FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2 (1981)
The original Friday The 13th is a bonafide horror classic and it spawned a much beloved series that is still ongoing with another installment recently announced, but, personally, I was never that much of a fan of the sequels despite Jason being a cool and iconic horror character. I saw the first sequel at the Little Ferry Drive-In in 1981 and despite not being all that thrilled with it, I still followed the series in a theater till giving up after part 6 or 7, I can’t remember which. Recently I have decided to return to the series and revisit the sequels and this is obviously the first I re-watched after decades of not having seen it.
So how does it fair now? Part 2 is still a big disappointment after the first movie. It doesn’t even seem to try to match it’s predecessor and while competently made, it just lacks the scares, suspense and fun. It follows the formula faithfully but, without any heart or soul. The second film opens with the first film’s final girl Alice (Adrienne King) about 2 months after she survived the massacre of her fellow camp counselors at Camp Crystal Lake and let’s just say finding Mrs. Voorhees decapitated head in her fridge is only the beginning of her problems. We then jump 5 years later where Alice’s fate is now a campfire story for a new camp opening on Crystal Lake not far from where the original massacres took place. The urban legend of Jason Voorhees still lurking in the woods provides spooky tall tales for a new group of nubile and attractive camp counselors until it becomes a horrifying reality when an unknown assailant wearing a sack over his head starts brutally killing off the young camp employees one by bloody one. Could it really be Jason returned to avenge his mother and will anyone survive?
Series producer Steve Miner took over from Sean S. Cunningham for the next two installments and his directing style is polished but, very by the numbers and the film does not have near the atmosphere or suspense of the first film. The follow-up really comes off as a cash grab sequel and it shows. The kills are also far less inspired and far less graphic and a few of them even happen off camera. What little make-up FX we see, are well done but, there is far less of one of the things that made the first F13 stand out… the gore.
The cast are fine with lead Amy Steel being a likable but, generic heroine as counselor Ginny and John Furey is adequate but, forgettable as Paul her boyfriend and head counselor. The rest of the young cast are attractive but, basically stereotypes who are just there to be lambs for the slaughter and as that they are fine.
There are a few nice touches and nods to the original that I won’t spoiler here and the flick does have the distinction of being the first film where Jason (Warrington Gillette) is the killer, though here he not only wears overalls and a sack over his head but, is average size and gets smacked around pretty good by Ginny in the last act. It wasn’t till Part 3 that he got his hockey mask and appeared as more of the hulking giant that he would remain till this day.
The film does now have some nice 80s nostalgia added to it and is competently enough put together to keep your interest but, the gritty style and gory killings of Part 1 along with it’s suspense and intensity are sourly lacking though at least Henry Manfredini’s iconic score is there to give it the Friday The 13th movie feel. As with the original it comes complete with shock ending, though it seems forced here. Not the best of the sequels but, also not one of the worst. Also stars Walt Gorney as crazy old Ralph who should have taken his own advice.
2 and 1/2 hockey masks.