Retro Review: Friday the 13th (1980)

The week begins my favorite ‘unofficial’ holiday week. I’m of course talking about the week leading up to Friday the 13th. Every year at least one Friday falls on the 13th of the month. This year we are lucky enough to have two Friday the 13th’s, the next one coming in October. Just in time for Halloween boils and ghouls! At the Horror Syndicate, we take F13 very seriously. As should you!

So today I want to talk about the one that started it all. The one that unintentionally began a legacy and later on helped create one of the most recognizable horror characters of all time. We’re going back before the hockey mask, before the body counts. We are going to Camp Blood (it has a death curse you know?), also known as Camp Crystal Lake for the first time. Let’s go back in time and look at Sean S. Cunningham’s bonafide classic film, 1980’s Friday the 13th.

Welcome To Camp Crystal Lake…


Our flick follows a young group of counselors, heading to Camp Crystal Lake to clean and spruce up the campground before the kiddies arrive. But as we soon find out, a mysterious murderer has other plans. You know what? I don’t think there is a need to elaborate on the synopsis any further. If you are a horror fan, you should have seen this cinematic achievement by now. If not, you should probably stop reading this article and rectify that poor life decision immediately.

F13 stars the late Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King and a young budding actor named Kevin Bacon. Usually with a film of this caliber you are left wanting in the category of acting. But, this film is surprisingly rich with a strong cast for the most part. The special effects were handled by one of the supreme masters of practical make-up effects, Tom Savini. Using unorthodox techniques to bring the death scenes to life, he almost single-handedly made this film with one of my favorite kills in any movie to date. The Kevin Bacon death scene.

As seen here:

Sean S. Cunningham over the years has publicly stated more than once, that Friday the 13th was initially created as a way to cash in on the uber successful cash cow that was John Carpenter’s Halloween. In my humble opinion and Carpenter’s stellar soundtrack aside, Friday was a much more effective film. Hell, if you ask me Harry Manfredini’s ingenious idea of a synth vocal mix to create the now legendary chant, “Ki, ki, ki… Ma, Ma, Ma…”, was a much better achievement. Another reason being, in Friday unlike Halloween, the viewer does not already know who the killer is. Which to me, created a whole new level of mystery to the slasher genre as a whole. A truly successful who done it. A gripping sensation because you are always wondering who the killer is until the final reveal. Which was pretty unexpected.

In a way, this really isn’t a review of the film. It is more of a love letter. Friday the 13th to me, is the quintessential slasher film that has all of the genre standards. Mystery, suspense… Oh and horror. Friday the 13th is a film that stands the test of time. It is far from perfect, although in my eyes it is perfect. 100%. All those genre standards I mentioned above are still enthralling a new generation of millions of horror fans to this day. Keeping the fear alive. Wondering about that little helpless boy in the lake.

…He’s still out there…

gif courtesy of

IMDB: 6.5/10

ZombiSurvivor: 9.0/10

Thanks as always and Happy Friday the 13th!



About Jared Letourneau 157 Articles
Hey there boils and ghouls! My love of horror films came on a dark and stormy night.... ....Truthfully, it probably happened in 1980-something during a sunny day when I was 5 or 6. That movie was JAWS. I had never been so terrified to go swimming and I live in a land-locked state! I have been a Horror Hound ever since. Having seen hundreds of films, some good and some downright dreadful, my love for horror cinema has grown stronger than ever! I have a Sci-Fi nerd wife, which allows us to share movies with each other(while she puts up with MOST of my movies). A couple of my favorite directors are Lucio Fulci and John Carpenter. Contributing here at T.H.S and being able to work with these other folks will be a treat I look forward to. I will share secrets after a few drinks and I also enjoy long romantic walks in dimly-lit cemeteries. My fave top 5 films are: 1)Dawn Of The Dead (Original) 2)The Thing (Carpenter's Remake) 3)Zombie 4)Texas Chainsaw Massacre (O.G.) 5)Friday the 13th pt IV: The Final Chapter Stay Scared! -ZombiSurvivor