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Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
20th May 13
Some counsellors start getting a camp down the road from Crystal Lake ready for the Summer season, but a couple of pesky kids can't help but nose around the old camp where all those kids where killed 5 years ago. Guess what they find there?
Friday the 13th Part 2 starts with Adrienne King, uninspiring final girl from the first movie, on the phone to her parents. She reassures them she’s fine, and then tells them about the ordeal, accompanied by a set of budget appeasing flashbacks, including the infamous decapitation of Mrs Voorhees (and why not?) But what’s this? Whose workman like trousers and boots are those? Eh, oh, what’s that, a swift ice pick to the temple and it’s goodbye Adrienne?
This immediately raises a bunch of questions - questions which are never truly answered, but are theorised upon later in the film, mainly by new final girl Amy Steel. She’s a psychology student and later discusses that Jason must have lived in the woods and watched his mommy die at the end of the first movie. But if that’s the case, how come she thought he died of drowning? If he didn’t die of drowning and he watched her killing people in the first movie, why didn’t he, you know, say hello? Who was that boy at the end of the first film in the water? Surely, the boy grabbing the last survivor in the boat paved the way for the sequel, but that was just a boy and this is a grown man we have here offing her? And if all that is true, is one of the most famous movie franchises in history really the story of a wild deformed hermit killing campers in revenge for them killing his mother, which in itself is revenge for the campers letting her son die, who didn’t really die? Um, how many movies?
Well, in 1981 nobody seemed to care about that technicality so there’s no point worrying about that now. Despite that hiccup, the first Friday sequel is actually a great little slasher movie with much more going for it than the original. Doing away with the kooky “Oh it’s you!” Bava style POV shots in favour of what we now know as a more conventional stalk and slash style, Friday the 13th Part 2 whips along at a much neater pace.
The cigarette packet plot is simple but effective. It’s 5 years since the massacres at Crystal Lake and, while that’s closed down, another camp is opening up just down the road. The usual bunch of camp counsellors arrive filling all the stereotypes nicely and they get to work, until one of the girls talks her boyfriend in to checking out the closed Crystal Lake down the road. They’re caught by the local cops and bought back, but they inadvertently lead a hungry for revenge sack head wearing Jason Voorhees with them. After taking out the sheriff and Crazy Ralph (the “You’re doomed!” guy from the first movie) he sets to work stalking the counsellors, and it all pretty much comes to a head a couple of nights later when half the group head in to town to a bar, and the rest get sliced and diced by our man Voorhees, until final Girl Amy Steel and boyfriend are first back, just in time for a final confrontation with Jason, followed the inevitable jump scare final scene.
As with all things though, the devil is in the detail. The characters in this one are a little more fleshed out than in the original, meaning you’re more engaged watching them and consequently it’s not just a case of when they buy it but if, and rather than waiting to see how they go, you actually hope some of them don’t. Amy Steel, turning up late in her old VW Beetle, only to jump straight in to the arms of the head counsellor, is way more charismatic (and better looking) than our previous final girl and is more immanently watchable. Similarly, you’re intrigued to see if that girl ever gets off with the smug wheelchair guy, and whether the ginger haired guy ever actually cracks a funny joke. Ultimately though, it comes down to having just enough pleasing padding before we approach final night, where the majority of the deaths occur.
And the deaths are, surprisingly considering Tom Savini’s absence, up to the quality of the original, albeit with subtle differences. Whereas the original was littered with POV shots, the sequel tidily usurps that convention, catching you off guard. A character will wander outside, the camera will follow them, then they’ll turn around and, not startled, you as the viewer will realise they’re not being stalked by a POV shot, only for a machete to suddenly fly on screen stage left split the counsellors face. And all the while, that ”ki… ki… ma… ma…” score is used to haunting effect.
So that’s that - Friday the 13th Part 2 hits its stride much better than the original, and cements the slasher template in the process, boding well from the next in the franchise. If only they could get rid of that potato sack head thing and get a more icon look going…