There are twelve Friday the 13th movies. I know there are many die-hard fans out there that don't acknowledge some of them, like "Jason X" and even "Freddy vs. Jason" but technically, there are twelve that live, just like Jason:
- Friday the 13th (1980)
- Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
- Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)
- Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
- Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)
- Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
- Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
- Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
- Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
- Jason X (2001)
- Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
- Friday the 13th (2009)
Personally, my least favorites are Parts V, VIII, "Jason Goes To Hell" and I'm still on the fence about "Freddy vs. Jason", that movie was more about trying to satisfy the fans of both series and in that respect, it failed. As a slasher movie, it was fine but it didn't have the atmosphere of any of the earlier Friday or Elm Street incarnations.
"Friday the 13th" creator Sean S. Cunningham had some success in 1972 when he produced "The Last House on the Left", which was directed by Wes Craven, who would later go on to create "A Nightmare on Elm Street." He had minor success with a couple of kids movies he directed, "Here Come the Tigers" and "Manny's Orphans" but wanted to go back to the horror genre and came up with a title that he still could not believe hadn't already been taken: "Friday the 13th." With no budget and no script in place, he took out a full page ad in Variety:
It worked and he was able to raise the necessary funds needed to make what would later become a landmark in horror movie history. With an estimated budget of only $550,000, the movie would go on to make over $39.7 million in the U.S. alone with a final worldwide gross of $59,754,601. At that time, it was rare for an independent movie with no famous names to be that successful and in no time, plans for a sequel were underway. This time round however, Mr. Cunningham opted to produce and not direct and instead handed those chores over to Steve Miner, who had worked on "Friday the 13th" as a Unit Production Manager. With no prior directing credits, it was his passion and ambition which landed him the job.
One aspect of the Friday the 13th movies that sometimes confuses people, is the timeline, or to be more precise, a lack thereof. At the end of the first movie, we see a young Jason Voorhees jumping out of the lake to drag the film's heroine, Alice, under the water yet with the events of Part 2 happening only five years later, at least according to "Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter", Jason is suddenly a grown man. Some say that Alice imagined that aspect of the movie but since it was shown to us, it makes it somewhat more difficult to just pass it off as a figment of someone's imagination and even the ending of Part 3 employs the exact same tactic, with the film's heroine Chris being dragged underwater by a very dead Mrs. Voorhees, similar to the ending of Part 1.
According to the "Friday the 13th" timeline on Wikia, it states that Jason was actually born in 1946 so this would most certainly make sense when we see the adult Jason in Part 2 but the scene of the young Jason pulling Alice out of the boat at the end of Part 1, still confuses many. With the supposed drowning of Jason when he was only 11 years old at Camp Crystal Lake, with no body ever found, it was assumed that he was dead and if that were the case, then the young boy jumping out of the water at the end of Part 1, could have been perceived as Jason's ghost but as we know with Part 2, he is not a ghost but very much alive.
As "Friday the 13th Part 2" begins, we are introduced to Alice (Adrienne King), the lone survivor from Part 1. She is quickly dispatched by Jason and an icepick and we are then introduced to the characters that will take us through the rest of the film. Most slasher flicks introduce us to a cast of expendable characters that are there just to be killed off by the movie's antagonist and while Part 2 is no different, what sets it apart, is that director Steve Miner takes his time setting up the story. Instead of having the first kill early on, we meet the new characters and we actually get to spend some time with them and get to know them a little before they are killed off. The later sequels never spend as much time with their characters so we really don't care about them as much when their time is up.
In Part 2, the new heroine is Ginny, played by Amy Steel. In a recent poll on 'Friday the 13th The Franchise', fans were asked to name their favorite heroine from the first five movies and Ginny won with over 44%. The runners up were Chris Higgins from Part 3 (24%), Trish Jarvis from Part 4 (22%), Alice Hardy from Part 1 (7%) and Pam Roberts from Part 5 (3%).
What set Ginny apart from the others in her group, was the fact that she was strong and resilient when she had to be, like all heroines but she also had compassion. In one scene, she talks about Jason and how sad it must have been for him to see his mother, the only person who ever loved and cared for him, beheaded as she defended him. Everybody else laughs this off but if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. He didn't have any other family (although according to "Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday" he had a sister later on) or friends in his life so his whole world was wrapped up in his mother so with her gone, he had nothing left and like anybody who would have the misfortune of witnessing the death of a loved one at the hands of someone else, he wanted revenge.
The one great aspect about Part 2 was the element of surprise. With the killer from Part 1 dead and gone, people had no idea who was committing the new murders. And the iconic hockey mask that has become synonymous with Jason and "Friday the 13th" wasn't introduced until Part 3 so in Part 2, Jason wears a hooded, burlap sack over his head, reminiscent of the hooded killer in the movie "The Town That Dreaded Sundown."
The characters here are actually more fleshed out than in any of the other Friday films and that is why this movie works. We begin to care about them to the point that even though we know they are going to die, we genuinely don't want them to. Most other slasher films have your quintessential characters:
- The bitch
- The token black guy
- The jock
- The loner
And the list goes on. With Part 2 though, the film wasn't bogged down by any of these caricatures. The entire cast was likable, maybe sarcastic and facetious at times but never mean or flat-out awful like in the subsequent sequels. For a first feature film, director Steve Miner knocks this one out of the park. He brings the essential horror required but also some much-needed comedic elements that helps offset the terror and allows the characters some breathing room in between the kills so they're not just piled on top of each other for the sake of showing off.
As was the norm back then, the movie had to be cut in order to satisfy the MPAA and one of the best kills in the movie, and, quite honestly, the entire series, involved Sandra (Marta Kober) and Jeff (Bill Randolph), a couple of camp counselors who are making out in bed. Afterwards, Jeff is lying on top of Sandra, resting, when Jason appears. Sandra quickly looks up but before she can even scream, Jason rams a spear through both of them and into the cabin floor. The original scene was initially much longer but because of the gore and the fact that the studio found out that Marta was actually underage, the entire scene was trimmed down to what it is today.
One other scene that has reappeared in flashbacks throughout the series, is the killing of wheelchair-bound Mark. As he sits outside the cabin, waiting for the return of his girlfriend Vicki, the camera moves ominously close up behind him and in an instant, Jason rams his machete into the side of Mark's face and his wheelchair rolls back down the stairs out of view.
Granted, this being a Friday the 13th movie, there were a lot more kills but these two are remembered most for their unflinching brutality and ruthlessness and because we spent time with these characters beforehand, we actually care about them and don't want them to die. After the finale where Ginny and her boyfriend Paul fight with Jason, the last scene is Ginny being escorted away in an ambulance the next morning but there is no sign of Paul and this is probably the most asked and generally unanswered question of the series. We assume because Paul is never mentioned again and no reference to him is ever made in any of the sequels, that he must be dead but I give that credit to director Steve Miner for leaving it open and totally unanswered. The most logical answer is that he is dead but then again, this is a Friday the 13th movie where logic, for the most part, goes right out the window.
All of the Friday the 13th movies had strong female influences. From the lead heroine of the film to supporting the hero (Parts 6, 9, 10), there has never been a shortage of brave, competent and courageous women. Steve Miner would go on to direct the next chapter in the series, Part 3 and while that movie had some good moments, especially the introduction of the now iconic hockey mask, it was known more for its use of 3D than its story development or character exposition and for me, with the exception of Part 6, it was the beginning of the decline of the series overall.
It's not often that a slasher film has all the necessary elements in order to stand out from its contemporaries, story, acting, direction, music, etc., but "Friday the 13th Part 2" had all of them. Upon its initial release, the reviews were not kind, as was the case with most of the Friday films but looking back, Part 2 is now considered to be one of, if not the best of the entire series. And with eleven other movies to compete with, that's no small feat.
For more info about James visit his website at www.irishfilmcritic.com