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A Nightmare from Friday to Halloween - Friday the 13th (1980)

The three most prominent American horror franchises (Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street) have influenced American cinema even beyond the horror genre. As of 2021, there are exactly 31 movies across all three franchises, and I am going to attempt to watch all of them, for this Halloween, one per day.

I had heard for a while that the first Friday the 13th, and the whole franchise, was not quite up to par with Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street. And after my first time watching this movie, I have to say I think that assumption is correct. It’s so much a ripoff of Halloween and other slashers before this that it really comes off as a pale imitation. There is little character development. Thank God I don’t have to take some in-depth exam on these films, because I would be hard-pressed to remember any non-Voorhees character in this movie. The teenagers are presented as attractive bodies that are meant to be killed in gruesome ways. This movie has also got to be the real origin of the “if you have sex, you die” rule of horror movies, the very one that Scream made fun of.

I guess the setting of Camp Crystal Lake is kind of creative since it does sort give reasons why the teenage counselors would be separated and why they wouldn’t be at an advantage. And the kills are pretty good. But the direction of any non-killing part is rather pedestrian. Nothing really interesting happens with the camera. There is no real visual style that seems to be typify this movie, and, I am guessing, the rest of this franchise. Halloween feels more of a single piece in terms of its music, direction and performances, whereas Friday the 13th is more a hodgepodge of influences. Even the music is too reminiscent of either Jaws or Psycho. Overall, I wasn’t impressed with Friday the 13th, so it will be interesting to see if the franchise actually develops its own voice in its sequels, because there really isn’t one in this movie.


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