When it comes to the most popular horror franchises it's usually the original that's the undisputed classic, while the sequels are nothing but pale imitations. Well, Friday the 13th is that rare series that bucks the trend, as the original is far from the best in the series. It's essentially a ripoff of John Carpenter's Halloween and Mario Bava's A Bay of Blood. While those films were directed by brilliant filmmakers, Friday the 13th was directed by Sean S. Cunningham, a man who went on to do...nothing. With a lame script and a director who didn't know the meaning of suspense, why was the film so successful? Well, he can thank his cast, composer, location scouts and effects team for that. Without the likes of Betsy Palmer, Harry Manfredini and Tom Savini, I doubt Friday the 13th would've even made its budget back. Yes, the movie has an undeniably creepy atmosphere because it's essentially a murder mystery (sorry, no hockey masked Jason until Part 3). We have no clue who's doing the killing or why...until the last 20 minutes when Mrs. Voorhees shows up out of nowhere in one of the cheapest cop-out endings in horror history. Ok, I may be coming down a little hard on the movie, especially considering Friday the 13th is one of my favourite horror franchises, but it's frustrating to think how great the movie could've been with a better director. The young cast is likeable, the score is iconic, the isolated summer camp setting works incredibly well, and Tom Savini's gore effects were groundbreaking. Thankfully, it wouldn't be long before a group of far more talented filmmakers came along to improve the formula for countless sequels.