Eric D. Snider

Friday the 13th Part 2

(Reviewed in 2002 as part of a retrospective on the "Friday the 13th" series.)

"Friday the 13th Part 2" is actually a little better than its predecessor. Of course, that's like saying the Vandals didn't rape quite as many Romans the second time they invaded the city, but still.

For one thing, as primitive as they may be, there are glimpses of character arcs in the second movie. The blond, mannish heroine, Ginny, says early on that she knows something about child psychology. Later, she uses this knowledge to save herself from the killer. It's not Eugene O'Neill, but at least someone was trying. The first film is just a smorgasbord of characters who deserve to die.

For another thing, the sequel is 12 minutes shorter. It's only 86 minutes, and six of that consists of flashbacks from the first movie.

I might add that those flashbacks are unnecessary, by the way. Everything they tell us is later told to us in the actual dialogue anyway. Plus, the only two characters from the first movie to carry over into the sequel are also the first two characters killed. There is literally no reason to even include them, except that one of them is the delightful old Crazy Ralph, the bewildered septuagenarian who goes around telling people they're "doomed" if they go to Camp Crystal Lake. (And of course, he's right. A prophet is never accepted in his own country.)

Which means the movie is really only 80 minutes. I can sit through almost anything for 80 minutes.

Now for why the movie is bad:

- Every other reason you can imagine.

It copies the original film almost verbatim, even down to the trick used in the final scene, where serene music plays, signaling the end of the movie, at which point someone we thought was dead leaps into the frame and grabs the heroine. It's even the same music, for crying out loud.

The body count is the same, too: five men and four women. In both films, a couple is killed immediately after having sex, both times with a spear that also goes through the bed. Both films feature cars that won't start and people who say, "I'll be right back" just before being murdered. Both films have a person whose actual death we do not see, but we know they're dead because their bodies are used to surprise us later. Both films feature far more men in Daisy Duke shorts than a movie ought to have.

The villain in the sequel is the infamous Jason, of whom you have no doubt heard tell. He supposedly drowned in the lake when he was a young boy because the camp counselors who were supposed to be watching him were having sex instead. (Have sex, or watch the dumb kid swim. I'm not sure which I would choose, either.) It was that drowning that sent his mother over the edge, and it was she who killed all those camp counselors in the first movie.

Apparently, however, Jason wasn't altogether dead, which means his mom kind of overreacted. He's been living in a filthy shack in the woods all these years, no doubt looking at Internet porn and writing anti-government manifestos. He is, as one character puts it, probably a "frightened retard." Now, five years after his mom's rampage (though the movie came out only one year after), the camp is being reopened, and he's getting revenge on the people who killed his mom five years ago. Well, not the actual people, of course. One of them, yes. The rest are guilty only because they, too, are teenagers who work at a summer camp. It makes you wonder just how well thought-out Jason's plan is. Does he intend to kill every camp counselor in the world? The ones in Brazil, for example, are no more or less culpable in his mother's murder than the ones at Crystal Lake. And to be fair, she really did have it coming, what with having killed nine people to avenge the death of her son -- who turned out to be alive anyway. It's the sort of big, embarrassing mix-up that we'll all laugh about one day.

Anyway, Jason doesn't wear his famous hockey mask yet in this movie. He has a KKK-looking hood over his head, the reason for which becomes apparent when we see him without it and realize he has been the victim of a very bad makeup artist. I'd cover my head in shame, too.

So he kills a bunch of teens and cops and old guys, and we're led to believe he kills a dog, too, but thank goodness, it turns out the dog lived! Everyone else is dead, though. None of it is scary, though a lot of it is bloody, in case you're one of those people who thinks they're the same thing.

Grade: D+

Rated R, being crappy

1 hr., 26 min.

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