Tag Archives: Camp Crystal Lake

Friday the 13th Part II

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

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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.

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Friday the 13th (1980)

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

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Well it is the month of October again and that means it is time to review another horror series. Every few days I will release a review of each of the Friday the 13th movies just like I did last year with the Halloween franchise. It feels to me like Friday the 13th is the appropriate followup to Halloween and next year it will be the A Nightmare on Elm Street series that I review. Michael Myers, Jason, and Freddy sort of form The Big Three when it comes to slasher icons and so I chose this arrangement accordingly. What series I will do in 2019 remains to be determined.

As for Friday the 13th, the original 1980 version, it may come as a surprise to a newcomer or a casual horror fan that Jason is not the killer in this one. For the casual fan, newcomer, and young woman being stalked by Ghostface whose life I am now saving, it should be noted that it is not Jason; but his mother Pamela Voorhees who is the killer. Although, unlike in the other films in the series, the perp is not apparent.

Throughout Friday the 13th the Camp Crystal Lake counselors are being stalked and murdered by an unknown and unseen assailant whose motives are unknown and whose MO is both varied and vicious. We never see her face until the very end and she remains hidden by the power of POV shots for the majority of the movie.

The film opens in the 1950’s with a crowd of campers and counselors singing around a campfire singing hymns. Two of these devout worshippers decide to take a break and go to a cabin attic to have sex. If I was a bit more naive I would object to this depiction of two Christian teens having sex, but I have been around enough kids in Church youth groups to know that this is really not that uncommon.
The twain kiss for a bit, but they are interpreted by the killer who listens to the guy sort of sheepishly says “we weren’t doing anything” before she suddenly stabs him in the stomach just before turning to the girl and does her in as well.
Thus begins the most common trend in the Friday the 13th series: getting cockblocked by sudden violent death!

30 years later the Camp is getting reopened again and new counselors are preparing by rebuilding and/or renovating the cabins, fixing the plumbing, and landscaping. One of the counselors is named Annie, but she is late to arrive and she starts hitchhiking to get to her destination. And like every hitchhiker in a slasher movie she gets picked up by the killer and killed.

While the other counselors worry about Annie not showing up they work hard getting the place up and running. They do such important tasks as nail boards to the cabin roofs, sweep the rooms, kill snakes and other pests, jump around mimicking Indian yells, swimming in the lake, faking drowning so they can kiss the girl giving them CPR, having sex, and making fun of police men doing their jobs. I am starting to think if Pamela didn’t kill these assholes the Camp would still have been overdue and unfinished by time the children arrived.

After two of the counselors (one of them played by Kevin Bacon in his debut role) have sex in a bunk the girl heads to the bathrooms to clean up. Kevin Bacon remains lying in bed when suddenly from under the bed an arrow is thrust up through the mattress and through Kevin Bacon’s throat. The scene is very effective and the effects are impressive even to this day. The prosthetic work done to make the arrow look like it went through the real Kevin Bacon’s throat is the masterful invention of Tom Savini who also did the makeup work in Dawn of the Dead. Nowadays Savini’s career consists mostly of teaching the trade of prosthetic effects and making cameo appearances in horror movies (and The Perks of Being a Wallflower for some reason). But back in the 70’s and 80’s he was the go-to man for gore effects. He was a genius and this film is as good a resume as any.

Meanwhile the luckless Kevin Bacon’s girlfriend meets a dismal end herself in the bathroom. After pissing in the toilet, putting her underwear back on, and doing a terrible Kathryn Hepburn impression in front of the mirror she is suddenly struck in the face with a hatchet.
I kinda sympathise with the killer on this one. Kathryn Hepburn was a national treasure and her legacy deserves more respect. Cate Blanchett this woman was not and she should have kept her mimicry to that of valley girls and bimbos.

In another cabin some of the counselors start playing a unique version of Monopoly called Strip Monopoly in which landing on properties owned by people other than yourself costs you an article of clothing. How they came up with this game I have no idea, but I think they should invent Strip Uno next. It would make the game less apt to leaving all the players pissed at each other by time all the draw 4’s were used up.
However, the game doesn’t get far enough to show anything interesting as one of the counselors leaves to check the breaker. She hears what sounds like a child crying in the woods and when she reaches the archery range to investigate the lights suddenly flash on and she killed off screen.

Alice, our heroine who survives to the end, and Bill, the gentlemen who does not, wonder where their friends went so they go out to investigate. Bill goes to check the generator and is likewise killed off screen. For a raunchy, exploitative slasher flick this movie has a lot of off screen deaths. Two other characters similarly die off camera.

Alice later finds Bill’s body pinned to the door of the garage with a bunch of arrows. She does what any sensible person would do in such a situation and screams her head off and runs. She nearly bumps into an middle-aged woman driving up in a truck who says she is Mrs. Voorhees and that she is a friend of the people who own the camp.
Alice shows Pamela Voorhees the body and Pamela begins to pontificate that she had told the owners not to reopen the camp. She tells Alice that years ago her son Jason had drowned in the lake when the camp counselors were not watching him because they were too busy making love. Is that all these Crystal Lake counselors seem capable of doing?
As Pamela becomes increasingly irate as she recounts the story she suddenly turns on Alice and tries to stab her. The two fight and Alice tries to flee but the crazy woman chases her. Pamela starts talking to herself constantly as she chases the surviving counselor because she believes that her dead son is speaking to her and telling her to kill the counselors as if they were all responsible for his death. Even though most of these kids were not even born when he died.

To go into detail on the entire fight would be pointless and tedious, but suffice it say that after 10 minutes of hair pulling, kicking, slapping, biting, and rolling in the dirt Alice finally gets the upper hand and decapitates Pamela Voorhees with a machete.
Alice then crawls into a canoe and falls asleep over the lake, but when morning arrives she starts to wake up when suddenly she is grabbed and pulled under by a boy whose body resembles that of a decomposing corpse. She wakes almost immediately in the hospital and refuses to believe the incident with the boy was a dream.

I am not sure how to properly review a film like this as it never was intended nor marketed to be a good movie. It is exactly to the last degree what it sought to be. It is a cheap, sleazy, exploitative knock-off of Halloween in an attempt to capitalise on that film’s success. The violence is gruesome and lacking in style or any aesthetic merit, the plot is weak, stupid, and illogical; and it is peppered with marketable gimmicks such as nudity and sex to cater to its largely male audience. It’s the same sort of trash cinema that predominated the drive-in culture of the 70’s and 80’s. The only reason this film has become worthy of special note is thanks to its inordinate popularity that spawned its many sequels with the iconic figure, Jason Voorhees. By itself, this film is virtually indistinguishable from films like The Burning, The Mutilator, or Torso which only horror buffs even remember or care about. It’s such a sleaze-fest and I am hesitant to fault the film for being this since it aimed for nothing higher. To expect more would be silly.
To a horror junkie like myself who can, when in the mood, enjoy slashers, drive-in flicks, exploitation films, zombie movies, giallos, and even trashy mondo flicks a horror movie like Friday the 13th is hardly something I will stick my nose up at and snub. I am as much a film snob as any and I will always prefer movies like The Godfather or Citizen Kane, but I accept that different movies deserve different means of reviewing. I do not demand my sleaze to be as good as my critically acclaimed Oscar winners or Criterion DVD releases.
For what it is Friday the 13th is entertaining. It does not get boring by any means and it is not overlong. It works on the levels it is supposed to work. It is not supposed to make me think. Hell, it is not even supposed to scare me. It’s job is to excite. To cater to the lowest common denominator looking for a cheap fix of gore and boobs. And it achieves that end passingly enough that I can think well of it for reaching its aim.

The story doesn’t make much sense, but that doesn’t worry me. It doesn’t bother me that a middle-aged woman who is only about 5 feet tall managed to pin a full grown man to a door with arrows. I didn’t come to see a man pinned to a door with arrows by a plausible criminal with a legitimate motive. I just came to see a man pinned to a door with arrows. If I cared about the sense of it I would watch NCIS or a Coen Brothers film. And I will happily watch those too. But right now I am watching Friday the 13th and I embrace its stupidity and shameless depictions of sex and violence with the open arms of someone who appreciates the genre to which it belongs.