Hello and Hallo-welcome to yet another year of Hallowfest Octobfilm, a series of daily blogs reviewing horror films throughout the month of October! You join your reviewers, Andy and Lilly, as they sharpen their ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ machetes in preparation for this year’s Saturday theme–Slasher Saturdays!
Today’s film offering: Friday the 13th
Andy: I suppose a proper horror fan should feel some animosity towards this movie. Halloween may have codified many of the tropes of the horror genre, but it was the Friday the 13th franchise that showed you could essentially make the same movie again and again and again and still make money.
Lilly: Contrary to the old saying, it’s not a good man you can’t keep down, but rather a psychopathic bad man. Go figure!
Andy: And for all the slashed up teens, the only thing that the slasher glut really killed was anybody taking horror movies seriously for the next two decades. Dang.
Lilly: I mean, I disagree on this, because it wasn’t like horror films were really pulling in the prestige prior to the slasher wave. I think slashers did what any semi-entertaining sub-genre should do, which is bring in the money–I’m looking at you, Transformers films and the Marvel universe. Sure, it means that you are going to get loads of films that are sub-par at best, but at least people are watching, and you are developing a following that might not have stumbled into the horror arena at all if not for a cheesy slasher they saw some date night.
But I digress. Surprise! That happens a lot.
Andy: Now the plot concerns a group of camp counsellors reopening an old, abandoned camp at Crystal Lake, getting it ready for the kids who will presumably arrive later in the summer. Of course, this preparation mainly consists of having conversations with a crazy old man, sex, and getting axed in the face by a mysterious assailant. If this sounds familiar you may recognise it as the plot of EVERYTHING EVER.
Lilly: Meanwhile, this camp has not been abandoned that long, in truth, like it is almost insensitively not long. Twenty years is not long enough to say ‘Hey, the killer is probably not around anymore! Fluke!’ No, the killer, if he started young, could be only 38! Which is prime killing age. I mean, you’re not young and careless, but you also aren’t past your prime. Stupid. The people who thought to reopen the camp are stupid. How much wilderness is there in America? Find some other wilderness, build some cheap cabins, boom. No killer, no deaths hanging over the property. It sounds ideal. But maybe I don’t know enough about building children’s summer camps.
Andy: Anyway, this is the film that gets taken off in literally everything, from its own sequels, to The Simpsons, to The Final Girls, to friggin Lumberjanes. There is a real danger watching this film now, that any sense of originality and threat this film had back in 1980 has long since shrivelled up in the sun. It doesn’t help that Scream spoiled the ending way back in 1996.
Lilly: Something we are reviewing later in the month! Tune in!
Andy: Of course, it probably doesn’t help that this is not actually particularly well made. Michael Myers has been put through the same cultural exposure, but Halloween still maintains a sense of genuine threat. This, however, borders on, well, campy (I’M SORRY I’M NOT SORRY).
Lilly: For those of you just joining Hallowfest Octobfilm, it is best you know that sometimes, I love shitty films. I love them deeply and without apology. In fact, when something is described as ‘campy’, my black little heart flutters with enthusiasm. And in the case of Friday the 13th, doubly so. And I’ll tell you for why.
Friday the 13th is a perfect example of social horror. It’s got an easy to follow plot–murder happens at camp, camp closes, camp reopens, murders happen again, TWIST the murders are REVENGE–that is accessible to literally anyone who watches it, it has Kevin Bacon (swoon), and it is a film that you can make popcorn during and not be lost for the rest of the story because you missed a bit. And there is (listen carefully here) Nothing. Wrong. With. That. Also, since I haven’t seen Scream (later on in the month, tune in for when I have!), I didn’t even see the ending coming. I thought I had it pretty worked out, what with the hockey mask wearing fiend of the films being literally everywhere, as Andy mentioned, but it turns out he doesn’t even have the mask in the first film, AND SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER STOP LOOKING IF YOU DON’T WANT IT SPOILED…
…it wasn’t even him in the first place. How can I not be amused by the fact that the film depicts a man getting all the credit for the hard work of a woman? I love it.
OKAY YOU CAN CHECK BACK IN NOW, I’M DONE SPOILING, PROMISE.
Andy: To be clear, I do like this movie (maybe not love, like SOME people, but still). If it’s on TV and you feel like turning your brain off for 90 minutes, it’s probably OK. But there are also definitely better horror movies to watch in that time.
Lilly: Like Friday the 13th Part 2, which has the hilariously insensitive moment where they are looking for the charming, wheelchair bound Mark, and the first place they look is upstairs. Brilliant!