Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th (1980, Sean S. Cunningham), the uncut version

There’s nothing wonderfully terrible about Friday the 13th. It’s not like any of the cast are bad in funny ways, not even Betsy Palmer who’s doing inept histrionics. Are any of the cast members good? Not really. Some are better than others. Kevin Bacon’s probably the most useless (and annoying, due to an affected Southern accent) and Jeannine Taylor is okay, which is strange since most of their scenes are opposite each other.

Inept is a good word to describe the film in general. Director Cunningham rips off a style or a device from another film and then changes it just enough to make it not work. Without Harry Manfredini’s omnipresent score, there wouldn’t be any tension in the film. Cunningham can’t direct for it and writer Victor Miller can’t plot for it. Friday the 13th is obvious at every moment; there’s no inventiveness.

Well, except for the special effects, which are a little too slick for the film. Cunningham tries to make an exploitation picture, but does it with a little too much budget and not enough understanding of how to actually be affecting while terrorizing your audience. He and Miller try for “scary” things because it distracts from their inability to form a connect with the viewer. Friday the 13th doesn’t use any of the viewer’s brain cells, unless he or she is counting shockingly obvious moments for later review.

The single surprise–the ending scare is really well-executed (thanks to Manfredini’s cheap, obvious and effective music).

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Produced and directed by Sean S. Cunningham; screenplay by Victor Miller, based on a story by Cunningham and Miller; director of photography, Barry Abrams; edited by Bill Freda; music by Harry Manfredini; production designer, Virginia Field; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring Betsy Palmer (Mrs. Pamela Voorhees), Ronn Carroll (Sgt. Tierney), Adrienne King (Alice Hardy), Harry Crosby (Bill), Peter Brouwer (Steve Christy), Laurie Bartram (Brenda), Jeannine Taylor (Marcie Cunningham), Kevin Bacon (Jack Burrel), Mark Nelson (Ned Rubinstein), Robbi Morgan (Annie), with Rex Everhart (Enos, the Truck Driver) and Walt Gorney (Crazy Ralph).


Friday the 13th (2009, Marcus Nispel), the extended version

I don’t know what I was expecting from Friday the 13th, but whatever it was, I didn’t get it. It’s not particularly gory, it’s not at all scary, it’s not stupid enough to be funny; I do understand why producer Michael Bay walked on it due to the level of sex. It’s like they traded violence for nudity in terms of pushing the limits.

I was expecting gore, just because it was supposed to be more “realistic” and scarier. Marcus Nispel can compose a Panavision shot. It’s one of the better looking Friday the 13th movies I’ve seen. They’re crappier movies (the fourth one is somewhat well-made). But this one, it’s well-photographed. Daniel Pearl does a good job shooting it. Does it look any better than the direct-to-Sci-Fi Man-Thing movie from a few years ago? No. Is it scarier? No. Is it less scary? Probably.

There’s an absence of any quality to Friday the 13th, which might be admirable. Jared Padalecki is not as amusing a leading man as any of the previous ones. Danielle Panabaker is the love interest. She’s lame, but not as bad as some of the other female performers.

Ryan Hansen from “Veronica Mars” is in it. In some ways, he’s the most respectable actor in it. He’s not in it for long.

Amanda Righetti from “The Mentalist” is one of the leads. She’s not very good but better than anybody else.

Richard Burgi is wasted in a small role.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Marcus Nispel; screenplay by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, based on a story by Shannon, Swift and Mark Wheaton and characters created by Victor Miller; director of photography, Daniel Pearl; edited by Ken Blackwell; music by Steve Jablonsky; production designer, Jeremy Conway; produced by Michael Bay, Andrew Form and Bradley Fuller; released by New Line Cinema.

Starring Jared Padalecki (Clay Miller), Danielle Panabaker (Jenna), Amanda Righetti (Whitney Miller), Travis Van Winkle (Trent), Aaron Yoo (Chewie), Derek Mears (Jason Voorhees), Jonathan Sadowski (Wade), Julianna Guill (Bree), Ben Feldman (Richie), Arlen Escarpeta (Lawrence) and Ryan Hansen (Nolan).


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