Friday the 13th (1980 film)

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Friday the 13th
Friday the thirteenth movie poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Sean S. Cunningham
Produced by Sean S. Cunningham
Written by Victor Miller
Starring Betsy Palmer
Adrienne King
Harry Crosby
Laurie Bartram
Jeannine Taylor
Kevin Bacon
Mark Nelson
Robbi Morgan
Ari Lehman
Music by Harry Manfredini
Cinematography Barry Abrams
Edited by Bill Freda
Georgetown Productions Inc.
Sean S. Cunningham Films
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • May 9, 1980 (1980-05-09)
Running time
95 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $550,000
Box office $59.8 million

Friday the 13th is a 1980 American slasher film directed by Sean S. Cunningham and written by Victor Miller. The film concerns a group of teenagers who are murdered one by one while attempting to re-open an abandoned campground, and stars Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, Laurie Bartram, Kevin Bacon, Jeannine Taylor, Mark Nelson and Robbi Morgan. It is considered one of the first "true" slasher movies.

Prompted by the success of John Carpenter's Halloween,[1] the film was made on an estimated budget of $550,000 and released by Paramount Pictures in the United States and by Warner Bros. in Europe. When originally released, the film received negative reviews from film critics. It grossed over $39.7 million at the box office in the United States.[2] In the years that followed, the film has received much more positive retrospective reviews, and it has become a cult classic. It was also the first movie of its kind to secure distribution in the USA by a major studio, Paramount Pictures.[3] The film's box office success led to a long series of sequels, a crossover with the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise and a 2009 series reboot.


In the summer of 1958, two summer camp counselors at Camp Crystal Lake sneak away from a campfire sing-along to have sex. Before they can completely undress, an unseen assailant sneaks into the room and murders them both.

21 years later, a young woman named Annie (Robbi Morgan) enters a small diner and asks for directions to the newly re-opened Camp Crystal Lake. Enos (Rex Everhart), a truck driver, agrees to give Annie a lift halfway to the camp. An old man named Ralph (Walt Gorney) reacts to the news of the camp's reopening by warning Annie that the camp has a "death curse". During the drive, Enos explains the history of the camp, informing her that a young boy drowned in Crystal Lake in 1957, and that two counselors were murdered the following year. After Enos lets her out, Annie hitches a ride with a passing vehicle. The second driver, whose face is never seen, murders Annie in the woods.

At the camp, the other counselors, Ned (Mark Nelson), Jack (Kevin Bacon), Bill (Harry Crosby), Marcie (Jeannine Taylor), Brenda (Laurie Bartram), Alice (Adrienne King) and the camp's owner, Steve Christy (Peter Brouwer), are refurbishing the cabins and facilities. As a storm closes in, Steve leaves the campgrounds to get more supplies. The unidentified killer arrives at the camp and begins to isolate and murder the remaining counselors. Later that evening, Steve returns from town and is also murdered after recognizing his attacker. Alice begins to worry after she hears someone screaming in the dark, so she and Bill, the only two left alive and unaware of what is going on, leave the cabin to investigate. The pair discovers a felling axe in Brenda's bed. They attempt to phone the police, but the phones are dead and the cars will not start when they try to leave. When the lights go out all over the camp, Bill goes to check on the power generator, alone. Alice heads out looking for Bill when he does not return; she finds his dead body pinned with arrows to the door of the shed. Alice flees back to the main cabin and hides.

Alice hears a vehicle outside the cabin and, thinking it to be Steve, runs out to warn him. Instead, she finds a middle-aged woman who introduces herself as Mrs. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer), stating that she is an "old friend of the Christys". As Alice tries to tell her about the murders, Mrs. Voorhees reveals herself to be the mother of the boy who drowned in the lake in 1957. Talking mostly to herself, she blames her son Jason's drowning on the fact that two counselors were having sex and were unaware of Jason struggling in the lake. Mrs. Voorhees suddenly turns violent and pulls out a bowie knife, rushing at Alice. It is revealed that Mrs. Voorhees is the killer. A chase ensues, with Alice and Mrs. Voorhees have multiple confrontations, each time with Alice believing she has finally beaten Mrs. Voorhees. During their final fight, Alice manages to decapitate Mrs. Voorhees with a machete.

Afterward, Alice boards a canoe and floats to the middle of the lake. Just as Alice notices the police arriving on the embankment, the decomposing body of Jason (Ari Lehman) attacks Alice while she waits for help in a canoe. Just as she is dragged under water Alice awakens in a hospital, where a police officer tells her that they pulled her out of the lake. Alice is informed that everyone is dead; when she asks about Jason, the officer informs her they never found any body, which leaves her with the impression that he is still in the lake.



Friday the 13th did not even have a completed script when Sean S. Cunningham took out this advertisement in Variety magazine

Friday the 13th was produced and directed by Sean S. Cunningham, who had previously worked with filmmaker Wes Craven on the film The Last House on the Left. Cunningham, inspired by John Carpenter's Halloween, wanted Friday the 13th to be shocking, visually stunning and "[make] you jump out of your seat". Wanting to distance himself from The Last House on the Left, Cunningham wanted Friday the 13th to be more of a "roller-coaster ride".[1]

This film was intended to be "a real scary movie" and at the same time make the audience laugh. Friday the 13th began its life as nothing more than a title. Initially, A Long Night at Camp Blood was the working title during the writing process, but Cunningham believed in his "Friday the 13th" moniker, and quickly rushed out to place an advertisement in Variety. Worried that someone else owned the rights to the title and wanting to avoid potential lawsuits, Cunningham thought it would be best to find out immediately. He commissioned a New York advertising agency to develop his concept of the Friday the 13th logo, which consisted of big block letters bursting through a pane of glass.[4] In the end, Cunningham believed there were "no problems" with the title, but distributor George Mansour stated, "There was a movie before ours called Friday the 13th: The Orphan. It was moderately successful. But someone still threatened to sue. Either Phil Scuderi paid them off, but it was finally resolved."[5]

The film was shot in and around the townships of Blairstown and Hope, New Jersey in the fall (September) of 1979. The camp scenes were shot on a working Boy Scout camp, Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco. The camp is still standing and still works as a summer camp.[6]


The script was written by Victor Miller, who has gone on to write for several television soap operas, including Guiding Light, One Life to Live and All My Children. Miller delighted in inventing a serial killer who turned out to be somebody's mother, a murderer whose only motivation was her love for her child. "I took motherhood and turned it on its head and I think that was great fun. Mrs. Voorhees was the mother I'd always wanted—a mother who would have killed for her kids." Miller was unhappy about the filmmakers' decision to make Jason Voorhees the killer in the sequels. "Jason was dead from the very beginning. He was a victim, not a villain."[7] The idea of Jason appearing at the end of the film was initially not used in the original script, and was actually suggested by makeup designer Tom Savini. Savini stated that "The whole reason for the cliffhanger at the end was I had just seen Carrie, so we thought that we need a 'chair jumper' like that, and I said, 'let's bring in Jason'".[8]


When Harry Manfredini began working on the musical score, the decision was made to only play music when the killer was actually present so as to not "manipulate the audience".[9] Manfredini pointed out the lack of music for certain scenes: "There's a scene where one of the girls [...] is setting up the archery area [...] One of the guys shoots an arrow into the target and just misses her. It's a huge scare, but if you notice, there's no music. That was a choice."[9] Manfredini also noted that when something was going to happen, the music would cut off so that the audience would relax a bit, and the scare would be that much more effective.

Because Mrs. Voorhees, the killer in the original Friday the 13th, appears onscreen only during the final scenes of the film, Manfredini had the job of creating a score that would represent the killer in her absence.[9] Manfredini borrows from the 1975 film Jaws, where the shark is likewise not seen for the majority of the film but the motif created by John Williams cued the audience to the shark's invisible menace.[10] Sean S. Cunningham sought a chorus, but the budget would not allow it. While listening to a Krzysztof Penderecki piece of music, which contained a chorus with "striking pronunciations", Manfredini was inspired to recreate a similar sound. He came up with the sound "ki ki ki, ma ma ma" from the final reel when Mrs. Voorhees arrives and is reciting "Kill her, mommy!" The "ki" comes from "kill", and the "ma" from "mommy". To achieve the unique sound he wanted for the film, Manfredini spoke the two words "harshly, distinctly and rhythmically into a microphone" and ran them into an echo reverberation machine.[9] Manfredini finished the original score after a couple of weeks, and then recorded the score in a friend's basement.[10] Victor Miller and assistant editor Jay Keuper have commented on how memorable the music is, with Keuper describing it as "iconographic". Manfredini says, "Everybody thinks it's cha, cha, cha. I'm like, 'Cha, cha, cha? What are you talking about?'"[11]

In 1982, Gramavision Records released a LP record of selected pieces of Harry Manfredini's scores from the first three Friday the 13th films.[12] On 13 January 2012, La-La Land Records released a limited edition 6-CD boxset containing Manfredini's scores from the first six films. It sold out in less than 24 hours.[13]


Box office[edit]

Paramount bought Friday the 13th's distribution rights for $1.5 million, after seeing a screening of the film. They spent approximately $500,000 in advertisements for the film, and then an additional $500,000 when the film began performing well at the box office.[14] Friday the 13th opened theatrically on 9 May 1980 across the United States, ultimately expanding its release to 1,100 theaters. It took in $5,816,321 in its opening weekend, before finishing domestically with $39,754,601. It was the 18th highest grossing film that year, facing stiff horror film competition from such high-profile releases as The Shining, Dressed To Kill, The Fog and Prom Night. The worldwide gross was $59,754,601.[15][16] Friday the 13th was released internationally, which was unusual for an independent film with, at the time, no well-recognized or bankable actors; aside from well-known television and movie actress Betsy Palmer.[17] The film would take in approximately $20 million in international box office receipts.[18] Not factoring in international sales, or the cross-over film with A Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy Krueger, the original Friday the 13th is the highest grossing film of the film series.[19] To provide context with the box office gross of films in 2014, the cost of making and promoting Friday the 13th—which includes the $550,000 budget and the $1 million in advertisement—is approximately $4.5 million. With regard to the domestic box office gross, the film would have made $114,572,585.15 in adjusted 2014 dollars.[20] In terms of recent box office performance, Friday the 13th would be the highest grossing horror film of 2008 using the adjusted figures.[21] On 13 July 2007, Friday the 13th was screened for the first time on Blairstown's Main Street in the very theater which appears shortly after the opening credits.[6] Overflowing crowds forced the Blairstown Theater Festival, the sponsoring organization, to add an extra screening at 11:00 PM. The event was covered by local media and New York City's Channel 11, WPIX.[22] A 30th Anniversary Edition was released on 10 March 2010.[23]

Critical response[edit]

Friday the 13th received negative reviews from critics upon its initial release. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 59% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on 49 reviews.[24] Its most vocal detractor was Gene Siskel, who in his review called Cunningham "one of the most despicable creatures ever to infest the movie business".[25] He also published the address for Charles Bluhdorn, the chairman of the board of Gulf+Western, which owned Paramount, as well as Betsy Palmer's home city and encouraged fellow detractors to write to them and express their contempt for the film.[26] Siskel and Roger Ebert spent an entire episode of their TV show berating the film (and other slasher films of the time) because they felt it would make audiences root for the killer.[27] Leonard Maltin initially awarded the film one star, or 'BOMB', but later changed his mind and awarded the film a star and-a-half stating "...simply because it's slightly better than Part 2" and called it a "...gory, cardboard thriller".[28] Variety claimed the film was "low budget in the worst sense—with no apparent talent or intelligence to offset its technical inadequacies—Friday the 13th has nothing to exploit but its title. "[29]

Later on, retrospective reviews were much more positive regarding the film. Dave Kehr said that "For all its shoddiness, the film manages, just barely, to achieve its ignoble goals -- it delivers what it promises". James Kendrick gave the film a 3 out of 4, calling it "a campfire boogeyman story designed to do little more than build tension and deliver a few well-timed shocks, which it does with precision and even a bit of artistry". Kevin Carr said that "what makes the movie work is that the slasher genre hadn't been set in stone yet, and some choices that director Sean S. Cunningham makes in the film that work against type". The film was nominated for AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills.[30]

Home media[edit]

On 3 February 2009, Paramount Home Entertainment released Friday the 13th on an unrated uncut home video version for the first time in the United States (all previous VHS and DVD releases were the rated theatrical version). It is available on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc. The uncut version of the film contains approximately 10 seconds of previously unreleased footage. In 2011, the uncut version of Friday the 13th was released in a 4-disc DVD collection with the first three sequels.[31]

Australia DVD/Blu-Ray Release

DVD/Blu-Ray name Discs # Region 4/B (Australia) DVD Special Features
Friday the 13th 2 July 1, 2009

Commentary by Director Sean S. Cunningham,

Return to Crystal Lake: The Making of Friday the 13th,

Theatrical Trailer,

A Friday the 13th Reunion With Original Cast Members,

Fresh Cuts: New Tales from Friday the 13th,

The Man Behind the Legacy: Sean S. Cunningham,

Lost Tales from Camp Blood Part 1

Related works[edit]


Further information: Friday the 13th franchise

As of 2009, Friday the 13th has spawned nine sequels, including a crossover film with A Nightmare on Elm Street villain Freddy Krueger. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) introduced Jason Voorhees, the son of Mrs. Voorhees, as the primary antagonist, which would continue for the remaining sequels (with exception of the fifth movie) and related works. Most of the sequels were filmed on larger budgets than the original. In comparison, Friday the 13th had a budget of $550,000, while the first sequel was given a budget of $1.25 million.[32] At the time of its release, Freddy vs. Jason had the largest budget, at $25 million.[33] All of the sequels repeated the premise of the original, so the filmmakers made tweaks to provide freshness. Changes involved an addition to the title—as opposed to a number attached to the end—like "The Final Chapter" and "Jason Takes Manhattan", or filming the movie in 3-D, as Miner did for Friday the 13th Part III (1982).[34] One major addition that would affect the entire film series was the addition of Jason's hockey mask in the third film; this mask would become one of the most recognizable images in popular culture.[35] Cunningham did not direct any of the film's sequels, though he did act as producer on the later installments; he initially did not want Jason Voorhees to be resurrected for the sequel.[citation needed]

A reboot to Friday the 13th came to theaters in February 2009, with Freddy vs. Jason writers Damian Shannon and Mark Swift hired to script the new film.[36] The film focused on Jason Voorhees, along with his trademark hockey mask.[37] The film was produced by Michael Bay, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller through Bay's production company Platinum Dunes, for New Line Cinema.[36] In November 2007, Marcus Nispel, director of the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, was hired to direct.[38] The film had its United States release on 13 February 2009.[39]


In 1987, seven years after the release of the motion picture, Simon Hawke produced a novelization of Friday the 13th. One of the few additions to the book was Mrs. Voorhees begging the Christy family to take her back after the loss of her son; they agreed.[40]Another addition in the novel is more understanding in Mrs. Voorhees' actions. Hawke felt the character had attempted to move on when Jason died, but her psychosis got the best of her. When Steve Christy reopened the camp, Mrs. Voorhees saw it as a chance that what happened to her son could happen again. Her murders were against the counselors, because she saw them all as responsible for Jason's death.[41]

A number of scenes from the film were recreated in Friday the 13th: Pamela's Tale, a two-issue comic book prequel released by WildStorm in 2007.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Grove 2005, pp. 11–12.
  2. ^ Grove 2005, p. 60.
  3. ^ McCarty, John (July 1984). Splatter Movies: Breaking the Last Taboo of the Screen. St. Martin's Press. p. 2. ISBN 0-312-75257-1. 
  4. ^ Grove 2005, pp. 15–16.
  5. ^ Bracke 2006, p. 17.
  6. ^ a b "Blairstown Theater Festival". Blairstown Theater. Archived from the original on 2007-07-12. Retrieved 2008-03-02. 
  7. ^ Miller, Victor. "Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 11 July 2012. I have a major problem with all of them because they made Jason the villain. I still believe that the best part of my screenplay was the fact that a mother figure was the serial killer—working from a horribly twisted desire to avenge the senseless death of her son, Jason. Jason was dead from the very beginning. He was a victim, not a villain. 
  8. ^ "Interview with Tom Savini". New York: NY Daily News. Archived from the original on 2006-11-14. Retrieved 11 December 2006. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Slasherama interview with Harry Manfredini". Slasherama. Archived from the original on 2006-05-11. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  10. ^ a b Bracke 2006, p. 39.
  11. ^ Miller, Victor; Keuper, Jay; Manfredini, Harry (1980). "Return to Crystal Lake: Making of Friday the 13th" Friday the 13th DVD (DVD – region 2). United States: Warner Bros. 
  12. ^ Bracke 2006, p. 94.
  13. ^ "LA LA LAND RECORDS, Friday the 13th". Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  14. ^ Grove 2005, p. 59.
  15. ^ Box Office Information for Friday the 13th. The Numbers. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  16. ^ "1980". Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  17. ^ Rockoff 2002, p. 18.
  18. ^ "Friday the 13th - Box Office Data, DVD Sales, Movie News, Cast Information". Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  19. ^ "Friday the 13th Moviesat the Box Office". Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  20. ^ "Tom's Inflation Calculator". Retrieved 19 February 2009. 
  21. ^ "2008 Yearly Box Office Results". Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  22. ^ "Blairstown Theater screensFriday the 13th". The CW 11. Retrieved 2008-06-21. [dead link]
  23. ^ "Fantastic Friday the 13th Anniversary Item Coming". Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  24. ^ Ron Kurz. "Friday the 13th". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  25. ^ Bracke 2006, p. 45.
  26. ^ Siskel, Gene (12 May 1980). "'Friday the 13th': More bad luck". Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Ill). p. A3. 
  27. ^ Hewitt, Chris; Smith, Adam. "Freddy V Jason". Empire (March 2009). 
  28. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2000). Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide. Signet Books. p. 491. ISBN 0-451-19837-9. 
  29. ^ "Friday the 13th". Variety. 31 December 1979. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  30. ^ "List of top 400 heart-pounding thrillers". American Film Institute. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  31. ^ "Buy Movies at Movies Unlimited - The Movie Collector's Site". Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  32. ^ Bracke 2006, pp. 314–15.
  33. ^ "Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)". Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  34. ^ Bracke 2006, p. 73–74.
  35. ^ Gary Kemble (2006-01-13). "Movie Minutiae: the Friday the 13th series (1980-?)". ABC. Archived from the original on 2006-01-15. Retrieved 2007-05-21. [dead link]
  36. ^ a b Kit, Borys (2 October 2007). "Duo pumps new blood into 'Friday the 13th'". Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  37. ^ "Platinum Confirmations: Near Dark, Friday the 13th Remakes". The Hollywood Reporter. 3 October 2007. Archived from the original on 2012-10-04. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  38. ^ Kit, Borys (14 November 2007). "Nispel scores a date with next 'Friday'". Archived from the original on 2 May 2008. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  39. ^ "Young Jason Cast in Friday the 13th remake". FearNet. 2008-05-15. Archived from the original on 2008-12-19. Retrieved 2008-05-28. [dead link]
  40. ^ Hawke 1987, pp. 164–168.
  41. ^ Grove 2005, p. 50.


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