Friday the 13th, Part 2 (1981)
Directed by: Steve Miner
Starring: Amy Steel, John Furey, Adrienne King, Kirsten Baker, Stuart Charno, Walt Gorney, Marta Kober, Betsy Palmer, Tom McBride, Bill Randolph, Lauren-Marie Taylor, Jack Marks
(out of 4)
Here's a story... of a guy named Jason...
After the enormous success of Friday the 13th (almost $40 million), a sequel was inevitable. This was quite alright, as horror sequels weren’t so prevalent in 1981 as they are now. Nowadays it seems all we get is sequels and remakes, but try to imagine a time where Jason was still just a legend and Freddy Krueger was merely a gleam in Wes Craven’s eye. The pre-credits sequence of Friday the 13th, Part 2 plays back the ending of the first movie, where Alice (Adrienne King) chops Mrs. Voorhees’ (Betsy Palmer) head off. Two months later, she is trying to get her life back together, but doesn’t get very far in that regard – Mrs. Voorhees’ head shows up in her fridge right before Jason puts an ice pick into her temple. At least he takes the whistling tea kettle off the burner. By the way, how the hell did Jason Voorhees make it out of the lake, find clothes, locate Alice’s house, prank call her, and then drag her body back to the camp? I mean, I know he’s resourceful but come on.
Fast forward five years (1984 – the future!), and a new batch of cattle show up accompanied by a practical joke played on Jeff (his truck is towed – haha!) The bear-and-rabbit joke also makes an appearance before Eddie Murphy told it in Delirious. Crazy Ralph (Walt Gorney), naturally, is on hand with his warnings of doom. Head camp counselor Paul and his girlfriend/assistant Ginny (a spunky Amy Steel) get the bright idea of setting up a counselor training camp near Crystal Lake. Say, what do they teach you at a counselor training camp? We never find out, as Jason shows up to give his special brand of hospitality. Get the body bags.
Victims include Ralph, who is dispatched early on while watching a makeout session (Jason doesn’t like peeping Toms). Too bad because Jason and Ralph would have made a good team – Ralph of course playing the role Steve Buscemi played in Desperado. Terri (Kirsten Baker, totally hot) goes skinny dipping by herself, gets her clothes stolen by boyfriend Scott, and then the film has her mercifully killed off screen. Scott of course, gets strung up in a trap before being shaved by Jason’s machete – in the neck area. Wheelchair-bound Mark is machete’d in the face – before he even gets a chance to get laid. Total bummer.
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Friday the 13th Part 2 is typical of Hollywood sequels – much more rushed than its predecessor. The first film attempted to establish parallels with a Biblical Armageddon, and spent a little more time with the characters before putting them six feet under, while this movie simply takes the set-em-up-and-knock-em-down route. For example, Deputy Winslow (Jack Marks) shows up to chastise Jeff and Sandra for sneaking into Camp Crystal Lake, only to be killed at Jason’s shed/home in the very next scene. Well, that’s what you get for just barging into people’s houses. The fact is, this film is fairly routine stuff. It’s not even that gory, really. What it does have going for it is the early 80s vibe, which seems a good fit for these kinds of movies. There’s also an effective sequence where psychology major Ginny stumbles into Jason’s cabin and stalls Jason by impersonating his mom. (She simply puts on mom’s sweater.) Jason, of course, conveniently forgets that mom’s head is sitting on a table right behind her. Finally, part 2 steals certain sequences from other films – Jason hasn’t discovered hockey yet, so here they have him wearing a sack over his head with holes in it – that’s straight out of The Town That Dreaded Sundown. The famous spear-through-the-couple-having-sex moment is a nod to Mario Bava’s Bay Of Blood, but it’s not as explicit.
Friday the 13th, Part 2 is a by-the-numbers follow-up with a decent female lead in Amy Steel but rather underwhelming otherwise. Being a bit of a hack-job from director Steve Miner (who also gave us Part 3), it’s derivative in the same sense that other followups to the first film are (like The Burning, The Final Terror, etc), and pretty much gets by on name recognition (King, Palmer, and Gorney are brought back for bit parts). It does, however, try to establish the killer’s psychological profile and play on mother-issues (Jason’s a mama’s boy – duh – but he ain’t no Norman Bates). As Friday sequels go, I suppose you could do worse.
- Bill Gordon
Hi, I'm Ralph, town doomsayer. I do make housecalls.