Director – Steve Miner
Cast – Amy Steel, John Furey, Kirsten Baker, Stuart Charno, Warrington Gillette, Walt Gorney, Marta Kober, Tom McBride, Bill Randolph, Lauren-Marie Taylor, Russell Todd, Adrienne King
Release Year – 1981
Reviewed by John of the Dead
In most genres sequels are always an iffy idea, even if the original is a fantastic film. In the horror genre, sequels are even more iffy and most of the time fail miserably at recreating what the original accomplished. Thankfully, that is not the case with Friday the 13th Part 2, which debuted just one year after the original film. Not only is this a very positive sequel but in my honest opinion I feel that this sequel surpasses the original in all levels and gives us one of the greatest slasher experiences in horror history.
Two months after the tragic events of Friday the 13th the lone survivor, Alice(Adrienne King), is brutally murdered while trying to recover from her experience at Camp Crystal Lake. Five years pass, and Paul Holt opens a Counselor Training Center at Packanack Lodge, which is adjacent from the now non-existent Camp Crystal Lake. Soon after the training counselors arrive at the training center they begin to fall victim to a savage yet sly killer bent on revenge. Could it be that Jason never did drown at Camp Crystal Lake and is back to get revenge for his mother’s death? Hell yeah it is.
Wow, I remember being so darn amazed when I first saw this film because I could not believe how spooky and enjoyable this was. I really did not expect it to surpass the original entry, but it did and gave me everything I wanted to see that the first film did not give me.
Veteran horror director Steve Miner made his directing debut with this film, and what a way to make an entrance. Right from the get-go I was hooked thanks to its intense opening sequence(after the flashback telling the events of the original film) that I feel is one of horror’s coolest opening sequences to date. Steve Miner’s execution in this film is top notch, and he perfectly employed the best and spookiest camera angles to get the utmost tension and terror in each scene that required it. His pacing is good, thanks much to this film’s ever-moving screenplay and his ability to keep the viewer’s interest in what is going on onscreen. We get some very memorable and superbly executed kill scenes from Mr. Miner, and his usage of Jason was what really got me on the Miner bandwagon early on. He gets a fantastic performance from Warrington Gillette as Jason Vorhees, and it was this performance that really sends this film over the original in my opinion. :Spoiler Approaching(if you have yet to see the original): We got a positive and surprising killer in Pamela Vorhees in Friday the 13th, but Jason Vorhees doing the dirty work himself in this film is what sealed the deal.
Story-wise this film is simple yet a joy to watch. If you know me then you know I am a huge fan of anything vengeance oriented, and Jason looking to avenge his mother’s death(who was avenging his “death”) has vengeance written all over it. Time and time again in the slasher sub-genre we are given a vengeful killer who is seeking retribution over those who wronged him, but that is not necessarily the case in this film. Sure Jason probably feels wronged, but what I LOVE is that the driving force behind what he is doing is finding retribution not for himself, but for his mother. Honestly, all of us loving sons out there can find an association with that, and putting yourself if Jason’s shoes not only makes total sense in what he does, but makes this film all the more fun to watch as well. This screenplay written by Ron Kurz(who had an unaccredited writing role in the original Friday the 13th) is superb and plays a big role in why this film paces so well. Each of this film’s 9 kills were spaced appropriately, as was the usage of Jason, who’s appearance was gradually uncovered as the film went on and was completed during one of this film’s best scares, which I will never forget. Speaking of never forgetting, this excellent sequel comes with one of horror’s most shocking and surprising climaxes to date. You know what is going to happen, but you don’t know when or how, and that is how Steve Miner gets you.
Overall, this is a fantastic sequel to one of horror’s most iconic films that not only is in my opinion a superior watch to the original, but is one of the best of most chilling slasher films to date. Any fan of Jason Vorhees or of the slasher sub-genre should give this highly recommended film a watch.