Directed by Steve Miner [Other horror films: Friday the 13th Part III (1982), House (1985), Warlock (1989), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), Lake Placid (1999), Day of the Dead (2008)]
I think we can all agree that the first Friday the 13th is a great movie, but the second film is probably a bit better. That’s always been my feeling on it, anyway, but at the same time, the first five films of this series are all pretty solid in their own way, and all are above average. The second part isn’t the best of the five, but it is pretty damn solid.
The kills here are great. I think there’s only one that’s particularly weak, but most of them are of high quality, from the razor-wire garrote, and double impalement by spear to a machete to the face, hammer to the head, and of course the upside throat-slitting. Though Savani wasn’t involved in this one, I thought the kills were all pretty great, which is nice to see.
Character-wise, there are some memorable ones here. Paul (John Furey) wasn’t that memorable, but Ginny (Amy Steel, also from the classic April Fool’s Day) was a fantastic character, and with her child psychology interest, she was a good choice of protagonist, as she, above anyone else, could even have the potential to get through to Jason (which she does, in a way). Ted (Stuart Charno) was pretty fun too, and unlike many in these films, finds a happier ending, which was a nice surprise.
The couples Terry (Kirsten Baker) and Scott (Russell Todd, later in Chopping Mall), along with Jeff (Bill Randolph) and Sandra (Marta Kober), don’t particularly interest me (though Baker did have a solid nude sequence), but all their deaths were welcomed. Mark (Tom McBride) and Vickie (Lauren-Marie Taylor, later in Girls Nite Out), though, were both enjoyable characters, Vickie in particular, as she was the cutest girl here, and I really liked her personality. Same for Mark, as a wheelchair-bound character in a slasher isn’t something you see everyday.
Seeing Adrienne King come back for the opening was decently fun, and did set up the movie well, but I don’t know how much I care for Jason going so far out of his way just to get revenge. Still, I’m glad they went as far as to bring King back, however briefly.
As for Jason, I really like his portrayal here. He runs, he makes mistakes (him breaking that chair toward the end always struck me as funny), he gets knocked down – Jason here seems a lot more human than he does in later films, and I thought that worked well. I also like the sack over his head – I get that the hockey mask is iconic, but I thought he looked reasonably frightening here, so I had no complaints. Steve Dash did great here as Jason, so it’s a shame he never played him again (though Warrington Gillette was credited as Jason, apparently Dash, the stunt double, played Jason for much of the film).
Of course, the ending is good fun, what with a rainstorm and characters finding bodies, getting killed, all that good stuff. Much like with the first film, I really enjoyed the finale, though I think the first one was better (though we do get a very clever way to deceive Jason here, which I thought was quite ingenious). Still, a lot of frantic running and fighting happen here in the final twenty minutes, and it’s all good fun, even the somewhat dreamily mysterious conclusion (we never really do find out what happens to Paul). I’m just happy that decapitated head didn’t wink, or something, because I won’t lie – they were definitely thinking of doing that.
Friday the 13th Part 2 isn’t the perfect slasher, but I do think it’s a lot of fun, and the likable and memorable characters here are certainly worth watching, and there are a few solidly funny quips here too (‘No seconds on desserts,’ or ‘the one with the puck’). I never hesitate to watch this one, and while I think the first movie has a better finale, Part II is a bit more enjoyable overall.
This is one of the films covered on the Fight Evil podcast, so if you’re into cool shit brah, here’s Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discussing this classic.