a fireplace poker and flees, discovering Annie's body in Mrs. Voorhees's Jeep and Steve's body hanging from a tree.

Alice runs to the boathouse where she finds a gun, but can't find any bullets. Mrs. Voorhees enters the boathouse and overpowers Alice before Alice manages to strike her with the gun and flee once again. She runs back to the main cabin and hides in a closet. After a few moments of quiet, Mrs. Voorhees appears again and begins chopping through the door. She breaks inside and Alice manages to hit her with a frying pan, knocking her unconscious. Alice, believing her to be dead, stumbles down to the lake and falls onto the shore, exhausted. But it isn't long until the crazed Mrs. Voorhees attacks again. After a prolonged struggle, Alice manages to grab Mrs. Voorhees's machete and decapitate her.

Traumatized, Alice climbs into a canoe and floats out into the middle of the lake. When daylight comes, she sees police officers on the shore of the lake but before she can call to them, the decomposed body of young Jason Voorhees comes lunging out of the water, grabbing Alice and pulling her out of the canoe. Alice wakes up in a hospital and tries to explain to the police officer that there was a boy in the lake, but the officer claims they didn't find a boy. The film ends with Alice saying "Then he's still there" with a lingering shot of the lake.

List of DeathsEdit

Name Cause of Death Killer On Screen Notes
Barry Knifed in stomach Pamela Voorhees Yes
Claudette Sliced Throat Pamela Voorhees No
Annie Throat slit with hunting knife Pamela Voorhees Yes
Ned Throat slit with hunting knife Pamela Voorhees No
Jack Impaled through neck with arrow through bed Pamela Voorhees Yes

Marcie Stanler

Axed in face Pamela Voorhees Yes
Steve Christy Knifed in stomach/chest Pamela Voorhees Partily
Brenda Hit with arrow, thrown through window, tied with a rope Pamela Voorhees Partily
Bill Throat slit with hunting knife, pinned to door with arrows through groin/chest/throat/eye Pamela Voorhees No
Pamela Voorhees Decapitated with machete Alice Hardy Yes

Cast Edit

  • Adrienne King as Alice Hardy
  • Harry Crosby as Bill
  • Jeannine Taylor as Marcie Stanler
  • Kevin Bacon as Jack Burrell
  • Betsy Palmer as Mrs. Voorhees
  • Peter Brouwer as Steve Christy
  • Mar Nelson as Ned Rubinstein
  • Taso Stavrakis as Unidentified Man with Knife (also stand-in for decapitated Mrs. Voorhees' hands)
  • Robbi Morgan as Annie
  • Rex Everhart as Enis, the Truck Driver
  • Ron Millkie as Officer Dorf
  • Laurie Bartram as Brenda Jones
  • Ari Lehman as Jason Voorhees

Production Edit


Friday the 13th was produced and directed by Sean S. Cunningham, who had previously worked with filmmaker Wes Craven on the film The Last House on the Left (1972). Cunningham, inspired by John Carpenter's Halloween (1978), and films by Mario Bava, wanted Friday the 13th to be shocking, visually stunning, and "[make] you jump out of your seat". Wanting to distance himself from The Last House on the Left, Cunningham wanted Friday the 13th to be more of a "roller-coaster ride". This film was intended to be "a real scary movie" and at the same time make the audience laugh.

Friday the 13th began its life as nothing more than a title. Initially, "Long Night at Camp Blood" was the working title during the writing process, but Cunningham believed in his "Friday the 13th" moniker, and quickly rushed out to place an ad in Variety. Worried that someone else owned the rights to the title and wanting to avoid potential lawsuits, Cunningham thought it would be best to find out immediately. He commissioned a New York advertising agency to develop his concept of the Friday the 13th logo, which consisted of big block letters bursting through a pane of glass. In the end, Cunningham believed there were "no problems" with the title, but distributor George Mansour stated, "There was a movie before ours called Friday the 13th: The Orphan. Moderately successful. But someone still threatened to sue. I don't know whether Phil [Scuderi] paid them off, but it was finally resolved."The film was shot in and around the township of Blairstown, New Jersey in the fall of 1979.

On July 13, 2007, Friday the 13th was screened for the first time on Blairstown's Main Street in the very theater which appears shortly after the opening credits. Overflow crowds forced the Blairstown Theater Festival, the sponsoring organization, to add an extra screening at 11:00 PM. The event was covered by local media and New York City's WPIX-TV.


The script was written by Victor Miller, who has gone on to write for several television soap operas, including Guiding Light, One Life to Live, and All My Children. Miller delighted in inventing a serial killer who turned out to be somebody's mother, a murderer whose only motivation was her love for her child. "...I took motherhood


Tom Savini applies make-up to Ari Lehman, creating his vision of Jason Voorhees.

and turned it on its head and I think that was great fun. Mrs. Voorhees was the mother I'd always wanted - a mother who would have killed for her kids." Miller was unhappy about the filmmakers' decision to make Jason Voorhees the killer in the sequels. "Jason was dead from the very beginning. He was a victim, not a villain." Subsequently, a homage to Mrs. Voorhees was present in the horror sequel Scream 2 (1998) as a boy's mother ended up being the killer. The idea of Jason appearing at the end of the film was initially not used in the original script, and was actually suggested by makeup designer Tom Savini. Savini stated that "The whole reason for the cliffhanger at the end was I had just seen Carrie, so we thought that we need a "chair jumper" like that and I said, "let's bring in Jason."


When Harry Manfredini began working on the musical score, the decision was made to only play the music alongside the killer so it would not "manipulate the audience" into thinking the killer was present when they were not. Manfredini pointed out the lack of music for certain scenes: "There's a scene where one of the girls [...] is setting up the archery area of the film. One of the guys shoots an arrow into the target and just misses her. It's a huge scare, but if you notice, there's no music. That was a choice." Manfredini also noted that when something was going to happen, the music would cut off so that the audience would relax a bit, and the scare would be that much more effective. Since Mrs. Voorhees, the killer in the original Friday the 13th, does not show up until the final reel of the film, Manfredini had the job of creating a score that would represent the killer in her absence.

Manfredini was inspired by the 1975 film Jaws, where the shark is not seen for the majority of the film but the motif created by John Williams cued the audience on when the shark was present during scenes when you could not see it. Sean S. Cunningham sought a chorus, but the budget would not allow it. While listening to a Krzysztof Penderecki piece of music, which contained a chorus with "striking pronunciations", Manfredini was inspired to recreate a similar sound. He came up with the sound "ki ki ki, ma ma ma" from the final reel when Mrs. Voorhees arrives and is reciting "Kill her mommy!" The "ki" comes from "kill", and the "ma" from "mommy". To achieve the unique sound he wanted for the film, Manfredini spoke the two words "harshly, distinctly and rhythmically into a microphone" and ran them into an echo reverberation machine.

Manfredini finished the original score after a couple of weeks, and then recorded the score in a friend's basement. Victor Miller and assistant editor Jay Keuper have commented on how memorable the music is, with Keuper describing it as "iconographic". Manfredini says, "Everybody thinks it's cha, cha, cha. I'm like, 'Cha, cha, cha? What are you talking about?"

Sequels Edit

As of 2009, Friday the 13th has spawned eleven sequels, including a crossover film with A Nightmare on Elm Street villain Freddy Krueger. The most recent is a remake released in 2009, which follows about the same story as the original film. Cunningham did not direct any of the films sequels, though he did act as producer on the later installments; he initially did not want Jason Voorhees to be resurrected for the sequel. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) introduced Jason Voorhees, the son of Mrs. Voorhees, as the primary antagonist, which would continue for the remaining sequels and related works. Most of the sequels were filmed on larger budgets than the original. In comparison, Friday the 13th's had a budget of $550,000, while the first sequel was given a budget of $1.25 million.

The most recent film, Freddy vs. Jason, had the largest budget, at $25 million. All of the sequels basically repeated the same premise of the original, so the filmmakers had to come up with tweaks to provide freshness. Changes involved an addition to the title—as opposed to a number attached to the end—like "The Final Chapter" and "Jason Takes Manhattan", or filming the movie in 3-D, as Miner did for Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982). One major tweak that would affect the entire film series was the addition of Jason's hockey mask in the third film; this mask would become one of the most recognizable images in popular culture.

The remake of Friday the 13th was released on February 13th, 2009.

Other AdaptionsEdit

In 1987, seven years after the release of the motion picture, Simon Hawke adapted a novelization of Friday the 13th. One of the few additions to the book was Mrs. Voorhees begging the Christy family to take her back after the loss of her son; they agreed. Another addition in the novel is more understanding in Mrs. Voorhees's actions. Hawke felt the character had attempted to move on when Jason died, but her psychosis got the best of her. When Steve Christy reopened the camp, Mrs. Voorhees saw it as a chance that what happened to her son could happen again. Her murders were against the counselors, because she saw them all as responsible for Jason's death. Hawke had previously written the novelization of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives in 1986, and would go on to write the novelizations for Part 2 and Part 3. All four novels were originally published by Signet, but are currently out-of-print.


Box officeEdit

Paramount bought Friday the 13th's distribution rights for $1.5 million, after seeing a screening of the film. They spent approximately $500,000 in advertisements for the film, and then an additional $500,000 when the film began performing well at the box office. Friday the 13th opened theatrically on May 9, 1980 across the United States in 1,100 theaters. It took in $5,816,321 in its opening weekend, before finishing domestically with $39,754,601. The film finished as the eighteenth highest grossing film of 1980.

Friday the 13th was released internationally, which was unusual for an independent film with, at the time, no well-recognized or bankable actors. The film would take in approximately $20 million in international box office receipts. Not factoring in international sales, or the cross-over film with A Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy Kreuger, the original Friday the 13th is the highest-grossing film of the ten film series. To provide context with the box office gross of films in 2008, the cost of making and promoting Friday the 13th—which includes the budget and the $1 million in advertisement—is approximately $4.4 million. With regard to the domestic box office gross, the film took in $112,915,537 in adjusted 2008 dollars. In terms of recent box-office performance, this film would rank #3 for the current year as of April 2008 using the adjusted figures.


Variety claimed the film was "low budget in the worst sense - with no apparent talent or intelligence to offset its technical inadequacies - Friday the 13th has nothing to exploit but its title."

However, this film currently holds a 59% "Fresh" based off 49 reviews at the movie review website Rotten Tomatoes.

Later on, retrospective reviews were much more positive regarding the film, with praise mainly towards its score, make-up effects, and Betsy Palmer's role, while it drew criticism for its script and lack of character development. Dave Kehr said that "For all its shoddiness, the film manages, just barely, to achieve its ignoble goals -- it delivers what it promises". James Kendrick gave the film a 3 out of 4, calling it "a campfire boogeyman story designed to do little more than build tension and deliver a few well-timed shocks, which it does with precision and even a bit of artistry". Kevin Carr said that "what makes the movie work is that the slasher genre hadn't been set in stone yet, and some choices that director Sean S. Cunningham makes in the film that work against type". The film was nominated for AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills.

The film came in at #31 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments for the ending sequence, and was voted #15 in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Scariest Moments.

Videos Edit

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