While most of the cast and crew stayed at local hotels during the filming, some of the loyal cast and crew members, including Tom Savini, and Taso N. Stavrakis, stayed at the actual camp site. They had Savini's Betamax VCR and only a couple of movies (Barbarella (1968) and Marathon Man (1976)) on videotape to keep themselves entertained, so each night they would watch one of these movies. To this day, Savini says he can recite those movies by heart.
Willie Adams was a crew member for the film. Although he spent most his time working behind the camera, he played the male counsellor in the 1958 scene, and holds the unique distinction of being the first murder victim in the Friday the 13th franchise.
Because the camp was closed during filming, and situated in the deep New Jersey woods, the cast and crew didn't see much outside interference, but it turned out they had a very famous neighbor: rock star Lou Reed, who owned a farm nearby. "We got to watch Lou Reed play for free, right in front of us, while we were making the film," Soundman Richard Murphy said. "He came by the set, and we hung around with each other, and he was just a really great guy."
While the Halloween movies have lots of music, the Friday the 13th movies have very little music. In fact, there was a decision made by Harry Manfredini to only have music in the movie when the killer was present. That's why there are only brief quick moments of music in the beginning, but the climax is wall to wall music.
The movie was mostly filmed at Camp No-Be-Bos-Co in Blairstown, New Jersey, a Boy Scout Camp. They were only allowed to use the camp after making a sizeable donation to the Boy Scouts of America. Most of the crew and several cast members also lived in the camp's cabins while filming the movie.
The MPAA told the producers of Friday of 13th to scale back on the gore for the sequel, since they regretted the amount of gore that had gotten through in the original (and the subsequent critical backlash.) This is why Part 2 is much less gory than Part 1.
Sean S. Cunningham was so sure the title Friday the 13th would sell the movie alone he took out a full page Variety ad over the Fourth of July Weekend of 1979. It worked, as the financiers behind Together (1971) and The Last House on the Left (1972) contacted him, and offered to cover the entire cost of the proposed 500,000 dollar budget. Cunningham initially turned them down, as the actual long term part of the deal was going to royally screw him, but nobody else was offering to put up the entire budget like that. He changed his mind the next morning.
Gene Siskel hated this movie so much he gave away the ending in his review. He and Roger Ebert slammed it in a special edition of Siskel and Ebert called "The War on Women" focusing on misogynistic slasher movies. All of this just boosted ticket sales.
While the film takes place on June 13, 1958 and June 13, 1979, and it is stated that both these dates fall on a Friday if you do a web search it will show June 13, 1958 did fall on a Friday but June 13, 1979 was in fact a Wednesday. June 13, 1980 was however a Friday.
Harry Crosby was attempting to make a go of it as an actor without leveraging any connections available to him as the son of Bing Crosby. The producers have been accused of casting Harry to further mimic Halloween (1978), which cast the daughter (Jamie Lee Curtis) of well-known actors (Janet Leigh, Tony Curtis) as its female lead. Today, they claim that the prospect of having Crosby's son as the ostensible male lead was something they only later realized could be used in marketing down the road.
There is a township named Voorhees, New Jersey, which is about eight miles away from Haddonfield, New Jersey, which was inspiration for the fictional town where the movie Halloween (1978) took place. The documentary Halloween: 25 Years of Terror (2006) shows a picture of a road sign that lists Voorhees right under Haddonfield. The township was named for Foster McGowan Voorhees, the governor of New Jersey from 1899 to 1902. The surname "Voorhees" is of Dutch heritage, and is also a common family in New Jersey.
Rex Everhart, who portrays Enos, did not film the truck scenes with Robbi Morgan, so she had to either act with an imaginary Enos, or exchange dialogue with Taso N. Stavrakis, who would sit in the truck with her.
In the French dubbed version, Jason is called Jackie. His named has been restored to Jason in each of the following sequels, including the intro of Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) which is the ending of this film.
This was Mark Nelson's first feature film, and when he went in for his first audition the only thing he was given to read were some comedic scenes. Nelson received a call back for a second audition, which required him to wear a bathing suit, which Nelson acknowledges made him start to wonder if something was off about this film. He did not fully realize what was going on until he got the part and was given the full script to read. Nelson explains, "It certainly was not a straight dramatic role, and it was only after they offered me the part that they gave me the full script to read, and I realized how much blood was in it."
Robbi Morgan was not auditioning for the film when she was offered the role. While in her office, Julie Hughes just looked at Morgan and proclaimed "you're a camp counsellor". The next day Morgan was on the set.
The idea behind the scene where the counselors have to kill a snake they find in one of the cabins was to differentiate the film somewhat from Halloween by having an early fake scare turn out to be legitimate as well as establish the characters as capable of taking action if need be. However, there was no PETA around that film set, meaning they actually took a machete to a real, live snake. When they filmed the scene, the snake's owner was standing off to the side and crying.
This was inspired by both Halloween, a blockbuster slasher movie, and Meatballs, a teen sex comedy set in a summer camp, which had come out the year before and were both big hits, focusing on the youth market.
Ari Lehman, who had previously auditioned for Sean S. Cunningham's Manny's Orphans (1978), failing to get the part, was determined to land the role of Jason Voorhees. According to Lehman, he went in very intense and afterward Cunningham told him he was perfect for the part.
Alice is revealed to have had a brief affair with head counsellor Steve before moving into an on-and-off relationship with Bill, although Alice's age of nineteen makes her eleven years younger than Steve.
The casting was done by TNI Casting, a New York-based casting agency well-known and respected in the theater community in New York. Friday the 13th was their first horror film, and many of the actors were stage brats drawn to the auditions based upon the stellar reputations of the casting directors, having only the vaguest of clues as to what kind of film they were truly auditioning for. The most famous of these actors was Kevin Bacon, who had been in his first film, Animal House, six months prior, but had, to his surprise, returned right back to the life of a work-a-day actor. He was the only one they auditioned for the part in Friday the 13th.
While the teens are playing on the lake Ned asks his friends "if you were a flavor of ice cream, what would it be"? Marcie responds with "rocky road" while doing an impression of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, the character made famous by Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975).
Sean S. Cunningham and Victor Miller set the film at a summer camp because they needed a remote location and Miller remembered the scary stories his brothers used to share of their summers spent at camp. The name "Jason Voorhees" was Miller's idea as well, "Jason" being the combination of the first names of Miller's two sons (Josh and Ian), and "Voorhees" the last name of a girl he went to school with.
Stampede Wrestling introduced wrestler Karl Moffat as Jason the Terrible, who wore the hockey mask and was billed from "Camp Crystal Lake", in the late 1980s. The gimmick was later taken up in Japan and Puerto Rico by Roberto Rodriguez and has also been used by Tracy Smothers and other wrestlers, sometimes using such variations as "Jason the 13th."
It was Peter Brouwer's girlfriend who helped him land a role on the film. After recently being written off the show Love of Life (1951), Brouwer moved back to Connecticut to look for work. Learning that his girlfriend was working as an assistant director for the film, Brouwer asked about any openings. Though he was initially told casting was looking for big stars to fill the role of Steve Christy, it was not until Sean S. Cunningham dropped by to deliver a message to Brouwer's girlfriend, and saw him working in a garden, that Brouwer was hired.
In 1987, Warner Bros. released the film on home video in the UK. Shortly after, they realized they made a typo on the back cover in the film's credits ("Harry Crosy" instead of "Harry Crosby"). They quickly rectified this mistake and released a slightly altered cover the next year.
The role of "Alice" was set up as an open casting call, a publicity stunt to attract more attention to the film. Adrienne King earned an audition primarily because she was the friend of someone working in Barry Moss and Julie Hughes's office. After King auditioned, Moss recalls Cunningham commenting that they saved the best actress for last. As Sean S. Cunningham explains, he was looking for people who could behave naturally, and King was able to show that to him in the audition.
FIlm Critic Gene Siskel was notoriously prudish and dismissive about horror movies. He rarely if ever gave horror movies good reviews. He did't like Jaws or Aliens, and he even gave Silence of the Lambs a bad review! Not surprisingly, he gave this movie no stars and even revealed the ending to the movie in his review, he was so disgusted. He even gave the audience Betsy Palmer's address and told them to write letters in protest for the exploitation movie. He nick named the movie a "cleaver-in-the-forehead" movie.
Apart from head counsellor Steve Christy, who is set at age thirty, the counsellors of Camp Crystal Lake 1979, and at the beginning in 1958, are set teen age: Alice Hardy, Bill Brown, and Brenda Jones at age nineteen, and Jack Burrell, Marcie Stanler, Ned Rubinstein, and Annie Phillips at age seventeen.
The country song heard playing in the general store when Annie asks for directions and, again later in the film, during the diner scene is called "Sail Away Tiny Sparrow." It was written by Harry Manfredini for the soundtrack and was sung by Angela Rotella. The song was released with the Friday the 13th soundtrack, however, there was a speed error on the soundtrack so the song plays much slower than it does in the film.
Screenwriter Victor Miller's one BIG gripe he has told interviewers over the years (Crystal Lake Memories book) & documentary interviews (His Name Was Jason) was that the patrolman motorcycle cop that shows up before the midway point was NEVER in any draft of his. Either original drafts ("Long Night At Camp Blood") or his four re-writes. The "bumbling lame older cop" gentleman (Ron Millkie as Officer Dorf) was an inclusion of an uncredited re-write from screenwriter Ron Kurz whom also wrote Friday the 13th Part 2. Victor has objected to it over all these years as he initially wanted Camp Crystal Lake to be a very rural & isolated location, cut off from the main roads. Also to have the teenagers/early 20somethings to be "outside the help of formal authority", giving the audience the feeling that no one could "come & save them". That was his only gripe or real concern of the finished film. Nothing else major.
The ending, where Alice gets attacked by Jason in the boat on Crystal Lake, was originally supposed to be a dream. Sean Cunningham was trying to copy the end of Carrie. (This is ironic because Depalma himself was copying the ending of "Deliverance"; which also had someone reaching out of the water at the audience after one of the characters killed him).
Robbi Morgan had originally attended an audition hosted by Barry Moss and Julie Huges for a different film. After her audition she was told by Barry and Julie that she was not right for the part, but was informed that a film entitled Friday the 13th needed someone to play " an adorable camp counselor".
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Betsy Palmer said that if it were not for the fact that she was in desperate need of a new car, she would never have accepted the role of Pamela Voorhees. In fact, after she read the script, she called the movie "a piece of shit". Over the years, however, Palmer did warm up to the film, as it made her more famous than infamous, and made appearances at conventions and in documentaries to discuss it.
Composer Harry Manfredini has said that contrary to popular belief, the famous "Chi, chi, chi; ha, ha, ha" in the film's score is actually "Ki, ki, ki; ma, ma, ma". It is meant to resemble Jason's voice saying "Kill, kill, kill; mom, mom, mom" in Mrs. Voorhees's mind. It was inspired by the scene in which Pamela Voorhees suffers from schizophrenia and chants, "Get her, mommy! Kill her!" Manfredini created the effect by speaking the syllables "ki" and "ma" into a microphone running through a delay effect.
The filmmakers never intended to make this the launching pad for the franchise that followed. According to Victor Miller, Jason was only meant as a plot device, and not intended to continue on his mother's grisly work.
Kevin Bacon's character, lying in bed with his throat impaled by an arrow, has the blood in his neck making little bubbles. Originally, it was just meant to seep out, but the arrangement of the tube with blood didn't work, and Tom Savini ended up blowing into the tube to make it flow, causing an unintended (but ultimately used) bubbling effect.
One critic (Gene Siskel) was so angry at Betsy Palmer's role in the movie (which had angered many of her fans), that he published her address in his magazine, and encouraged people to write her and protest her. He published the wrong address.
During the first few weekends of the film's release, Make-up and Effects Artist Tom Savini would go into theaters for the last five minutes of the show to see the audience react to Jason emerging from the lake and grabbing Alice.
For his death scene, Kevin Bacon had to crouch under the bed and insert his head through a hole in the mattress. Then, a latex neck and chest appliance were attached to give the appearance that he was actually lying down. Getting the set-up right took several hours, and Bacon had to stay in that uncomfortable position the entire time. For the bloody final moment, Tom Savini-also under the bed-would plunge the arrow up and through the fake neck, while his assistant-also under the bed-operated a pump that would make the fake blood flow up through the appliance. To further complicate things, the crew needed someone to stand in for the killer's hand as it held Bacon's head down, and they settled on still photographer Richard Feury. So, after several hours of set-up, and latex building and planning, it was finally time to shoot the scene, and when the moment of truth came, the hose for the blood pump disconnected. Knowing that he basically only had one take (otherwise they'd have to build a new latex appliance and set everything up again), Taso N. Stavrakis grabbed the hose and blew into it until blood flowed out, saving the scene. "I had to think quickly, so I just grabbed the hose and blew like crazy which, thankfully, caused a serendipitous arterial blood spray," Stavrakis said. "The blood didn't taste that bad either."
In the scene where Bill is found impaled to a door with arrows, his eye twitches continually because the eye effect that Tom Savini applied was actually burning Harry Crosby's eye and causing him excruciating pain.
Sean S. Cunningham refused to direct the sequel, because he did not like the Jason-comes-back-from-the-dead storyline that the studio was pushing on him. He said that was too stupid, and wouldn't work. He now admits how wrong he was, as the franchise flourished afterwards with Jason as the villain, and Jason has become one of the icons of horror films.
Top-billed Betsy Palmer does not actually appear on screen for more than thirteen minutes. Ironically enough, a stand-in male actor was used for the first seventy minutes of the film, in which she is never supposed to be recognized.
Betsy Palmer, a method actress gave Mrs. Voorhees a detailed backstory. She imagined that Mrs. Voorhees hated sexual transgression. because she had Jason out of wedlock with a high school boyfriend, and her parents ultimately disowned her for her sins because that "isn't something that good girls do."
There is rumored to be a deleted scene featuring the murder of Claudette. The crew of the film dismissed this, including Tom Savini, who said he never even worked on the opening scene. There is, however, a still of Claudette with a machete in her throat, although that may have been shot purely for promotional material.
At one point, Mrs. Voorhees slaps Alice around a few times. Having worked on-stage for years, Betsy Palmer was used to really striking her co-stars with a cupped hand along the jawline to achieve the scene. Sean S. Cunningham had to tell her about faking the blows and cheating with camera angles.
Mrs. Voorhees explains at the end about how her killing spree came on the anniversary of her dead son's birthday. She never specifies the date. They almost forgot to even mention Friday the 13th at all, until Sean S. Cunningham told Victor Miller they can't call it Friday the 13th, as cool as a title as it may be, without at least one reference to that day in the actual script. So, at one point a side character exclaims, "It's a full moon and a Friday the 13th."
The original plan was for Alice to be a reoccurring hero in this series, continually facing off against Jason again and again in sequel after sequel, kind of like Laurie Strode was a reoccurring hero in the Halloween series. But after Adrienne King was stalked by a Friday the 13th fan during the release of the original film, she said she wanted out. So her character was killed off at the beginning of the sequel.
The story of who invented the final scare in the film, in which a deformed Jason bursts out of the lake and grabs Alice from her canoe, is disputed. Victor Miller, Tom Savini, and uncredited Screenwriter Ron Kurz all claim credit for it, Kurz because he claims to be the one who made Jason into a "creature," and Savini because he claims the moment was inspired by a similar final scare in Carrie (1976). Whatever the case, it left a lasting impression.
In Victor Miller 's original script, the character of Jason Voorhees was, basically, just a kid who accidentally drowned in Crystal Lake. But financier Philip Scuderi wanted something more, and brought in Ron Kurz for some re-writes. One of Kurz's most important contributions to the film, was to transform the tragic boy into the deformed child we see in the final movie.
The character of Crazy Ralph was meant to establish two functions: foreshadow the events to come, and insinuate that he could actually be the murderer. Sean S. Cunningham has stated that he was apprehensive about including the character, and is not sure if he accomplished his goal of creating a new suspect.
Sean S. Cunningham instructed Victor Miller to come up with a "chair jumper of an ending. Kind of like Carrie (1976)." Miller decided to approximate the Carrie ending as closely as possible without actually plagiarizing it. So the graveside dream sequence, became the killer jumping out of the water at the heroine. Ironically, this ending wound up being more similar to the ending of Deliverance (1972), which is exactly what Brian De Palma admits he was re-working, when he came up with the ending to Carrie.
Academy Award Nominee Penelope Milford was fresh off her Oscar Nomination when she was offered the role of Brenda- the producers thought because she was such a big name at the time that people would show up to see her and Academy Award Winner Estelle Parsons in the film. The producers also suspected that people would expect them to survive, being the two most famous members of the cast, therefore they both were to play characters who died, shocking the audience. When Milford declined the role, Parsons bowed out shortly thereafter.
This came out the same year as Ordinary People, and both were about a boy drowning and the disastrous impact this has on all the characters. Both also have a vindictive mother, who unfairly punishes the people around her for the boy drowning.
Sean S. Cunningham wanted to make the Mrs. Voorhees character "terrifying", and to that he believed it was important that Palmer not act "over the top". There was also the fear that Betsy Palmer's past credits, as more of a wholesome character, would make it difficult to believe she could be scary.
The Body count in Friday The 13th: 1. Jason Voorhees (Drowning) Onscreen 2. Barry (Stabbed in Gut by hunting knife) Onscreen 3. Claudette (Throat Slit by Machete) Offscreen 4. Annie Philips (Throat slit by hunting knife) Onscreen 5. Ned Rubenstein (Deep throat slit by hunting Knife) Offscreen (Corpse shown later) 6. Jack Burrel (Stabbed in Throat by Arrow) Onscreen 7. Marcie Stanler (Axed in face by Axe) Onscreen 8. Brenda Jones (Shot 3 times with Bow and Arrow, once in stomach, once in right shoulder blade, once in left shoulder blade, tied to rope and wooden board, thrown through window) Offscreen (Corpse shown later) 9. Steve Christy (Stabbed in chest by hunting knife) Onscreen 10. Bill Freeburg (Shot in eye with Arrow, Shot in Chest with Arrow, Shot in Groin by Arrow, Slit throat by Arrow, Shot in neck by Arrow, hung to door) Offscreen (Corpse shown later) 11. Pamela Voohees (Decapitated by Machete) Onscreen
Taso N. Stavrakis subbed for Betsy Palmer as well, which involved Annie being chased through the woods by Mrs. Voorhees, although you only see a pair of legs running after her. Palmer had just arrived into town when those scenes were about to be filmed, and was not in the physical shape necessary to chase Robbi Morgan around the woods. Morgan's training as an acrobat assisted her in these scenes, as her character was required to leap out of a moving Jeep when she discovers that Mrs. Voorhees does not intend to take her to the camp.
Robbi Morgan's training as an acrobat assisted her in the chase scenes, as her character was required to leap out of a moving Jeep when she discovers that Mrs. Voorhees does not intend to take her to the camp.
In the beginning, as Annie is killed, you can clearly see that it is a fake throat patted on her when the knife goes through, even by the difference of the skintones. Her face is white, while her fake throat is a mixture of white, green, and brown.