On the heels of Halloween's success ($47M box office sales on a $325K budget), Paramount Pictures set out to achieve similar success with the release of Friday the 13th in May 1980. Paramount would become the first major production company to release a slasher film. Friday the 13th is a story about a serial killer who terrorizes and murders teenagers at Camp Crystal Lake. The film starred Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, and Kevin Bacon in one of his earliest film roles. It was a huge box office success bringing in $60M worldwide on a $550K budget, despite being dismissed heavily by film critics. Gene Siskel of Siskel & Ebert at the Movies was quoted as calling director Sean Cunningham as "one of the most despicable creatures ever to infest the movie business." The reason for the backlash on Friday the 13th and other slasher movies at the time was that critics felt it made the audience as fans of the serial killers that were portrayed on screen.
Assuming most of you reading this have seen the film (or have not and probably will not. SPOILER AHEAD!), the original Friday the 13th killer is not Jason Voorhees, but rather his mother who seeks revenge for her son's drowning. The film ends with the truth that her son Jason is actually still alive, leaving the audience on edge and primed for a sequel. Initially, thoughts for sequels would be in just name only, but original producers and others insisted that Jason be in them. "The body count continued" in Friday the 13th Part II which was released a year later in May 1981, It featured an unmasked Jason as the slasher, avenging his mother's death. Although it only brought in 1/3 the profit that the original landed at the box office ($21M on a $1M budget), the film gave what many fans would call "classic horror moments" with Jason breaking through windows and holding his knife aloft. Friday the 13th Part III would be released the following year in August 1982, the first Paramount film produced in 3-D since 1954. It would pick up where Part II left off and begin the use of the iconic hockey mask to cover Jason's deformed face. It would achieve more success ($36M on a $2.5M budget) and seemingly wrap up the ongoing story plot and end the series. But the franchise and Jason would continue antagonizing innocent people throughout the 80s with five more films. Here is Jason on Arsenio Hall promoting Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.
The franchise has been developed into many formats other than film. Friday the 13th: The Series was developed for television in 1987 and would run for 3 seasons through 1990. The TV series was associated to the films only by name and by Frank Mancuso, Jr, who produced 7 of the 8 films in the 80s. The plot (similar to the SyFy show Warehouse 13) mainly consisted of finding cursed objects with supernatural powers and then locking them in a vault beneath an antique store for safe keeping. Episodes can still be found on the SyFy and Chiller channels on cable. In 1986, a video game was developed for home computer consoles. Then 3 years later in 1989, Nintendo got in the act with what many gaming critics agree (including Nintendo Power magazine) as one of the worst video games of all time.
In 2016, the CW television network decided to pass on a new series titled Crystal Lake. The next film has also been set for a October 13, 2017 released and will be distrubed by Paramount. And if that's not enough to entice fans, a new video game is scheduled for release in early 2017 produced by Gun Media.