Director: Sean S. Cunningham
Stars: Adrienne King, Betsy Palmer, Harry Crosby, Kevin Bacon, Laurie Bartram, Jeannine Taylor, Mark Nelson, Robbi Morgan, Ari Lehman
It's the film that began the now 30-plus year legacy of Jason Voorhees, which, in turn, also makes it one of the horror genre's most improperly recollected classics. That's because, yes, the killer who offs the poor, horny teens working at Camp Crystal Lake isn't the hockey-masked ghoul unimaginative dudes dress up as on Halloween—it's his vengeful mother, hacking through nubile young bodies to make innocents pay for the accidental death of her son, Jason, when he was a pre-teen, disfigured, bullied camper.
Friday the 13th ignited the '80s slasher-flick boom by bravely making a woman its bloodthirsty antagonist. Feminists can also take pride in the fact that Mrs. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) slices and dices her way through what's actually a creepy little stalk-and-kill exercise, one that's more akin to the works of Italian directorial maverick Mario Bava than any of its numerous sequels. And, also, the reason why Jason Voorhees will always be a major playing chip in those "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" drinking games. (See the image above.)