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FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2 (1981)
|"I don’t want to scare anyone, but I’m going to give it to you straight about Jason: his body was never recovered from the lake after he drowned. And if you listen to the old-timers in town, they’ll tell you he’s still out there…."|
Director: Steve Miner
Starring: Amy Steel, John Furey, Warrington Gillette, Adrienne King, Betsy Palmer, Lauren-Marie Taylor, Tom McBride, Kirsten Baker, Russell Todd, Marta Kober, Bill Randolph, Stu Charno, Jack Marks, Walt Gorney
Screenplay: Ron Kurz
Synopsis: Two months after her escape from the psychotic Mrs Voorhees, Alice (Adrienne King) screams in horror when she finds the killer’s decapitated head in her refrigerator. The next instant, someone grabs her from behind and slides an ice-pick into her brain…. On their way to a counselor’s training course, Sandra (Marta Kober) and Jeff (Bill Randolph) encounter Crazy Ralph (Walt Gorney), who warns them that they are doomed. The pair meets up with Ted (Stu Charno) and they head for the camp. While the two boys are moving a dead tree from the road, Sandra discovers a sign for Camp Crystal Lake lying nearby. Ted comments "Camp Blood", but refuses to explain. The head counselor, Paul Holt (John Furey), gathers his students, and explains to them the training that they will undergo. As he is speaking, Ginny (Amy Steel), Paul’s assistant, drives up. Paul takes her inside and reprimands her for being late. She explains that she had car trouble, and he confesses that he was just worried about her. That night, as the group sits around a campfire, Paul tells them the legend of Jason Voorhees – that the locals believe he still lives in the woods. Suddenly, a terrifying figure jumps out of the darkness, brandishing a spear. It is Ted, wearing a mask. As the trainees scream, and then giggle, Paul says firmly that Jason is just a legend. That night, Mark (Tom McBride), a paraplegic, beats the other boys at arm-wrestling, under the approving gaze of Vickie (Lauren-Marie Taylor), while Paul and Ginny play chess. Ginny goes to bed early, and is startled when Paul sneaks up on her. The two kiss, unaware that they are being watched – by Crazy Ralph. Then someone loops a wire around Ralph’s throat, strangling him…. The next day, training begins in earnest. After lunch, the kids go swimming. Despite Paul’s prohibitions, Sandra talks Jeff into going to Camp Crystal Lake to look around. The two make it to the boundary wire, but are stopped by a local cop (Jack Marks), who delivers them back to Paul. Driving away, the cop sees someone in the woods and pursues him. After a futile chase, the cop finds a derelict shack. Entering, he makes a gruesome discovery. The next instant, someone looms up behind the cop and slams the claw of a hammer into his head….
Comments: Ah, sequels…. This was the one that really started it all, I guess: the automatic sequel. Halloween, the daddy of all slasher films, was a smash hit; but despite that fact, and despite its open ending, no sequel appeared – or at least, not for some time. But after Friday The 13th proved that a cheap little film starring nobody in particular and with a colour-by-numbers plot could make an absolute fortune providing the body count was high enough, the floodgates opened – and we’re still suffering from the consequences today.
In my review of Friday The 13th, I enumerated the various slasher film clichés that originated with that film. Having now watched Part 2 for the first time, I can report that the very few clichés that did not put in an appearance in the first film make their debut here. The story opens with one of the longest pre-credit sequences in history (six minutes in my print, although I’ve been told it runs to nearly fifteen minutes in some), with first film survivor Alive thrashing around in a nightmare, which helpfully contains all of the highlights from Part 1. (This was released less than a year later, so I really don’t think this was necessary. Pads out the running time, though.) The cliché quota kicks in right away, as Alice (#1) takes a shower, (#2) hears a noise, (#3) wanders around her darkened apartment, (#4) picks up something pointy to use as a weapon, and (#5) suffers an idiotic false scare as (#6) a Spring-Loaded Cat© hurtles through the window of her apartment with (#7) a loud rraaayyyrrr!!!! (Amusingly, the cat which comes through the window – obviously having been chucked through by somebody – is not the one in the next shot, but a much smaller animal.) Alice goes through the (#8) relax-too-soon routine, and opens the fridge – only to scream in horror as she encounters the rotting head of Mrs Voorhees, last seen sailing from atop that lady’s neck at the end of Part 1. The next instant, someone – a full-grown someone, mind – grabs Alice from behind, and slides her abandoned ice-pick into her brain.
Roll the opening credits, and we see that the film stars a bunch of people we’ve never heard of before, nor since. Ah, the good old days! – when appearing in a slasher film was a one-way ticket to nowhere, not a sign that you were – [*snicker*] – a "star".
We then cut to the town nearest to the infamous Camp Blood (which is not where this film takes place, BTW) and meet our first two potential victims: Jeff, whose "character bit" is that he wears a grey cloth cap; and Sandra, his girlfriend, who is going to be in a awful lot of trouble before very much longer, I suspect, as she is clearly not wearing a bra. (I should stop here and point out that, as with most slasher films, Friday The 13th Part 2 rarely bothers to call its characters by name. [Yeah, I know: what’s the point, right?] So while I am referring to them throughout by their correct names, in many cases it was a considerable time before we discovered what those names were. We do not find out, for instance, that Sandra is called Sandra until after she’s dead. So a lot of the time, I was forced to think of a tag with which to delineate the characters in my notes, and then to update it later on. In Sandra’s case, one look at her chest was enough to make me dub her "Dead Meat".) Jeff phones the camp to which the two are heading, but the call is interrupted when Crazy Ralph looms up, warning the two – as he did their predecessors – that they are Doomed! Doomed! (Now, this is odd: I knew Crazy Ralph was Crazy Ralph; yet I kept thinking of him as "Guthrie the Loony". This is either an indication that I’ve been watching rather too much Euro-horror lately, or one that I’d rather be watching some right now.) Both the phonecall and the confrontation are cut short when Jeff sees his truck being towed away. He and Sandra run after it, shouting furiously, only to find that it’s all a practical joke masterminded by the requisite Funny Guy, Rusty. (Actually, his name’s Ted. But I was so astonished to discover that he wasn’t called "Rusty", despite his red hair and his being The Funny Guy, that I decided to call him that anyway.) The three drive away, but are soon stopped by a dead tree across the road. As the boys are moving it, Sandra wanders a short way off the road, and discovers an old wooden sign lying in the bushes: CAMP CRYSTAL LAKE, it reads. (All of this is accompanied by numerous POV shots and Harry Manfredini’s signature chh-chh-chh-chh hah-hah-hah-hah musical sting. In fact, almost everything that happens in the film is – and sometimes even by POV shots from conflicting POVs! [PsOV?]) Rusty reacts to the sign with an exclamation of "Camp Blood!" but refuses to elucidate, telling the others it isn’t something they want to hear "before lunch".
At the camp, head counselor Paul Holt (the only character granted the dignity of a surname) assembles his trainees. As they run towards him, we get another close shot of another braless girl. She is, however, somewhat less well-endowed than Sandra, which may or may not prove to be to her advantage. (God, slasher films! I seem to have done nothing for weeks but write about women’s underwear!) We also get a shot guaranteed to send a disbelieving shiver down the spine of even the most hardened of slasher watchers: one of the trainees is a guy in a wheelchair, which opens up a myriad of truly tasteless possibilities. (Which is one way of looking at it. Another is to regard this film as equal opportunity in the truest sense.) Another girl (Terri, aka "Butt-girl") walks towards the assembly - and away from the camera – in a skin-tight cut-off top, and shorts that display a considerable amount of lower buttock. We get another false POV shot here: the "lurker" is another trainee, Scott ("Smoulder-boy"), who fires a slingshot at Terri’s most prominent feature. (He hits her on the left buttock, she squeals and clutches the right – which I guess proves that, despite evidence to the contrary, she doesn’t keep her brain down there.) The two then give each other Significant Looks, with Scott exuding all of his Smouldering Sexuality. (And if you can refrain from giggling here, you’re one up on me.) The trainees assembled, Paul addresses them, explaining what the course will consist of; and how they can avoid getting eaten by bears. (He advises menstruating girls to "keep clean"!) In the middle of this, a red convertible Volkswagen coughs and splutters into camp. Inside is Ginny, who is introduced so swiftly and clearly that we prick up our ears. Final Girl? Since Ginny is Paul’s assistant, and since she’s rather late, Paul marches her inside to reprimand her – only for it to become clear that they are probably More Than Just Good Friends. They return to the group, the lecture concludes, and Paul tells Ginny to move her car. However, it won’t start. Paul comes over to help, telling her that to get cars to work properly, "you gotta treat ‘em gentle" – (oh, Lord, I moaned, bracing myself) – "like kids". Oh – like kids. Okay. He further suggests that Ginny "use a little of that child psychology you’re majoring in". At this point, we make the following observations: (i) that line of dialogue is so clunkily inserted, that it must end up being significant; and (ii) Ginny is almost certainly Final Girl, since not only is she "armed" with Child Psychology, but she is the only character given any kind of backstory. Although I don’t think she’s wearing a bra either.
(You know something? Slasher films were a lot more fun when you spent the first half-hour trying to spot the Final Girl, than they are now that they have "stars" with a survival clause in their contracts.)
That night, Paul tells the trainees all about the "legend" of Jason Voorhees. As we pan around the group sitting around the campfire we are astonished to see – a Token Black Guy! (But don’t worry: he has no name, and gets only a single line of dialogue.) This is, in cinematic terms at least, a rather intriguing scene. On one hand, it is the inevitable Dumb False Scare scene, with the scary story concluding with someone leaping out and yelling "Boo!" at the overwrought kids. (Gawd, how many films did they re-work that one in?) But at the same time – even as Jason is being dismissed as "just a legend" – the focus of the story is being shifted from Mrs Voorhees to Jason himself; and this film’s version of the facts is being embedded in the viewer’s consciousness. As you might suspect, they have little to do with the "events" of Part 1. Perhaps the oddest part of this is that everyone seems to have forgotten that Jason was supposed to have drowned in 1957 – that is, a year before the prologue scene in Friday The 13th. They keep referring to him as "a kid" – that he was "only a kid" when his mother was killed. We further learn that Alice "disappeared" two months after the events at Camp Blood. Now, it was "a kid" who attacked her in the first film’s climatic reality/nightmare scene (implying that Jason had spent the previous twenty-three years sitting on the lake bed! – might have been nice if he’d let his mum know he was okay, ya think?) – but it was a grown man who killed her in her apartment. That must have been one hell of an adolescent growth spurt!. Even more strangely, we learn that it is now five years since the Camp Blood killings – and observe that in the interim, teen fashions haven’t altered one iota. (It occurs to me that this would have qualified Part 2 for the "Days Of Future Past" Roundtable – coulda had two birds with one stone!) Anyhoo – we learn that Jason’s body "was never recovered"; that legend has it that "he saw his mother beheaded that night" and "took his revenge" – a revenge, Paul says grimly, that he will continue to seek if anyone enters "his wilderness". "We’re the first to return here," Paul continues, and really, I have to ask – why? Isn’t there any other lake in this state? "Five years – five long years he’s been dormant…." And as the kids goggle at him in terror, someone leaps amongst them, brandishing a spear and howling. And the kids scatter, only to learn that – giggle, giggle – it’s Rusty! Rusty in a mask! And that the whole thing was a set-up between him and Paul! Who’d’a thunk it!? Paul then impresses on his trainees that Jason is just a legend; that "Camp Blood" is strictly off-limits; and that he doesn’t want to hear any more about it. And then they go inside.
Okay – hands up who thinks we might be seeing that spear of Rusty’s again later on in the film?
The evening passes with the kids amusing themselves in various ways. (No, not that way! At least, not yet.) Rusty plays an electronic game. Terri declines Scott’s invitation to dance, instead playing with her cutesy-wootsy little puppy dog – the kind that wears a hair-ribbon. (It’s called – wait for it – "Muffin".) So Scott picks up Muffin and dances with it instead. Meanwhile, Mark (aka "Wheelchair Guy") beats all comers at arm-wrestling, while a girl named Vickie watches in admiration. (We don’t learn that she’s "Vickie" until just before she dies. I was calling her "Brooke", as Lauren-Marie Taylor somewhat resembles Brooke Adams.) And Ginny beats Paul at chess. (Yup – she is definitely Final Girl.) She then retires to her cabin, and as she prepares for bed, we see that – gasp! – she is wearing a bra after all! I guess that settles it. We then get a False Scare (complete with POVs and music) as someone sneaks up on her. It’s only Paul – and the two kiss passionately (hey! – careful there, Ginny!), unaware that they are being watched by Gu---er, by Crazy Ralph. But someone is watching Ralph, too. And that someone slips a wire around his throat and strangles him to death….
Morning dawns, and we see Ginny waking up with a smile on her face. (This is rather artfully done: Ginny has a single bed, which is carefully disarranged so that you can’t possibly tell whether one person slept in it or two.) The trainees go for a strenuous run, and we see that most of the girls still refuse to wear a bra! Ouch!! At the same time, the appalling Muffin runs off into the woods and has – an encounter…. After a barbecue lunch (Ginny cuts firewood, demonstrating that she knows how to handle a chainsaw), the kids go swimming. Sandra, however, wants to see Camp Blood, and she talks Jeff into sneaking off with her. The two walk along a path by the lake, and stumble over the mutilated remains of an animal. (We’re led to believe that is the appalling Muffin, but since this is an American horror film, no such luck, of course.) Sandra and Jeff do find the wire fence that marks the limits of Camp Blood (rather amusingly, the "No Trespassing" sign faces inwards) but are caught by a local cop, whose entire duty seems to consist of patrolling the perimeter and ensuring that no-one goes near the dreaded camp. He delivers the pair to Paul, who seems strangely unbothered, considering his lecture of the night before. "Things have been quiet for five years," the cop (who doesn’t rate a name of any kind) says angrily, "and that’s the way we want to keep it!" He drives off, only to brake suddenly as he sees someone else near Camp Blood. He gives rather futile chase through the woods, finally coming across a derelict cabin. Entering (on what grounds, officer?), he makes a discovery…. But while he is still staring at it in horror, Jason looms up and slams a hammer into the back of his head.
And thus the carnage begins. Not as much carnage as you might expect, given the size of the cast – and the fact that this is, after all, a sequel. (Same body count as Part 1, I believe.) At this point, the cast is divided up into Survivors, Victims, and It Remains To Be Seens by having most of the group decide to spend the night "in town". (We see that there is a Token Asian Girl present, as well as a Token Black Guy.) Sandra and Jeff are left behind to clean up, as punishment for their trip to Camp Blood. Terri stays in order to look for the missing Muffin; and Scott pretends to be tired. (You get the feeling he’s also thinking about "muffin".) Mark doesn’t want to go, and Vickie decides to stay with him.
Ladies and gentlemen – our Victims.
Terri goes wandering off, presumably looking for the appalling Muffin. She gets only as far as the lake, when she is suddenly overcome by an urge to go skinny-dipping. Er – anyone think this is a good idea? Amazingly, we are now a film and a half into this franchise, but this is our very first real nudity! (Full frontal, too!) While Terri is swimming, someone steals her clothes…. It’s Scott, of course. Terri reclaims her pants, but has to chase Scott for her top. (Given the miniscule amount of material in that top, it’s hardly worth her efforts.) As they run into the woods, Scott puts his foot into an animal trap (the rope-loop kind) and is hauled up into the air. "Damn Paul and his wilderness bullshit!" he cries as he bounces around. Terri reclaims her clothing, then goes for a knife to cut him down. She is barely out of the shot, however, before Jason enters it – and cuts Scott’s throat with a machete. Terri eventually finds her Swiss army knife and returns to Scott – only to find the result of Jason’s handiwork. She screams….
In the bar in town, Ginny – the Child Psychologist – starts lecturing Paul and Rusty about Jason’s state of mind; how his mother was all he ever had; how he must still be looking for her to come back – to be "resurrected". The boys put up with this for a while, but then they laugh at her, and she retreats into sulky silence. (By the way, Ginny drinks Heineken. Whether that’s another Final Girl trait or not, I’m sure I don’t know.) Meanwhile, back at the camp, Jeff and Sandra go upstairs to have sex, while Vickie begins to drop hints to Mark that it isn’t just his mind she’s interested in. After various, ah, subtle gambits, she asks him about the accident that put him in a wheelchair. "So – is it only your legs that don’t work?" she finally inquires. Oh, dear. She then lights a joint. Oh, dear, oh, dear. Mark implies that it is just his legs, and is asked "Your cabin or mine?" Vickie then leaves to "get a few things", departing with the line – "I’ll be right back." Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear…. In her cabin, Vickie strips off her top, and we see that she is, in fact, wearing a bra! Sadly, this gesture has probably been made too late. A violent thunderstorm (hello! finally!) breaks. Cut back to Mark, who’s hearing noises…. He wheels out onto the verandah, calling, "Vickie? Is that you?" What follows is one of the most incredible moments in any slasher film, as a machete is slammed into Mark’s face, and he rolls backwards down three flights of stairs….
We then return to Sandra and Jeff, who are having A Jolly Old Time. (Well, at least they’ll die happy.) Remember that spear of Rusty’s? Yup. Upstairs, Jeff rolls on top of Sandra for a little more nookie. Thus, it is Sandra who sees Jason’s approach – too late to do anything about it, of course, and the two are swiftly shish-kebabed. (I understand that the makers of this film are still denying that they ever saw Mario Bava’s Bay Of Blood. And if you believe that, there’s some lakeside property in the Sahara they’d like to sell you.) At the bar, Paul and Ginny take leave of Rusty (that’s right – the Odious Comic Relief© survives again!) and head back to camp – him driving her car. Why? Vickie returns to find Mark missing. She starts looking for him – and goes upstairs!! (Uh, I don’t want to be rude or anything, but I don’t think that’s all that likely….) She calls out to Sandra and Jeff and, when there’s no answer, tiptoes into their room. (Look, wherever Mark is, I really don’t think he’s in there!) Lying in the bed are two figures completely covered by a sheet. Vickie draws nearer, and suddenly one of them sits up. It’s Jason – our first good look at him – and we find that he has a cloth bag, possibly a pillowcase, over his face. (In fact, he looks bizarrely like the killer in The Town That Dreaded Sundown.) He flails at Vickie with a butcher’s knife and gashes her thigh. She cries out and staggers backwards – right into Jeff’s body, hanging from a hook by a scarf. Jason then closes in on Vickie, who in the most irritating of all irritating slasher film conventions, just stands there whimpering and lets him. Ah, slash away, Jason! She deserves it!
And then – my God! MY GOD!!!! I’ve just seen it – I’ve watched it twice – but I simply can’t believe it! WE ACTUALLY SEE THE KILLER IN A SLASHER FILM MOVING A DEAD BODY!!!!!! No, honestly, I swear - ! Jason drags Vickie’s body downstairs, and we see him doing it!!
Well – I certainly wasn’t expecting that….
Paul and Ginny arrive to find the main cabin unlocked, all the lights on, and no-one around. Ginny goes upstairs and finds Sandra and Jeff’s bed covered in blood. Paul responds to her frightened cry and after a good look, demands, "What is this, a joke?" (Well – at least he didn’t blame it on those "unclean" menstruating girls!) The two retreat downstairs, and the lights go out again. "Paul, what’s going on?" says Ginny nervously. "Nothing," he replies. Yeah, nothing. That’s why the lights are out, a bed’s covered in blood, and all your friends are missing. Suddenly, Ginny pulls up, whispering, "There’s someone in this room!" She’s right – and Jason suddenly appears, armed with that spear. "Paul, there’s someone in this fucking room!" Ginny cries again (although personally I think "LOOK OUT!!" might have been more to the point) and Paul dodges Jason’s lunge. The two men fight and – in another irritating convention – Ginny just watches helplessly. (Gotta be one-on-one, I guess.) The men crash to the floor – and it is Jason who rises. And the chase is on. Ginny bolts into the bathroom – which, oddly, appears to have no lock. She contemplates an escape through the window, but Jason smashes an arm through it and Ginny dashes back out the door instead. She opens a cupboard (why? – so she can find Crazy Ralph’s body, of course), then runs into the kitchen – which does have a lock. There’s a window, but hearing Jason outside the door, Ginny picks up a butcher’s knife and prepares to stand and fight – at least until Jason slams through the door with a pitchfork! Then it’s the window! Ginny makes it to her car and locks herself in. In another amazing moment, we find that the keys weren’t left in the ignition! I hardly recall ever seeing a film where that was the case. Ginny digs them out of her pocket, but of course, the car won’t start. (Okay. At least they bothered to establish engine trouble earlier on.) Jason then catches up with her, and attacks from above, shoving first his pitchfork, then his hand, through the roof. (It’s a soft-top, remember?) Inexplicably (well, you know….), even though he can see Ginny in the driver’s seat, he attacks on the passenger’s side. This allows Ginny to unlock that door and kick it into him – hard. The impact sends him flying, and allows Ginny to get away. She dodges around some bushes at the edge of the woods and waits there until Jason appears – and then fells him with a sharp kick to the groin. (Heh! Some supernatural force! Okay, I guess he wasn’t supernatural at this stage – just mighty improbable.) Ginny tries the other cars, but they’re all locked, so she heads back into the woods. She has a good two hundred yards’ start on Jason, but of course he appears ahead of her anyway. She evades him and sprints ahead – only to duck into the bushes until he runs past her, then double back. (You know – I like this girl.)
Jason finally figures out he’s been had, and also doubles back. He enters the cabin where Ginny is hiding under a bed, but doesn’t find her. What follows is an amazingly tasteless and idiotic scene. A rat runs under the same bed as Ginny, and despite having survived events intact to this point, she then wets herself in fear! The result puddles out at the end of the bed – and Jason sees it. (You wanna think about the implications of that? Crikey! – she must have been holding it for a week!) Nothing happens for a while, however, and Ginny cautiously edges out – only to find Jason standing over the bed on a chair, pitchfork raised. But it’s a rickety old chair and it gives way, propelling Jason onto the floor, where his pitchfork snaps in half (!). Ginny then grabs the chainsaw from a cupboard (they established the whereabouts of that, too) and goes on the attack. Jason backs away, and trips over a chair, crashing to the floor. Then – for no reason other than the cinematic – the chainsaw cuts out. So Ginny snatches up a chair and smashes it over Jason, who lies without moving. And then – she leaves without finishing the job. Sigh.
Ginny runs through the woods once more, eventually stumbling across the same cabin the cop found. Thinking that someone there might be able to help her, she runs inside. Jason is hot on her heels, and Ginny bars the front door. She then goes further inside, and finds what the cop found – what we didn’t see before: a shrine to the late Mrs Voorhees, consisting of her mummified head, her trademark pullover, a machete, and a lot of candles. Oh, and a dead body (Terri, I think). As Jason bashes his way inside with a pick, Child Psychologist Ginny has a brainwave – and puts on his mother’s pullover. When Jason crashes in, therefore, he is confronted by – Mommy. "Mommy" tells Jason that he has done well – but that his task is complete; that Mommy is pleased with him; that he should come to Mommy. Finally – that he should kneel before her. (This is an unexpectedly effective sequence. The silent acting by Warrington Gillette as Jason is really good here, and when he simply waits there, looking trustingly up at "Mommy" while she prepares to deliver his death-blow, it is strangely affecting.) With Jason kneeling before her, Ginny lifts the machete from the shrine and prepares to strike; but as she does so, she moves just a little too far – and Jason sees his real mother’s head.
Ginny’s machete is deflected by Jason’s pick. He slashes at her, gashing her arm. Suddenly – Paul bursts in! (What the---!!??) He and Jason fight – and Ginny immediately goes back into Helpless Whimpering Female mode. (God, this is annoying!) But Paul is much less successful at handling Jason, either physically or psychologically, than Ginny is, and Jason soon gets the best of the fight. This frees Ginny to become competent again. She snatches up the machete (and starts moving in slow motion, so we know she means business!) and slams it deep into Jason. However – instead of sinking it into the back of his head, or the back of his neck (and really, Jason should have gone the way of his mother), she hits at the joint of the shoulder and the neck, and downwards. (Anyone see where this is leading?) Jason falls, apparently dead. Slowly, Ginny pulls the bag from his face – and recoils in horror. (We don’t see it.) Ginny then collapses, and has to be carried back to the main cabin by Paul. The film then climaxes in what I would call the stupidest false scare ending I’ve ever seen, except that I watched I Still Know What You Did Last Summer a couple of weeks back; so I’ll call it the second stupidest. Ginny and Paul hear A Noise outside. Proving he’s learnt something from events, Paul picks up the handle of the broken pitchfork to use as a club, but hands Ginny the pointed end. As she braces herself on the bed, tines at the ready, Paul tiptoes to the door, preparing to open it so he’s behind it. (Too bad the door has glass panels, so anyone outside can see what he’s doing.) And he slowly opens the door….and in trots the appalling Muffin. (Told ya!) And the two relax, patting the dog – until Jason suddenly crashes through the window behind them, grabbing the screaming Ginny….
….and we cut to a daylight scene of Ginny being packed into an ambulance, asking repeatedly, "Where’s Paul?" No-one answers, however. The doors are closed, the ambulance drives away – and the credits roll.
This ambiguous – not to say downright confusing – ending is clearly a reference to Jason’s shock appearance at the end of Part 1. It is also a big mistake. Whereas the scene in the earlier film was probably (not certainly) included just to get the kids watching to jump about six feet in the air, here a similar scene is included purely in order to set up another sequel. But, dammit! – it should have stopped here! The psychological showdown between Jason and Ginny is a genuinely well-played and effective scene. It should have been the film’s climax – with Ginny fighting back one more time after Jason’s attack on her. The problem was, of course, that by this time the film-makers didn’t want to kill their killer. So instead of a thematically satisfying decapitation, we get a stupid ooh-it’s-not-over-yet ending; and thus a franchise was born, with Jason the first of the slasher world’s unstoppable/supernatural psychopaths. (It is hard to imagine, however, that the film-makers had any idea he’d still be kicking twenty years later!) The other reason this scene is a big mistake is that the audience gets a good look at Jason’s face – which instantly kills off the uneasy, "anything’s possible" feeling generated when Ginny and Paul see it but we do not. Frankly, folks, he’s not all that scary. He’s just kind of – lumpy.
On the technical level, Friday The 13th Part 2 is an infinitely better film than its predecessor, which was almost as crude in its execution as it was in its concept. The cinematography is nice, the editing much better, and the performances on the whole quite acceptable. (In fairness, although I dismissed the actors as non-stars, most have them do have a reasonable number of credits other than this; while Amy Steel has deservedly had a long and rather successful career, mostly in television.) But two major shortcomings prevent Part 2 from being anything other than a minor entry in the slasher pantheon: its screenplay is nothing more than a re-working of Part 1’s; and it is almost completely bloodless. Friday The 13th, of course, was a showcase for Tom Savini; it is the gruesome murder scenes that give the film its claim to fame. But then, Friday The 13th caught everyone off-guard – including the censors. When Part 2 rolled around, however, the MPAA was waiting for it – and landed on it like Oprah on a baked ham. Cuts were demanded in every single murder scene before that coveted ‘R’ rating was granted – leaving the film bewilderingly tame. (So much so, that I can’t help wondering if my print was even further cut.) What is most obvious is the absence of any close-up prosthetic shots. You know – oozing wounds. My guess is that that’s precisely what was removed from each killing. It is also noticeable that the, ah, decapitation recapitulation in the opening sequence has been trimmed as well. However, it isn’t only at the MPAA’s feet that the film’s tame feel can be laid. Another significant omission in Part 2 is those ugly, protracted stalkings of the female victims that were such a feature of Part 1. (I’m inclined to rate this as a virtue, although others probably won’t agree.) Here, the girls die in shock cuts just like the boys. And even more surprising is that sometimes they don’t even die in shot! Is it just my print, or does Terri actually die offscreen!? Even after those buttock shots, and that skinny-dipping!!?? And it calls itself a slasher film….
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