By Casey Campbell
Almost exactly a year after Friday the 13th made audiences afraid to go out in the woods to drink, do drugs, and have sex, Part 2 emerged with a new killer and a fresh legacy to explore.
It’s almost impossible to deal in absolutes when discussing the Friday the 13th series. While each entry contains the same very basic elements and, to some lesser extent, the same atmosphere, everyone is particularly partial to certain entries (hence the deluge of rankings online). What I’ve gathered from the Friday community online is that Part 2, 4, and 6 are some of the very best, and I think I mostly agree.
Part 2 opens with Friday the 13th final girl Alice (Adrienne King) attempting to live her life following the events on Crystal Lake. The cold open hints at a lurking presence, dutifully recreating the same kind of scene from the first film, only with a character you not only know and like, but rooted for. And, like the previous entry, the stalking figure kills the young character. In true sequel fashion, however, the kill is preempted and even punctuated by the reveal of Mrs. Voorhees decaying head in Alice’s fridge. Why is it there? Why would the killer—eh, it’s Jason, obviously—take the head with him and put it in her fridge? Who cares! It’s a great image, and leaves a lasting impression and mood for the rest of the movie.
After the explosive opening credits, we’re introduced to the new campers. It’s been five years since the Crystal Lake murders, Alice has been found dead, and the whole thing seems to be more of a ghost story than a local tragedy.
I don’t want to say that the sequels do things better than the first installment, but they take the initial idea and explore certain ideas in more engaging ways, with a huge caveat. Mrs. Voorhees makes much more sense than Jason. Sure, the idea of Jason witnessing his mothers death thus sending him into a confused rage with little understanding of his actions is actually interesting. But it’s not actually canonical to the series, and I hate that I just typed that nerd shit out but it’s true. After hearing a story about Jason at the campfire, fated final girl Ginny (one of, if not my favorite final girl of the series, played by Amy Steel) is the one that uses her background studying child psychiatry to assume Jason’s motives. If he was real, that is. Because at that point in the story, they don’t think the little drowned boy was even alive, let alone watching as his mother got decapitated.
It’s one of those things that I want to say “Oh well!” too, like the head in the fridge, but the head fridge isn’t a constant throughout 10 more films. But, I digress. Jason isn’t a part of this movie to complain about. In fact, he’s at his scariest.
It’s shown that Jason had a facial disfigurement in the flashback sequence from the previous film. You know what’s expensive? Make up. You know what isn’t? A sack. And yet the sack is so much more effective.
Jason wears a sack on his head in Part 2, and acquires the famous hockey mask in Part 3. The sack is a great look for Jason. It’s creepy, with only one eye hole, and he’s dressed a bit like a disgruntled farmer in a dirty flannel and overalls. He’s even shown to be residing in a dilapidated shanty out in the middle of the Crystal Lake woods.
Part 2 is an awesome entry in the early days of the fledgling series. It employs a crop of fun and naive youths to be dispatched by a fresh new villain in the form of Jason Voorhees and does so with aplomb.