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Friday The 13th
cast: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, Kevin Bacon, and Mark Nelson

director: Sean S. Cunningham

91 minutes (18) 1980 widescreen ratio 16:9
Warner DVD Regions 2 + 4 + 5 retail

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by Gary Couzens
Camp Crystal Lake was the scene of a double murder back in 1959, but now it's about to open again. A group of young people are doing the place up, despite local Crazy Ralph warning that the place has a death cast. Then the killings start again...
   Friday The 13th opened in the UK on Friday 13th, June 1980. A hit on both sides of the Atlantic, it spawned ten sequels up to this year's Freddy vs Jason, not to mention countless imitations. Following on from Halloween three years earlier, this is the film that established the slasher formula. Take a group of young and horny teenagers (i.e. unknown and therefore cheap actors), isolate them, then kill them off one by one in an explicitly gory manner, preferably just after they've had sex. This will leave one, usually a girl, usually virginal, to do battle with the killer. This isn't to say that Friday The 13th is a model of originality itself, as it's shamelessly derivative. (In the extras on this DVD, screenwriter Victor Miller openly admits he studied the genre before writing his script.) Take elements pilfered not just from Halloween but maybe Mario Bava's Bay Of Blood (which has a similar hatchet-in-the-face murder), Carrie (the final dream sequence, intended as one last jump-out-of-your-seat moment) and maybe The Omen, which had the same one-colourful-death-per-reel structure. As has been shown time and again, real originality doesn't sell. What's more likely to make money is a mixture of already existing and familiar ingredients made to seem like new.
   It's hard to feel grateful for this movie, given that it's still being ripped off to this day, 23 years later. It's not fair to blame something for its imitators, but unlike say, Halloween, Friday The 13th wasn't a particularly good movie to begin with, none too well acted and paced. It needs Tom Savini's elaborate gore effects to escape complete tedium. At least it is better than what came after it.
   Warner's DVD has an anamorphic transfer and a Dolby digital 1.0 mono soundtrack in English with French and Italian dubbed versions. Subtitles in English, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Spanish, Arabic and Russian. Extras: a multi-participant commentary, Return To Crystal Lake: Making Friday The 13th a 22-minute documentary, and the theatrical trailer.
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