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Both Halloween (1978, directed by John Carpenter) and Friday the 13th (1980, directed by Sean S. Cunningham) are so well-known that they have passed into the realm of modern folklore. Even if you haven’t seen them yourself, you probably feel like you have. The knife-wielding, mask-wearing (in this case…no, Wednesday, homicidal maniacs do not look just like everyone else), killing machines from both of these movies (although Jason Voorhees doesn’t actually become the antagonist until Friday the 13th Part II and doesn’t pick up the infamous hockey mask until Part III) have become iconic.
On Halloween night 1963, a 6-year-old Michael Myers stabs his older sister to death. He’s imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital and attended by Dr. Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasance), who comes to believe the boy is the embodiment of pure evil. 15 years later, Myers escapes to wreak havoc on his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois. Dr Loomis pursues him, desperate to stop Myers before he kills again. The killer becomes obsessed with teenager Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) begins stalking her. On Halloween night 1978, Michael Myers kills (Nick Castle) again…and again. He stabs and slashes and strangles his way through Laurie’s friends until only she is left and then he zeroes in on her with a vengeance.
20 years after Camp Crystal Lake was closed due to a grisly double murder, Steve Christy (Peter Brouwer) plans to reopen the summer camp for underprivileged children, much to the dismay of the townspeople who believe the place is cursed call it “Camp Blood”. On Friday, June 13, a group of teenage counselors arrive to spruce up the camp before it opens. Over the course of that long day and night, an unseen killer will pick off the counselors, one-by-one, each killing more brutal than the last until only Alice (Adrienne King) is left…and she’s not giving up without a fight.
Both of these movies spawned huge franchises which continue to serve up thrills and chills today. There’ve been sequels, spin-offs, books, spoofs, comics, and tv shows. They’ve influenced generations of film makers and fueled our nightmares for decades.
They could be the reason you never wanted to go away to summer camp. Or babysit on Halloween. Or why hockey masks give you the willies. Or how that simple little ditty from Halloween or the “ki ki ki ma ma ma” from Friday the 13th can give you goosebumps or leave you obsessively looking over your shoulder and locking the windows and doors…even if you can’t remember where you heard them from.
While neither of these movies is exactly high-art (and both have been ripped by critics at one time or another for being “immoral trash” and/or “misogynistic”), they’ve both become cult classics for good reason. If you haven’t seen them or it’s been a long time since you last watched, put ’em on your Netflix queue or trot down to the nearest video store (just not at night…or on Halloween…or on Friday the 13th) and check them out (with all the lights on and the doors/windows locked).
Have you seen the originals of Halloween and Friday the 13th? What’s your favorite part? What’s the scariest part? Whose slashing skills reign supreme, Micheal, Jason or Mrs Voorhees?
Image Attribution (In Order of Appearance):
Adapted from ominous by bionicteaching (Tom Woodward) at Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0
Image from Halloween (fair use)
Image from Friday the 13th (fair use)
Blood Spatter by Heo2035 (Marcelo Duarte) at Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0