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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Friday the 13th Part II (1981)

The Slasher marathon continues with another entry into the Friday the 13th series. This first sequel follows up on the surprise appearance of Jason at the end of the first movie. What was just an add on jump scare introduces the character that would carry most of the rest of the series. Here he gets to pick off an entirely new batch of counselors as the damn people just can’t keep away from Crystal Lake!

This movie is supposed to take place five years after the end of the original movie. It opens up with a recap of the ending of the first before moving onto the survivor from the original, Alice, as she is trying to put her life back together. That is short lived as we see a grown-up Jason stalking her. He travels far from Crystal Lake to get Alice at her apartment. After dispatching her the credits roll and we are introduced to the new cast of potential victims.

Crystal Lake apparently is pretty big as it has not just one but at least two camps on its shores. Across from Camp Crystal Lake is another facility where counselors are put thru training so that they can then go work other places. Like the first movie we get to see some of them arriving in town asking for directions. Crazy Ralph is there to give them the whole ‘You are going to die’ speech, which they ignore. Ironically, he really should have listened to his own advice! Jason shows up and starts to kill them off until we are left with a final girl and a final guy. At least I think that there is a final guy… The ending has always been a little confusing.

I like this movie, but I have three big issues with it that annoy the heck out of me. I’m going to save those for the end. What Part II does well is continue the solid pacing from the first. After the recap we jump into the new story with Alice being stalked by Jason. There are a couple good jump scares including the damn cat bit! I like to roll my eyes whenever a horror flick tosses a cat in to scare the audience. It is so cheesy, but damn it sometimes that shit works. She dies and then the we meet our new characters. This is done quickly as the movie falls right into the evenly paced kills interspersed with a bit of character development and stalking.

They killed wheelchair dude!
The first movie had some sexual content, but this is the first Friday movie that features nudity. The random skinny-dipping scene with full frontal female nudity became a staple of the genre, like it or not, and I think this is the first Slasher that featured it. It gets repeated a lot in the genre. Always feel weird talking about this stuff, but it is part of what makes the Slasher movies unique and popular. Now that it is out of the way let’s talk kills and gore!

The kills are on par with what we see in the first movie. There is a screwdriver to the head, poor Ralph gets garroted, another throat slashing, a couple is speared, and the dude in a wheelchair gets a machete to the face. Taking a critical look at this movie I noticed that the “highlight” kills that stick with most viewers are variations of those from the first movie. Kevin Bacon’s character gets speared from below, here we get a couple dispatched the same way from above. And instead of the hatchet to the face, we get the machete to the face. Not being critical of the work. It is done well and looks cool onscreen. Here is where I think the lack of Tom Savini’s participation hurts the movie. He has a creative streak that would have had him one upping himself by thinking up different gags to off the cast.

Now about my issues with Friday the 13th Part II. I’m going to start with the least and finish with the most annoying. The ending is a little confusing. It ends with Ginny killing Jason or does it? When she is being loaded into the ambulance at the end her boyfriend and fellow survivor is nowhere to be seen. Is that just bad editing? Was the end of the movie some dream or nightmare and Jason is still out there? It feels forced and unnecessarily confusing.

Not a tater sack Jason fan...
Now let’s talk about Ginny. She is the final girl here so when push comes to shove she does battle with Jason, as you would expect. She stabs him, attacks with a chainsaw, and even dons a dead ladies’ sweater to lull him into relaxing his defenses. Kind of badass no? That is until the boyfriend shows up. She keeps thinking he is dead, but he keeps coming back. When he does she turns back into “I’m a girl who is going to scream and stand in a corner”. What the hell movie? Also, after being chased by the killer, seeing her friends killed, and other horrible sights she hides under a bed. I don’t blame her for that, but when a rat comes along she pees herself letting Jason know where she is… Seriously what where the filmmakers thinking? That is what pushes her over the edge! Do the filmmakers hate strong women? Either make her a badass or make her weak, don’t keep switching back and forth.

Finally, I’ve always been rather annoyed by how they treated the Alice character. If they were going to continue her story in the sequel that would be one thing. But it very much feels like they tacked her on at the beginning of the movie for the sole purpose of killing her off. Her fate is mentioned briefly in one toss away line and doesn’t serve the plot at all. The recap and her walking around the apartment actually slows down the beginning of the movie and messes with the pacing a bit. Plus, I like the character of Alice and the actress that portrays her. She deserved better than this.

While I have issues with the movie I still recommend Friday the 13th Part II. In spite of the drawbacks it still provides the gore, scares, and everything else that fans are looking for in a Slasher flick.

© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer

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