Written by Hombre Divertido
In 1980, wanting to piggyback the success of Halloween, which had hit the big screen two years earlier, director/producer Sean S. Cunningham and writer Victor Miller sent some kids out into the woods. Said outing would spawn 10 sequels and a 2009 remake due to hit theaters Friday February 13th.
The kids sent into the woods were camp counselors set to reopen Camp Crystal Lake despite the opposition of the local town folk who had tagged the place Camp Blood, after two counselors had been murdered there many years earlier. Our new soon-to-be-corpses would go about their business not realizing until far too late that they were being killed in grizzly fashion one by one.
The film did exactly as intended in that it scared audiences and raked in money. Almost thirty years later, it still manages to be frightening, but the thanks for those goose pimples need to go directly to Harry Manfredini who was responsible for the intense music that brings true terror to what is essentially an incredibly weak story.
Though excitement is easily created as an unknown assailant kills our camp counselors in creative fashion such as an axe to the face, and arrows from under the bed that penetrate the throat of anyone not footloose enough to get away, and the blood-dripping special effects were certainly innovative for their time, but too many opportunities were missed from a storytelling perspective. Had even the slightest amount of time been dedicated to story and character development, this could have easily been an excellent “who dunnit?” as well as the innovative slasher film that it was.
The newly remastered release with a 5.1 surround mix in holograph-covered packaging looks and sounds great, but includes some less than spectacular bonus features. The standard commentary is reasonably entertaining and informative, as are “Fresh Cuts: New Tales from Friday the 13th,” and “The Man behind the Legacy: Sean S. Cunningham”, though the insight tends to get repetitive. “A Friday the 13th Reunion” is scary in its awkward geekiness as it serves to perpetuate the tacky stereotype of all such conventions and those who attend. The addition of previously excluded unrrated footage goes virtually unnoticed and “Lost Tales from Camp Blood – Part 1” screams: “College production!“ and should have remained lost. The original theatrical trailer is not only wonderful to watch and makes it easy to see how horror fans of that era were enticed to see this film, but will be appreciated more when you see the trailer for the 2009 film.
Recommendation: A rainy Saturday night, a bowl of popcorn, and this film will certainly make for a fun evening and have you yelling at the screen as weapons are left behind and rooms fraught with danger are backed into. Even if this isn’t your cup of blood, the bonus feature “A Friday the 13th Reunion” is worth watching for all the wrong reasons.