Monday, April 30, 2007

Friday the 13th part II (1981)

Director: Steve Miner

You knew he’d be back. This time it’s actually Jason doing the killing, and not his mother. He’s all grown up in one of the most amazing growth spurts in history. Set five years after the first film, Jason has gone from 12 to 30. Okay, I guess maybe that was a dream at the end of the first one, so maybe it all works out. You can do the math if you really care. Not nearly at the level of its predecessor, "Friday the 13th Part 2" begins to flesh out the series in its own way.

And so it begins, with Alice (Adrienne King reprises the role) having nightmarish flashbacks of that frightful night at Camp Crystal Lake. Her nightmares include some of Mrs. Voorhees’ memories, but I guess Alice filled in the blanks for herself. In an incredibly elaborate flashback montage, we see the main crux of what we needed to get from the first film. After that, Alice is finally snuffed out by an adult Jason (that was a long time comin'). Crazy Ralph also returns only to meet his demise as well. Jason had some loose ends to tie up in town apparently, and then it’s back to Camp Crystal Lake. Alright, it’s time for some Jason fodder!! The new teens arrive, and it’s clear that the marketing decision this time was: “Let’s make the campers hot.” Mission accomplished. They gladly traded acting ability for toned bodies. The breasts are bigger, and the shorts are shorter. These teens are preparing a camp adjacent to Camp Crystal Lake for its grand opening. It seems Jason is expanding his business to neighboring camps. This group of aspiring camp counselors consists of just about every token character available, including: the nerd, the black guy, the wheelchair guy, the hot chick, the rational chick... blah blah blah. Anyway, it’s time for Jason to make his much overdue debut. This buffet of victims wastes no time in the usually sex/drug indulgences. The victim market is all of a sudden flooded, and Jason doesn’t know where to begin. Jason proceeds with the neck slicing tradition his mother began. From there it’s “game on.” Jason can now impale two at a time with a single spear. He learns to use hammers and pitchforks as killing tools, and has perfected the "I'm walking slower than you, but I can still catch up to you" technique (I think Pepe Le Pew pioneered that one). At any rate, he clearly has been practicing. The deaths are more rewarding, but Jason is pretty damned clumsy. He falls down, stumbles, throws a pillow case on his head for some reason, and is nearly scared to death by a chainsaw. Come on, Jason. Let’s hang on to a little dignity. He resembles a giant toddler in his apparel and general demeanor. There’s a lot of rolling around on the ground like a turtle, and awkward attacks.

It’s another fight to the death with what seems to be the last surviving camper, Ginny (played by Amy Steel). Jason faces his most formidable foe yet. After dodging a few slices and wetting her pants, she stumbles across Jason’s makeshift cabin in the woods; complete with the decapitated head of Mrs. Voorhees as just the right decorating touch. Finally the head camp counselor/love interest, Paul (played by John Furey) shows up to wrestle around on the ground with Jason for a while. Ginny takes out Jason with his own machete, and the two lovebirds barricade themselves in their cabin. Jason breaks in after a monumental fake-out when “Muffin” the dog appears on the doorstep instead of our killer. It’s pretty easy to see what will happen when someone braces themselves with their back facing a giant plate glass window. It’s another case of “Did that happen? Was it all a dream?” as Ginny is carted off in the ambulance. It ends on a shot of Mrs. Voorhees’ head -- I don’t know either, so don’t ask. It’s probably a step down from the original, but it sets a good precedent of its own. This film makes an attempt at a memorable killer, even though he's just a guy with a pillow case on his head. This film is integral to the series, since Jason finally takes over the killing business his mom started. I'm sad to say I kind of liked this film, since it basically has every element necessary for a slasher flick. It's fun to watch Jason get scared by a chainsaw, and the hotter cast wander into the path of danger. The players are on the field, and the whistle is about to blow. Get ready for a franchise and one of the best killing sprees in movie history.

Best Death: "Wheelchair dude" gets air after taking a machete to the noggin.

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