The original “Friday the 13th” works better today as a time capsule than a flesh and blood horror movie.
The primitive special effects. The ’70s style fashions and Village People-era tight clothing. And the slasher film mold, back when the clay was still wet to the touch.
Way back in 1980, even a mundane slasher movie grabbed us by the throats. And that’s precisely what “Friday” did.
The film’s re-release on DVD last week, accompanied by 10 whole seconds of extra gore snipped from the theatrical version, takes us back to a more stripped down time for horror flicks. No arcane traps a la the “Saw” franchise. Not even the wink-wink humor seeping out from the “Scream” trilogy.
Just a whole lot of dead young people in various stages of undress.
The setup is simplicity itself. Camp Crystal Lake is about to reopen after a series of tragedies shut it down for decades. The camp counselors, all young and reasonably attractive, are getting ready for the new season when a serial killer starts picking them off one by one.
The characters are mostly unremarkable, even if one of the counselors would later go on to star in “Footloose” and endless games of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
The effects, by FX maestro Tom Savini, have aged better than expected. And the film’s final 20 minutes is as tense as advertised.
The best feature of the new DVD is the frankly honest commentary by some of the creative team behind the film. They make no bones about the fact that the film was created to “rip off” “Halloween,” a truly original slasher film.
And how refreshing is it to hear star Betsy Palmer describe her take on the “Friday” script when it was handed to her:
“What a piece of s*&%,” she says with a laugh.
“Friday the 13th” isn’t the fecal mess Palmer describes. Culturally speaking, it jolted the horror movement and paved the way for countless copycats – not to mention a dizzying array of sequels.
Taken as a horror film – its original intention – “Friday the 13″ can’t measure up to other genre classics.