Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981)

Legend has it that Jason saw his mother beheaded that night. Then, he took his revenge, a revenge he continued to seek if anyone ever enters his wilderness again…

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If you love all things horror, or just enjoy the Halloween festivities, you’ll already know that a Friday the 13th falling in October is a pretty special thing. It doesn’t happen often, and when it does, well, these days you can be sure you’ll see plenty of bloodied hockey masks on your social media feed. For me, the best part about this is that it just happens to have fallen on my year of sequels, where my review of Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981) –  where I am finally introduced to Jason Voorhees: the iconic, supernatural killer that we all know and love.

Well. Love is a strong word.

Oh, pipe down. If that’s a spoiler for you, you probably need to stop reading this immediately and go and watch Made In Chelsea or something. Go on. Off you pop.

Have they gone?

Okay. Good. Just me and you. On the road. Like it should be.

Ki Ki Ki… Ma Ma Ma

Five years have passed since the events of Friday The 13th (1980), and things seem to have settled down. Rumours persist that Alice Hardy (Adrienne King), the only survivor from the incident with Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer), was attacked in her home, but her body has yet to be recovered. Five years are a long time, however, and life moves on at Crystal Lake.

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Some way away from Camp Crystal Lake, qualified summer camp counsellor Paul Holt (John Furey) has set up a counsellor training camp on the shore of the lake. Along with his assistant Ginny Field (Amy Steel), Paul has invited a number of trainees to attend – including Sandra (Marta Kober) and her boyfriend Jeff (Bill Randolph), sexy Terry (Kirsten Baker), handsome sleaze bag Scott (Russell Todd), Vickie (Lauren-Marie Taylor) and her crush Mark (Tom McBride), who happens to be in a wheelchair.

As the counsellors begin to explore their surroundings, it soon becomes clear that they are not alone in the woods of Crystal Lake. Something watches them from the trees – and we know for a fact it is not Mrs Voorhees. Soon, the training camp earns the ire of the local police when Sandra convinces Jeff to go and explore the now-condemned Camp Crystal Lake on the other side of the lake. Their presence doesn’t go unnoticed, but before anything terrible happens, Sandra and Jeff are caught trespassing by Deputy Winslow (Jack Marks).

After returning them to the camp, Deputy Winslow spots a shape run past him on the road. He takes up the chase, and eventually finds his way to a creepy shack somewhere deep in the woods. This is our first glimpse of the long rumoured survival of Jason Voorhees (played by the uncredited Steve Daskawisz) – and we soon see him in the flesh.

Later, the movie decides there are too many people in the training camp, and Paul invites everyone out for drinks in town. Sandra and Jeff are told to stay, as punishment for wandering off, but all the named characters above decide to remain for various reasons. For clarity, these various reasons include missionary, cowgirl and, uh, skinny dipping (which, in case you didn’t already realise, is an incredibly bad idea in these circumstances).

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As each of the counsellors pair off with their respective crushes, things go wrong. Badly wrong. Jason, a fully grown man dressed in plaid – his face covered by a pillow case with a single eye-hole – tracks and butchers the counsellors around the camp in much the same way as did his mother in part 1. We are treated to short bursts of gore and horror – but it is clear the censors had a hand in the cuts, as nothing is ever left to sink it.

Things really begin to elevate, however, when Ginny and Paul decide that they’ve had enough at the bar and decide to return to the camp. But, what they find there is hardly the warm welcome they were expecting…

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Just An Urban Legend

I’ve realised it’s hard to really go into detail with slasher films on these reviews, as too lengthy an explanation would only serve to spoil the impact of the horror. While the actual kills feel heavily cut down, there is sufficient enough suspense and thrill to keep you invested in the story. The characters themselves, while cartoonishly promiscuous, actually do have a spark of reality to them. There are even a handful of jump-scares that are executed int he best possible way – particularly that one with the bathroom door handle and the window – oh boy!

The behind the scenes of this production are quite revealing, too. The story goes that Friday The 13th was made to directly target the audience of the successful Halloween (1978), and after Friday became a box office hit, prompted the creation of Halloween II (1981). Friday The 13th Part 2 was developed to keep the ball rolling – with production starting only a couple of months after the first.

However, the way the sequel went was a cause of controversy, with a number of the original crew leaving the production in protest to Jason being the antagonist – as this contradicts the motivation in the first film. Steve Miner, the associate producer of the first film, was then forced to step up to direct and produce the sequel. Interestingly, this gave the film a fairly basic, but wholly effective visual style, that kept the action on the characters and set the tone for the rest of the series. This is particularly effective in the scene in which Ginny confronts Jason in his cabin – a scene that could have quickly gone off the rails in the hands of a more artistic director.

It does mean that some of the twists and turns from the original are copied almost entirely from the first, but man, if you’re going to rip something off from a earlier film – you can’t do worse than copying that classic ending.

Don’t know what I mean? Go and watch it. It’s great – and will only get better. Part 3 is where the action really begins, people. Get those waterproofs on.

Yours, A P Tyler

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