There are few movie franchises that are both as commercially successful and critically reviled as Friday the 13th. Film historian Michael Gebert labeled it "the worst series in Hollywood history," yet the popularity of the series has endured to the point that its hockey-masked killer, Jason Vorhees, has become a cultural icon, and a big-budget remake is soon on its way.
While watching the impressive Blu-ray version of the original film, I recalled how it is often (and mostly unfavorably) compared to John Carpenter's Halloween. I am in the camp that believes Halloween is clearly superior. However, while revisiting Crystal Lake, I realized that 1) the comparison to Halloween is somewhat unfair and misleading and 2) while no horror masterpiece, Friday the 13th is not a bad film (not nearly as bad as the critics made it out to be) and deserves some credit for one of the best jump scares ever.
The story (for the few who don't know): In 1958, at Camp Crystal Lake, a young boy drowned. The next year, two camp counselors were murdered. After closing for two decades, a new owner and a group of young counselors work to reopen the camp on Friday the 13th - and one by one, they fall victim, in gruesome fashion, to a mysterious presence.
The reason the comparison the comparison to Halloween is somewhat misleading: in the Carpenter classic, there is no doubt who the killer is - it is Michael, the fearsome Boogeyman. However, the first Friday the 13th is not so much a slasher film as a whodunit? where the killer ends up being not Jason, but his crazy, very human mother (I know I'm giving away a plot point, but c'mon - the movie's 30 years old).
Also, Friday the 13th does deliver some real scares. The setting, an isolated camp deep in the woods in the middle of the night, is scary enough. Also, it effectively plays up age-old fears such as "what's under the bed" and "what's hiding in the bathroom stall."
However, the best scare is clearly the last one. I don't want to ruin it for anyone who hasn't experienced it yet, but the canoe, the mellow music, the still water and the cops arriving on shore all work together beautifully to the payoff. It ranks up there with the ending to Carrie as one of the best jump scares ever.
If one is not a horror fan, I cannot recommend Friday the 13th, as it is by no means a great movie. However, if you are a horror geek like me, I would recommend it. While it's no Halloween the original is not a bad horror flick and deserves some respect for its place in horror film history.
The Dolby True HD sound is crystal clear and fills the room with the now famous "che-che-che-che, ha-ha-ha-ha" score.
The picture quality is also remarkably clear, especially for a nearly 30-year-old film. However, the picture is some instances might be too clear. For instance, in the infamous arrow-tracheotomy murder of Kevin Bacon's character, the HD quality somewhat dampens the effect as it makes it too obvious where the prosthetics start.
Features that were included on the DVD as well are
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