Betsy Palmer said that if it were not for the fact that she was in desperate need of a new car, she would never have taken the part of Pamela Voorhees. In fact, after she read the script she called the film "a piece of shit".
Composer Harry Manfredini has said that contrary to popular belief, the famous "Chi, chi, chi; ha, ha, ha" in the film's score is actually "Ki, k,i ki; ma, ma, ma". It is meant to resemble Jason's voice saying "Kill, kill, kill; mom, mom, mom" in Mrs. Voorhees's mind. It was inspired by the scene in which Pamela Voorhees seems to be possessed by Jason and chants, "Get her, mommy! Kill her!" Manfredini created the effect by speaking the syllables "ki" and "ma" into a microphone running through a delay effect.
The movie was filmed at Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco in New Jersey. The camp is still in operation, and it has a wall of Friday the 13th (1980) paraphernalia to honor that the movie was set there.
The filmmakers never intended to make this the launching pad for the series that followed. According to Victor Miller, Jason was only meant as a plot device and not intended to continue on his mother's grisly work.
One critic was so angry at Betsy Palmer's role in the movie (which had angered many of her fans), that he published her address in his magazine, and encouraged people to write her and protest her. He published the wrong address.
While most of the cast and crew stayed at local hotels during the filming, some of the loyal cast and crew members, including Tom Savini, and Taso N. Stavrakis, stayed at the actual camp site. They had Savini's Betamax VCR and only a couple of movies (Barbarella (1968) and Marathon Man (1976)) on videotape to keep themselves entertained, so each night they would watch one of these movies. To this day, Savini says he can recite those movies by heart.
Victor Miller admitted that he was purposely riding off the success of John Carpenter's Halloween (1978).
The film made $39,754,601 and had a budget of $550,000.
Tom Savini was one of the first crew members on board for the film because the producers idolized his special makeup effects in Dawn of the Dead (1978).
At one point, Mrs. Voorhess slaps Alice around a few times. Having worked onstage for years, Betsy Palmer was used to really striking her co-stars with a cupped hand along the jawline to achieve the scene. Sean S. Cunningham had to tell her about faking the blows and cheating with camera angles.
Willie Adams was a crew member for the film. Although he spent most his time working behind the camera, he played the male counsellor in the 1958 scene, and holds the unique distinction of being the first murder victim in the Friday the 13th film series.
Victor Miller's working title for the script was "Long Night at Camp Blood".
Sean S. Cunningham has been quoted as saying that the type of actors that he sought for the film were "good-looking kids who you might see in a Pepsi commercial."
There is a township named Voorhees, New Jersey, which is about eight miles away from Haddonfield, New Jersey, which was inspiration for the fictional town where the movie Halloween (1978) took place. The documentary Halloween: 25 Years of Terror (2006) (Video) shows a picture of a road sign that lists Voorhees right under Haddonfield. The township was named for Foster McGowan Voorhees, the governor of New Jersey from 1899 to 1902. The surname "Voorhees" is of Dutch heritage, and is also a common family in New Jersey.
Camp Crystal Lake was established in 1935.
The knife used by Mrs. Voorhees in the film was a Sabre Monarch 171 Bowie knife.
Makeup designer Tom Savini thought up the idea of Jason's surprise appearance at the end of the movie.
Kevin Bacon's character, lying in bed with his throat impaled by an arrow, has the blood in his neck making little bubbles. Originally, it was just meant to seep out, but the arrangement of the tube with blood didn't work, and Tom Savini ended up blowing into the tube to make it flow, causing an unintended (but ultimately used) bubbling effect.
The film's make-up effects artist (Tom Savini) doubles for Brenda in the shot in which her body is thrown through a window.
In the scene where Bill is found impaled to a door with arrows, his eye twitches continually because the eye effect that Tom Savini applied was actually burning his eye and causing him excruciating pain.
Friday the 13th (1980)
R | 1h 35min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller | 9 May 1980 (USA)
A group of camp counselors are stalked and murdered by an unknown assailant while trying to reopen a summer camp which, years before, was the site of a child's drowning.
Director: Sean S. Cunningham
Writers: Victor Miller, Sean S. Cunningham (story)
Stars: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Jeannine Taylor