Nov. 13, 2020

#17 "Friday the 13th" (1980) with Ron West


Legendary filmmaker Georges Méliès is often credited with making the first ever horror movie, which was called was The Haunted Castle.  Horror movies have no doubt evolved since the early days with many filmmakers now relying on cheap scares and gore to horrify audiences. The ‘80s, however, were a great time for horror fans, with iconic franchises like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and Friday the 13th all getting a number of sequels in the decade. It may be hard to remember, but there was a time when the name Jason Vorhees wasn’t part of the horror lexicon. In 1980 director Sean S. Cunningham unleashed the original Friday the 13th, a film that would go on to define the slasher era through sequel after profitable sequel (though Jason’s iconic hockey mask wouldn’t actually show up until the third installment in 1982).  So grab your canoes, backpacks, and machetes and come along with Ron West and I as we travel to Camp Crystal Lake to discuss the original “Friday the 13th”. 

Here are some additional behind the scenes trivia we were unable to cover on this episode: 

  • Cunningham wanted to make the Mrs. Voorhees character "terrifying", and to that end he believed it was important that Palmer not act "over the top." There was also the fear that Palmer's past credits, as more of a wholesome character, would make it difficult to believe she could be scary. Palmer was paid $1000 per day for her ten days on set.
  •  In 1982, Gramavision Records released a LP record of selected pieces of Harry Manfredini's scores from the first three Friday the 13th films.  On January 13, 2012, La-La Land Records released a limited edition 6-CD boxset containing Manfredini's scores from the first six films. It sold out in less than 24 hours. 
  • In the scene where Bill is found impaled to a door with arrows, his eye twitches continually because the eye effect that Tom Savini applied was actually burning Harry Crosby's eye and causing him excruciating pain. 
  • Most of the people involved in the original movie thought it was just a cash grab, a quick way to make money, including director Sean Cunningham, screenwriter Victor Miller, and Betsy Palmer, the star of the movie who played Mrs. Voorhees, the killer. Both Cunningham and Palmer said in interviews they were just trying to pay bills when they made this movie. None of them had much respect for the integrity and the artistry of the story they were creating. It was an obvious self-aware attempt to rip off and cash in on the Halloween phenomenon. In spite of that, it has become one of the most successful and beloved horror films ever. 

Sources: Wikipedia, Imdb, Rotten Tomatoes 

Intro & Outro Music: “Total Eclipse” by Nathaniel Wyver 

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