Sunday, June 23, 2013

Friday the 13th, or slasher movies in general

This weekend I was camping with my family. I wasn’t feeling too well, which meant I didn’t swim in the 55° lake. But I brought some movies along -- Creature from the Black Lagoon, Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste, and the original Friday the 13th. Which is a good camping movie, if you ask me.

I always liked it, but I can understand some of the criticism it gets. It doesn't have a lot of substance, at least for the first hour. The acting isn’t astounding, but in my opinion, it’s about as good as A Nightmare of Elm Street. The directing leaves something to be desired, but it gets down what it sets out to do: to show us a bunch of camp counselors getting hacked up in a cabin.

But a lot of people call it a ripoff, which I never really understood. It’s said that the screenwriter wrote Friday the 13th after being inspired by Halloween. But who doesn’t? It’s the whole reason people still write slasher movies today. If people didn’t want to shoot their own Texas Chain Saws, we’d end up with a really small amount of slasher films and a lot more Pierrot le Fous.

But I’m getting off track here. Maybe I’m missing something, but how is it at all similar to Halloween? It’s a slasher, obviously. They both are. But when you look past the killing, there aren’t many more similarities aside from the occasional POV shot (yeah, that was a ripoff, but that can mostly be blamed on the director. And Hitchcock was the one who made it famous, anyway.)

You also have all the backstory involving a kid, and two young lovers who get killed. But this is actually where Friday departs from the typical slasher formula, by making the kid’s mom the killer (that was a spoiler, but seriously, if you haven’t seen the movie/don’t know the plot yet, come on.) And this is a little off topic, but seeing as how slasher filmmakers have basically ripped off every single slasher movie trope before, why hasn’t anyone used the “mother was the killer” idea yet? It’s a great idea that really sets Friday the 13th apart from the countless other slashers of the eighties.

So there you have it: some POV shots (which ripoff Psycho, not Halloween), a tragic backstory involving a kid and murder, and the fact that both movies are slashers. As far as I can see, these movies are kind of similar due to the subgenre, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call Friday the 13th a ripoff. If I’m missing something and you have any other reasons Friday copies Halloween, let me know in the comments. I’m still trying to figure this out.

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