Friday the 13th was produced by Sean S. Cunningham, who had previously worked with filmmaker Wes Craven on the film The Last House on the Left. Cunningham was inspired by the success of John Carpenter's influential Halloween, and conceived Friday the 13th as an exploitation film that would cash-in on the success of Halloween and allow Cunningham to raise money for another film that he felt would be a major box-office hit, a sports film called "Here Come the Tigers". Ironically, Friday the 13th became a huge box-office hit, caused even more slasher films to be made, and spawned a seemingly unending franchise of sequels. "Here Come the Tigers" was a box-office flop.
The script was written by Victor Miller (writer), who has gone on to write for several television soap operas, including Guiding Light, One Life to Live, and All My Children. Miller delighted in inventing a serial killer who turned out to be somebody's mother, a murderer whose only motivation was her love for her child. "...I took motherhood and turned it on its head and I think that was great fun. Mrs. Voorhees was the mother I'd always wanted---a mother who would have killed for her kids." Miller was unhappy about the filmmakers decision to add Jason Voorhees to the film, making him leap out of the lake at the end to grab the heroine. "Jason was dead from the very beginning. He was a victim, not a villain."
The idea of Jason appearing at the end of the film was not in the original script, and was actually suggested by makeup designed Tom Savini. Savini said "The whole reason for the cliffhanger at the end was I had just seen 'Carrie,' So we thought that we need a 'chair jumper' like that and I said, 'Let's bring in Jason.'".
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