Friday the 13th is a 1980 American slasher horror film directed by Sean S. Cunningham and written by Victor Miller. The film concerns a group of teenagers who are murdered one by one while attempting to re-open an abandoned campground, and stars Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, Laurie Bartram, Kevin Bacon, Jeannine Taylor, Mark Nelson and Robbi Morgan. It is considered one of the first "true" slasher movies.
Prompted by the success of John Carpenter's Halloween, the film was made on an estimated budget of $550,000. Released by Paramount Pictures in the United States and Warner Bros.. When originally released, the film received negative reviews from film critics. It grossed over $39.7 million at the box office in the United States. It developed a cult following in the years that followed and it has become one of the most profitable slasher films in cinema history. It was also the first movie of its kind to secure distribution in the USA by a major studio, Paramount Pictures. The film's box office success led to Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), a long series of sequels, a crossover with the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise and a 2009 series reboot.
In 1958, Barry and Claudette, two camp counselors at Camp Crystal Lake, sneak away from a gathering to have sex. An unseen assailant stalking the two of them attacks them and kills them both, one with a hunting knife and the other with a machete. Twenty-one years later, on June, Friday the 13th, 1979, a young girl named Annie is making her way to Crystal Lake under the employ of the original camp owners' son Steve Christy who intends to reopen the camp. The history of the murders, water poisonings and fires has the town wary, and Crazy Ralph (Walt Gorney), a local man, warns her that the counselors are doomed. She shrugs the warnings off and hitches a ride with a truck driver Enos who has similar warnings for her.
Meanwhile, the other counselors, jokester Ned (Mark Nelson), his best friend Jack (Kevin Bacon), Jack's girlfriend Marcie (Jeannine Taylor), handyman Bill (Harry Crosby), good girl Brenda (Laurie Bartram) and Steve's ex-girlfriend Alice (Adrienne King) arrive at the camp and they begin repairs and fixes around the camp, enjoying a little free time in between the chores. Annie hitches a ride in a Jeep CJ-5 with an unseen driver. When the driver refuses Annie's stop at Crystal Lake, she flees and is chased through the woods before having her throat slashed by the killer's hunting knife. After Steve returns to town for supplies, Ralph arrives at the camp, and tells Marcie, Ned and Alice that they're all doomed. Ned encounters a stranger at the camp and goes into a nearby cabin in search of them while Marcie tells Jack about a dream she had that terrified her during storms. As a storm comes up, they seek shelter in their cabin and have sex, unaware that Ned is lying dead on the top bunk, having had his throat slashed. Marcie soon leaves the cabin and Jack is killed by an assailant who impales his throat with an arrow from under his bed; the assailant then follows Marcie to the outhouse and kills her with an axe to the face. Elsewhere, Steve returns on foot to the camp after his Jeep breaks down and recognizes the killer before being stabbed by the unseen assailant. Alice, Brenda and Bill finish their game of strip Monopoly when Brenda realizes her cabin windows are open and she turns in for the night. She is lured out into the storm with what sounds like a child calling for help and is killed on the archery range. Suspicious of the happenings, Bill and Alice find many strange things wrong with the camp but are unable to find their friends. Thinking it is all a joke, Bill convinces Alice to return to the cabin. The killer turns off the generator and Bill heads out alone to fix it as Alice falls asleep. Soon after, Alice awakens to go find him and discovers him pinned to the generator room door with arrows.
Horrified, Alice runs off just as a vehicle pulls up to the cabin. The driver is Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer), who at first seems very concerned and tries to comfort the hysterical Alice. Almost immediately, though, Mrs. Voorhees begins to grow violent as she talks about her son Jason, who had drowned as a boy in 1957. She becomes schizophrenic and pulls a hunting knife on Alice who flees. After several encounters that Alice narrowly escapes, Mrs. Voorhees attacks her by the lake; in the fray, Alice gains control of a machete and decapitates her with it. She then climbs into a canoe and falls asleep offshore.
The next morning, police arrive to find a dazed Alice in the canoe. When they call to her, she is attacked by a young decayed Jason and pulled out of the boat, which is in reality a dream. She awakens in the hospital and discovers her friends are all dead, but remembers and asks about the boy. The sheriff tells her that no boy was found, and Alice says "Then he's still there..." as the final shot shows the lake supposedly at peace, before fading to black.
- Adrienne King as Alice L. Hardy
- Betsy Palmer as Mrs. Pamela Voorhees
- Harry Crosby as Bill
- Mark Nelson as Ned Rubenstein
- Jeannine Taylor as Marcie Stanler
- Kevin Bacon as Jack Burrel
- Laurie Bartram as Brenda
- Peter Brouwer as Steve Christy
- Rex Everhart as Enos the Truck Driver
- Walt Gorney as "Crazy" Ralph
- Willie Adams as Barry
- Debra S. Hayes as Claudette
- Ari Lehman as Jason Voorhees
Rotten Tomatoes reports that 59% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on 50 reviews. Its most vocal detractor was Gene Siskel, who in his review called Cunningham "one of the most despicable creatures to infest the movie business". He also published the address for Charles Bluhdorn, the chairman of the board of Gulf+Western, which owned Paramount, as well as Betsy Palmer's home city and encouraged fellow detractors to write them and express their contempt for the film.