A Journal Of The Dark Arts

Return to Camp Blood: Friday the 13th Part 2 horror movie review

Friday the 13th Part 2 movie review

You’re all doomed! Return to Camp Blood with Friday The 13th Part 2, one of the finest in the franchise and one of the best horror sequels of all time.

Horror sequels are tricky business. As critic Tasha Robinson notes in an essay for The Dissolve, “Horror sequels are the exact opposite of horror.” Robinson notes “1) Horror is about exploiting the fear of the unknown, but sequels are about capitalizing on the familiar.”

“1) Horror is about exploiting the fear of the unknown, but sequels are about capitalizing on the familiar.” – Tasha Robinson

Horror sequels must find the balance between delivering more of the same to audiences but also something unknown. Innovation and familiarity must come together in a delicate balancing act. One that Friday the 13th Part 2 pulls off beautifully.

Friday the 13th Part 2 begins with a lengthy flashback sequence, in case it’s been a while since you’ve seen the original. It begins with poor Alice Hardy (Adrienne King), the tormented and traumatized Final Girl from the original. We revisit Camp Crystal Lake, via Alice’s memory, and Mrs. Voorhees’ bloody rampage. We’re also reminded of the first appearance of Jason Voorhees, as a bedraggled, drowned corpse in the lake. Turns out he wasn’t a corpse at all, nor was Alice’s vision a hallucination, as she catches an ice pick in the temple after finding a severed head in her refrigerator.

So far, so good… Friday the 13th Part 2 begins with a bang and a whimper.

Friday the 13th Part 2 review

Cut to Crystal Lake, as a new camp prepares to open. A new crew of camp counselors makes their way to another summer camp, sharing a lake with Camp Blood. On their way in, they meet Crazy Ralph, the portent of doom, and the first taboo is broken. We are officially in a horror movie.

Friday the 13th Part 2 wastes no time in setting up its mythology. On the first night, the counselors gather around the campfire and camp director Paul Holt (John Furey) tells them the tragic tale of Jason Voorhees and Mrs. Voorhees and all of her bloody carnage. He warns them to stay away from Camp Crystal Lake.

They don’t listen, naturally.

Once it’s set up, the film wastes no time in racking up the body count. As the counselors begin to explore the decayed remnants of Camp Crystal Lake, we meet Jason Voorhees for real – a sackcloth-mask wearing freak living in the woods. As is often the case in Slasher Movies, Friday the 13th Part 2 introduces a large ensemble cast and then picks them off, one by one. Almost everyone who gets any kind of screen time dies, adhering to the usual Slasher rules. If you take your clothes off, you’re going to die.

friday the 13th 2 jason

In Friday the 13th Part 2 we meet Jason Voorhees for real, a sackcloth mask-wearing freak survivng in the wilderness.

Friday the 13th Part 2 features some memorable kills, which is no doubt what yr after. Mark (Tom McBride), the counselor in a wheelchair, catches a machete in the face and falls down a flight of stairs. Crazy Ralph (Walt Gorney) gets garroted. Jeff (Bill Randolph) and Sandra (Marta Kober) do some double penetration in an infamous impalement scene.

So how does Friday the 13th Part 2 hold up, nearly 40 years later?

Friday The 13th Part 2 Re-considered

The second movie in one of the most popular horror franchises not only of the ’80s but of all time isn’t particularly scary. There is essentially no tension, whatsoever. The counselors are set up like clowns in a shooting gallery and picked off, one by one. The kills aren’t especially gory, either, being just one step beyond a Western‘s shoot-em-and-they-fall-down unreality. It’s still a fun ride, though, and one worth taking.

For me, personally, i’m in it for the aesthetics when it comes to horror. I’d watch very nearly any horror film ever made simply for the crumbling, ruinous sets; the doomed, blighted landscapes; the ominous, nerve-shattering soundtracks. Friday the 13th Part 2 has some great aesthetics.

For those of us who grew up in the ’80s, especially in the American Midwest, the Friday the 13th franchise, as a whole, brings back memories of vanished times. Does anyone even go to summer camps anymore? Tell ghost stories around the fire? Do young adults hook up as wantonly and indiscriminately as they seemingly did in 1981? Does anyone even own an ice pick anymore?

Packanac Lodge Friday the 13th

“The setting of Crystal Lake, filmed in New Preston and Kent, Connecticut, brings to mind a particular brand of doomy Midwestern/East Coast Americana.” – Packanac Lodge, Kent, CT

The setting of Crystal Lake, filmed in New Preston and Kent, Connecticut, brings to mind a particular brand of doomy Midwestern/East Coast Americana. The air swelters and drips, most likely swarming with malarial clouds of mosquitoes. Algae-ridden lakes make for summer swimming holes, their bottom slick with seaweed. Dark maple forests crowd around you like tombstones in a graveyard, like a family curse. It’s both innocent and ominous as hell and that lends itself to Friday the 13th Part 2‘s success.

Friday the 13th‘s decadent, crumbling summer camp vibe would become a common trope for much of the ’80s. I’ve personally visited several haunted houses in the Midwest set in disused summer camps. The hacked-up, dilapidated, abandoned camp cabin was ubiquitous, often rubbing shoulders with alien laboratories and serial killer dungeons. If you’re of a certain age and a particular pedigree, Friday the 13th Part 2 will bring back all of those memories and impressions flooding back.

As with every other installment (you can read my review of the original Friday the 13th‘s soundtrack on Medium) Harry Manfredini‘s soundtrack lends a lot to the film. The orchestral arrangements give a bit of class to what could otherwise be a schlocky trashfest, situating the movies as classic horror films a la Psycho but with just a flourish of the electronic horrorscores lurking right around the corner. Manfredini’s nerve-shredding strings and bone-sawing basses match the action on the screen perfectly in the way a lower-budget horror film never could. It elevates the b-grade Slasher to the realm of High Art.

Friday the 13th 2 Ginny

“Ginny displays that mixture of empathy, intuitiveness, and a will to survive.”

Friday the 13th Part 2 also delivers one of the finest Final Girls in the history of Slashers, Ginny. Ginny displays that mixture of empathy, intuitiveness, and a will to survive. Her insight into Jason’s psychological motivations at the end is truly brilliant and of the things that separates Friday the 13th Part 2 from being merely another cookie-cutter slasher or cynical cash grab.

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