Friday the 13th: Part 2
Creating a sequel is a tricky thing for the movie studios. They are a business after all and need to make a profit. Continuing a previously successful movie is a tried and true way to make sure the profits are generated. The downside is usully the sequel is nowhere near the quality of the original. Of course, there are exceptions such as ‘The Godfather Part Two’ and ‘Aliens,’ but usually, the general rule applies. There is one genre where the curse of the sequel appears to be suspended. A horror flick that catches on with the fan base can go on past the sequel to a trilogy and for a few fortunate movies the Holy Grail of movies, the franchise. In the world of horror flicks, there are a few series that have established the rules of the genre and become the reigning kings of this type of movie. One of the most famous is the ‘Friday the 13th’ franchise. The original movie resulted in 10 sequels, a remake, inspired a TV series and numerous graphic novels. Since the first ‘Friday the 13th’ film was a box office hit and was on the way to become the cult classic it is today the studios were quick to provide a sequel aptly name ‘Friday the 13th Part Two’. While most will agree that it was not as great as the original, it did mark its mark in horror film history. It introduced one of the best known supernatural killers in the genre, Jason Voorhees, later to be known by fans simply as Jason. Remember that it was Jason’s demented mother who was the actual murderer in the original, so this flick represents the initial appearance of the hulking creature that is Jason. He was still in the formative stage of his development in this flick, but it set the stage for all the movies that would follow. There have been several DVD releases of the film over the years, but Paramount Home Entertainment has come up with the definitive edition. It is part of a three-film DVD set, and even if you have one of the other releases, this is certainly a must-have for the die-hard fan. As far as sequels go this one isn’t all that bad and holds together better than most modern horror flicks.
The script was done by Ron Kurz who was an unaccredited coauthor of the first movie and would go on to the next two films in the series. Before this franchise, Kurtz had one other screenplay; a comedy. This story stays pretty close to the first movie. Many would note that it is practically a remake of it. The body count of 12 is up somewhat from the first flick, and there is an inclusion of a lot more blood and gore provided here. The main contribution of this film to the annals of horror is the first appearance of the dreaded Jason. At this point, he is without his trademark hockey mask preferring to use a pillowcase or sack to cover his deformed face. Once again, the target of the killer is a group of attractive and hormonally excited teenagers. The location is once again the condemned Camp Crystal Lake; better known to the inhabitants of the region as Camp Blood; for very good reasons. It is highly improbable that anyone could get perspective counselors for a camp of this dark and deadly reputation let alone any parents who would consider sending their kids here, but the teens involved are not exactly the brightest around. Technically it is the camp next to the site of the many terrible murders but as they say in the real estate business location is everything and just because heinous things happened next door is no reason to suspect the same thing would occur near that place. Try to keep in mind that you don’t watch a flick like this for realistic plots or anything close to making sense.
Taking over the directorial duty for this installment of the series was Steve Miner. This was his first time directing, and he would go on to part three. After that, he did the racially insensitive comedy ‘Soul Man.’ After that, he did a lot of television including ‘Smallville,’ ‘The Wonder Years’ and ‘Dawson’s Creek.’ Miner would return to horror films with ‘Halloween H20’ and ‘Day of the Dead.’ His style here is straightforward. He took the same story and amplified several scenes adding a good deal of gore to the mix. Miner appears to have tried to keep the audience guessing with the identity of the killer; something that would be impossible for someone to catch now knowing what we do about Jason. He does on include one of the most protracted prologues ever seen in a film; almost fifteen minutes. This left only 71 minutes of new material to cover. Part of this may have been due to the studio pushing to get this film out as quickly as possible. Miner had only about a million dollars and four weeks to get this movie in the can. A lot of audience members become overly critical of a director for making a bad film but never stop to consider the circumstances that were beyond his control. This is what happened here. The subsequent career of Mr. Miner demonstrates talent in this field that was not permitted a chance to shine in this flick.
After a recap of the events in the previous movie the lone survivor, Alice (Adrienne King) is stalked down in her home and soon killed. This was a standard way to connect the two films providing the continuity required for a franchise. We then switch to 1984, the current day where a new group of victims, I mean counselors, have gathered just down the road from the infamous Camp Blood. Good old Crazy Ralph (Walt Gorney) makes another appearance and connection to the past once again warning everybody that they are going to die. He has a good track record for his ramblings, so I would have listened to him. The leader of the group, Paul Holt (John Furey) tells scary stories about Jason Voorhees who drowned and how his mother became the Crystal Lake killer. The legend states that Jason is still alive and has a thirst for revenge. It seems that Crazy Ralph is also a voyeur who like sot watch teens making out; in this case Paul and Ginny (Amy Steel). Old Ralph is interrupted when someone sneaks up behind him and garrotes him. Next up are another oversexed couple Jeff (Bill Randolph) and Sandra (Marta Kober) who want a little adventure by going over to the defunct camp. We all know that Jason will pop up to kill each of the young people in turn.
Paramount is only releasing this title on DVD leaving out the Blu-ray. The video has been re-mastered in high definition so even in the DVD format it looks better than I have ever seen it. The audio is a new Dolby 5.1 mix that does provide a broader sound field that previous releases managed. There is a featurette ‘Inside Crystal Lake Memories’ that goes into the production. Another one takes a look at the franchise’s continued popularity in horror conventions. The second installment of ‘Lost Tales from Camp Blood’ is included to round things off.
Like the main character of Jason, this grandfather of horror franchises appears to be impossible to kill. Hot on the heels of the standard DVD release Paramount is revisiting the series of flicks and adding them to the ever-growing list of Blu-ray titles. Even as they continue with the films on DVD they are backfilling the high definition variation. The Blu-ray here is well done and breathes new life into a film most horror fans have seen uncountable times. While admittedly not up to the high def apex that more modern film native to the higher resolution can achieve, this edition is well worth your re-investment. The transition to 1080p is well done with no sign of artifact. The audio re-master in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 is far better than I anticipated with a defined soundstage. For the purist out there, they also have the original mono soundtrack. This is the way this flick should be seen.
Posted 01/18/09 (DVD)
Posted 06/07/09 ) Blu-ray) Posted 04/27/2018