January 30, 2012

Movie Review: Friday the 13th Part 2

The year was 1980, the movie was called Friday the 13th, while it borrowed a lot from Halloween, the movie put its own spin on the fast growing slasher sub-genre in a new direction. It was a big enough success that a sequel was shot and released just a year later. This second film is the one that created the franchise. As classic as the first was, it was this one that really began laying the groundwork for the future. It is still not high art, but it is definitely effective.

Friday the 13th Part 2 starts with the return of Alice, the lone survivor of the first movie. She is having a terrible nightmare, she is reliving the horrors of the first movie, which saw her friends brutally murdered. Alice killed Mrs. Pamela Voorhees, the mother of Jason, who drowned in Crystal Lake. She in the years following, she keeps the camp from ever reopening with acts of arson and other stuff, although none of those things have even been officially pinned to her.  Her acts keep the camp from opening until a steafast group arrive in 1979 and she must take her creativity to another level. She goes and kills everyone involved.

Well, with Mrs. Voohees dead, who is going to step up here? You see, Jason never drowned, he survived and has been living out in the woods with the memory of counselor neglect and the death of his mother by decapitation. Oh yes, Jason watched as Alice separated his mother's head from the rest of her body.

This opening sequence recaps the first film and leads to the inevitable death of Alice, we follow her around her home in a long unbroken shot, tension building every second. When is it going to come? When will the figure step out of the darkness and take his revenge? There are many moments where it could happen, but doesn't. When it does, let's just call it a way I would not like to go. Nicely executed open.

Five years later, the land next to Camp Crystal Lake is being opened as a training ground for camp counselors. Might as well call it Camp Jason Fodder. Before long the grounds are running rampant with young people with raging hormones. We also get reintroduced to Crazy Ralph, the local doomsayer. All of these people go about their business, which, like the first film, has very little to do with counselor training. The couples split off, the singles try to pair off, and Jason sits back and waits.

Before Jason's bloody rampage can begin we need to hear the story, in the five years since the the first film, the story of Jason has become campfire legend. The crazy girl in the lake (Alice) has inspired the growth of the story, not to mention the actual blood that was shed. The story is told around a fire and all in attendance are intrigued, if not terribly afraid. To this point, Jason's existence is a complete unknown.

Now, as the would be counselors know the legend, Jason steps in, unhappy to have these interlopers on his land, and still harboring those bad feelings of his near drowning and the death of his mother. He moves in and dispatches the boys and girls in a variety of creative ways. It is a joy to watch, especially with like minded friends.

This movie serves no other purpose than to provide cheap thrills. There is nothing wrong with that, it is not particularly scary, but it is not without its tension. The characters are moderately interesting, and some of them you may even want to see live. Maybe.

This movie sees Jason make his first appearance, but sans hockey mask. As he goes around hacking and killing he does so with a a sack over his head with a single eye hole. A big thing to note with this film, something younger fans may not know, Jason is very much a living person, he is not the unstoppable zombie he would become. In this movie you will see him run, stagger, scramble, and get hurt. He is sort of like a crazy redneck living in the woods. This is in stark contrast to what he would develop into later in the series. Still, this is our official introduction to one of the most prolific and popular killers of all time.

An interesting thing to note is the head of Pamela Voorhees at the conclusion is not always a dummy head, there are parts where it is someone in makeup. The original plan had been for the eyes to open at the end. Fortunately, they decided not to go that route.

Again, like the first movie, this is not my favorite of the series, but it is still an entertaining entry in the stalk and kill series. I like the way Jason is portrayed. I also like that the character changes over the series. Dare I say Jason has character development?


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