Contributor: Rick McGimpsey
The first sequel to Friday the 13th is one of the best of the series. Part II sets the tone for the future of the franchise and is the first movie to feature Jason Voorhees as the killer. Everything you would expect from a traditional 80’s slasher movie is presented here with perfection. The tone is right. The setting is ideal. The characters are typical fodder for our machete-wielding antihero. And the story doesn’t devolve into the sort of implausibility we see in later entries. There is no Jason going to space, taking Manhattan, or being possessed by the Necromicon in this movie! What we get is standard low-budget slasher fare. It gets everything we expect right. One might argue that the formula of Friday the 13th Part II is too cut-and-paste, but it should be noted that this movie is a trend-setter and such tropes were stemming from this movie rather than being imitated by it. This movie delivers what you pay for.
Like any good slasher movie of the time the movie opens with the surviving heroine of the previous film getting killed. Alice is now back home and after assuring her mother over the phone that she is alright and taking a shower she decides to go to the kitchen to find something to eat. When she opens the fridge she sees to her dismay the severed head of Pamela Voorhees. Because she is not Jeffrey Dahmer and seeing the severed heads of people in her fridge doesn’t appeal to her she screams. The scream is short lived, however, when Jason comes in and pierces her temple with an ice pick.
The movie cuts to five years later and a camp near Crystal Lake is being opened for counselor training. Before starting the training, Paul, who is running the camp tells the counselors to stay away from Crystal Lake. He tells them a story which retells the events of the first movie and then proceeds to claim there is a legend that Jason, Pamela Voorhees’ son, still roams the grounds. He proceeds to tell them the legend is nothing but bullshit and that Jason is dead, but is clear from his intent that no one is to go to Crystal Lake anyway. I am not sure why he demands this since as he said the legend was nothing more than a myth. The reasons for why Crystal Lake is off limits are arbitrarily and unsatisfactorily given. Something to do with property and trespassing I guess, but why resort to bringing up a stupid story then if that is the case. And I also speculate how such a legend about Jason came about. This is the first movie where Jason began killing anybody so it is not like he has earned a reputation or anything yet. In the context of the world where this story takes place there is really no reason for such a legend to start. It would be like a story about Ed Gein having a son who roams his hometown killing people. There is no precedent for such a story to be told.
As things at the camp get underway it becomes more and more clear that Paul is incompetent. After two of his counselors get caught by a sheriff sneaking where they don’t belong his idea of discipline is to forbid them seconds on ice cream served that evening. In the last movie the guy running the camp had a creepy sex offender vibe in my opinion, but he didn’t strike me as an idiot who couldn’t keep the counselors in line. Paul is a complete fucking doofus who doesn’t appear to do any training at all. Most of the time he sits in his office posturing and doing nothing. He is worse than the maintenance staff at my apartment.
The aforementioned sheriff later on spots Jason in the woods and gives chase. He tracks him down to a really disgusting shack that Jason must have built for himself after he supposedly drowned. How he managed to do this is never made clear and before the sheriff can do anything about it Jason kills him with a hammer.
Paul takes some of his counselors to a bar (because fuck productivity) where Ginny, the new replacement heroine of the movie, ponders the possibility that the Jason legend may be true and he is out there alone in the woods somewhere. Paul laughs it off as any sensible person would. It simply isn’t feasible that a young child with mental disabilities could survive on his own in the woods. And if this was not a cheesy 80’s slasher movie he would be correct in thinking this. But in this universe Jason can and does survive and grows up in the woods feeding on animals and murdering wandering horny teenagers who may happen to pass by.
Back at the camp Jason kills off several of the counselors one by one. The most unique and memorable of the deaths by far is the spear scene. While two of the counselors are having sex Jason ruins their fun by spearing them together so hard that the point of the weapon goes under the bed and hits the floor. Damn!
When Paul and Ginny get back they are understandably put out when they find out someone has been murdering their friends while they were gone. I mean, shit, they didn’t even get done half the work they were supposed to do.
Jason soon ambushes them and the remainder of the film is Ginny and Paul running and screaming from their relentless pursuer. They eventually make it back to Jason’s shack and there they find a weird shrine with Pamela’s mummified head sitting in the centre surrounded by candles. In front of the head is her old sweater which she wore in the last film.
Ginny puts on the sweater and poses as Jason’s mother. This confuses the slasher icon for a moment, but after seeing his mom’s head on the altar the big dummy remembers that she was dead. He attacks Ginny, but she is rescued by Paul who gets knocked down. Jason is about to kill him with a pickaxe when Ginny slams a machete into his shoulder. He falls unconscious and they remove his mask which is a burlap sack in this movie. They see his ugly mutated face and are frightened by it. They might have approved of Jason’s behaviour if he was handsome, I guess.
They return back to one of the cabins when suddenly the unmasked Jason jumps through the window and grabs Paul. The film ends with Ginny waking up while being taken by paramedics into an ambulance. She keeps desperately asking where Paul is and she gets no answer.
Friday the 13th Part II is a good example of a traditional Jason movie. The only trope missing is his iconic hockey mask which he does not get until Part 3. If the final jumpscare is not as effective in this one as it was in Part 1 that can be forgiven because otherwise we get everything we need. Jason kills people in unique ways. We get lots of blood, nudity, and the movie is short enough and gives Jason plenty of screen time. Movies of this type don’t need 40 minutes of backstory and character development and I am glad this movie knows what it is. A Jason movie should be standard fare. When it tries to do something different we get robot Jason from Jason X. I can live without that.