AKA: Friday the 13th (1933) [Promotional Title]
(Release Date: November, 1933 [UK])
(Release Date: May 15, 1934 [New York])
(Release Date: December 14, 1934 [France])
But how far do similarly named movies go into the past history of that screen we call silver? Well there was a fright flick called Friday the Thirteenth that was released in 1940 that starred a few bona fide Hollywood icons. How about reaching farther back than that to a movie called Friday the 13th that was released way back in 1916.
Knowing that we ran out of Jason movies to review on this occasional Friday, and we covered both Friday the 13th: The Orphan AND Saturday the 14th which of the aforementioned two bygone flicks am I reviewing next? Neither. Instead I'm shooting for some bullseye in between those two stretches of the imagination with the 1933 British film Friday the Thirteenth.
Well, true believers, this film features no serial killer at all and actually isn't much of a fright flick, to be honest with your ass. While there is an early mention of "the occult" just before the "appalling moment" that becomes the center piece for the film and the structure does vaguely resemble that of the Tales from the Crypt movie from almost forty years later, this is hardly what you'd call horror.
It's also far from what you'd call terribly exciting. Oh, it's got a kick-ass premise, for sure. One (presumably fatal) bus crash takes place in London just after that brief mention of "the occult" and the viewer is zoomed back in time to see the lives of the passengers as they intersected each other before everyone got on the damned bus in the first place. Those looking for horrific frights here will be somewhat put out when they see domestic troubles, extramarital affairs planned marriages and breakups amongst other even less interesting things, such as shopping and... walking around and shit.
The most interesting thread to this intersecting plot involves actress Jessie Matthews playing Millie, the non-stop Variety Girl, which translates from 1933 British into 2013 'Murican as "Showgirl". Yeah, she's never quite stripping, but she's not really wearing a flapper dress either in her classic Rockette style lineup, but she is in some quite revealing costumes, which is nice for the audience and she's very beautiful, which is nice for her overly reserved schoolmaster fiance Horace Dawes (Ralph Richardson). We're also introduced to thrill-a-minute couples like Norman and Flora Wakefield (Edmund Gwenn and Mary Jerrold, who might've gotten together because each had one male and one female name) as well as Ralph and Agnes Lightfoot (Robertson Hare and Martita Hunt) any one of whom might or might not be cheating on the other with someone else, none of whom are wearing a hockey mask.
We also meet Fred, the Driver (Cyril Smith) and Alf, the Conductor (Sonny Hale), who may have actually caused this whole fucking accident by bringing up "the occult" before driving along London in the first place.
Did I mention the bus crash is caused by a strike of Lightning? Yep... SOMEbody pissed off GOD, man. Now I'm not sure which one of these riders it was, but it PROBABLY wasn't Gwenn, considering he's the guy who played Santa Claus in A Miracle on 34th Street. Thus, I'm PRETTY sure it was everybody else on the bus, because it was enough that they all took Kris Kringle with them when they streaked tires on pavement and bounced their heads around a few thousand times.
To be fair, the lightning strike and the special effects surrounding the crash itself were pretty decent (at least for the time). Even though they are minimal, they were inventive for the budget and got their point across. While it's true that this bookend bus crash is probably the only really exciting thing in the picture, if you find yourself getting bored, wait a couple of minutes and Jessie Matthews is sure to dance back across your screen wearing... something... but not a lot.
Further, the acting isn't bad, even for a British flick released just a few years after Talkies became a thing. Like most early sound flicks, each of the performers amp up their voices as if feeling the undeniable urge to ENUNCIATE TO THE BACK ROW, like stereotypical radio announcers of the age, but very few of them stink up the room with their acting. And, again, Edmund Gwenn and Ralph Richardson, so how much could it possibly suck, kids? And again... Millie and her dancing friends are... okay, nevermind... I'll stop.
So, why watch Friday the Thirteenth, if it's not a horror flick with lots of blood and gore and shit like that in it? GET on the TROLLEY you jackasses. This flick was just shy of FIFTY years before Mrs. Voorhees started stalking Crystal Lake and over fifty years before her infamous son ever strapped on that iconic hockey mask in the first place. If anything you should be asking why the hell the Jason movies aren't slow British Dramas with a bunch of showgirls doing a kick line around Iago and Saint NICK! So, yeah, taken for all with all, Friday the Thirteenth gets a respectable-ass Three Stars out of Five. Yeah, it's not the most exciting thing I've ever seen and it's hardly what you're expecting from a movie with a title of that kind, but, folks, it's at least seventy times better than ANYTHING that Michael Fucking Bay ever made. Drive safely and I'll see YOU in the next reel!!!
The traditions still live.
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reviewed by J.C. Mašek III
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And for the fact that he once ran over a log in the middle of a busy wet street with his daughter in the front seat with him and his dog in the back seat with him and he skidded LEFT and almost hit traffic that way and he skidded RIGHT and almost hit a parked car that way and back and forth and forth and back... and didn't have a scratch on
the car, the kid or the canine.
So what the HELL was Fred's problem, man?
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You can't spell Friday the Thirteenth... without Fried (well, yeah you can)!
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