Here's some random thoughts on Friday the 13th - Part 2 (1981).
First off, I love the opening title shot where the Friday the 13th logo explodes and is replaced by the Part 2. Exploding credits are awesome.
Also, I know not everyone is a fan, but I love the baghead-Jason look. The scene where he is first revealed is one of the best, it's creepy and believable, which makes it more creepy. The baghead look is obviously indebted to The Town that Dreaded Sundown (1976), which in turn is based on a true story. Long story short: bagheads are creepy.
After the massive success of the first film, this sequel was rushed into production and released a little less than a year after the original. The budget was twice as big and directing now was Steve Miner, from a script by Ron Kurz.
There's some nice handheld tracking and stalker shots, especially during the pre-credits opening with Annie, the Final Girl from the first film. This is Miner's directorial debut and he does a good job building tension and scares and I would say that overall this is a more polished looking movie than the first one.
Also in comparing it to the original, there is only one offscreen kill in Part 2, which is an improvement, but the kills are mostly only pretty okay, with the special effects being serviceable if maybe unremarkable. The best effects are the machete to the face of Mark the wheelchair guy and the double kill with the spear that directly follows that. Both kills were liberally borrowed from Mario Bava's A Bay of Blood (1971), a film that Sean S. Cunningham was inspired by while making the original film.
The special effects this go-around were done by Carl Fullerton, as Tom Savini decided to skip this installment and do The Burning (1981) instead, later returning to the Friday series for the 4th installment. Fullerton would go on to work on Goodfellas (1990) and Silence of the Lambs (1991).
The timeline of this Part 2 is weird to me, and the origin of Jason seems to be slightly convoluted, which might be putting it lightly. Supposedly he drowned as a young boy in the lake back in 1957, resulting in his mother Pamela Voorhees killing a couple of kids in 1958, plus setting some fires and poisoning the water supply in the interval 21 years, before in 1979 (on June 13th, a Friday, Jason's birthday) killing all the people in the first Friday the 13th movie, before getting decapitated herself.
The legend goes that Jason saw his mother killed and is now stalking the woods around the old Camp Crystal Lake... Buuuuut, if he was alive living in the woods, why didn't Pamela know this? She had gone mad after the death of her mongoloid child, and it turns out that, oh yeah, he wasn't even dead and was hiding in the woods for 20+ years, teaching himself survival skills and building a fort... what a crappy son.
To make the timeline a little more fun, this movie takes place "5 years after the events of Camp Crystal Lake," which would mean this 1981 movie takes place in 1984. It's a future movie.
Ginny (Amy Steel) is a strong, smart, and capable Final Girl. Admittedly she does pee herself while hiding under a bed when a rat runs by her face, but in the very next moment she's using a chainsaw against Jason and smashes a chair over his back, wrestling-style. Like I said, strong and capable. She is without a doubt one of the better Final Girls in the Friday series, and may even be able to lay claim to being the best. Let's be honest, Ginny rocks!
Crazy Ralph the doomsayer pops up again in this one, but he's less of a red herring and more of a special guest star.
Harry Manfredini provides the score again, and this one is less inspired by Herrmann's Psycho (1960) while still having a classic feel to it. The "ki-ki-ki, ma-ma-ma" effect is still what makes it a Friday the 13th movie.
The 2nd protagonist is Paul (John Furey), who proves himself to be the ineffectual type against Jason, getting his ass handed to him two times.
|The guy on the left fights Jason twice and lives to tell about it while the guy on the right gets really drunk and stays in town and avoids the slaughter. You wouldn't think that by looking at either of them.|
Most of them aren't seen again in the movie, and not in a "they were never seen again" ominous kind of way, just in a, "your presence isn't needed for this movie" kind of way. I think Friday Part 2 misses the boat by not having a higher body count than the first film (they both have 10) and waylaying this group of counselors-in-training.
Normally I would go deep into production history and cast bios of these movies, but instead I'm going to refer you to two books for all your Friday the 13th needs: Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th by Peter M. Bracke, published by Titan Books, which is chock full of interviews, and Making Friday the 13th: The Legend of Camp Blood by David Grove from the fine folks over at FAB Press. I'm reading Grove's book right now, it is fantastic. Both books are excellent are contain a wealth of information and interviews, pretty much everything you need to know in regards to the Friday the 13th movies. Check 'em out.