Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) (87 minutes)
Directed by Steve Miner
Written by Ron Kurz and Victor Miller.
Starring Betsy Palmer, Amy Steel and John Furey.
Follows Friday the 13th (1980)
Followed by Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
Continuing five years after the events that occurred on Friday the 13th, this second installment is significant for introducing audiences to director Steve Miner (House, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later). Miner previously worked with producer/director Sean S. Cunningham on projects such as The Last House on the Left and the original Friday the 13th, before carving out his directional debut with Friday the 13 Part 2.
Alice Hardy (Adrienne King – Friday the 13th), sole survivor of the Camp Crystal Lake massacre, is recovering from her traumatic experience two months prior. Pamela Voorhees is dead; decapitated by Alice’s hand. Yet, life goes on. Alice now lives alone in her apartment, with only her cat for company. A very hungry cat. Reaching for the refrigerator handle, Alice opens the door expecting to find leftovers. Instead she discovers the decapitated head of Mrs. Voorhees! Shocked, Alice realises she is not alone, before an ice pick is driven into her temple by an unknown assailant.
Fast forward your cassette tape. Five years have since passed and Camp Crystal Lake remains derelict. Nearby, camp counselor Paul Holt (John Furey) hosts a training camp at Packanack Lodge for various trainees, along with his assistant Ginny field (Amy Steel – April Fool’s Day). Late one night, around the campfire, Paul informs his trainees of the legend of Jason Voorhees; how he survived the drowning that caused his mother to lose her mind, and how he witnessed her murder…
“I don’t wanna scare anyone, but I’m gonna give it to you straight about Jason. His body was never recovered from the lake after he drowned. The girl that survived that night… Friday the 13th? She claimed she saw him. She disappeared two months later…vanished! Blood was everywhere. No one knows what happened to her. Legend has it that Jason saw his mother beheaded that night. Then, he took his revenge… Jason’s out there, watching… ready to kill… ready to devour… thirsty for young blood.”
Suddenly, a hideously disfigured man appears from the darkness, screaming and holding a spear! The trainees, startled, get up and begin to run before Paul calls them back to the campfire, pulling the mask off of the jokester.
“OK, look… Now that we have got that out of our system… It’s ancient history. Jason drowned, Mrs. Voorhees was killed, and Camp Crystal Lake is off limits.”
Before training begins, Paul offers to take his trainees to a bar nearby. Ginny agrees to go, only if Paul is buying the drinks, whilst the rest of the group divide; some preferring to stay behind, whilst the others head off into town. At the bar, Ginny admits that she has given the legend of Jason Voorhees more thought. What is there was a Jason Voorhees… Imagine if Jason had seen his mother get killed, all because she loved her son and took revenge against those she thought caused the tragedy. Her death may have left Jason unable to distinguish between life and death. Paul dismisses the idea. “Jason’s a legend, Gilly… A legend.” Yet, unbeknownst to the group, there is something in those woods near Camp Crystal Lake… and the body count continues!
“I told the others, they didn’t believe me. You’re all doomed. You’re all doomed.”
The initial idea for Friday the 13 Part 2 was that it would not have direct continuity with the original movie, and instead have its own separate storyline. If successful, each subsequent movie would follow this format. But Steve Miner believed in the idea that Jason Voorhees could have survived, unbeknownst to his grieving mother, and began to develop Friday the 13 Part 2 as a direct sequel.
Tom Savini was asked to return as the SFX make-up artist, but declined as he was scheduled to work with John A. Russo on Midnight (1982). Indeed, Savini himself was not convinced with the idea of developing a sequel centered around Jason Voorhees. Instead, Carl Fullerton was brought, and began to develop how Jason Voorhees would now look as an adult. The iconic hockey mask is still nowhere to be seen. That would not make its appearance until Part III! Instead Jason, played by stuntman Steve Daskawisz, would wear a burlap sack over his head…at least until the shocking finale, when Jason, now portrayed by Warrington Gillette, would make his unmasked appearance for one final jump scare.
Jason Voorhees is at the forefront of this sequel. However, for me at least, it is Mrs. Voorhees who steals the show once again; her severed head always close by. Betsy Palmer returns via visions Jason has regarding his mother; a cameo she reluctantly took, but one that helped to ignite Jason Voorhees’ path of revenge for ten more movies; including a crossover with A Nightmare on Elm Street, and a re-imagining of the first four movies (and yes, I own all of them on home video).
Knowing how the character of Jason Voorhees evolves as the franchise continues, Friday the 13 Part 2 feels like a particularly special entry. Stripped of the supernatural elements and iconography that would dominate subsequent sequels, Jason is at his most animalistic; his bloodlust driven by his desire for revenge against those that threaten him, his mother, or Camp Crystal Lake.