As a longtime horror fan, it’s hard to hate on the original “Friday the 13th” entry. The movie’s unexpected box-office success ushered in the 1980s slasher era, which is one of my favorites from the horror genre, and it also launched one of the most beloved horror franchises in the genre’s history. However, it’s hard not to notice that the movie itself is a bit on the sloppy side: It’s slow moving, the direction is sleepy, the editing is choppy, and the screenplay is negligible at best. But the atmosphere is effective, not to mention Tom Savini’s extraordinary, trend-setting makeup work here, which goes a long way towards selling the thin narrative and making the movie something of a carnival-like experience. It’s tame by today’s standards but it’ll always have a place in horror history, and for that reason alone it should be required viewing for cinema historians.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)