BY MICHELLE MEDFORD
Year released: 1980
How it fared back then: What would you say for a film with a budget of only half a million dollars that ended up making almost $40 million in return, leading to a 10 film series (eight of which came out within 10 years)? But fans and critics far from agreed. Simply put, reviews were harsh. Take for example Variety’s, “Lowbudget in the worst sense–with no apparent talent or intelligence to offset its technical inadequacies–Friday the 13th has nothing to exploit but its title.”
Why it’s lasted: While the film initially took heat for ripping off John Carpenter’s Halloween, it went on to completely invent new rules and would become one of the defining series of the genre. Jason Voorhees has become a horror movie icon and symbol of terror in general. And then there’s ki-ki-ki ma-ma-ma (not ch-ch-ch ah-ah-ah–it’s actually an offshoot of Mrs. Voorhees’ line “Kill her, mommy”), it’s become one of those unforgettable sound effects of impending doom, almost on par with Psycho‘s screeches and Jaws‘ two notes on the tuba. It’s such a classic that in the wave of horror remakes (Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, My Bloody Valentine, et al.), it seemed only obvious that it too must follow suit
Classic moment: We all know that the two most infamous scenes: Mrs. Voorhees’ beheading and Alice’s canoe going overboard. However, one of the most popular reasons people watch this movie for the first time is Kevin Bacon’s death. Well, his character’s. (See also: One of the most popular reasons people watch A Nightmare on Elm Street, Johnny Depp.)
Does it still hold up? Yes and no. Fans of campy horror and slashers can’t live without it. But for those who are looking for something more realistic, it’s just funny. Personally, I felt it was my duty to watch this movie when I saw it about 25 years after it’s initial release. What kind of horror buff would I be if I hadn’t seen it? Though I guess that’s exactly what makes it such a classic.