Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Here are my Top 13 Favorite Things about FRIDAY THE 13TH. Enjoy.
13. The Cook: The first victim, I mean, counselor, we see in the film is the Camp Crystal Lake’s cook. Only she never exactly makes it there to do any cooking. Relying on the kindness of strangers to take you places never ends up well in the movies. Fortunately, she gives us an object lesson in the evils of hitchhiking – never get in a jeep that’s being driven by Pamela Voorhees.
12. The Drunken Prophet: Crazy Ralph runs around town telling anyone who will listen about the horrible evils that will befall those who try to reopen Camp Crystal Lake. If you’re new to movies, know this: the crazy guy always ends up being right.
11. The Archery Range: Not only is the archery range the scene of the most ridiculous prank in the movie – shooting an arrow near a female counselor to scare her (yeah, nothing could have gone wrong with that one). It’s also the scene of some of the most creative killin’. Who knew you needed flood lights on an archery range anyway?
10. The Sound Effect: Used minimally in this first installment, the now iconic “Ch-ch-ch-ch” sound effect is extremely ch-ch-chilling here. When I’m camping and it’s pitch black outside, if you creep up behind me and make that noise, get ready to get punched in the nose. ‘Cause I’ll be freaked out. Later in the series, of course, it would be horribly overused. From IMDB: Composer Harry Manfredini has said that contrary to popular belief, the famous "chi chi chi, ha ha ha" in the film's score is actually "ki ki ki, ma ma ma". It is meant to resemble Jason's voice saying "kill kill kill, mom mom mom" in Mrs. Voorhees' mind. It was inspired by the scene in which Mrs. Voorhees seems to be possessed by Jason and chants "Get her mommy....kill her!" Manfredini created the effect by speaking the syllables "Ki" and "Ma" into a microphone running through a delay effect.
9. P.O.V.: No, Ft13th isn’t the first movie to use the slasher POV shot. But it does use it extremely effectively, and everyone else would copy it from here.
8. Kevin Bacon: This movie is totally useful if you’re ever playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon and somebody asks you to connect him with Kelly McGillis. ‘Cause she was in GRAND ISLE with Ron Millkie, who played Officer Dorf in FRIDAY THE 13TH. See? Only two steps. Plus, you know that you’re the special one when you’re the only one with a profile picture on the movie’s IMDB page. And he gets an arrow through the neck. From beneath. Awesome.
7. The Final Girl: The tradition of The Final Girl (or TFG as I’ll call her from now on) is cemented in Ft13th lore. In just about any horror franchise, really. But there is, almost always, one girl, and one girl only, that makes it out at the end. Alice Hardy, played by Adrienne King, is TFG in this one. It’s her that fights Pamela Voorhees to the death and it’s her that’s attacked by Jason at the end. Usually, TFG is the virtuous one – the one that stays away from the vices that ultimately kill the others. Alice, however, indulges just a little. She’s one of the baddest TFGs in memory. Too bad she’s a wuss. Which leads us to:
6. Self-Defense: The culmination of Ft13th is the uber-chick fight between Alice and Pamela Voorhees in which Alice masters the art of knocking someone down, assuming that person is dead, leaving the scene, and then having to do it all over again. And again. And again. It’s actually absurd how many times it happens. It a good thing that it was in the script for Alice to win, or Pamela would have destroyed her. Yes, she was one of the baddest TFGs, but she was also a weenie. (Fun fact: Sally Field auditioned for the role of Alice – she would have been way tougher)
5. Tom Savini: The special effects wizard that has created the grim and gore in Romero’s zombie flicks did the same for this one. The effects here were cutting edge at the time and used, get this, no CGI! It’s a miracle. The aforementioned arrow through the neck of Kevin Bacon is the highlight. Another fun fact from IMDB: The scene with the snake was not in the script and was an idea from Savini after an experience in his own cabin during filming. The snake in the scene was real, including its on-screen death. PETA would not be happy.
4. The Budget: Ft13th cost about $500 grand to make. It grossed $37 million. Amazing what a fresh idea (which it was at the time) can do. Hollywood? Paying attention?
3. The Villain: Betsy Palmer is Pamela Voorhees, mother of Jason, subject of Drew Barrymore’s death at the beginning of SCREAM. She looks so innocent when she shows up at the camp, so willing to help poor Alice. Then she turns the evil on and she’s downright freaky. I started to wonder at one point what she had been doing in the intervening years between the first killings and the reopening of Camp CL. With that sweater and those slacks… who knows? You can bet it was frightening, whatever it was. Realtor, maybe?
2. The End: It’s impossible to view the movie now without knowing that the end is coming. You wait, and wait, and wait for Jason to come flying up out of the water and pull Alice in. But, man, to watch that scene with a clean slate again would be utterly awesome. It is so unexpected, so anti-slasher movie, so completely surprising, that I wish it were possible to get scared like that again. That is what sets this film apart from the competition. The ending. Hands down the best part of the movie – maybe the best part of any slasher movie ever.
1. The Legacy: I almost didn’t include the mask in the above picture, because there is no mask in this one. The mask doesn’t show up until much later, but it’s such an icon of the industry that it’s hard to get around it. It is the single most recognizable image in horror movies. More than Michael Myers’ mask, more than Freddy’s fingers. The Jason hockey mask is legendary. The legacy of this movie is so pervasive that only one other slasher movie trumps it – HALLOWEEN (and I’m not sure it counts as a slasher movie, but whatever). This movie made a whole generation of us afraid of the dark. And the woods at night? I still have trouble going there.
FRIDAY THE 13TH gets 5 Crazy Ralphs out of 5.