Friday the 13th (1980) Explained

An Average Movie-Goer’s Review

Spoilers! If you don’t want spoilers – check out the Spoiler-Free post

Friday the 13th (1980) Explained poster

I love horror movies and if I’m going to watch them anyway, why not write an entertaining/funny review from the POV of an average movie-goer and not a professional critic.

Today we’re looking at a horror classic, Friday the 13th

Years after several tragedies, several camp counselors are preparing to open Camp Crystal Lake once again but they’re soon targeted by a serial killer hell-bent on stopping them.

Related Article: Friday the 13th (2009) Explained

Is it Scary?

Friday the 13th has a lot of jump scares and uses its music to create most of them. Unfortunately, most feel very cheap while very few work, although those that work are effective. It does get to the point where it gets annoying because the musical stings get pretty loud.

In the end, you migh be a tiny bit scared especially if you’re somewhere where someone is inexplicably playing dramatic horror music.

All Friday the 13th Explanations/Reviews:

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Related Article: Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985) Explained

Related Article: Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) Explained

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Related Article: Jason X (2002) Explained

Related Article: Friday the 13th (2009) Explained

Detailed Plot:

The film opens in Camp Crystal Lake 1958, where we hear a bunch of camp counselors singing in the distance. Meanwhile we, in the POV of an unknown character, walk through a cabin with some sleeping children as some creepy music sets in DUN DUN DUNNN.

Two of the camp counselors decide to sneak away and break some rules. By that I mean they go off to have sex which I’m sure is against the rules at a camp for children. Before they can earn the movie an X rating, someone, we don’t see who but we’re in their POV, interrupts them.

We don’t know who finds them but interestingly, the counselors appear to know who they are since they try to defend their actions with “we were just messing around”.

Tip: If you’re about to be murked by someone you know, shout out your killer’s name

The unknown person stabs the guy in the stomach as the girl runs around shrieking alerting absolutely nobody. She presumably dies but we don’t see it since we freezeframe and zoom in on her scared face. I thought freezeframes were supposed to be fun. 

Title screen and credits!

We cut to June 1979 on Friday the 13th present day for the movie and we see one of our main characters Annie (played by Robbi Morgan) arriving in a small town and making her way to Crystal Lake. In a diner, she asks the patrons how far crystal lake is and everybody stops what they’re doing. 

Someone then lets her know it’s about 20 miles away but more importantly someone else calls it ‘Camp Blood’ and that doesn’t sound anywhere close to ‘Camp Crystal Lake’.

Enos offering to give Annie a ride in Friday the 13th 1980
“Hold the fuck up, go back to the Camp Blood part.”

One of the patrons, Enos, offers to give her a lift halfway as he is heading in that direction. On their way to his truck, town weirdo Ralph (played by Walt Gorney) jumps out from behind a house and knows Annie is heading to Camp Blood. He tells her she won’t come back as the camp is cursed. 

Enos tells Ralph to back up and calls him a prophet of doom. Because the movie needs to happen, Annie acts like this sort of stuff happens all the time and doesn’t seem to care about the multiple warnings. 

After some time, Enos tells Annie that she should quit as the camp is jinxed. He informs her of the two camp counselors who were murdered in 58, a boy who drowned in 57, random fires, and contaminated water in 62.

Despite this, Annie refuses to quit because… she actually doesn’t give a reason. We also learn that a guy, Steve Christy, has bought the camp and has put a lot of money into fixing it up before it opens which is set to happen in two weeks.

We cut to three camp counselors arriving at the lake, Jack, Marcie, and Ned (played by Kevin Bacon, Jeannine Taylor, and Mark Nelson respectively). They meet with Steve Christy and fellow camp counselor Alice (played by Peter Brouwer and Adrienne King).

Kevin Bacon, Jeannine Taylor, Mark Nelson, Peter Brouwer and Adrienne King in Friday the 13th 1980
Is that… Kevin Bacon… and jorts?

A little while later Alice is fixing a gutter and while talking to Steve we learn that Alice has some personal issue in California that might require her to leave the camp early. Steve begs her to stay another week and she agrees but he then gently caresses her face which was really weird. The face Alice gives him also reflects that sentiment.

After Steve leaves to head into town, we see another counselor Brenda (played by Laurie Bartram) setting up the archery range when Ned shoots an arrow pretty close to her and plays it off as a joke. So that tells us Ned is the annoying friend who tries way too hard to be funny.

Back with Annie who has been dropped off 10 miles from Crystal Lake, she spots a jeep driving along and puts out her hand for a lift. The driver, who we don’t see so it’s bad news, agrees to give her a lift. As the jeep speeds down the road, Annie notices that they drove past the turn to Crystal Lake but when she says something, the driver puts the pedal to the metal.

Freaking out, Annie jumps out of the car causing the driver to stop and also get out of the car. Annie runs into the woods but she’s a bit slow seeing as she just jumped out of a moving car. After seemingly losing her pursuer, Annie trips and unfortunately, it’s in front of the driver who turns out to also be a murderer.

The Killer catches up to Annie
I mean she’s not even in Crystal Lake at this point 

The killer slices her neck open and we see the whole thing in its full goriness. Back at the lake, the counselors all enjoy a swim as someone watches them but nothing else happens besides Ned faking a drowning because he’s a dick.

Later as Alice is in her cabin she spots a snake and calls another counselor Bill (played by Harry Crosby) to come inside to kill it. Hearing the commotion, all the counselors enter the cabin and aren’t very helpful. Eventually, Bill kills the snake with a machete and Marcie makes the joke that they at least know what’s for dinner, so now I’m not sure if I’m watching a sitcom.

Jeannine Taylor as Marcie in Friday the 13th (1980)
Freeze frame and laugh track!

Later a cop arrives at the camp looking for Ralph but no one has seen him. Also, Ned for some reason is dressed and imitating a Native American because it was 1980 and people were okay with this.

After the cop leaves, Alice is in the kitchen when she opens a closet and finds Ralph just standing there. Her screams alert some of the other counselors and Ralph tells them they’re all doomed, the place is cursed, yadda yadda yadda. He then leaves and drives off on his bicycle.

Walt Gorney as Ralph in Friday the 13th
“I’ve been waiting for HOURS in here!”

Later as Marci, Jack, and Ned are by the lake, Ned spots someone in a cabin and goes to investigate by himself which is something you should never do after being told you’re in a cursed place. 

Meanwhile, Jack and Marci are making out by the water when they hear thunder and Marci takes the opportunity to tell Jack about a nightmare she has sometimes where rain turns to blood. What the fuck Marcie?

Non-blood rain starts to fall and the two run into a cabin which leads to sex. We cut to Alice, Brenda, and Bill who are together in a cabin trying to wait out the storm.

Alice, Bill, and Brenda wait out the storm
“Anyway, here’s Wonderwall”

Brenda says fuck that to music and suggests playing strip monopoly instead. Since that’s literally better than listening to someone play the guitar, everyone agrees. Back with Jack and Marcie, they get real close to that X rating but we pan up and keep that R rating by showing a dead Ned in the bunk bed above them.

Marcie gets up to go pee in the outhouse leaving Jack behind when a drop of Ned’s blood falls onto his forehead. Wiping it away he realizes its blood but can’t do a thing before a hand reaches from under the bed, pins him down, and stabs him through the neck.

Kevin Bacon as Jack death in Friday the 13th 1980
At least the killer was nice enough to let them finish having sex, right?

In the outhouse, Marci hears someone wandering around, and thinking it’s Jack she checks the showers. Unfortunately, she can’t hear the music which is the iconic ‘ki ki ki, ma ma ma’ so she doesn’t know she’s about to die. There’s also a pretty big hint of the shadow of an axe behind her.

Marcie is in danger
“Good thing I hear ‘ch ch ch, ah ah ah’ and not ‘ki ki ki, ma ma ma’ otherwise I’d be in danger”

As Marci turns around she gets an axe to her face.

Meanwhile, in town, Steve makes his way back to the camp along with a generator but gets stuck in some mud causing him to call a cop to give him a lift. Back with Brenda, Bill, and Alice, the storm blows open the door reminding Brenda that she left her windows open and ending the game. 

Later in her cabin, Brenda is getting ready for bed when she hears the sound of a child calling for help. There are no children at the camp yet so Brenda should have ignored the cries as it could only be one of two things; a killer tricking her or ghost children. Neither of these are good in my experience.

Brenda follows the voice out toward the archery range and we see someone turn on the lights. We don’t see what happens to her but as we cut to another cabin we hear her screams.

Brenda out in the rain before she's killed
Nothing good ever happens at an archery range at night

Having heard Brenda’s scream and seen the archery lights turn on, Alice and Bill head to Brenda’s cabin to look for her but not the archery range for some reason. On Brenda’s bed, they find a bloody axe and the music building up tells us that shit is creepy.

Rushing to the other cabins, they don’t find any of the other counselors and decide to go to the main cabin to attempt to call the police. Unfortunately, none of the phones work and we see the phone line has been cut. They attempt to use a truck to drive away but for some reason it won’t start.

Alice believes something is fishy (no shit) but Bill thinks there’s a reasonable explanation for all of it because he’s an idiot. Back with Steve, as the rain stops, the cop is forced to drop him off by the entrance of Crystal Lake due to receiving a call on the radio. As Steve enters the camp someone approaches him shining a flashlight in his face.

Getting closer he recognizes the person and they appear to be a friend but not a very good one as they attack him. The music also tells us he’s dead.

Steve Christy is killed
“Do you hear that music building up like one of us is going to… oh no”

We next see someone at the camp generator as the power goes out all over the camp. Bill decides to head out and check the generator alone and leaves Alice with a lantern. There’s a cheap jump scare when Alice wakes up screaming. Seeing that power is still not back yet Alice decides to check the generator herself.

At the cabin, she finds the door open, Bill’s raincoat and his lantern but no Bill. Leaving, she closes the door and sees that Bill has been pinned to the door with arrows… also he’s dead.

Alice finds Bill's body in Friday the 13th 1980
“Why is this door so heavy all of a sudden?”

Seeing his body, Alice screams, runs back to her cabin, barricades the door, and grabs a bat. Cowering in the kitchen, someone throws Brenda’s dead body through the window to send a pretty serious message. Alice runs to the front of the cabin and sees someone driving up. 

Thinking it’s Steve, Alice removes everything she used to barricade the door and runs outside. Personally, I think she should have just shouted from the window but I’m sure whoever it is that’s conveniently driving up after a body has been thrown through the window is friendly.

Instead of Steve, the driver introduces herself as Mrs. Voorhees (played by Betsy Palmer) an old friend of Steve’s family. Alice tells her of her dead friends but Mrs. Voorhees assumes the storm and the camp has gotten Alice scared and saying crazy things. Taking her to Brenda, Mrs. Voorhees really hams it up, acting like she feels bad for Brenda.

Betsy Palmer as Mrs. Voorhees in Friday the 13th (1980)
She’s vying for an Oscar

Mrs. Voorhees tells Alice about the boy who drowned in 57. She reveals that he drowned because the counselors were too busy having sex instead of watching the children. We learn that Mrs. Voorhees was the cook at the camp at the time and, in a twist, she reveals she was the boy’s, Jason, mother. 

Mrs. Voorhees starts to hear Jason’s voice begging for help and she agrees to help him. She then tells Alice that she was the one who has been sabotaging the camp for years. Mrs. Voorhees flips and starts to blame Alice for Jason’s death, pulls out a knife, and we learn she’s been the killer all along.

As she lunges at Alice with a knife, Alice grabs a fire poker and strikes her multiple times. As Mrs. Voorhees falls to the ground, Alice runs to her truck and finds Annie’s body as well as Steve’s. So she’s going to be traumatized real good. 

Arriving at the boat shed, Alice finds a shotgun but can’t find any bullets as Mrs. Voorhees arrives. Cornering her, Mrs. Voorhees stabs Alice, oh wait no, she… slaps her?

slap fight
“Front hand and backhand!”

After slapping her around a few more times, Mrs. Voorhees throws Alice onto a table and Alice is able to grab the shotgun. She strikes Mrs. Voorhees in the leg and face, throwing her back and allowing Alice to run off.

Back at the cabin, Alice takes a lesson from Ralph’s playbook and hides in a closet. Unfortunately, it’s not the greatest hiding spot and Mrs. Voorhees uses a machete to break in. Using a frying pan, Alice easily strikes Mrs. Voorhees in the head… are we sure she’s been the killer this whole time?

Turning her over, Alice sees a pool of blood under Mrs. Voorhees’s head and just assumes she’s dead? Alice runs to the lake and sits by a boat but since this is the early days of the slasher genre, she doesn’t know about the double tap method, and Mrs. Voorhees shows up once again missing with a machete.

Alice quickly uses an oar to cause Mrs. Voorhees to drop her machete and the two struggle. Each appears to get the upper hand at different points but to no one’s surprise, Mrs. Voorhees fights dirty and bites Alice’s arm. Still, Alice is able to break free and grabs the machete using it to chop Mrs. Voorhees’s freaking head off!

Alice kills Mrs. Voorhees
“Next time, give your son swimming lessons before bringing him to a lake!”

Alice then takes a boat out into the lake and falls asleep. The next morning she wakes up as the police arrive. Who called them? Why are they there? How did they know she’d be at the lake? Who cares because as Alice looks over at them, fucking Jason jumps out of the water and drags Alice into it.

“I learned to swim in HELLLLLLL!”

This turns out to be a nightmare as Alice wakes up in the hospital. The police tell her everyone is dead and Alice asks if Jason is alive but the police tell her they didn’t find any boy. The film ends as Alice says “then he’s still there.” and since there are about 10 sequels, we know she’s right.


Friday the 13th is okay, it’s a movie about a bunch of camp counselors getting picked off one by one. It doesn’t try to be anything more than that and it doesn’t want to be more than that, and that’s okay.

Dialogue felt weirdly normal for a bunch of teens to mid-20s year old, almost to the point where it was a bit boring. Acting was alright, nothing special. As I’m writing this, I realize what the acting and dialogue felt like, it felt like a reality show without all the manufactured drama.

Interestingly it seemed like the writers were about to give Alice some sort of backstory with her mentioning she had some personal stuff in California but then nothing ever happens with that. We also don’t learn anything about any of the other characters at any point. They’re essentially just fodder for the serial killer.

Like Halloween (1978), Friday the 13th (1980) uses music to help create fear, but where Halloween used it for suspense, Friday the 13th uses it for jump scares. While it works for most of the movie, it becomes annoying as it feels like the music gets too loud toward the end and actually takes away from the scene. That Jason jump scare always gets me though.

Overall I would recommend Friday the 13th but I also feel like it doesn’t need to be watched. Someone could explain the movie to you and it would be just as good. Also if you’re not a fan of gore, this movie isn’t afraid to show it so keep that in mind.


Stuff to Ignore

Rotten Tomatoes – 63%

Metacritic – 22

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