31 Fright Nights: Halloween 2017, Night #13 – Friday the 13th Part II (1981)

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Director: Steve Miner

Writer(s): Ron Kurz & Phil Scuderi

Studio/Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Budget: $1.25m

Box Office: $21.7m

Release Date: 30 April, 1981

IMDb Rating: 6.1/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 34%

UK Blu Ray release? Yes

Cast

Amy Steel – Ginny

John Furey – Paul

Adrienne King – Alice

Kirsten Baker – Terry

Stuart Charno – Ted

Marta Kober – Sandra

Tom McBride – Mark

Bill Randolph – Jeff

Trailer

Plot According to IMDb

Mrs Voorhees is dead, and Camp Crystal Lake is shut down, but a camp next to the infamous place is stalked by an unknown assailant. Is it Mrs Voorhees’ son Jason? Did he actually drown in the lake some 30 years before?

Inertia’s Insight

As if making a mockery of Halloween with its calendar-themed title wasn’t enough, Friday the 13th produced a sequel in the same year that Halloween II brought the masked Michael Myers back to our screens. Utilising the concept of a masked killer, Friday the 13th Part 2 finally introduced us to the man, the myth, the legend, the unstoppable and unkillable slasher anti-hero Jason Voorhees.

Part 2 sees Jason ascend to the ranks of serial killer after his re-birth at the end of the first film. It’s only hinted that Jason is the man behind this spate of killings until the final act, the filmmakers doing well to insinuate without confirming. Die hard fans of the franchise will know that the infamous hockey mask that covers his deformed face doesn’t make an appearance until Friday the 13th Part 3. Here, a burlap sack covers his face, one hole allowing his wide to penetrate through.

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It’s an interesting opening. The Final Girl™ from the first film pops it in the opening minutes, resetting the goalposts completely. No longer is she the pursued hero capable of bringing down the evil; she’s now just another notch on the bedpost, paving way for a new Final Girl™. She was the survivor and killer of Mrs Voorhees, and though there’s no revelation of who her killer is, it certainly feels like revenge.

Just as quickly as Mrs Voorhees’ head can thaw, we’re back at camp (when will they ever learn?). Though it’s not Camp Crystal Lake, it is an eerily similar camp just a stones throw away (or should that be a spear’s throw?) from the ill-fated summer camp. We’re introduced to a new bunch of hapless, diverse yet equally damned teens and early adults who will frolic, fuck and fall victim to the mysterious figure that lurks in the woods.

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As if to reinforce this matter, the legend of Jason is told one night around the campfire, with the belief that Jason – and Mrs Voorhees – are dead. There’s little on offer when it comes to characterisation with the campers. From this sequel onwards, the elaborate kills outweigh the counsellors when it comes to development. It’s a classic 80’s slasher where the victims are picked off one by one in more inventive and elaborate ways than the last, leaving the Final Girl™ remaining to face down the evil and humanise him.

The first time we see Jason and the burlap sack, it’s all a bit… meh. The burlap sack doesn’t do much to emphasise his menace, though his incredible stature goes some way. This Jason lacks the impact that later films would achieve, not just with the mask but the way in which he is framed, as well as the screen time he is gifted.

For all its lackluster, there’s an interesting take on psychology – though it’s not quite Men, Women and Chainsaws, it nonetheless tries to give reasoning to Jason’s actions. It’s mentioned early on that if Jason saw his Mother killed at such a young age then he wouldn’t be able to distinguish between life and death, right or wrong. Towards the end, Ginny dons Mrs Voorhees’ jumper, pretending to be her. It shows the impact his Mother’s death has had on him, and though her attempt to discipline him by way of imitation doesn’t work out, it at least buys her some time.

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And so, after the Final Girl™ faces him down in the usual 80’s fashion, we’re left with an ending that slightly imitates the first film. Ginny survives, the whereabouts of Jason unknown, the door to the killer camp wide open for a sequel.

You know, it’s kind of hard to review this film. On the one hand, on its own, it’s a bit shit; if not for the title, it would be yet another 80’s blood and boobs slasher with a killer in a potato sack that barely leaves a mark on the genre, gaining a bit of a cult following and an Arrow blu-ray release on its 30 year anniversary.

Yet, as part of this incredibly diverse franchise centred around the cursed camp, it’s great fun – retro, at times laughable, not at all scary, but still an awesome film that would have you turn to your partner and say, “Shall we stick Part 3 on?”

Inertia’s Ideal Score ( out of 5)

★★★

Trivia

  • When the filmmakers asked Adrienne King to reprise her role as Alice, she said that she wanted to be on screen for a short period of time because there was an obsessive fan who was stalking her, broke into her apartment, and she feared for her life
  • The first Jason scene in the movie is a shot of Jason’s legs walking across the street toward Alice’s house. This is the only time in the series Jason was played by a woman. Jason’s legs belonged to Ellen Lutter, the film’s costume designer
  • A shot of the infamous double-impalement was cut to avoid an “X” rating, yet a gory still photo of this censored shot appears on the back of the videocassette box.

Quotes

GINNY: Paul, there’s someone in this fucking room!


Tomorrow: Night #14 – A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

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