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Director: Steve Miner
Cast: Amy Steel, John Furey, Bill Randolph, Marta Kober, Tom McBride, Russell Todd, Kristen Baker, Lauren-Marie Taylor and Adrienne King
Plot: Traumatised by his mother’s murder, Jason Voorhees returns from his hiding place to finish what his mother started…

I had a vague inkling of hope for Friday the 13th 2. Why? The original was one of the worst mainstream horror movies I have seen to date, devoid of any story and totally undeserving of its cult status. However, surely Friday the 13th Part 2 was the one where the fun starts. For one, Jason Voorhees actually gets to star in his own movie, meaning that we finally got the horror villain we have been waiting for. On another level, how could a sequel be any worse than the one that came before it?

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The opening scene is actually pretty awesome. OK, it starts dreadfully, Adrienne King returning for a small cameo where she has a convenient nightmare of events from the first film, which helpfully reminds us what happened before. The flashbacks aren’t edited at all, merely copying and pasting whole segments of the first movie into the dreams. Anyway, the story was so non-existent in the first one, why do we even need a flashback sequence to begin watching the sequel anyway? Thankfully this grievous error is soothed by a pretty decent opening sequence. Adrienne’s character walks around her flat on her own, unaware that she is being followed by something. Sure, it offers up another massive plot hole in how the follower is even in the city, but the sequence is so effective that I was forced to forgive it. The footage rarely cuts, following Adrienne around her flat with a smooth tracking shot. The director, Steve Miner, plays around with the concept that the camera might be the follower’s POV. OK, it’s not the best horror I have ever seen, but when we are watching a film from 1981, a film I was almost certain would be abysmal, I take what I can get. It is a chilling start to the movie, offers something different from the norm and has a pretty decent pay-off. Sadly, as soon as that finishes, we are whisked off back to the same old nonsense that the original suffered from.

The summer camp has reopened and a group of foolish teenagers head over to start their summer jobs, which worryingly is meant to be them in responsible positions over young children. The key difference is that this time around the twenty-something in charge of them is perhaps even more irresponsible than they are, letting them get away with trespassing and drug-smoking, if it means getting a chance to sleep with Amy Steel’s pretty camp councillor assistant. Bizarrely, the movie’s finale makes him out to be a heroic figure, which doesn’t work, because I spent the film pretty sure the director wanted him to come across as a negative figure. As the teenagers do everything but train for their upcoming opening, Jason Voorhees decides to come after them, waiting until they are alone and unleashing his violent agenda upon them. Quite quickly, it becomes a carbon copy of the first film. Friday the 13th still suffers because we never see the killer. He is always a ghostly hand in the corner of the screen, two feet running from a crime scene… I wanted the sequel to have a more physical bad guy I can spend time with. As an audience, we never feel Jason’s malice or his evil, making him a weak copy of Halloween’s Mike Myers. I am never quite sure what I am meant to be scared of, until the final reveal. Even that is a disappointment. Turns out his cult hockey mask hasn’t been introduced yet, so our first experience with the almighty Jason Voorhees is a man running around with a pillow case wrapped around his head. The stuff of nightmares…

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At the very least, it is not quite as bad as last time. In the first, the characters had no personality whatsoever, merely people to be offed gruesomely. While the character development is lousy to put it generously, at least someone tries to develop them. We come to know the characters through their little trademarks. One girl has a pet dog on the camp, a couple are obsessed with the myth of Jason, a wheelchair bound kid steers away from drink and drugs on the hope he might regain use of his legs… The story never takes these traits anywhere interesting, but it is enough. I never cared for anyone here, but I had some fun guessing which one would be the next to go. Amy Steel makes a better lead than Adrienne King, at least mildly capable of acting. Sure, she does little more than the sexy girl routine, which evolves into scream queen, but what more did we expect? The ending is a little weak, diluted by the fact that it matches the original beat for beat. It does have a nice, little showdown in Jason’s hidden cabin in the woods, which has a gruesomely creepy set-piece up its sleeve, but otherwise, this movie is the same old rubbish. For the die-hard horror fans only…

Final Verdict: Friday the 13th upgrades its sequel from a terrible slasher flick to a by-the-numbers slasher flick. It’s something, I guess…

Two Stars

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12 thoughts on “Friday the 13th Part 2: The Review

  1. Abbott,

    If you’re looking for well examined characters in this series you should abandon hope. All of these movies are made just to show some tits and blood.

  2. I’ve only ever seen the first one of these Luke. I must say you’re really watching some interesting movies as of late, I should take a leaf out of your book man.

  3. I enjoyed the 2nd one… hello??! We finally meet Jason the famed murdered! I liked his little potato sack and I really enjoyed the psychological element they brought into the mix. I still jump every now and then because I forget some of the times he pops up… woops…

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