Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday the 13th Part 2

To think I quibbled about the continuity of the Planet of the Apes movies. Mrs. Voorhies went nuts and started killing people because her son Jason drowned. Now, Jason is killing because his mother died in the first movie? Jason was a boy, but now he's grown? And this one begins by recapping the end of the original. I am so confused.

Once we get past that little continuity snafu, the plot of Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) more or less rehashes the plot of the original, only now with Jason doing the killings instead of his mother. Teens smoke dope, engage in premarital sex, and get slaughtered one by one. Even Harry Manfredini's iconic score is reused (not that I blame them. It's one worth reusing.).

This isn't quite the Jason we know and love yet. He doesn't have his hockey mask, and we don't see him for much of the movie. Director Steve Miner limits him to glances of his feet and hands before revealing his full form near the end, and Jason is wearing sack as a mask. We also see his deformed face, and it's suitably ugly, and he's big and imposing enough.

The film also tries to plumb some psychological motivation for Jason, explaining him as a Mama's boy, totally reliant on her and with no concept of death. This is helpfully provided by final girl Ginny (Amy Steele), who's studying child psychology. When her boyfriend Paul (John Furey) and Jason scuffle, Amy not so helpfully stands, watches, and quietly says Paul's name instead of doing anything useful.

Part 2 packs in more counselors, and most don't make much of an impression. It rehashes the let's-reopen-the-camp stuff, punctuated by an occasional bit of Jason mayhem. It's kind of tedious, although Jason's killings are more varied and brutal than his mother's. He uses a machete, a hammer, a spear, and memorably goes after Ginny with a pitchfork. One victim, a guy in a wheelchair, takes a machete to the head and careens down a long flight of stairs in the rain. Jason even kills Crazy Ralph, ripping out his throat with some metal wire.

The movie picks up in the final third, unlike its predecessor. Jason in person is scarier than Mama Voorhees, and the sustained chase is more suspenseful and exciting. The sack may not be as iconic, but it's still a cool, creepy look (if only Jason got to use that chainsaw). Ginny also uses that child psychology to her benefit by putting on Mrs. Voorhees' sweater and pretending to be her, a chance of pace from the usual dragged out, knock-em down fight. It makes up for Ginny pissing herself while hiding from Jason because she saw a mouse.

Overall, Part 2 has its moments and memorable death scenes. It's not as good as the original, but it's better than a lot of what follows.

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