Halloween and Friday the 13th are both classics of the horror genre, but it turns out the former’s success directly inspired the latter. It’s a bit hard to pinpoint the first slasher film. Some point to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho as an early precursor, while others would call The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Black Christmas the slasher’s grandfathers. Regardless of where the sub-genre started, many would hold up John Carpenter’s Halloween as the best example of how to do a slasher movie right.
However, it’s unlikely Carpenter ever stopped to think about purposely making a slasher film landmark, as the label didn’t become widely used until after Friday the 13th‘s 1980 release opened the floodgates for imitators, including Halloween and Friday the 13th‘s own subsequent sequels. Made on a dirt cheap (for Hollywood) budget of only $550,000, Friday the 13th went on to earn nearly $60 million at the box office, an enormous return on investment, if not quite the profit margin of Halloween.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view.
While Halloween and Friday the 13th – along with A Nightmare on Elm Street – would go on to spend the 1980s fighting for slasher franchise dominance, there never would’ve been a Friday the 13th without Halloween. For proof, just ask the people who made Friday the 13th possible.
How Halloween Directly Inspired Friday the 13th
According to Friday the 13th writer Victor Miller, he received a call in 1979 from Sean S. Cunningham, who would go on to produce and direct Friday the 13th. Cunningham pointed out how Halloween was performing financially, and according to Miller, straight up suggested that the duo – who had worked together previously – create a film designed to rip off Halloween and ride its coattails at the box office. It’s not hard to understand the logic, as if one film about a silent killer stalking and slashing teens went over well, why wouldn’t another do the same?
Verbatim details of that conversation aside, Cunningham, Miller, and Pamela Voorhees actress Betsy Palmer have never been shy about admitting that Friday the 13th was a film primarily made to make money, and that there wasn’t much consideration given to it as a work of art. Palmer specifically has said she took the role because she needed a car, and Cunningham wasn’t exactly rolling in cash at that point either.
Interestingly enough, John Carpenter has actually spoken at length about the Friday the 13th films, not considering them to have much value, and he’s certainly entitled to his opinion. That said, Friday the 13th and Jason Voorhees’ legions of fans would beg to differ. No matter what the motivation was behind making the film, Friday the 13th is still one of the best slashers produced to date. Amusingly, Halloween was actually inspired by an idea Bob Clark had for a Black Christmas sequel, evening things out a bit in the end.
The Mandalorian Episode 5 Has A Han Solo Easter Egg