FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2 came out in 1981, less than a year after the first film dropped into theaters across the country. A little rushed? Probably? Does it show? Yeah, a little.
The formula is exactly the same. Get a bunch of teens (or whatever age, it’s never quite clear) away from helpful authority figures, have them do drugs and have sex, and pick them off one at a time (or as in the case in one scene from this film, two at the same time) until we get to our final girl. Final boss battle. Moment of peace, scary CARRIE ending. To be fair, it does add a thing or two in that formula. Mainly that there are two survivors (or are there? At the very end final girl calls for him and there’s no answer…) at the end of the film.
The story is weak in this one, which will start the trend of following sequels to just not even try on that front. No, I think we can all agree that the FRIDAY THE 13th series exists for two things, female nudity and elaborate deaths. FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2 delivers on both fronts. Also, the male lead looks a lot like a live action Fred from the SCOOBY-DOO cartoons. That’s neither here nor there, I just felt like pointing it out.
The film starts with a resolution to the first film (not to mention a brief clip show) as far as letting the audience know what happened to the final girl from the first film. It goes pretty much the way you’d expect. Provided you expect it to end poorly. The funny thing about the next chunk of the film is everyone is warning the counselors about Jason. Jason this, Jason that, Jason, Jason, JASON!!! However, Mrs. Vorhees was the killer in the first film, and as far as anyone knows, Jason drowned oh so many years ago. So why they spend all their time talking about Jason and not a vengeful Mrs. Vorhees, I have no idea.
It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, Jason shows up and starts spearing, axing, garroting, and machete-ing his way through the counselors. However, you may have difficulty recognizing him because he doesn’t have his signature hockey mask on in this film. He wears a bag with one eyehole over his face, which has got to do terrible things to his depth perception, and if anything demands depth perception it’d probably be Jason’s hobby, slicing and dicing (you need to know how far to slice to get that dirty counselor, after all).
In fact, the original intention of the FRIDAY THE 13th filmmakers was to have Jason wear a different mask every film, but people responded so well to goalie Jason that the filmmakers gave up that intention really quick. I call that a win, it’s a good mask and by now we’re so exposed to it that it is one of the most recognizable icons from the horror genre and definitely helps out with branding, which is a lucrative sort of thing, I imagine.
Also, the old man on the bicycle from the first film (Ralph? Sorry, I’m typing this up right after the movie, and I’m going fast so I’m not looking up stuff) returns…for a short bit, at least. I’d have liked him to stay around longer, he was tragically hilarious. Always talking about doom to everyone he meets, and then riding away on a little bike, that’s comedy gold!
This film, actually, doesn’t even take place at Camp Crystal Lake. It takes place across the lake from it. WHAT!?!?!?! I’m so confused!!! I thought Jason’s territory was Camp Crystal Lake (except for the eighth, ninth, and tenth installments in the series). Dick move, Jason. Dick move.
But is it any good? Well…it’s not awful, and it certainly isn’t the worst in the series (JASON GOES TO HELL by a landslide), but that’s not to say that it’s great. If you just see it as a continuation of the first one, and not try to rate it on its individual merits, it’s okay. However, on its own it is still entertaining enough to hopefully keep you from ejecting the disc. That time will come (as I said earlier, JASON GOES TO HELL) later, promise.
So overall, it’s more of the same, which can be said about most of the sequels, except five, five tries to change it up. Much like when HALLOWEEN tried changing things up with SEASON OF THE WITCH, this switch they pulled in FRIDAY THE 13th PART 5 was ripped to shreds by fans. They had every right because it is pretty monumentally stupid. But let’s save that story for a later time. For now, just know that FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2 is decent, as far as sequels go. Nothing altogether bad or special, just like I said earlier, more of the same. But if it’s not broke, why fix it? Put in the absolute minimal effort because you know that you have a cash cow on your hands regardless of how awful it becomes. We’ll talk about that a little more in the coming sequels.
For now, I leave you to go watch FRIDAY THE 13th part 3(D), which has a 3D viewing option, and comes with 3D glasses. But since that doesn’t work for me, I’ll be watching the 2D edition.