Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)


Ah, 1981. It was during this year that the cream of the crop teen slashers were unleashed upon the world. It was also around this time of the decade the paramount sensed the possible franchise potential of the highly successful Friday the 13th. Now, let’s get us take a moment to point out the fact that the Friday films are far from phenomenal. What they do succeed in, however, is constantly delivering an entertaining experience despite the formulaic structure. The sequels vary in quality, but my favorite of all is Friday the 13th Part 2.

There's no need to go into a long description of the story because it's basically just a retread of the original. But here's the cliff notes version for those few unaware. Camp Crystal Lake (the camp from the first film for all you slasher idjits) has been closed down and off limits so our yuppie genius of a leading man, Paul, opens up his camp across the lake. The Counselors don't seem to care that they're in close proximity to where a bunch of kids, almost exactly like them, were slaughtered just a few years prior.

So they fill their time with hiking, skinny dipping, running around in nothing but panties and a sweater, underage drinking, and having pre-marital sex. Before you know it a burlap sack wearing maniac shows up to slaughter every teenage stereotype imaginable. That maniac is, of course, our homeboy Baghead Jason. Yup, before big J had the hockey mask he took his look from The Town That Dreaded Sundown...and it was GLORIOUS. Anywho, Jason has come to take revenge for the death of his mother, who came to the camp in the first one to get revenge for the drowning of Jason, and yadah yadah yadah...the rest of the plot is pretty much irrelevant so lets move on.

Jason isn't some dumb zombified hulk who catches you even though he can't run like he is in some of the later sequels. Please don't get me wrong, I love that Jason, everyone does. But it was much scarier when he was a human. A horribly disfigured retarded human, but a human none the less. I'm totally diggin' the sack and the one creepy eye ball staring out from it. Jason was fast and lean...good for him. He also had a little variety in his life. While the machete is present, he had other handy dandy tools such as a meat cleaver, a hammer, and a spear.

Adrienne King, the star of the original, reprises her role briefly with successful results. Walt Gorney was once again phenomenally over the top in the returning character of Crazy Ralph, which has been ripped off in basically every single youth oriented horror film since. It would have been nice if he lasted a little longer in the film, but oh well, no one can last forever with Big J roaming around. The big revelation here is our Final Girl, Ms. Amy Steel, who portrays Ginny Fields. She's not your typical, smart and calculating final girl who's always one step ahead of the killer. She's kind of a flake, actually, whose book smart but is about as sharp as an apple when it comes to everyday common knowledge.

This flawed character brought a welcomed sense of realism, which would never be seen again in the series. Ginny is completely lovable with a fun personality and totally uses her book smarts with some crazy psychology to tap into Jason's Oedipus Complex. And major props for her for touching that ratty old sweater that Jason's mother was wearing when she was killed in the original...I hope she had some purell with her. For any others out there who harbor loving feelings for Amy Steel, rent 1986's April Fool's Day where she was again terrific. Will you marry me, Ms. Steel?

Director Steve Miner went on to most notably direct Halloween H20, Lake Placid, and some totally sweet episodes of Dawson's Creek. This was his first feature film, after associate producing the first one. The style is pretty much identical to that of the original, which isn't a bad thing I suppose. The death scenes are nicely set up and it has a good isolated feeling to it. Miner also went on to direct, with varying results, the third 3D!

The script is written by Ron Kurz, who also contributed to the script for Eyes of a Stranger (which is a fun little movie too). He does as best a job as can be expected in helping us believe that Jason is still alive and well after drowning in Crystal Lake decades beforehand. Even though they are archetypes, the characters are very distinguishable from each other, a luxury that you don't always get in this genre. My only complaint is that, while we get a large array of different characters, a few of them are a little too similar to ones in the original. One thing that is UNFORGIVABLE, however, is not killing off that damn annoying red-headed stepchild of a god, did he suck at life.

It's not perfect, but it comes as close to it as a slasher sequel can. With a charismatic leading lady, good pacing, and a frightening bagheaded Jason, Part 2 has everything you could ask for. A must see for any lover of 80s slashers.
It's not perfect, but it comes as close to it as a slasher sequel can. With a charismatic leading lady, good pacing, and a frightening bagheaded Jason, Part 2 has everything you could ask for. A must see for any lover of 80s slashers.