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Friday The 13th Maintains Its Appeal 30 Years Later

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Thanks (or no thanks) to this year's re-make of the 1980 original Friday The 13th, the franchise is now seeing a whole new light and generation. While the new film was not bad, it failed to capture the suspense and originality of the original version.

With this in mind, Paramount has recently re-released the original version in an unrated deluxe edition as well as the successful sequels, 1981’s Friday The 13th Part 2 and the 3D debut of Friday The 13th Part 3. This original trio of films, while not perfect, was certainly the better of all the eight trillion sequels that were made in the '80s and '90s — not to mention lights years above some of the utter nonsense that imitators tried to shove down our throats (Don’t believe me? Have you checked out A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors lately?)

The story of Jason Voorhees and his drowning at Camp Crystal Lake is well known; why he and his insane maternal monster of a mom took it out on future generations of Camp goers for an accident that happened years before is a mystery. Hell, even Death Wish’s Paul Kersey (made famous by Charles Bronson) knew when to let his vigilante vengeance take a rest – and his family tragedies were surely not accidents.

That aside, the original three films are essential, not just to horror buffs, but to those with an interest in '80s pop culture and they also show just how a movie masterfully creates suspense (without Hitchcock’s fingerprints) and makes a point of using violence, without taking it too far in a graphic sense. Sure the storylines in all the flicks are the same: hormonal filled older teens run off to Camp Crystal Lake to escape parental guidance, party, pick-up, and, well, die some awful death.

The first film in 1980 was a raging success, being it was the only film in the Halloween genre that actually had a story and some talent (and featured a young Kevin Bacon, in only his fifth movie appearance at the time). While Mr. Six Degrees did not live to be in the squeals, Parts 2 and 3 are not without their appeal. Part 2 does kind of tread a bit too close to the original but it is still another fun ride through the Camp, and full of moments that literally do shake you up. Since Part 2 was not as successful as the original movie, the last film in the trilogy (not the last film however… sadly) linked up to the '50s novelty of making it a 3D movie.

While it does not sound like much of a gimmick now, 3D was not often seen in theaters in the early '80s and the idea did break up the fact that, once again, a new group was back (shouldn’t the Camp have been condemned by now?) for Part 3 and just waiting to be hacked up in some more horrible ways. A mini-side story of a run-in with a local (albeit, very small) motorcycle gang adds a bit more to the story, but in the end, the 3D glasses do (and did) add some additional interest to the now too familiar experience.

While coming not even two years after the original Halloween (in 1978) Friday The 13th will always be considered a Johnny-come-lately to the horror film craze genre and while that will always loom over the franchise's head, it offered much more than the low budget drivel that littered screens during the Reagan years.

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