I didn’t jump on the modern horror movie bandwagon until the release of Friday the 13th. When it was released May 9, 1980, it had been about a year and half since Halloween had made its debut. I had completely missed Halloween and never really paid much attention to it until Halloween II came out in 1981. So I had little to prepare me for the experience of Friday the 13th.
The first time I went to see it, there were about 4 of us in our group. It was showing at the old Paramount theater in downtown Jackson, Tennessee. This was not a multiplex and the crowd waited in line outside the theater to get in. You didn’t buy your tickets ahead of time so no one in line knew for sure if they would get in. This movie already had a lot of positive buzz and the line went around the block. I don’t intend to do a review of the movie or go into detail about the plot but I will say that this film shows a group of teenagers and/or young adults getting killed in a variety of ways. Each time, the killing is done with what is commonly called a “jump scare”. The jump scare is an unexpected or surprise event happening in a movie. When that event is a murder, it makes it even more shocking. You see this in a lot of horror films and this one put the technique to good use. I was the driver that night and I took everyone home soon after we were done at the theater. I remember the drive from dropping off my last friend back home. I was paranoid that someone was in the back seat of the car. And the streetlights seemed darker that night. Was that something or someone next to the street ahead of me? Of course it wasn’t but the movie had done its work on me.
Everyone was going to see this movie. My sister is was only 13 at the time but she wanted to go. Even though the movie was rated R, they were letting almost anyone in with no questions asked. My sister had a friend named Pat who also wanted to go with us. Pat was one of the easiest people to scare that I’ve ever known. She would spend the night with my sister occasionally on Friday nights when a local television channel would be showing classic Universal horror films. One night they were showing one of the Frankenstein films and the monster was on screen. He wasn’t doing anything particularly menacing. He was really just standing around. Pat was walking through the room and rushed out when she noticed the monster on the screen. She would not do well with a movie filled with jump scares.
I don’t remember exactly how many people went that night. There were at least 6 of us, maybe 8. I think there may have only been a couple of us who had already seen the movie. I remember that Pat sat between me and one of my cousins that had not seen it yet. And Pat did not deal well with the movie. She covered her face with her hands and we pulled her hands back. She leaned forward hiding her face against her legs telling us she was tying her shoes. She was shaken at the end of the night.
Pat was supposed to go back to her house after the movie but decided that she just wanted to go to our house and spend the night. She called her parents from our house and they said it was ok. In the middle of the night, Pat was having problems sleeping and decided that she wanted to go home and my father took her there. She didn’t call home before she went. Her parents knew that she was going to see a scary movie and had hung some coveralls in a doorway in their house that would be seen by anyone coming into the house from any entrance. When Pat had called earlier in the night to ask to stay at our house, they didn’t take down the coveralls. They were awaken from a deep sleep by Pat screaming at the top of her lungs when she saw the coveralls.
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