10/25/09

Halloween Top 13: The Sequel #7- Friday the 13th Part 2 (1988)


As we hit the middle point of the Halloween Top 13 countdown, we’ve finally made it to one of the first franchises that come to mind when people think about horror sequels. There’s good reason for that. The Friday the 13th franchise spans 11 films, 1 remake, and one basically unrelated TV spin off. Along with Freddy’s glove, Jason’s hockey mask has become one of the most recognizable objects in the modern horror era, but when Mr. Voorhees made his first adult appearance, as opposed to the mutant thing at the end of the first films, (oops, spoiler) he was not yet dressed to intimidate Wayne Gretzky. So in keeping with the easily misconstrued statements I made yesterday about The Tall Man in Phantasm II and his balls, today we’re going to take a look at Jason’s sack.

Friday the 13th Part 2 starts as many of the films on the countdown have, with a brief recap of the last few minutes of the first film. This time, the heroine of the last film Annie (Adrienne King) is having a bad dream and reliving the events that lead up to her lopping off Mrs. Voorhees’ head. She wakes from her sleep and puts on water for tea, but before it can boil, an unseen killer sneaks up behind her and dispatches the last survivor of the Camp Crystal Lake massacre. Politely, the killer takes the boiling water off the stove before he leaves.

Up at Crystal Lake, another camp is just getting started with a group of counselors training for the upcoming season. They are warned by local nut job Crazy Ralph (Walt Gorney) who had unsuccessfully tried to discourage the campers in the first film. His luck is no better this time, and the kids head on up to begin their orientation. Of course, it doesn’t take too long before stories of the massacre are being passed around and naturally this gets some of the teens interested in going to see the old camp. This is where the trouble really begins. That night many of the counselors go into town for a last night of fun, and the ones that are left behind soon find themselves at the mercy of a silent killer. The killer dispatches them all until all that is left is Vicki (Lauren Marie-Taylor) who is attacked by a killer wearing burlap sack on his head. When Paul (John Fuery) and Ginny (Amy Steel) return from town, they find evidence of the killings, and soon Ginny must run for her life if she wants to escape the killer, but her choice of hiding place reveals a ghastly shrine that sheds light on the killers identity.

Okay, spoiler alert, the killer is Jason, and on the shrine is the severed head of Pamela Voorhees. If you didn’t know that already, then I apologize, but I find it hard to believe that anyone wouldn’t know. Even people who haven’t seen a Friday the 13th film seem to have that bit of trivia embedded in their noggin. Unlike supernatural Freddy or the boogieman Michael Myers, Jason has always struck me as bringing the Frankenstein monster into the modern era. He’s a big guy, there’s definitely something wrong in his head, and he is super pissed. While the Doctor made the monster, Jason was made when he saw his mom get her head separated from her shoulders. Jason is Frankenstein’s monster by way of Norman Bates, and while he would be many things in the sequels; a slug, not really Jason, a zombie, a vacationer, and a spaceman, the first time we encounter him he’s a madman with a need to kill, and just like his dear old mom, campers are his most likely target.

Unlike the first film in the series, not much time is spent building the teen counselors into characters. They are pretty much lambs for the slaughter, and that’s fine by me. I mean we’re not here to get to know Scott or Sandra of Jeff. What we want and what this film delivers is to see these cardboard characters get offed. So we get poor wheelchair bound Scott hacked by a machete and sent rolling down a long stairway, Sandra and Jeff becoming a human kabob while trying to get their freak on, and good old Crazy Ralph being strangled to death so he can’t warn any kids in a future sequel. The kills don’t reach the crazy off the wall feeling that the sequels strive for. These are still the fairly realistic actions of a crazy, but still human, nut.

Jason receives very little face time in the film, or bag time as the case may be. For the majority of the film, the stalking and killing is done from the point of view shot a la Black Christmas. I’m sure this was quite effective for an audience that didn’t know everything about Jason. While the role of Jason was credited to Warrington Gillette, who had originally auditioned for the role of Paul, for the most part, the masked killer was played by stuntman Steve Dash as Gillette only really appears in the shocking reveal scene near the end of the film. Dash even suffered for the role of Jason. In one climatic scene, the timing was off, and when he went to block a machete, his finger severely cut. Dash was taken to the hospital where his finger was stitched up (some people have said with 13 stitches, oooh, spooky), and then he returned to the set where he insisted they shoot the scene again. Dash who would go on to do stunts for the film F/X (1986) and appear in bit parts in films such as Ms. 45 and strangely Julie and Julia.

The pre-hockey mask Jason definitely looks reminiscent of the killer in the Charles Pierce film The Town that Dreaded Sundown, but unlike that film, Friday the 13th Part 2 is not a terribly long winded, boring mess. In fact, it remains quite pacey throughout and the 87-minute running time flies by all too quickly. The direction of Steve Miner was nothing brilliant, but it kept much of the tone from the Sean Cunningham original. Miner would go on to direct the next installment of the series (in 3-D no less), and he would direct the first House film, Halloween H20, Lake Placid, and uncharacteristically the C. Thomas Howell in blackface “classic” Soul Man.

The Friday franchise would produce several more quality films, and if you’ve been keeping score, Friday the 13th V: The Final Chapter has appeared as a choice on several of my readers lists. I enjoy that one, and I have quite a soft spot for the silliness that is Part VII: Jason Takes Manhattan and the space epic Jason X. Those films are fun for a different reason though; they’re stupid fun. Part II is a slasher film in the classic mold. The extremes of the genres had not yet taken root, and instead we’re given a killer who is mysterious, determined, and quite deadly. Friday the 13th Part II is a great sequel because it gives birth to an icon, and he won’t rest until every single outdoor supply store goes out of business. That’s the kind of killer whose purpose I can really get behind.

Bugg Rating


Another day, another sequel down, and time for another list. Today it's from Chris Bennett of the excellent blog The Horror Canon. He's got some great picks so without further ado let me turn it over to Mr. Bennett.

In my opinion, sequels can be successful if you use the right technique. You can't stomp all over the ground rules you've laid. You need to respect those, while at the same time taking everything that worked about the first film and turning it up to 11!


Psycho II - The fact is that this movie is made 22 years after it's much beloved predecessor, and everyone wants to hate it because of that. The story is awesome and keeps the viewer AND the characters on edge with well placed jump scares, creative story that builds on the original, and an ending that I can't watch without a great big grin on my face...


Friday the 13th Part 2 - This movie takes the legend of Jason from the first movie and brings it to life. So what if it makes no sense (why was Mrs. Voohees killing people to avenge her son's death if he didn't die in the first place?!). Building on the original story to create a new twist to the legend, this movie was thoughtful and creative. This is our first glimpse of Jason, and he was scary!

Phantasm II - Reggie and Mike, together again. This sequel takes the mythos from the original Phantasm, and brings the dream like quality of it into the real world. How do they handle the Tall Man at his own game when the rules have changed? This is a great roller coaster ride of a movie. You never know what to expect, and then that ending...

Hellraiser II - In keeping with the original story's rules, the sequel builds on them and let's you know that being a cenobite is not all glamorous and sexy like you originally thought. It's great to see that new villains can be introduced successfully without feeling out of place.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge - Everyone knows Freddy. But before Freddy grew a funny bone, he was scary. This sequel takes the rules we learn in the first movie and turn them on themselves to give Freddy the freedom to escape his dreamworld. And how awesome is it to see Freddy crash a pool party?!

Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers - This is a movie that understands its audience. Creative kills, nudity, and swearing will entertain the audience for 90 minutes. It took everything that we loved about the first one and amplified it to a parody of itself. The killer is never scary, but often creepy. The kills are never cringe-worthy, but always over the top. It's just a fun, fun movie.

Great stuff there Chris, and I've got to agree with you on most of them. I recently picked up a copy of Psycho II, and I'm really looking forward to seeing where they take the story of Mr. Bates. That wraps it up for today. I'll be back tomorrow with another sequel as we roll on to number 6!

1 comment:

  1. I think "Friday the 13th Part 2" is one of the best slasher movies- and I would be so bold as to say they should have stopped after this one. I also love Parts 3 and 4, but Parts 1 and 2 are strong enough to stand on their own. I just don't like Jason in the latter films- especially Kane Hodder's interpretation. Bleck. Jason was far creepier and scary lurking around the woods with his "Dark Night of the Scarecrow" bag over his head. This was the Jason that haunted my nights a child- the bag he wears was almost as disturbing as Michael Myer's mask.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...