4.13.2008

Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981)

Director – Steve Miner

Starring -
Amy Steel - Ginny
John Furey - Paul Holt
Adrienne King - Alice
Warrington Gillette - Jason Voorhees
Lauren Marie Taylor - Vickie
Bill Randolph - Jeff
Tom McBride - Mark
Year - 1981

Rating - 2 Howls Outta 4

In 1980, the original Friday The 13th was a box office smash, recreating the "slasher" era of horror with its over the top kills. Horror was really big at this time, as F13 and Halloween [which was annually released into theaters] were racking up some big money. Of course, when a movie does really well, a sequel comes along to continue the story [whether it's necessary or not]. In 1981, horror had a case of sequel-itis. The Omen released its third part, The Omen III: The Final Conflict to little success. Halloween II [which was never planned after the release of the first one] was created to capitalize on the success of slasher horror, becoming a success itself and being the highest grossing horror movie that year. In second place was the sequel to Friday The 13th, which introduced an adult Jason Voorhees for the first time in the series. While the film came close to match the success of the original in terms of business, does that mean that Part II is any good as the original? Or is it the case where the second is always inferior to the first?

PLOT
We start two months after the original film, where Alice (reprised by Adrienne King from the original) has nightmares about what happened with Mrs. Voorhees. She wakes up, tries to live her life as normally as possible...but that changes when she goes to the kitchen and opens the fridge to find Mrs. Voorhees' head in there. A large figure comes up behind Alice, grabs her, and stabs her through the head with an icepick [Sharon Stone was already auditioning for Basic Instinct 11 years before the movie was released...amazing].

We now move five years after this incident, as Paul (John Furey) decides to open a camp right across Crystal Lake. He hires counselors [Ted (Stuart Charno), Jeff (Bill Randolph), Sandra (Marta Kober), Terry (Kirsten Baker), Vickie (Lauren-Marie Taylor), Scott (Russell Todd), and wheelchair bound Mark (Tom McBride)], as well as his girlfriend Ginny (played the talented and beautiful Amy Steel), to help him run the camp. Later that night, Paul gathers the group together to recite a story about the legend of Jason Voorhees and his mother. Paul mentions that Jason's body was never actually recovered from the lake after drowning and that Jason saw Alice kill his mother that night five years back. Ted then comes out wearing a stupid mask to scare everyone, as if the story is a joke [though it isn't, those stupid fools]. The next day, Jeff and Sandra decide to check out Camp Blood [the location of the first film], despite being told it's off limits. A cop catches them and reports them to Paul, who pretty much lets them off easily. The cop, upset, decides to takes a ride as he notices someone running into Crystal Lake. He chases after him and finds a broken down cabin. The cop is horrified by what he sees inside, but doesn't get a chance to express it as he's killed by a hammer to the head. That night, Paul and Ginny decide to go into town one last time before they start working. Jeff and Sandra are punished, so they stay behind. Mark, Vickie, Scott, and Terry stay behind as well. The usual horror cliches occur here: people have sex, people get naked in a body of water, blah blah blah...leading to their deaths [remember sex and drugs will get you killed]. Paul and Ginny come back to the site, only to find their friends dead at the hands of Jason...

REVIEW
I'm torn with this film. At points I like it better than the original, but at other points, I'm kinda disappointed that it's just a decent remake of the original. The original was genuinely scary through it's mood and atmosphere. You got a sense of isolation at Camp Blood and being alone in the middle of nowhere is always creepy. In this film, I never really got that sense. The scares were more in the vein of "jump scares", where you'd jump when things would suddenly pop up on screen. Like a cat jumping through a window, or Jason...jumping through a window. Talk about lack of variety lol. And while those things do get your heart pumping, it doesn't leave a lasting impression of fear like the original. The gore is pretty bare here, with the kills getting cut away too quickly to make any impact.

Plus, I thought the direction of this film was okay at best. Sean Cunningham, who directed the first, really knew how to set up a mood and show the right things at the right time. Steve Miner, who would later on direct Part 3 and Halloween H20, tries to keep a flimsy story going at a fast pace, and barely manages to keep up. He uses a lot of low shots for some reason or another [it's no mystery that the killer is Jason so you can stop shooting his feet now] and the film seems more voyeuristic than scary at times. Still, it remains watchable so I can't complain too much about that. And the film score is the same as the last film, so no complaints there either.

I have to talk about Jason's look in this film. He looks like a hillbilly wearing a pillow case for a mask [with one eye hole]. Watching it now is pretty silly, since he looks like the Elephant Man, but he's actually creepier here than in any other of the films. I just don't find a hockey mask creepy, sorry. And I'm probably in the minority, but I prefer zombie Jason to human Jason. This Jason is clumsy as hell and I'm surprised he managed to kill as many people as he did. But I guess they weren't sure what Jason was all about back then, so I can forgive them for that. His unmasking was pretty creepy though. I guess we're not all blessed with good looks.

I also don't understand the point of Ted in the movie. He was the comic relief and I kinda liked him, but he didn't die. He stayed in town that night to party. What happened to him? Did he ever come back to camp? Is he alive or dead? What gives here? I didn't really understand why he was in this movie to begin with if he wasn't cannon fodder. I mean, he did make fun of Jason in that campfire scene. You'd think Jason would want to kill him for that. That part has always bugged me about this film.

What did I like in this film? The characters were more developed than usual. Of course you had the token jerk [Scott], the token horny couple [Jeff and Sandra], and the token "girl who rather screams than run away from death" [Vickie]. I'm glad the last one died, by the way. What a stupid bitch. But I did feel bad for Mark (Tom McBride). Poor guy was in a wheelchair and seemed like a nice guy who just wanted to be part of the group. Vickie was about to give him some too, but Jason had to put a machete to his face and send him down a flight of stairs. Geez Jason, you could have at least let a cripple get some lovin'! You sick bastard. McBride didn't get much luck in real life either, as he died of AIDS in 1995. Paul (John Furey) was okay at best. His best scene was definitely the campfire scene, where he recited the Jason legend.

Honestly, the only actor worth involving yourself with in this film is Amy Steel [Ginny]. Not only was she a psychology student, she had attitude and charm and was totally likable. Ginny is the anti-horror heroine. She was smart, beautiful, didn't need a man to defend her, and she loved sex! And she lives!! Ginny is one-of-a-kind! She could also act too, which definitely made me root for her more than I could ever root for Adrienne King's Alice from the last film. I wanted her to kick Jason's ass, and she kinda did until the end. I'm surprised Amy Steel didn't become a star after this like Jamie Lee Curtis did after Halloween. She definitely had that star quality about her. Probably one of the small few I actually liked in any F13 movie.

Speaking of the ending, alot of people don't like it. Sure, it's kinda a rehash of the last one, but I liked the fact at how ambiguous it was. Did Jason really attack Ginny in that final scene or was that all a dream? What ever happened to Paul? He wasn't seen after that incident. Was he alive somewhere? Did Jason actually kill him once Ginny blacked out? We never know the truth and I dig that. It's really up to the audience as to what really happened to Ginny and Paul. Personally, I think that whole final sequence was actually real and Paul is a goner. Sorry Ginny.

THE FINAL HOWL
Friday The 13th Part 2 isn't as good as the first, but it's still an entertaining 90 minutes of mindless fun. If you don't expect a movie that's set out to change the world and make a global statement, you'll enjoy this film. Slight recommendation to watch only for Amy Steel.

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