POP GOES THE DECADE- A totally rad look back at the glorious 80's and all the flicks, fashions, tunes, and TV shows that made the decade so cool and memorable in the first place. Like, for sure!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday the 13th


      John Carpenter's low budget shocker "Halloween" scared the pants off millions of people and spawned a genre in 1978- the slasher film.  "Halloween" was so fresh and different and influential that tons of copycat imitations soon followed.  "Friday the 13th", another low-budget shocker, hit movie screens that summer of 1980 and became a box office smash.  Basically taking the same principle of "Halloween", "Friday the 13th" added some very shocking and creative murder sequences, Kevin Bacon, a camp in the woods, and a shock ending.  And became a pop culture phenomenon in the process.

       The plot is simple really.  A group of carefree counselors are all trying to get Camp Crystal Lake opened for the summer, headed by one Steve Christy.  Camp Crystal Lake has had a rather unsavory past- a young boy drowned there back in the 50's, two young counselors were murdered, and problems with fires and bad water all have given the camp a "cursed" reputation by locals.  But Christy is determined that it's all hogwash, and sees a golden opportunity in re-opening the camp. All is fun and games at first, but soon we find out an unseen presence is with them in the woods- watching, stalking, and murdering them one by one.

        "Friday the 13th" is a bona fide horror classic today. It's LOADED with great atmosphere- the whole backwoods mystique it's got going on really works for the movie.  Director Sean S. Cunningham truly makes us feel as if we the viewers are being stalked in the woods with the other counselors.  Everything about "Friday the 13th" works- the infamous music by Harry Manfredini, the sometimes crude photography and lighting, and Tom Savini's wonderfully graphic and shocking special effects.  This film, along with Carpenter's "Halloween", scared the pants off millions of teenagers back in the late 70s and early 80s.  But not only that, but they connected with the movie-going public. We were seeing us up there- your average, all-American teenagers, in Haddonfield, Illinois or in Camp Crystal Lake.  This was a defining moment in horror- and very few recent horror flicks have been able to capture that certain something that "Friday the 13th" so obviously did.  Audiences simply responded to this film.

     It's hard to imagine today- but when this first installment hit movie screens back in the summer of 1980, it truly was extremely scary stuff.  The countless sequels have sapped a lot of the effectiveness of the original installment, much like John Carpenter's "Halloween".  But if you can just forget the million sequels, the franchise- and watch the original for what it was, it's a pretty effective shocker and it's easy to see why it became such a phenomenon.  For better or worse, "Friday the 13th" is a part of Americana.  We can all relate to this movie- we all know how the woods can be scary.  We've all huddled around a campfire at night, breathlessly scaring each other silly with ghost stories.  We've all been to summer camp before.  "Friday the 13th" is a perfect time capsule of the early 80's.

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