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A Comprehensive Look at “Friday the 13th Part 2”

Friday the 13th Part 2
Year: 1981
Genre: Horror
Director: Steve Miner
Stars: Amy Steele, John Furey, Adrienne King

It’s Friday again, this time specifically Friday the 13th.  It’s time to take a detailed look at the next film in the beloved Friday the 13th franchise, Friday the 13th Part 2.

Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th was a phenomenal success.  While Cunningham was screening the film for distributors, Paramount producers were brought their friends to multiple screenings just to watch their reactions and how scared they got – especially with the film’s dream-sequence ending.  Paramount purchased the distribution rights for $1.5 million, spent $500,000 on advertising and then another $500,000 to advertise when the film began performing well.  The studio earned nearly $40 million off a $2.5 million investment – with that kind of profit margin there was bound to be a squeal.

The Production

friday two 1As mentioned in the book Crystal Lake Memories by Peter Bracke, the president of Paramount, Frank Mancuso Sr. (whose son would go on to produce nearly ALL the Friday the 13th sequels), had this to say about the development of Friday the 13th Part 2:

“We wanted it to be an event, where teenagers would flock to the theaters on that Friday night to see the latest episode.”

The initial idea was to have the title, Friday the 13th, used annually for a separate “scary movie,” none of which would have any continuity between each other.  If you’ll recall, this same concept was later attempted with the Halloween series with Halloween III: Season of the Witch with only a limited success.  I happen to think it’s a great idea, having discontinuous films with the same title and theme released each year.  Outside of some direct-to-DVD garbage, I don’t think this has ever been done successfully… at least within the realm of the horror genre.

The producers of the first film, however, insisted that the sequel be about Jason Voorhees, even though his appearance at the end of the first film was only meant to be a joke.  As the sequel moved through production and it became clear that it was going to be about Jason Voorhees, Sean S. Cunningham, Victor Miller and Tom Savini all abandoned the project as they felt that making Jason the main antagonist was a stupid idea.  As much as I love the Friday the 13th series, I agree with their reasoning – there’s no sense to having Jason Voorhees as the killer.  Screenwriter, Victor Miller in the FAQ for his website (www.victormiller.com) has this to say about the Firday the 13th sequels:

To be honest, I have not seen any of the sequels, but I have a major problem with all of them because they made Jason the villain. I still believe that the best part of my screenplay was the fact that a mother figure was the serial killer—working from a horribly twisted desire to avenge the senseless death of her son, Jason. Jason was dead from the very beginning. He was a victim, not a villain. But I took motherhood and turned it on its head and I think that was great fun. Mrs. Vorhees was the mother I’d always wanted—a mother who would have killed for her kids.”

Associate Producer on the first film, Steve Miner moved into the director’s chair for *Friday the 13th Part 2 as he believed in the idea of making Jason Voorhees the new villain.  Using most of the same crew from the first movie, filming commenced in New Jersey.  Henry Manfredini returned to compose the score and had an easier time doing so since he only needed to perfect what he’d already created.

The Trailer

Here is the trailer for Friday the 13th Part 2.  While it is rather typical of a horror trailer from the era, there are a few problems I have with it.

With a tagline of “The Body Count Continues,” this makes a big deal of selling the fact that there’s a lot of people to be murdered in this series.  Now there’s nothing wrong with that – if they had gotten the body count right!  “12 of her friends were murdered.”  NO!  There are 10 murders in Friday the 13th – even if you add the shots of Jason Voorhees in there that only raises the body count to 11 – I have no idea where they get 12 from.  And “12 of her friends were murdered?”  That’s not exactly true.  Two of those people were murdered in the film’s opening flashback in 1958 – before Alice Hardy’s character was even born.  Pamela Voorhees is part of that body count and she wasn’t Alice’s friend at all.  On top of that, the majority of the other counselors at the camp Alice only met that day – you really can’t call those “friends”. Also this trailer looks like a bit from Sesame Street’s The Count, with all the numbers and the line of: “The day you COUNT on for terror.”

The Characters

Not all of them, just some of the more important ones.

friday two 2Alice Hardy (Adrienne King) For many years rumors abounded as to why Adrienne King’s role in Friday the 13th Part 2 is only the first 15 minutes.  Until 2008, wikipedia stated that she would have had a larger role but the studio couldn’t reach a financial agreement.  In reality there was a stalker psychologically terrorizing her at that time and really making her life unbearable  At a convention in 2008, Adrienne King said this about the rumors:

I nearly had a heart attack reading that 28 years later because that is so far from the truth.. The reason was, I had asked my agent to convey to the Friday the 13th Part 2 people that I am more than willing to do whatever it takes to keep the thread going.  I’d like them to keep me open-ended so I can come back when, hopefully, my life gets a little quieter….”

Adrienne didn’t even know that her character was supposed to just do the first 20 minutes and die.  She never saw the script, came in for the one-night shoot.  There was a lot of hostility on the set and, according to Adrienne, she didn’t know why until she read that wikipedia article in 2008.

The first 15 minutes of the movie are actually quite well directed – the bulk of it being one stedicam that follows Alice around her apartment.  Yes she is wearing one hideous green jumper for the start of it, but that would be my only gripe about it.

friday two 3Terry (Kirsten Baker)
Pretty much the only reason I bring up Terry is because she is HOT!  Like any Friday the 13th character, she is just pretty looks and not character.  She doesn’t even have a fun on-screen death.  We see her scream and then later see her dead body stacked with the others in Jason’s shack in the woods around the shrine to his dead mother.  She does have a dog, Muffin, which comes and goes throughout the film.  The dog stumbles upon Jason Voorhees at one point and we are led to believe that Jason killed it.  Later, at the end of the film, Muffin wanders back only has a set-up to the final jump scare.  Still, Terry is only worth mentioning because of dat ASS!

Easily my favorite shot in the film. XD

friday two 4Jeff (Bill Randolph) and Sandra (Marta Kober)
Such a cute couple. I was always felt bad when they died – they seemed so innocent.  Granted they DID have sex and we all know what sex leads to in these movies.  Also, they are the pair that try to “investigate” Camp Blood and end up getting in trouble – we all know what happens to people who misbehave in these movies as well.  This is a pair that’s just doomed from the start.

Although their death is one of the most memorable – the double spear impalement. This scene is actually cut down in the final version of the film.  We only see Sandra’s reaction, Jason’s hands on the spear, and then a bloody spear tip under the bed.   A lot of concerned parties were in an uproar that the MPAA allowed Friday the 13th to slip by with an R that they ended up being a bit more strict towards the future films in this series and the slasher genre in general.  As a result, the spear impalement was abridged in order to avoid an X rating.  Though the footage itself has been lost, the picture of this still lives on – on the back of the VHS.

friday two 5ncidentally, this exact same death, even down to the framing of the shot, is used in Mario Bava’s 1971 film Twitch of the Death Nerve also known as A Bay of Blood (which is rated R).  For a lot of the murders shown in Friday the 13th Part 2 Steve Miner drew inspiration from the films of Mario Bava.

Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer)
Like Victor Miller and the others, Betsy Palmer shares the same thought that Jason was DEAD at the bottom of Crystal Lake and should never have been brought back as the killer.  She is so passionate about this that she denies being in any other Friday the 13th films – including this one.  She is in this movie, towards the end.  Her filming took one day and was shot in front of a black screen, just a brief cameo.  The way Betsy Palmer sees things, however, is that Jason Voorhees died, he never came back to life.  There were, of course, countless offers made to Betsy Palmer over the years, imploring her to reprise her role in future sequels.  She had this to say about that:

“They sent me the script and I of course looked at it.  And, I don’t know, they have me beside a grave saying ‘You promised me that you’d kill all those people.’  That was it.  I’m an actress, for God’s sake.  Don’t give me some dumb line like that.  No way.”

friday two 6Ginny Field (Amy Steele) and Paul Holt (John Furey)
The “Last Girl” and, depending upon your interpretation of the film, the “Last Guy.”  Similar to the first movie and, not in line with the cliche about these movies, Ginny is not a virgin.  A sexual relationship between her and Paul isn’t just implied – they even go off at one point to have sex.  Crazy Ralph is watching them go at it when he’s murdered.  Add to this the fact that Ginny and Paul go off to a bar and drink with the other counselors – and drinking is often met with the same fate as any other drug use in slasher films.

Now, with regards to what I said about Paul and “it depends upon your interpretation of the film… The closing of the film, Jason through a window and attacks Ginny.  The next thing we see is Ginny being carried into an ambulance and saying: “Where’s Paul?” The final shot is just a slow zoom on Pamela Voorhees’ severed head.  Her eyes were supposed to open, giving the audience the impression that Paul was dead, but as Steve Miner felt this looked cheesy it was scrapped from the movie.  When Part 3 opens, we only see Jason leave his cabin – making it seem as if the closing attack in Part 2 was a dream sequence.  In addition, a news broadcast at the beginning of Part 3 mentions that 8 people were found dead.  Paul would be the 9th victim in Friday the 13th Part 2.  So… did Paul die or not?  Depends upon your interpretation of the film.

Like before, I am going to recommend this article about Friday the 13th Part 2 by Kaijinu at Sticky Red: A Bodycount Compendium for a full list of the victims and how they died.

Jason

friday two 7So, here we have what’s remembered as “Baghead” Jason.  The actor credited with playing Jason is Warrington Gillette though he only plays Jason in the last scene – when he bursts through the window.  All the other times we see Jason, he is played by stuntman Steve Dash.  In the sequels, however, whenever archived footage from Friday the 13th Part 2 is used – it’s been Steve Dash who received sole credit for the performance.   There’s not a whole lot I can say about Jason Voorhees here that hasn’t been said a million times before by others or stuff I will eventually be saying about Jason in articles for the remainder of this series.  One of the special features on the 2009 DVD Release of Friday the 13th Part 2 is “Jason Forever” and is a panel at a Fangoria convention in 2004 featuring four different actors who played the role: Ari Lehman (part 1), Warrington Gillette (part 2), C.J. Graham (part 6) and Kane Hodder (parts 7-10).  This is DEFINITELY worth watching if you ever get the chance.

So that’s Friday the 13th Part 2 – when the series became a franchise – when Jason Voorhees made his first appearance as the murderer and pop culture would be forever changed.  It’s a memorable horror film that captures everything that made the first film a lot of fun.  Not quite as good as Friday the 13th but it misses the mark by such a slight degree it’s barely worth pointing out.  Next Friday I will be discussing what is one of my favorite movies in the series: Friday the 13th Part 3D.

About The Author
Matthew Coats
Matthew Coats

Formerly known under the pseudonym of Alex Jowski.
Site owner, movie aficionado, and film school grad. Matthew Coats presents reviews, some written, some as vlogs, and some as weekly shows, for a variety of different movies and television shows. After years of struggling to get his own projects off the ground amidst the normal routine of living, Matthew Coats decided to create a site in order to share and promote movie reviews, video games and much much more from talented and original people all across the internet.

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