Friday, 13 December 2013

Friday the 13th part 2 (1981): Review

Friday the 13th part 2 is a 1981 slasher sequel. Directed by Steve Miner (House, Lake Placid) and starring Amy Steele (April Fool's Day), John Furey and Adrienne King. The film is the first in the long running series to feature Jason Voorhees as the antagonist.

Friday the 13th part 2 opens with a lengthy recap of the first film via Alice's nightmares for the benefit of audiences who had forgotten in the space of a year. Alice is quickly dispatched in a rare home visit from Jason as it becomes clear that 5 years have passed since the murderous rampage of Mrs Voorhees. Now Camp Crystal Lake has been condemned and a similar establishment has been setup down the road that will be manned this summer by manager Paul (Furey) and assistant Ginny (Steele) as well as a host of other foolish teenagers. The film continues to unfold in much the same way as the first film as "the body count continues" at the, increasingly creative, hands of Jason. When all is said and done the task falls to Ginny to outsmart the sack-headed woodsman and become the final girl.

Part 2 is very much the transitional film of the series. Maintaining the look and feel of Hitchcock-esque original whilst trying to forge it's own path through the overcrowded slasher market that it helped to create. In the process we see a horror icon in the making as the Jason character starts to take shape but is yet to be fully realised as the sack headed, dungaree wearing goon that was, visually, a take off of the 1976 film The Town that Dreaded Sundown. It makes it all the more frustrating that Jason is not revealed until the end of the film in an attempt to maintain a sense of mystery when it is plain, then and now, who the killer is.

As with many slasher films of the time the movie was neutered by the MPAA who were intent on removing any gore from the film amidst the video nasty moral panic. As a result the body count of the movie's tagline is largely imagined and not able to meet the standards established in the original film or the splatter of later films in the franchise. About the only slasher trope that is in abundance in the film is the half naked, horny teenager antics and cheesy teenage dialogue, which although entertaining, means much less without authentic psychopathic murders.

Part 2 sits in an awkward place between pioneering genre classic and iconic, if repetitive 80s sequels. Interesting to Friday the 13th completists only for its unique incarnation of Jason and memorably strong female lead character, this is perhaps the definition of a generic retread of an extremely profitable film.

** 2 Stars

What do you think of Part 2? Did you like Sack-head Jason?


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