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….

Synopsis: 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 cliches 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 Henry 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 rat