Welcome to Slash Course, a working title series where I go through and break down slasher movies in detail. If you haven’t seen any of these films here is your SPOILER WARNING!!! For our first installment, let’s go back to the year 1980 where a horror movie came out and spawned a franchise, Friday the 13th.
The key aspect to any slasher film is the kill count. This section will cover all of these kills. The film opens at Camp Crystal Lake in 1958, where the counselors are singing camp songs. Two of the counselors lock eyes with each other and its lip locking time. These counselors are Barry and Claudette and a typical trope in any slasher movie, especially in this series of films, is when a couple goes off to make out, nothing good will come from it.
We are the eye of the killer as the camera goes upstairs to see these kids performing hanky-panky. Panicked and embarrassed, the soon to be victims get up and while Barry tries to apologize, he gets a blade to the throat and Barry is the first official kill.
KILL #1 – Barry
Claudette screams in terror and doesn’t try to run away as the killer stalks her into a corner and we just see a still shot of her face with a terrified look on her face. While we don’t see her officially killed, it’s safe to assume that Claudette is taking a dirt nap
KILL #2 – Claudette
What happens to the rest of the camp counselors is unknown because we flash forward to present day, which happens to be Friday the 13th. What are the odds! Then we see a girl named Annie walking by herself down the road with a backpack. She finally walks into this diner and asks for directions to Camp Crystal Lake. Now before we continue, I have to say that Annie is not the sharpest tool in the shed. Why don’t you have a ride to Camp Crystal Lake? So, of course, she finds a bunch of strangers and they’re taken aback at her asking to get to Camp Crystal Lake. One woman refers to it as Camp Blood. Stories are also told that there were murders that occurred there and the year before a young boy drowned. A truck driver named Enos agrees to drop her off halfway as he doesn’t want anything to do with this camp. Another trope is a person, typically a girl in this genre, trusting a stranger to drive her somewhere. Stranger Danger!
Speaking of strangers, the iconic Ralph approaches Enos and Annie before they depart and forwarns Annie that the camp has a death curse. We don’t know anything about Ralph except that he’s the local nutcase and his mode of transportation is a bicycle. The two blow this psychopath off and drive. Enos does his job while pleading with Annie to not go to this camp but of course she doesn’t listen because nothing bad is going to happen and everything is perfect! Annie then makes the fatal mistake of hitching ANOTHER ride to someone going that way. Again, why didn’t Annie make plans with the other counselors to drive with them? The phone did exist in 1980. Anyways Annie gets into this person car and they drive past the camp. Annie, as nicely as she could in this situation, asks the driver to turn around. The driver doesn’t oblige and Annie jumps out of the car, hurting her leg. Trope #3 is triggered as the victim is being stalked through the woods. Annie cannot find the killer but turns around and falls to her feet. Annie looks up and gently pleads the killer not to do it but just like Barry, she gets a bowie knife to the throat and we actually see blood coming through her throat thanks to the special effect by Tom Savini. I feel Annie was a sheltered child growing up. Annie was cute and kind but ultimately too naive and bubbly to survive.
KILL #3 – Annie
Then we meet 3 other counselors Annie could have actually hitched a ride with since they’re all going to work together. Marcie, Jack (played by Kevin Bacon), and Ned arrive at the camp and meet up with the owner Steve and another counselor Alice. We also get introduced to Brenda and Bill later on. Steve and Alice have some sort of a relationship, Mari and Jack are dating, and Ned, Brenda, and Bill are around helping out. We then encounter our 4th death, in this case, an unnamed snake that slithered into the cabins. The snake meets its fate by Bill with a machete.
KILL #4 – The Snake
An officer arrives and is investigating a call that the town psycho Ralph was heading this way. No one has seen Ralph so the officer heads off. As soon as he leaves, oh hey Ralph shows up again hiding in the food pantry, scaring the shit out of Alice. Others come in to encounter Ralph but he just leaves on his bike and is never seen again in the movie. Why wouldn’t you try and keep Ralph around and get answers as well as call the police department, again phones did exist, and say you have Ralph? Oh well. Every once in a while we’ll get shots of someone looking at the counselors enjoying themselves in the lake or just talking. So the downfall begins as the counselors split up to do their own things. Ned notices someone or something in a cabin and goes in to investigate. He was killed off screen and is victim number 5.
KILL #5 – Ned
Marcie and Jack are talking about Mari’s bizarre nightmares about rain and blood (she should see someone about that) and then it becomes raining so they head into the cabin where, unbeknownst to them, their fallen friend Ned lay dead somewhere in there. The sweethearts have some sexy time and once they’re done, Marcie has to tinkle. Jack lays in his bunk and a drop of blood hits his head. Before he can even investigate, a hand holds his head down from underneath the bed and the bowie knife goes through his throat in a disgusting kill with great special effects again from Savini.
KILL #6 – Jack
Marcie turns the sink on but notices something in the background. She’s thinking it’s a prank so she goes to investigate but finds nothing. However, behind her is a shadow of someone with an ax. Instead of pleading for her life or being in shock, Marcie just cries as she realizes her impending doom. Marcie gets the most gruesome kill of the film with an ax to the face
KILL #7 – Marcie
Meanwhile, Alice, Brenda, and Bill decide to play the popular game of Strip Monopoly. However, that gets cut short because Brenda’s windows are down in her cabin and this storm isn’t letting up. Brenda goes to brush her teeth in the same cabin Marcie was murdered in and gets ready for bed. Before she can shut her eyes, she hears a faint voice of a child from outside saying “Help Me.” Brenda goes outside in the storm to investigate. I’m going to pump the brakes for a second here. This was a little preposterous because of the killer, as we know at this point turns out to be Pamela Voorhees, did an impersonation of Jason later in the film and didn’t even sound close to this young boy’s voice. Although you could argue that Jason is supernatural in the overall series so I’ll let it slide. Anyways Brenda is getting soaked looking for this boy and is blinded by the spotlights turning on. We hear a scream and she is killed off-screen by Mrs. Voorhees and her body is tossed through a window later on.
KILL #8 – Brenda
Bill comes back inside to meet Alice and Alice swears she heard Brenda screaming. They go outside and enter a camp where they find the bloody ax that was used on Marcie. They then go to use the phone but of course, the phone lines are dead. More on this later but first…
Before we get back to our counselors, we head to a diner where Steve (remember him?) is grabbing a meal before he heads back out. Steve’s car, unfortunately, isn’t starting but in a lucky turn of events, a police officer just happens to be around and offers Steve a ride. Steve is dropped off short of the camp as the office had to head back. Steve walks through the storm and arrives at camp where a familiar looking Jeep turns its headlights on and Steve recognizes the person. Mrs. Voorhees still doesn’t say a word and isn’t shown on screen but ends up gutting Steve with her knife.
KILL #9 – Steve
Back at the camp, the lights go out so Bill goes to the generator to get power restored. After a while, Alice wonders where Bill is as he hasn’t returned. So she heads out to the generator and is mortified to find Bill’s corpse pinned up to a door with arrows.
KILL #10 – Bill
Another key aspect of slasher films is the final girl and in this case, it is Alice, played by Adrienne King. The final girl is a horror trope in slasher movies in that typically the final survivor is usually a girl. Alice is running around scared shitless. She goes back to the cabin and Brenda’s body is thrown through a window. Horrified, Alice goes outside to see that familiar Jeep that Annie and Steve have seen. Out of the Jeep finally comes our killer, Mrs. Voorhees, played by Betsy Palmer). Pamela Voorhees brings Alice back inside and explains to her that her son died years ago because of the negligence of two counselors who were having sex instead of hearing her son Jason yell for help before he drowned in the lake. Jason also happened to die on his birthday, which is…wait for it…today the 13th on a Friday of whatever month this is. So Pamela doesn’t have a soft spot for counselors and doesn’t want anyone at this campground so she has decided to kill them all! Alice and Pamela have a great sequence of fighting. Pamela draws out the infamous bowie knife and chases Alice around but Alice escapes by hitting her with a fire poker. Alice is running around and goes to Mrs. Voorhees’ Jeep but is treated to the corpse of Annie. Horrified, and adding to amount to the years of therapy she’ll receive afterward, she runs and Steve’s corpse swings down from something randomly. Alice runs through the campground in the darkness. Mrs. Voorhees shakes off the cobwebs and the spirit of Jason channels through her telling Mrs. Voorhees to kill Alice. That or Mrs. Vorhees is completely batshit crazy at this point.
Alice runs into the shed and grabs shotgun but alas cannot find any ammo as the cabinets are locked. That’s just bad luck for Alice but good thinking ahead by Steve there. Mrs. Voorhees finds her and calls her bluff while channeling Jason. Alice throws the gun away and proceeds to throw anything she can find at her, which of course doesn’t stop Mrs. Voorhees. Mrs. Voorhees proceeds to slap the shit out of her and throw her through a table but Alice recovers and hits Mrs. Voorhees with the shotgun and runs away again. Now if you just would have hit her in the first place, none of that would have happened to you, would it? Jeez.
After another brief chase and hiding from Mrs. Voorhees, Alice decides it’s a good idea to just run back to the cabin instead of running for help. Bold move Cotton. She shuts all the lights off and hides in the pantry but you know what’s coming. Mrs. Voorhees either can smell fear or is a cyborg because she comes in and turns the lights on. The fatal flaw in Alice’s plan her is that the pantry door has gaps in it…and she’s leaning against it. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that someone or something is behind that door blocking the gaps. So of course Mrs. Voorhees catches on and does her Jack Torrence impersonation and bashes down part of the door. The resourceful and lucky Alice finds a frying pan and bashes Mrs. Voorhees in the head, knocking her down for a 3rd time in this battle and drawing blood. Alice must think she’s killed Mrs. Voorhees at this point because it’s time to sit down and reflect on everything by the lake. Why bother searching Mrs. Voorhees for her keys to the Jeep. So it’s time for the final boss fight as Mrs. Voorhees is coming yet again! After some rolling around in the sand biting each other, Alice comes up and find the machete Mrs. Voorhees attempted to use earlier and swung for the fences. This may have been the first decapitation I’d seen in a film. Kudos again to the special effects guru for this masterpiece.
KILL #11 – Pamela Voorhees
An exhausted Alice, again not looking for the car keys to drive away to a police station, decides to get in a canoe and just float there until sunrise. Sunrise occurs and police officers are yelling at Alice to wake up. She starts to awake but a demon spawn from the lake comes up and pulls Alice into the lake. But it was all a dream…or was it? What? Alice is in the hospital and the police ask her questions. Alice wants to know about the boy but the police didn’t find any boy. I’m going with this is a hallucination/nightmare. We end the film looking at Crystal Lake, which will soon be a horror franchise staple in the coming years.
Best Kill Award: Marcie with the ax in the face
I love slasher films. There is a lot of stupidity that happens and more times than not you find yourself actually rooting for the killer because the victims are so dumb. I had a great time putting this together and hopefully will continue. The Friday the 13th franchise is a beloved franchise by horror fans and I plan to update my blog with the entire franchise.
Friday the 13th (1980) gets a 6/10