Greatest Movie Series
Franchises of All Time

The "Friday the 13th" Films

Friday the 13th (1980)

Friday the 13th Films
Friday the 13th (1980) | Friday the 13th, Part 2 (1981) | Friday the 13th, Part III (1982)
Friday the 13th, The Final Chapter (1984) | Friday the 13th, Part V - A New Beginning (1985)
Friday the 13th, Part VI - Jason Lives (1986) | Friday the 13th, Part VII - The New Blood (1988)
Friday the 13th, Part VIII - Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) | Friday the 13th, Jason Goes to Hell - The Final Friday (1993)
Friday the 13th, Jason X (2001) | Freddy vs. Jason (2003) (aka Friday the 13th, Part 11)
Friday the 13th (2009) (aka Friday the 13th, Part 12)

Three Great Horror Film Franchises

The "Friday the 13th" Films - Part 1

Friday the 13th (1980)
d. Sean S. Cunningham, 95 minutes, and a slightly longer unrated version with extended death scenes

Film Plot Summary

Camp Crystal Lake, 1958.

The film opened with camp counselors (in yellow camp uniforms) gathered around a fire in a camp building during a guitar-accompanied sing-a-long, while campers slept in their cabins. Two of the counselors, Barry (Willie Adams) and blonde Claudette (Debra S. Hayes), left the gathering to make out. As they kissed and groped each other, some unseen mysterious killer ascended the stairs and found them in a state of partial undress. Barry was knifed in the stomach (# 1 death), and Claudette was also presumably knifed (# 2 death) (off-screen).

Friday June 13 - The Present. (1980, or 1979?)

In the early morning, backpacker Annie (Robbi Morgan) walked into the rural town of Crystal Lake (in New Jersey??), and in a diner, asked: "How far is Camp Crystal Lake from here?" Shocked faces of patrons and waitress Trudy (Dorothy Kobs) turned toward her. Oil supply truck driver Enos (Rex Everhart) told her 20 miles, and offered a lift half-way. Another patron responded: "Camp Blood. They're opening that place again?" As they walked to his truck, strange "real prophet of doom" Crazy Ralph (Walt Gorney) warned: "You're going to Camp Blood, ain't ya?...You'll never come back again...It's got a death curse." On the drive, Enos called Ralph "a god-damned nuisance" with his scary talk.

Annie was the new cook (for 50 "inner city" kids and 10 staff) for the about-to-open camp, but hadn't been told by the camp's boss/manager, Steve Christy (Peter Brouwer), about the camp's past history. Enos urged Annie to "quit now" and then told her that two kids had been brutally murdered there in 1958, a young boy had drowned there in 1957 (both unsolved cases), and there were unexplained fires. And in 1962 when they wanted to reopen, the water was bad. $25,000 was invested in the camp to re-open it, and he called today's kids "dumb" and "know-it-alls." At a crossroads, Annie was let out and began walking to the camp.

Other counselors were converging on the decades-old camp, that had been established in 1935:

  • Jack Burrell (Kevin Bacon)
  • Marcie Cunningham (Jeannine Taylor)
  • Ned Rubinstein (Mark Nelson)

Zany practical joker Ned was in a red camper-shell pickup truck. On arrival, they assisted Steve with removing a tree stump on the camp's property, and then met another counselor:

  • Alice Hardy (Adrienne King), a talented sketch-artist

She had undoubtedly spurned the sexual advances of Steve the night before. The group was immediately recruited to ready the camp's facilities and buildings (repairing, cleaning, painting, setting up, etc.) for its opening in two weeks. Two other counselors working around the grounds included:

  • Bill (Harry Crosby, Bing Crosby's son) at the boathouse
  • Brenda (Laurie Bartram) at the archery range

Meanwhile, Annie hitch-hiked another ride in a green Jeep by an unseen driver, who eerily passed the turn-off for the camp. After Annie begged for the driver to stop and was ignored, she jumped from the moving vehicle, and ran for her life into the woods. After a long chase, Annie's throat was slashed with a large serrated hunting knife (# 3 death).

There were two foreshadowing events:

  1. during a break at the camp while Steve was away getting supplies, the counselors all went for a swim. Ned pulled a prank on the others, pretending to drown - as an unseen individual watched them from the shore, and
  2. Alice found a snake in her cabin, which Bill chopped into pieces with a machete.

A strange, pot-obsessed ("Colombian gold, man, grass, hash, the weed, dig it?") motorcycle police officer named Dorf (Ron Millkie) paid the camp a visit, after a report that drunken looney Ralph was pedaling his bike there. He was then called away, but warned the group: "We ain't gonna stand for no weirdness out here." Crazy Ralph appeared in one of the cabins, announcing he was a "messenger from God." He warned:

"You're doomed if you stay here. This place is cursed. Cursed. It's got a death curse...God sent me...You're doomed. You're all doomed!"

As nightfall came and a violent storm approached, Ned saw a strange figure in one of the cabins. He entered and asked, "Can I help you? Hello?" and disappeared - later, it was discovered that his throat was slit (# 4 death) (off-screen). Meanwhile, Marcie and Jack talked, and she related a haunting, recurring dream about a thunderstorm, in which the sound of the pelting rain got louder and louder: "And then the rain turns to blood. The blood washes away in little rivers. Then the sound stops..." The two went to another cabin, began kissing and undressing, and proceeded to make passionate love - to candlelight, in one of the lower bunks. As the camera panned above them, it revealed Ned's bloody, neck-slashed corpse in the upper bunk.

When Marcie left the cabin to "go pee," Jack started to smoke a cigarette, and then felt a drop of blood fall on him. Suddenly, Jack was grabbed and stabbed by a sharp pointed arrow in the throat from UNDER the mattress (# 5 death). In the camp's restroom, Marcie did an impression of actress Katharine Hepburn before the mirror, then was stalked and given a false scare in the shower room ("Must be my imagination"), but was murdered after the shadow of an axe rose behind her, and sliced into her face (# 6 death).

In the main cabin, Brenda suggested an idea for fun to Alice and Bill - she volunteered to play "strip Monopoly...instead of paying rent, you pay clothes," while unbeknownst to them, murders were occurring elsewhere. With the rain pouring down and strong winds, Brenda feared that she had left her cabin windows open, curtailing their game when she left to close them. At a diner in town, Steve told waitress Sandy (Sally Anne Golden) that he had to return to the camp in the downpour, now that he had six new counselors ("they are babes in the woods"). However, he required a lift to the campgrounds from police Sgt. Tierney (Ronn Carroll) when his vehicle stalled, and listened to the officer's spouting of statistics about the combination of Friday the 13th with a full-moon:

"We have more accidents, more rapes, more robberies, more homicides, more of everything when there's a full moon. It upsets people. Makes 'em nuts."

As Brenda prepared for bed, she heard a boy crying: "Help me...Over here...Come quickly please!" - and she was lured by the plaintive cries to the archery range. In her rain-drenched, clinging nightgown, she suddenly found herself blinded by bright lights and then screamed (# 7 death) (off-screen). Alice and Bill went to investigate Brenda's whereabouts, and only found a bloody axe in her bed (Alice: "What is going on?"). When attempting to call the police from the office, they discovered that all the phones were dead, and they were further stymied when the camper-shell pickup truck wouldn't start.

As Steve approached the camp on foot, he was blinded by a flashlight at the camp's "Welcome" sign, where he greeted someone he knew: "Oh, hi. What are you doing out in this mess?" - but was startingly stabbed in the chest (# 8 death) (off-screen). The lights dimmed and extinguished all over the campgrounds, after someone entered the power generator shack. Bill went to check on the power outage. Impatient when he didn't return, Alice went to find out what had happened. She found his rain jacket and his impaled body pinned to the door with several arrows and his throat slit (# 9 death). Sobbing uncontrollably, she fled to the main cabin, where she secured the front door with a rope and barricaded herself in for protection, while holding a baseball bat. To her shock, Brenda's bloodied corpse was hurled through the kitchen window at her feet.

[Alice didn't know that she was now the sole remaining counselor - a sensible, virginal, 'good girl' female who would be pitted against a psychopath.]

When she saw the lights of a Jeep vehicle outside, thinking it was Steve's return, she ran out to warn him - and instead stopped in her tracks when she saw a middle-aged woman with a butch haircut and wearing a bulky sweater. Mrs. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) introduced herself as "an old friend of the Christys." Hysterical, Alice told her about the multiple murders: "It's been such a nightmare," as Mrs. Voorhees tried to calm her: "I'll take care of you." When Alice cautioned: "They'll kill you too," the woman responded: "I'm not afraid." However, she gasped at the sight of Brenda's body:

"Oh, my Lord. So young, so pretty. What monster could've done this?..Oh, God. This place! Steve should never have opened this place again. There's been too much trouble here."

She then described, in a rambling, self-reflective tone, about the murderous history of Camp Crystal Lake:

"Did you know that a young boy drowned the year before those two others were killed? The counselors weren't paying any attention. They were making love while that young boy drowned. His name was Jason. I was working the day that it happened. Preparing meals here. I was the cook. (She grabbed Alice's arms with both hands) Jason should've been watched. Every minute! He was -- He wasn't a very good swimmer. We can go now, dear."

It was then revealed, as she flash-backed to the day of the drowning over two decades earlier, that she was the camp's cook and the young boy's mother. As she recalled her son Jason's (Ari Lehman) drowning in Crystal Lake in 1957, she responded to his cries for help ("Help, Mommy!"), "I am Jason. I am," inferring that she was taking insane revenge for his accidental drowning death, due to negligent camp counselors engaged in a romantic tryst. She admitted: "You see, Jason was my son, and today is his birthday," and that she was responsible for closing down the camp:

"Oh, I couldn't let them open this place again. Could I? Not after what happened. Oh, my sweet, innocent Jason. My only child, Jason. You let him drown. You never paid any attention. Look at what you did to him."

Accusatory toward Alice as representative of all the sex-crazed, irresponsible counselors, she grabbed a knife and threatened the young female: "Look what you did to him!" Alice disarmed the vindictive Mrs. Voorhees with an iron poker and struck her in the back, as she fled from the cabin. To her horror, Alice discovered Annie's corpse in Mrs. Voorhees' vehicle, and Steve's body (with a knife in his mid-section) hanging upside down from a tree.

In a high-pitched voice, the schizophrenic Mrs. Voorhees spoke: "Kill her, Mommy. Kill her! Don't let her get away, Mommy. Don't let her live." She responded (in a deep voice): "I won't, Jason. I won't." After pursuit, Mrs. Voorhees trapped Alice in a storage garage, where she had located an unloaded shotgun. As Alice scrambled to find ammunition for the gun, Mrs. Voorhees appeared, promising: "Come, dear. It'll be easier for you than it was for Jason." The crazed woman slapped Alice across the face, but she fought back, slipped away and ran back to the main cabin, where she hid behind a locked pantry door. The voices for retribution increased in the mind of Mrs. Voorhees, as she pursued Alice, crashed through the door, and attacked Alice with a machete. The counselor defended herself with a heavy cast-iron skillet, and knocked Mrs. Voorhees unconscious to the floor.

Alice sat next to the boathouse dock by the side of the lake to find some peace. Mrs. Voorhees had resurrected herself and rushed at her again with the machete - first seen as a shadow and then as a reflection in the water. They wrestled and fought together by the lakeside, where the vengeful mother was finally decapitated (# 10 death) - in slow-motion. Afterwards, lone survivor Alice took a canoe ride out to the middle of the lake and fell asleep, an idyllic scene (possibly an hallucinatory dream?). When dawn arrived, police arrived on the shore and called out to her - she awakened and sat up. Suddenly, Jason's decomposed corpse lept out of the water at her, grabbed her by the neck, and pulled her underwater from the canoe -- the film's most shocking boo-moment.

Alice awoke abruptly in a hospital bed, screaming: "No!" A doctor ordered 3 milligrams of Valium for her, and assured her: "It's over. Everything's over." She was told by a police officer that she had been pulled out of the lake, but that everyone else was dead. When she was asked: "Do you remember very much?", she wondered about the boy named Jason who had attacked her in the lake and pulled her under: "Is he dead, too?"

She was told that no one else was there: "Ma'am, we didn't find any boy" -- after which she pondered to herself: "But he...then he's still there."

Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)

The film was filled with horror-film cliches, such as spooky music (screeching violins similar to Psycho's and Bernard Hermann's soundtrack), false alarms, crazed characters, red herrings, dead phone lines, sex before death, cat-and-mouse style killings, premonitions of terror, subjective ("point-of-view") camera work stalkings, a terrific rainstorm, the concluding boo-moment (similar to Carrie (1976)), a Friday the 13th full-moon, etc.

In this film, the franchise's main character Jason Voorhees (a camper drowned at Camp Crystal Lake because of counselor negligence) was the motivation for the killings by his crazed mother. In future films, Jason would adopt the trademark hockey mask and he would become the killer.

With a production budget of approximately $550,000, and box-office gross revenues of $39.7 million (domestic) and $59.7 million (worldwide).

One of the longest running and most prolific horror film series of all time - a quintessential slasher movie with minimal character development (and amateurish acting), and one of the most successful financially.

With the taglines: "Fridays will never be the same again," "You'll wish it were only a nightmare..." and "They were warned...They are doomed...And on Friday the 13th, nothing will save them."

One of the first splatter-films to be picked up as a franchise by a major studio: Paramount.

Body Count: 10 (9 committed by Mrs. Voorhees, 1 committed by Alice). Jason's drowning death was not counted.

(Willie Adams)

(Debra S. Hayes)

(Robbi Morgan)

Truck Driver Enos
(Rex Everhart)

Crazy Ralph
(Walt Gorney)

Steve Christy
(Peter Brouwer)

Ned Rubinstein
(Mark Nelson)

Jack Burrell
(Kevin Bacon)

Marcie Cunningham
(Jeannine Taylor)

Alice Hardy
(Adrienne King)

(Harry Crosby)

(Laurie Bartram)

Mrs. Voorhees
(Betsy Palmer)

Jason Voorhees
(Ari Lehman)

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