Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 10/31/00
Friday the 13th
1980 (1999) - Paramount
review by Dan Kelly of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
95 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical
trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (15 chapters),
languages: English and French (DD mono), subtitles: English, Closed
come back again. It's got a death curse!"
Say what you will about the Friday the
13th films, but they have earned their place in cinematic
history. They're not particularly classy or original films (an
understatement), and the rough edges sometimes surface just as much
as the actual intended product. But in the end, they accomplish
their main objective - they're scary and fun. For that reason (and
that reason alone), I'm a little easier on the Friday
the 13th film series as a whole. Good or bad, it helped
pioneer the low-budget horror craze that overtook Hollywood in the
early to mid-eighties.
The story starts in 1958, with a wholesome bunch of camp counselors
singing squeaky clean camp songs at scenic Camp Crystal Lake.
Naturally, two of them head off for some together time (translate:
sex), and are butchered mid-act by an unseen killer. The poor
things. Flash forward a few decades to the same camp. After being
closed for several years, a new batch of nameless, faceless
counselors are prepping the camp for its re-opening. The camp is now
lovingly referred to as Camp Blood by the town folk, who are none
too happy to see it open its doors again. And sure enough, soon
after the counselors get there, the murders start again... and they
start disappearing one by one.
Those not entirely familiar with this series may be disappointed,
because this is a virtually Jason-free movie. No hockey mask, no
machete. He doesn't make his killing debut until the second entry in
the series. Outside of a very young Kevin Bacon, the only really
memorable actor here is Betsy Palmer. As Mrs. Voorhees, she is prone
to some of the most hysterical, hammiest over-acting this side of
Showgirls. Even her
tour-de-force can't save the ending of this flick, that drags on far
too long for its own good.
Friday the 13th is one of
those POV horror films where the camera acts as the killer, and
stalks the young cast members in hopes of being a "whodunit."
Like many of these cheaply made horror films, that particular aspect
of the movie falls flat on its face. In this case, it's because the
killer isn't even revealed until the last scene or two of the film.
It's light on suspense, but Friday the
13th succeeds in producing at least a handful of really
good scares. Tom Savini's gore handy work is understated and
effective in this film, especially when compared to some of the
later films in the series. Awards-junkies should note that
Friday the 13th garnered two
nominations for the inaugural year of the Razzies - Worst Picture
and Worst Supporting Actress for Betsy Palmer.
For the first time ever, Friday the 13th
is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of about 1.85:1
(and it's anamorphic too). The result is a bit of a mixed bag, but
it's a mostly good looking picture. The predominant issue with the
transfer is digital artifacting, which becomes a slight distraction
in some of the darker scenes. Shimmer also becomes apparent in a few
scenes that show strongly patterned backgrounds and foregrounds. On
the upside, color reproduction is surprisingly good (if slightly
over-saturated) and produces some vibrant reds and greens. Edge
enhancement is obvious at times, but only on occasion. Given the age
of this film, I'm amazed to see that there wasn't more in the way of
aged-related print defects. All in all, not too bad.
For audio, we're given an adequate mono mix of
Friday the 13th (along with a
French mono track as well). It gets the job done, but provides
little else in the way of excitement. Dialogue is distinct, but just
a tad on the quiet side. Bass response is okay, but is somewhat
shallow and ineffective. Harry Manfredini provided the music for
almost all of the Friday the 13th
films. His score is highly derivative of Bernard Herrmann's work,
but manages to create mood and aid in producing a few scares. It
would have been more effective in establishing mood if it were
channeled through the surrounds in a new 5.1 mix, but oh well. On
the whole, the sound quality is acceptable.
What can you expect for features on this disc? Well... if you're
familiar with Paramount discs even in the slightest, you'll know
that, for a movie of this caliber, you're only going to get the
trailer. The good news is that it's been given anamorphic
enhancement. The bad is that it's a horrible (not to mention
misleading) trailer. It's just plain dumb.
On the whole, Friday the 13th
is an entertaining little flick, that only hints at what's to come
later in the series. It's a love it or hate it type of thing, but
there are a whole lot of people that dig these films.
Friday the 13th took the
successful Halloween formula
and ran all the way to the bank with it. I'm glad Paramount finally
took the dive and started releasing these films on DVD. Lack of
features notwithstanding, this disc will definitely be appreciated
by those who are used to seeing these films on worn-out, low-quality