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It Came From the ’80s: Friday the 13th (1980)

by Sheri White

(Editor’s Note: If you haven’t seen the original Friday the 13th (what’s wrong with you?!?), and you don’t want to know how a major character dies or how the movie ends, beware… here there be spoilers…)

At the tender age of 14, I met my first love.  His name was Kevin, and he was a lifeguard at the neighborhood pool that was my summer hangout.  He wasn’t the blond-hair, blue-eyed typical buff lifeguard you see on TV shows and movies these days, but he sure was cute.  Plus he was an older man – all of 16-years-old.  So cool.

At first we just flirted a lot, then he started walking me home after the pool closed.  One glorious night, he asked if he could kiss me after walking me home.  Of course I said yes!

Shockingly, my mom, who was pretty strict, actually let me go on a date with Kevin.  My first date!  He wasn’t driving yet, so she figured it was OK since his mom would drive us (I know, lame).  At that time, single-screen theaters were common, and the Capital Plaza Theater was playing Friday the 13th.

The date started off with me getting a few cool points – a girl I knew from school was working the ticket booth, and she let us in for free.

I couldn’t wait for the movie to start.  I had never seen a horror movie in the theater before.  And the ones I saw on TV were usually good (like the original Night of the Living Dead), but I was ready for something more intense.

Well, I got that and then some.  Not only was this my first date, but it was also my first rated “R” movie.  The violence didn’t bother me; it was an excuse to bury my face in Kevin’s shoulder.  But I didn’t bargain for all the sex and nudity!  Keep in mind that I was only 14 and went to an all-girls Catholic school – I was pretty innocent!  I thought I was going to die during those scenes.  Kevin told me to not be embarrassed, but how could I not?

I loved the movie, though.  So much better than old black and white horror movies that I watched on Creature Feature late Saturday nights.  I had never seen a movie with so much blood and gore!  What tickled me was that Kevin wasn’t as stoic as I thought he’d be – he jumped just as much as I did.  We had so much fun.

Friday the 13th still holds up, I think.  It wasn’t the first slasher flick, but it was my first slasher flick.  And it was a hell of a movie to get started with.  One gruesome killing after another, each one bloodier than the last.  My favorite was when Kevin Bacon (!) is lying on a cot and the killer’s arm comes up from underneath and claps him on the forehead, then shoves an arrow up through him.  The arm coming out from under the bed about gave me a stroke.  (Much later in my life, my husband would make me fall in love with him a little bit more by telling me he did that to his younger brother – minus the killing, of course.)

Why did they remake Friday the 13th in 2009?  Money, of course.  Instead of remaking great horror movies from the 70s and 80s, why don’t they just re-release the originals with a lot of fanfare?  That would be so great.  Most of the remakes being released are just lame with no heart or soul to them.

Everybody knows the end of Friday the 13th, right?  The last-girl-standing is in a boat on the lake when a deformed and gooey young Jason jumps up out of the water and pulls her under.  Nobody in the theater was expecting that – let me tell you, popcorn was flying all over the place, ours included.  It was awesome.

Kevin and I didn’t last, of course, but we did go out on and off for the next few years.  I loved him a lot, but most teenage romances don’t work out.  That’s OK, though – I have great memories of my first date and my first slasher flick.  Check out Friday the 13th for yourself and see why it’s one of the greatest horror movies ever made.

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6 comments for “It Came From the ’80s: Friday the 13th (1980)

  1. January 25, 2011 at 10:00 am

    I like what you’re doing here – the memories of how and where we saw a movie in our childhood is often more powerful than the movie itself. Certain movies bring me back to a place and a time, like certain songs do as well.

    The image of Alice in the boat reminds me of this image from “Let’s Scare Jessica to Death” for some reason.

    http://www.letsscarejessicatodeath.net/

    • January 25, 2011 at 8:52 pm

      Dumbricht– Thanks for the kind words! I checked out that site link and you’re right, very similar look and feel. I also always loved the haunting synth music that played over that final scene when Alice starts coming to (you know, just before Jason jumps her bones).

  2. January 25, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    I forgot about the score – actually ties in well with the link I sent as the score in “Jessica” could be described as similar. There is also a dreamlike quality to the scenes – both leave you with a did that or did that not really happen feeling.

    And for the record, he didnt really jump her bones until Part 2.

  3. February 3, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Your reviews are always so personal.
    You bring me back to a time when life was simple. It makes the feeling of first dates and parents really not knowing any better come back.

    I don’t remember a lot about Friday the 13th. As a kid, we didn’t watch many horror movies. I think that mostly started after we had such a bad reaction watching some summer camp movie. Something about killing off campers and singing the song, “Hello mother, hello father.”

    Wow, looking back like this is really cool. This is something I’d love to do.

    Great review. You would have been a hoot to know back then,

    Draven Ames

    • February 4, 2011 at 6:08 am

      Hi Draven– That’s what I love about Sheri’s essays too. They aren’t “just” movie reviews, but are personal memories of a specific time that connect how she was feeling when watching a certain movie. I believe that some of our love of these movies has to do with the memories of what we were doing around the time we watched them.

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