With the overwhelming success of the original, (it grossed $59,000,000 on a $500,000 budget), a sequel was almost a certainty. However, like Halloween before it, the plan was to not feature Jason, but have a different storyline set on the same date. Fortunately (or not depending on your point of view), that fizzled out and we got another killer Voorhees. Steve Miner, production assistant for Last House on the Left, and an exec. Producer on the original F13 makes his directorial debut in the second installment. Carl Fullerton handled the effects this time around as Tom Savini was working on another movie, and didn’t like the idea of Jason being the killer. Stan Winston was also asked to do the effects but a scheduling conflict nixed that idea as well, so Fullerton was it. Kind of like getting picked last for dodge ball.
Part 2 picks up a few months after the first movie. Alice is living on her own trying to do her best to recover from the events at Camp Crystal Lake. This is where we see a couple of new elements in filmmaking for the series, The first is a suspension of belief. Jason, disfigured and mentally undeveloped and spent his life in the woods and water of the camp somehow has tracked down Alice and not only found out where she lived but also tracked her there (all while wearing a pillow case over his head with one hole cut out so he can see). There’s a lot of that in this film, but I’ll only cover a couple of areas, because I do like the movie, and don’t want to seem overly critical.
The second thing that Miner does differently is tries to give it a sense of humor, in self referential ways. For instance in the opening scene where he finds Alice, once he kills her, he takes the tea kettle off the hot burner and places it on a cool one. I’m not sure Jason really cares whether the water boils over or not, and seems it was done just for a cheap gag. The second thing is we see a dog meet Jason in the woods. We of course think the worst, and the very next shot is of hot dogs cooking on a grill. That Steve Miner, was a cut up. He should have directed comedies. He directed Soul Man you say? Well, my statement still stands in that case. In many ways I think the style had to change simply because the story was no longer a mystery thriller. I don’t think anyone knew who the killer in the first F13 was, and when the big reveal came, it was a real barnburner. In the second though, we know the killer is Jason, so the tension of who’s doing the killing is missing. Sure we see Ralph creeping around in an attempt to divert our attention, but when he gets killed our suspicions are confirmed.
Much like the first, the real beginning of the movie has all the counselors heading to camp. It’s now five years later, but crazy coot Ralph is still riding around town on his ancient Schwinn. He warns the first two counselors we meet, and then spends the rest of his time lurking around the camp. Jason, getting pissed, because that’s his job, kills Ralph with a garrote nearly decapitating him. Jeff and his girlfriend Sandra meet up with another friend, Ted who is this installment’s joker. Jeff is the stud here, and you can tell that by his muscle shirt, tight pants and old fashioned newsboy’s cap. Such a sexy outfit, how could anyone resist. Though it’s never said, Sandra reminds me of the town floozy who would have sex with pretty much anyone. That may be because she reminded me of this girl I knew, Robin who would let you finger her for 50 cents. This was back in the late 70’s, when 50 cents was worth something.
Anyway, the next day the lovebirds get caught by the lake where they weren’t supposed to be by the Sheriff. After bringing them back to camp and admonishing the camp manager Paul, he leaves, and on his way sees Jason run across the road in front of him. In one of my favorite scenes in the movie we see him running through the woods after him, only to find his cabin and have the claw end of a hammer planted in his head. Mongoloid Lives Matter! So sayeth Jason.
That night some of the counselors go into town while the victims, err other counselors stay behind including a wheelchair bound wannabe lothario featured in a very uncomfortable seduction scene. Paul his gf Ginny and Ted the wacky sidekick all go drinking, and when Paul and Ginny go back to camp, leaving Ted in town, we never see him again. He doesn’t die, it’s like the forgot about his character in the script.
Of course the killings begin earnest, as the tall, dark, and handsome Scott gets his throat cut while hanging feet first from a tree. Not long after Mark the wheelchair bound victim of a motorcycle accident takes a machete to the head and is thrown down the flight of stairs in his chair, using a very fake looking dummy. Probably even worse than Kevin Bacon’s throat puncture. Speaking of Kevin Bacon (but not his penis this time unfortunately), Jeff and Sandra meet a fate similar as they’re both shish kabobbed after having good old fashioned early 80’s nookie. Thankfully the hat was not harmed in that death scene.
Paul and Ginny return only to be stalked by Jason, which ultimately leads to the classic ending of Ginny pretending to be Mrs. Voorhees. One of the unique things about number two is the fact that Paul’s ending is left ambiguous. We have no idea what happened to him or Ted. We see Ginny being taken away in an ambulance, much the same way as we saw Alice wake up in a hospital. It’s all the more amazing because these were some very stupid people.
Vickie who had the uncomfortable flirting scene with Mark, goes back to her cabin and changes. As almost an afterthought she changes her panties, from a fairly sexy black pair, to a shit brown pair, as if that would be an enticement. When she goes back to Mark and sees he isn’t there, she looks for him upstairs! There are a ton of other things like that in the movie, and while it doesn’t take away from the fun, it certainly dampens the chill factor in my opinion.
As sequels go this could have been a lot worse, instead we got a pretty enjoyable slasher flick, and while it doesn’t have the iconic status of the original, Mark’s death still remains one of the most controversial. I think his death shows that Jason is an equal opportunity killer. Man, woman, black, white, or whatever, disabled or not, he’ll kill everyone. How can you not admire that impartiality?
Friday the 163th Part 2 gets 7/10 machetes.