Friday the 13th, Part II
directed by Steve Miner
(Paramount, 1981)

As far as I'm concerned, Friday the 13th, Part II is the best film in the whole series. Mom did some nice work, but now it's time for the real killing machine to take over. Jason doesn't have the hockey mask yet, and he's not yet the seemingly inhuman, unstoppable killing force he will become, but he definitely earned slasher rookie of the year for his efforts in this film. He doesn't have the scary presence of a Michael Myers, but Jason is all about ruthless, efficient killing. The first few minutes of the film, featuring flashbacks to the climactic scenes of the original, are pretty annoying, but the rest of this film is a great, unsettling ride.

Frankly, I never cared for Alice (Adrienne King), the sole survivor of the first film, so I had no problem with Jason clearing up the only loose end left by his dear, beheaded mother (speaking of unsettling, poor Adrienne King soon left the business altogether because of an ardent fan who began stalking her). Once the extended opening scene is out of the way, we head back to Camp Crystal Lake -- actually, another campsite on the lake -- where a camp counselor training center is drawing a new cast of potential victims right into Jason's backyard. With the exception of Ted (Stu Charno), I actually liked these young people. The guys are less annoying and the girls are prettier than those in the first film. I must admit I was taken aback by the presence of a cute little dog named Muffin being brought into the danger zone, though. (Do what you want to the people, but I have to draw the line at killing cute little animals.) Even good old Ralphie is back to warn the kids that they are certainly doomed. But come on -- it's been five years since the last murders, and everyone knows Jason is just a legend, right?

Some guys seem to have a thing for Terri (Kirsten Baker), which probably has something to do with the fact she likes to wear the shortest shirts allowed by law and to go skinny-dipping, but Ginny (Amy Steel) is my girl. Not only is she cute, she's also a spunky little fighter -- and she almost finds an actual use for her psychology degree. She's not smart enough to figure out that you need to beat the hell out of and slice and dice Jason into about 50 pieces when you have him down, but what are you going to do? I would say that Vicki (Lauren-Marie Taylor) is pretty hot, too, but I'd better not because she looks like she's about 15 years old, tops.

Jason's appearance in this film is interesting, especially given the fact that he wouldn't don the hockey mask until Friday the 13th, Part III. We actually see his face for the first time near the end, but for most of this film, he wears a sack of some kind over his head. Reportedly, the look was inspired by the killer in The Town That Dreaded Sundown, but the image that I call to mind is that of the sketch of the Zodiac killer as described by Bryan Hartnell. (This attack, in which the Zodiac killer murdered Cecelia Ann Shepard and left Hartnell for dead, is the most eerie and frightening attack I have ever read about, which is why I think it makes for a much more frightening image than the vintage Jason hockey mask.)

The ending of this film is surprisingly open-ended, but I guess the filmmakers already had plans for a next installment in the series. What gets me is the fact that a couple of minor characters I fully expected to see dead actually miss out on all of the murderous fun. Based on Jason's performance here, their deaths would have made very nice additions to the collection. If you ever want to visit Camp Crystal Lake, Friday the 13th, Part II should be a necessary part of your travel plans.

review by
Daniel Jolley

10 July 2010

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