1981 / Steve Miner / MAX / R
Is the sequel to this Halloween staple better than the original? READ ON!
Quick Rundown of Friday The 13th Part II
Part two of this immortal franchise takes place five years after the original film even though it hit theaters the year after. This time around Jason has taken up the killing mantel and uses his mother's head as a totem. Jason being the killer raises some continuity concerns, but I think my head cannon makes the most sense: Upon Jason's mother being beheaded by the final girl of the first film, Jason then rises from the lake to enact vengeance, for not only his mother, but himself as well. This works because it's not the only instance in which Jason will return from the dead and look aged, or different than his previous iterations. If you're not familiar with the franchise, but you know the character, you'll be wondering where his mask is... hang in there; that happens in the next film.
The rest of the film plays out like most slashers, except this is a founding installment in that formula, so keep in mind that the nudity, violence, and vulgarity are a combination unlike any that the audience has seen before 1972. The campers sit around the fire as one of them tells the legend of Jason and his mother, essentially the first film, although we've already gotten a five-minute recap at the start of this film. Anyway, the campers get promiscuous, drink alcohol, and then get murdered in fun ways.
The Creative Team Behind Friday The 13th Part II
Betsy Palmer returns as Mrs. Voorhees. There are not many other roles that people of my age would recognize her from. Warrington Gillette is surprisingly out first Jason. He's not the burly Jason that is the icon of today, but it's interesting to see the origins of the character. Warrington only has a few credits to his name, and nothing notable. Stuart Charno is almost unforgettable. He plays Ted, the comic relief character. Stuart has lots of these side character roles in 80's films like Christine and Once Bitten (I look forward to covering both of these films). Our final girl, Ginny, played by Amy Steel, truly carries this film.
Jake's Take on Friday The 13th Part II
I grew up on these films like I'm sure many of my readers have. I always surpassed this one and the original, and that's simply because Jason has yet to find his hockey mask. I can't be the only one who wants the whole shebang out of a Friday The 13th movie, meaning I wanted the mask, the kills, and the terrible plot. I've watched Friday The 13th Part III more than any other, and I've just found out that the third is considered one of the worst films of the franchise... but it's not worse than five, we can all agree on that.
Part II feels like a campfire story. The film kills off the final girl of the original in minutes, which these slashers are known to do. I do wish that we built a cast of likable characters that we could get attached to through these films. It's just about guaranteed that whoever survives the prior film is destined to die a quick and terrible death. After we're introduced to the campers and their motifs *cough*sex*cough* we witness some horny teens get shishkabobbed and a dude takes a machete to the face, which is all good fun, but the effects aren't spectacular. The editing is odd in some spots as well. I do appreciate the ending, where Ginny puts on Mrs. Voorhees sweater and uses psychoanalytics on Jason, and then chops him with his own machete, but then this is ruined by the sudden break in the plot. Ginny, Paul, and the dog share a moment of relief as they realize that they've survived their encounter with a psycho murderer, who crashes through the window?? None other than Jason and his deformed unmasked face! We then cut to the next morning as Ginny is being wheeled away to an ambulance, and we're to assume that Paul is dead... and where's the dog?
Despite the shortcomings of the plot, this is a must-watch for slasher fans! Be like Jason and covet it like his mother's head.