- Movie Rating -

Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

| May 1, 1981

I noted in my review of the original Friday the 13th that it did not leave me with a lot to think about when it was over.  The sequel, Friday the 13th Part II, gives me plenty to mull over but not for reasons either cerebral or intellectual.  More over it is just to work out the logical details that this movie seems to miss.

Given the vacuous nature of the original film and the countless imitators that have come along since, I had to think hard to even remember what happened in the first film.  I recall that a group of camp counselors were being slaughtered one by one for having the nerve to try and reopen a summer camp that became infamous after one kid was abandoned and drowned while the camp counselors who were in the barn making hay.

The twist of that original film was sort of clever – it was the kid’s mother who was causing all of the mayhem.  She was played in a reasonably good functional performance by former “I’ve Got a Secret” panelist Betsy Palmer.  She lost her head at the end of that movie, leading to a questions that linger over this film like a dark cloud.  If her son Jason drowned in the lake years ago, how is he still alive?  What has he been doing in the woods for 20 years?  What caused his mother to go on a rampage and kill 10 people for apparently no reason?  How did he follow Alice to wherever she is hiding out?  Why does the movie need a POV shot when we’re not POVing where the killer is standing?  Why does the killer celebrate his first kill be taking the tea kettle off the stove?  Where did he get his mother’s severed head?  Did he bring it with him?

Well, the answer to those questions are more or less mumbled over here as Friday the 13th became a monster hit the box office and a sequel needed to feed the producer’s coffers.  The killer, it seems, has been stalking the survivor of the first movie and eventually catches up with her as she, naturally, walks around her house alone at night with the only other tenant being her cat who leaps out of the dark just before the killer does the same.  Then comes the tea kettle. 
Murder –1. 
Housefire – 0.

Then its back to Camp Crystal Lake where the killer continues his mother’s murderous rampage, stalking and slashing even less identifiable post-teen boys and girls as they try and open the camp for business.  Did they not get the lowdown on what happened at this camp just five years ago?  Yes, this apparently takes place in 1985, if you’re keeping score.

The rest of the movie is more or less a series of ironic punishment.  The slutty girl who has trouble keeping her clothes on will be skewered once she gets naked and alone.  The kid in the wheel chair will meet a grisly fate once he is in a spot where his wheelchair can fall conveniently down a flight of stairs.  The girl whose car won’t start at the beginning of the movie will have the same problem once she needs it to start as she runs from the killer.

And on and on.  Friday the 13th Part II is more or less identical to its predecessor.  The murders are mean-spirited, the characters are interchangeable and the killer’s motivation makes no sense.  And if you can figure out the logic behind the end of this movie, you’re a better person than I am.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.