For the next nine days until Friday, April 13th, I’ll be watching and reviewing the movies in the Friday the 13th franchise from the very first through Jason X (I’m up in the air about including Freddy vs Jason).
I’ll be counting kills, observing the bad behavior that gets teenagers
killed at Camp Crystal Lake, chronicling the ways Jason and the other
killers in the series bite it at the end, and awarding my favorite kill
of the movie. Needless to say this is going to be heavy on the
spoilers, so if you’re some kind of movie virgin who hasn’t yet bathed
in the spring of Jason Voorhees et al, be wary.
Special thanks to Litmus Configuration for the amazing image above!
Friday the 13th (1980)
Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
9, possibly 10 (One icepick to the temple, one garroting, one hammer claw to the head, one slit throat, one machete to the face plus a fall down a flight of stone steps in a wheelchair, two speared, one knifed, one offscreen death by uncertain means and one missing, presumed dead)
Best Kill: In a post-coital embrace two lovers become as one when they’re stuck together on a spear.
Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll: Two camp staffers have sex and get away with it, but the crazy old man peeping on them isn’t so lucky. Another peeping tom bites it when his leg gets caught in a rope trap and Jason slits his throat. He was peeping on a skinny dipper, and skinny dipping leads to an offscreen death and a spot in Jason’s country cottage. Full blown sex leads to immediate murder while sexual flirtation with a cripple (as well as offering him drugs) leads to both his death and the murder of the girl. A number of counselors go to a bar in town where they listen to bad white funk music, drink beers and survive the night.
The Comeuppance: Jason takes a machete to the shoulder.
The Movie: Considering how clumsy and inept he is in Friday the 13th Part 2, it’s amazing that Jason ever went on to have the prodigious career that followed. At one point Jason stands on a chair to stab a girl with a pitchfork and the chair breaks, sending the big dummy with a pillowcase on his head (oh yes, he is wearing a pillowcase. Add The Elephant Man to the list of films from which the Friday franchise cribs) crashing down, snapping the pitchfork in half. Not the most auspicious of debuts.
He begins the film much more strongly. The sequel to Friday the 13th opens some time after Mama Voorhees’ rampage at Camp Blood, with Survivor Girl Alice trying to get her life back together at home. We follow her through her excruciatingly dull evening routine (director Steve Miner not having learned the difference between tension and boredom) before Jason shows up at her place. He’s put his mom’s head in her refrigerator (always good for a lol), and then he drives an ice pick into her skull. This raises some interesting questions, especially because before he kills Alice Jason gives her a prank call – can Jason read? How else would he have found Alice’s house and phone number? He must have read it in the phone book, as he has never seemed capable speech after drowning. And did he have change to make a phone call? Also, did Jason take a bus to Alice’s house? How the hell did he get there, considering what he looks like at the end of the movie?
All of these questions simmered in my mind throughout the opening credits (nice touch: the Friday the 13th logo EXPLODES! It’s possibly the most exciting moment in this turgid film), but all of that was soon forgotten because of two things: one was watching huge breasted teen Sandra run across a road and the other was the revelation that Friday the 13th Part 2 takes place in the future. Jason X wasn’t the first sci-fi installment! See, this film takes place 5 years after the events of the first film, even though it was released just one year later. This places Jason’s first kill-crazy adventure in 1984 or so.
The big problem with Friday the 13th Part 2 isn’t that Jason’s sort of not that good at what he’s doing – his learning curve as a new serial killer is actually part of what makes the whole thing watchable – it’s that the movie is a less imaginative rehash of the first film. There’s even a rainstorm thrown in, although it does almost nothing for the story. Five years after the Camp Blood case a new camp is opening on Crystal Lake. It’s not at the same site, which is closed from the public, but it’s nearby, and it’s become even more part of local legend than before. In fact, there’s a new twist on the legends – that Jason Voorhees, the drowned son of Mrs. Voorhees, actually survived and grew up on his own as a feral retard in the forest (apparently Jason’s body was never found). Survivor Girl Ginny gets into a whole bleeding heart liberal thing about how poor Jason was probably traumatized by seeing his mom beheaded – she even makes apologies for Mama Voorhees butchering nine people! Of course all of that sympathy is out the window as soon as the guy puts on a pillowcase and starts hunting her down. Take that Jimmy Carter, this is the Reagan Era!
None of the Jason stuff actually makes sense, by the way. If he did survive drowning, why did he go hide in the woods? We see his country cottage, where he keeps victims and his mom’s severed noggin, and it’s pretty close to Camp Crystal Lake… why didn’t he just walk over at some point and say hi to his mom? She certainly thought he was dead, didn’t she? Of course this is just the beginning of the massive logic and continuity problems that will plague this series for the next decade.
Friday the 13th Part 2 makes one improvement over the original: it’s more sexual. There’s a terrific skinny dipping scene featuring a girl with a body so tight she could squeeze coal into diamonds between her ass cheeks. Another girl, reduced to hitting on the cripple in camp, runs around in her underwear for absolutely no reason at all, and Jason hangs out in the woods and checks out her ass for quite some time. Considering how Mama lurked under Kevin Bacon’s coitus cot, it seems like peeping runs in the family (although it might be a self-loathing peeping – Jason offs two other characters who are catching peeks, including doom-saying old loonie Ralph from the first movie. Amusingly, Jason garrotes him against a tree trunk from behind, and to do so apparently brings his arms over the very top of the tree). Even the Survivor Girl gets in the action: Ginny has sex with head counselor Paul (offscreen). Hell, she also goes into town and drinks beers. This is not the kind of behavior we expect from our Survivor Girl!
While ground is gained in T&A, it’s completely lost in kills. The kills in this film are pretty dull, except for the Kill of the Movie, in which two lovers are shish-ke-bab’ed (it is worth noting that while there is plenty of T&A elsewhere, and while lower half of the speared pair Sandra has previously run around in a ludicrously boner-inducing bikini, her breasts are never actually unleashed on screen. Bad form, Friday the 13th Part 2. Bad form indeed), and the crippled kid taking a machete to the kisser and then rolling down a staircase. You have to give the movie some credit for killing the wheelchair kid… unless you remember that Texas Chainsaw Massacre did it first AND had the balls to make the wheelchair kid a total dick. In F13 Part 2’s defense, the script does give wheelchair kid a ‘I will walk again! I will not spend the rest of my life in this chair!’ speech right before Jason dispatches him.
After the perfunctory offing of the counselors who are at the camp (a whole bunch of them – including all the ethnic ones! – left the camp early that evening to go drinking at a local bar that features a band seemingly made up of high school physics teachers), the big chase between Jason and Survivor Girl takes place. While this was probably the weakest segment of the first Friday, in Part 2 it’s one of the only parts done well. By the director, that is – as mentioned earlier, Jason’s pretty bad at it. In fact he attacks Survivor Girl’s boyfriend and leaves him for dead… but the guy turns up later apparently without any injury at all. That’s just sloppy work on Jason’s part.
Anyway, pillowcase Jason is running after the girl and they end up at his shack in the woods. She finds his trophy room – some of his victims are arrayed here around an altar with his mom’s desiccated dome in the place of honor. It’s here that Ginny uses her liberal attempts to ‘understand’ the killer mongoloid to totally fuck his shit up – she puts on his mom’s sweater and pretends to be Mama Voorhees (featuring a cameo by actress Betsy Palmer in a black sweater on a black background. With her huge chompers she looks like a chain-smoking version of Jambi). Jason gets down on his knees and even cocks his head like he’s the goddamned RCA dog as Ginny gets pretty close to him with a machete, but at the last minute he snaps out of it. He’s about to kill her when the boyfriend shows up unharmed, distracts Jason and lets Ginny sink the machete deep into his shoulder.
It’s here that the movie gets really surreal and I don’t exactly know what happens. Ginny and the boy come back to camp, thinking that they’re safe. As they’re relaxing Jason jumps through a window and grabs Ginny – it’s essentially the exact same thing that happened at the end of the last movie in Alice’s dream. But here’s where it gets weird: slo-mo Jason grabs Ginny…. and then flash cut to her screaming on a gurney being loaded into an ambulance in the morning asking where her boyfriend is. Ambulance drives off and that’s the end of that. Huh? Did Jason just leave her behind? Was everything a dream after she sliced Jason? And why does the movie end on a long push in on Mrs. Voorhees’ head… which is obviously a person wearing make-up and not a fake head? Saying I have no idea what the fuck is going on at the end of this movie is putting it mildly.
By the way, the continuity issues really get off the ground at the end of this film. Parts 3 and 4 take place over the course of the weekend following Part 2, but the Jason we see in those movies looks nothing like the one we see here. In Part 2 he’s still all deformed like he was as a kid, but he also has long hair and a beard. He looks like a redneck, like he could be hanging out with Larry, Darryl & Darryl. I actually like this look for Jason – you can imagine that one way to stop his rampage would be to tap a pony keg of Coors Light and crank up Lynyrd Skynyrd on your pick-up truck tape deck while parked in the lot at 7/11.
You can’t expect much from a Friday the 13th movie, but what you should expect are cool kills, and this one does not deliver enough on that front. It’s the loss of FX guy Tom Savini that hurt this film more than the script, bad acting, hiding of Sandra’s boobs and schlocky direction (to be fair, there is one classic edit where Jason comes upon one of the counselor’s dogs and we suddenly cut to hot dogs cooking on a grill. The film was edited by original director Sean Cunningham’s wife, and I get the impression that this bit of visual wit came from somewhere other than director Steve Miner). Overall this is a very disappointing entry in the franchise – it has all of the bad elements of the later films (barely there and unlikable characters, ponderous pacing) without the stuff that makes the movies worthwhile.
Friday the 13th Part 2 scores:
One and a half Retard Jasons out of four.
Next: Friday the 13th Part III takes Jason Voorhees into the third dimension and gives him his famous hockey mask. And somebody’s eyes pop out of their head.