The "Friday the 13th" franchise has proved remarkably successful. Screenwriter Victor Miller's psychotic anti-hero Jason has featured in nine sequels, spanning nearly 20 years. The films have achieved tremendous popular notoriety, and spawned a merchandising empire that includes comics, T-shirts, and action figures. All of which proves how little originality and good film-making have to do with making money.
This first film tells the story of a group of randy teenagers who take summer jobs at Camp Crystal Lake, a run-down New Jersey summer camp. The camp has a dark past, and an even darker resident: the psycho in a hockey mask who hacks our comely teens to death. One by one, they are despatched with a variety of crude weaponry, including knives, hatchets, spears, and arrows.
It was not the first teen 'stalk-n-slash' film and certainly not the most creative, but it was undeniably a hugely influential film that contributed to the 1980s horror boom. The film's success was in its ability to understand what made audiences tick, and then manipulate it ruthlessly. It took the shock violence of nihilistic 1970s gore-fests such as "Zombie Flesh Eaters" and "Driller Killer", added some sexually active teenagers, and achieved something approaching mass appeal in the process.
Ultimately the film's box office success was down to exploitation. It teases the audience with an attractive cast and a smattering of nudity, and panders cynically to their fantasies and fears about power and powerlessness, voyeurism and cruelty.