Skip to content
Advertisements

John’s Horror Corner: Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), Jason Voorhees avenges his mother’s death and brokers a slasher franchise.

October 15, 2017

MY CALL:  More kills, more boobs and more excitement than its (honestly) slow-paced classic predecessor.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Friday the 13th Part 2Obviously, Friday the 13th (1980).  For more classic ‘early modern’ slashers one should venture A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Sleepaway Camp (1983), The Burning (1981) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).

Part 1 SIDEBAR:  You may recall that in part 1, almost in the form of a Psycho (1960) mother-son role-reversal, Mrs. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer; Friday the 13th) was our killer and she was taking her cues from the inner voice of her presumably deceased Jason in her head (“Kill her, mommy”).  Part 1 ended with her being decapitated (great scene) and her decaying son (perhaps a dream) pulling our final girl Alice (Adrienne King; Friday the 13th, The Butterfly Room) into Crystal Lake.  Of course, when she awoke in the hospital, the sheriff informed he she was found in the water and there was no sign of a boy.

Director Sean S. Cunningham (DeepStar Six) brought us a low-budget ($550K) franchise opener iconic among slasher, revenge and summer camp horror.  Boldly following in his footsteps, the very capable director Steve Miner (Friday the 13th Part III, Warlock, House, Halloween H20, Lake Placid) starts his career with twice the budget ($1.25 million) to introduce us to the franchise’s next killer: Jason.  What I find most amusing is that this movie is about Jason Voorhees avenging his mother who died avenging Jason’s death…even though he never actually died.

Halloween SIDEBAR: It’s fair (if not obvious) to say that Halloween (1978) clearly influenced subsequent slasher movies.  Someone (to me, on Facebook) recently made the claim that “Friday the 13th was a was a direct spin-off/rip-off/carbon copy answer to Halloween.” With respect to part 1, I can’t say I agree with the extremity of the comment (e.g., “carbon copy”) when the killer was a crazy mother with nothing supernatural about her.  Even in part 2, Jason is just a man who cowers at the sight of a girl with a chainsaw and collapses after a kick in the balls—even if he does re-emerge alive after a blow that would kill anyone.  Only in later installments did Jason become the unstoppable undead menace we know today (and, in that respect, more like Myers). However, we do find a victim pegged to the wall (in part 1, with arrows; as Myers did, with a knife) and, in part 2, Jason definitely mimics the Michael Myers head tilt (after sticking the guy to the wall in the kitchen).

Mrs. Voorhees may be dead, but her son’s body was apparently never recovered and local folklore suggests Jason lives in the wilderness.  But no worries, crazy locals like Ralph (Walt Gorney; Friday the 13th Parts 1 & VII) continue to warn all would-be campers “you’re all doomed.”

Moving at a more brisk pace than the much slower original (although not slow-paced back in 1980), a bigger camp staff means more victims, more kills and more nudity.  Now five years after the events of part 1, Ginny (Amy Steel; April Fool’s Day), Ted (Stuart Charno; Christine, Once Bitten) and Sandra (Marta Kober; Neon Maniacs, Slumber Party Massacre III) among many others are hired to prepare to open a camp on the other side of Crystal Lake.  These summer staffers die from all manner of stabbings, slashings and barbed wire strangling (likely inspiring the Wrong Turn razor-wire scene).  My favorite death scenes were the speared lovers and the toppling wheelchair.

Much as in part 1, the glimpses we get of our killer’s hand and clothing seem very “human.” Although his breathing is a bit on the eerily heavy side and, when we see him at the end, his face is a disfigured fright.

It’s funny looking back at this movie after seeing a total of 12 franchise films which make the killer larger, more unstoppable and more supernatural with each sequel.  Watching this 1981 killer is almost humorous—like, remember when Jason (Warrington Gillette, 6’1”; Time Walker) was just a dude who actually “ran” after his victims (unheard of in later sequels), was scared of chainsaws, and was slowed down by a kick in the balls from a scared girl?  Yeah, Jason has come a long way. LOL

Playing off the nightmarish end of part 1, we close with what may or may not have been our final girl’s bad dream and the questionable notion of whether or not Jason is still alive.  Probably alive, right?  In either case, part 1 was a classic that joined Halloween in ushering in the modern slasher era. But this sequel (the first “Jason movie”) is what really ignited the franchise by offering a movie with greater rewatchability and more excitement than its predecessor.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: