Friday the 13th: The Complete Collection - Friday the 13th Part 2 Blu-ray Review

Written by ZigZag

Blu-ray released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Directed by Steve Miner
Written by Ron Kurz
1981, Region A, 87 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on September 13th, 2013

Starring:
Amy Steel as Ginny
John Furey as Paul
Kristen Baker as Terry
Lauren-Marie Taylor as Vicky
Russell Todd as Scott
Stu Charno as Ted
Marta Kober as Sandra
Bill Randolph as Jeff
Tom McBride as Markh

 

Review:

Sure Dracula and Godzilla have made more onscreen appearances, but usually in freestanding adventures. The phrase "James Bond will return" usually appeared in the closing credits of each installment in that saga, but Jason Voorhees was never intended to be the star of the show. He has a brief appearance in the original film before coming into his own a year later in Friday the 13th Part 2. Newcomers to the proceedings will note that this is a much different character than the later iconic image of Jason everyone is familiar with. He is smaller, faster and more vulnerable than you might expect, and he does not wear the signature mask. What the hell is going on here?

With the unexpected success of the original film, the studio encouraged a sequel, the sooner the better. Director Sean S. Cunningham and writer Victor Miller did not wish to repeat themselves, having wrapped things up nicely at the end of their story. Tom Savini also passed on the repetition and opted instead to work on the (awesome) Friday clone, The Burning (so much for originality). Another misadventure on Crystal Lake was going forward with or without them, so Steve Miner (production manager and associate producer on the first film) was hired to direct. Writer Ron Kurz runs with the idea of reversing the killer's motive, and now the previously drowned Jason will avenge the murder of his mother at the hands of a camp counselor.

In the five years since the massacre at Camp Crystal Lake, the grounds have been condemned and the events are the basis for an urban legend told to scare other campers. Paul Holt heads a counselor training program located on the opposite side of the lake and is gearing up for the new season. Two of his staff go in search of the legend and are hauled in by the police for trespassing. This transgression is apparently enough to stir the wrath of Jason Voorhees and the killer begins stalking the campsite. Leading up to his attack, the majority of the staff opts to spend one last night in town, leaving only a half dozen potential victims to stay behind. The isolated stragglers are quickly dispatched and Jason waits in the darkness for more people to return.

 

This is one of my favorite entries in the series and coincidentally the first one I ever saw. The film plays more as a reboot than an actual follow-up, and even features three returning cast members from the original film. The producers expand upon what worked before and add a more active third act chase. Also included is the "campfire legend" scene so prominent in slashers like The Burning and Madman, but it is a nice way to set up potential relationships among characters. The script wisely introduces everybody on the first day of training, so like the first day of school, there are no preconceived notions about anyone. Slasher fans don't need a lot of melodrama or extended back story, instead an attractive and likeable cast can be just as engaging as any found in more highbrow material. The performances are generally strong and nobody sticks out as particularly annoying or cartoonish.

The second half of the film belongs to actress Amy Steel as Ginny Fields, Paul's assistant/ girlfriend. In her introduction we learn that she is studying child psychology and it is while everyone is relaxing at a bar that she explores the idea of Jason as a victim. This scene provides an insight into where the franchise is headed and Steel really nails the delivery of the material. When Ginny and Paul return to camp early, they interrupt Jason's work and soon she is running for her life in a cat-and-mouse chase through the woods that is one of the best of the series. Unlike later sequels, Jason is not an omnipotent being, but he is still a very real danger. His disguise is a creepy burlap sack that is simple and effective, although there were initial comparisons to The Elephant Man and The Town That Dreaded Sundown.

This picture moves at a much faster pace than the first one and a lot of that energy comes from the impressive direction of Steve Miner, who fills several key sequences with extensive use of the Steadicam. It glides through both quiet moments like the introductory sequence and the more intense chase scenes of the final act. Makeup artist Carl Fullerton had the thankless task of stepping into Savini's shoes providing the gory murder-set-pieces. The majority of his work was censored by the MPAA ratings board and was subsequently lost over the following decades. Whereas the original film received an R rating with the removal of roughly 11 seconds of content, part 2 suffered over a minute of cuts, a lifetime in slasher movies. As a result, virtually all of his work has been excised leaving the scenes a bit neutered. The two signature kills were "borrowed" from Mario Bava's Bay of Blood and involve the couple speared during sex and the machete to the face of the man in the wheelchair.

 

Reflections from Behind the Mask (may contain spoilers):

Not everything in this movie is terrific, starting with the idea that Jason somehow is a viable option for the role of villain. Yes, the sequel needs him and fans now love him, but if his death was the catalyst for the events in the original film then how can you justify bringing him back... as an adult? Looking back on things thirty years later, it is easy to nail the story, but wouldn't a more obvious choice have been Jason's father avenging the deaths of his wife and son? Whatever, it works in the long run.

There are a few dumb things Jason does, however, without too much grief from audiences. At the beginning of the film he has managed to track down the woman who killed his mother. I don't know if he followed her to and from the hospital or if he got her name from directory assistance or if he caught a bus to her neighborhood, but it's fun to imagine the further adventures of bag-head Jason in the suburbs.

Crazy Ralph stands outside Ginny's cabin and watches her make out with Paul. He hears a noise and looks around, but is quickly strangled by a piece of barbed wire. The kill happens quickly, but Jason's position is not really clear. He is either in the tree reaching down in order to hook Ralph below the jaw, or he is standing behind the tree and is somehow able to get him. It is awkwardly staged and suggests there is no height to the tree and he simply hoops the wire over the top, or if he is standing on the ground then he is about eight feet tall. Look at it...it's weird.

Muffin. The little dog Terry takes everywhere including on hikes. The dog is cute and has a bow and a bell and gets into all kinds of mischief. Fuck that pooch. It disappears for the majority of the picture and despite clearly turning up as an early Jason victim, returns in the final scene as a disarming distraction. Ugh. Worthless.

 

Video, Audio and Special Features:

Video, audio and special features for this collection will be discussed on the final page of this review.

 

Grades:

Movie: Grade Cover
Video: Grade
Audio: Grade
Features: Grade
Overall: Grade

Which Friday next?

 

 

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