October Horrorshow: Friday the 13th Part 2

Why fix something if it isn’t broken? Well, that depends on one’s definition of broken. Friday the 13th was a little movie that could. Little plot, little acting, little in the way of developing much of what makes a good movie. But it had a substantial body count, and had huge returns on its little budget. So a sequel was made, but one that was less a sequel and more a remake. Friday the 13th Part 2 still had a tiny budget, but was blessed with enough funds to afford some of the finer things in moviemaking, like extras, better film stock and lenses, and better actors. Part 2 breaks out of some of the claustrophobia that was a necessary result of the shoestring the first movie was hanging by, but the plot, what little of it, remains faithful to the original: Lusty camp counselors encounter psychopathic murderer in isolated lakeside campsite. Got it? Cause that’s it.

It’s actually a good thing the movie doesn’t overburden the viewer with a lengthy and complicated story. Like the first, it is what it is. The simple, one-dimensional nature of the story is part of its appeal to horror fans. After an opening rehash of the first film, a prologue, and opening credits, the ‘movie’ part of the movie lasts under an hour and a half.

This film marks the first appearance of Jason Voorhees as crazed murderer in the series, and he is afforded little time to rack up the kills. Thus, Part 2 is an efficient film. We are introduced to more faceless and nameless teenage/twenty-something camp counselors, efficiently done in group scenes. They are told of the ghastly legend of Crystal Lake, then they break off into little isolated packs to meet their fate. There isn’t any more to it than that. It really is the same film as the first, just with better production values. Honestly, if one were to watch the entire series of Friday the 13th films in a single weekend, I am positive a person would have a hard time separating the characters and methods of death into their respective films without making some mistakes.

So, since death is what makes this movie tick, and since I would like to stretch this out to around 600 words, here are those deaths, encapsulated.

  1. Ice pick through the temple.
  2. Piano wire to the throat.
  3. Claw hammer to the back of the head.
  4. Throat slit with a machete while hanging upside down.
  5. This death is only implied, but it did happen, as the body is revealed later.
  6. Machete to the face of a wheelchair-bound paraplegic, who then rolls down a staircase.
  7. A two for one special, a spear through the bodies of two post-coital lovebirds. Classic.
  8. Kitchen knife to the torso. Pretty straightforward and blah.

In trying to come up with which one of these grisly murders is the most enjoyable to watch, I’m torn between the machete to the face and the wonderful moral message implied by two teenagers getting theirs after sex. The symbolism of that one is almost overwhelming. It fits in so well with the general tone of the series, i.e., sex is BAD. But those two were the only ones to get busted by Jason while getting it on, which is supposedly what makes him so psychotic in the first place, seeking revenge for his mother, who was seeking revenge for his death, only he’s not dead and…to hell with it. It’s pointless looking into this thing trying to find meaning, depth, or coherence. This film is about watching people get butchered, and maybe getting a scare or two out of it. You know what? I enjoyed watching that poor fellow get it in the face and then roll down some stairs. I laughed. Sickening, but I laughed. I thought that was funny. That was my favorite death in the movie. Friday the 13th Part 2 is a better movie than Alien: Resurrection.