A Journal Of The Dark Arts

Horrorscores: Harry Manfredini – Friday the 13th Part 2 soundtrack review

Harry Manfredini’s synth + string orchestral score is probably too classy for its subject matter, but it elevates Paramount Picture’s bloody campy summer camp slashers beyond mere schlock to something approaching art.

After the unexpected runaway box office success of the first Friday the 13th in 1980, producers were left scrambling to capitalize on their new golden goose. Initially conceptualized as an anthology series based around the calendar date, the film-makers recognized the rabid fan response to the jumpscare introduction of Jason Voorhees and decided to make him the focus of the film. Thus, one of the most famous horror icons was born, launching one of the most successful horror franchises in his bloody wake.

Friday the 13th Part 2 was directed by Steve Miner, in his directorial debut. It takes place at Camp Crystal Lake one year after the first film’s events, when a new crop of camp counselors are bussed in to be hacked to pieces. Hardly a revolutionary plot, which is why Harry Manfredini’s score has to do so much heavy lifting to prevent the sequel from going down like a lead zeppelin.

The Friday the 13th Part 2 soundtrack largely builds and develops on Manfredini’s iconic score from the first Friday the 13th. A large portion of the soundtrack is built around the iconic “ki-ki-ki ma-ma-ma” theme. A lion’s share of the remainder focuses on non-melodic orchestral flourishes that nod to other famous horror movie soundtracks, most notably the alternating-bass of Jaws and the nerve-shredding atonal strings of Psycho. This is in no way a bad thing, though, as it can feel like listening to some particularly avant-garde modern classical, a lost Ligeti string quartet or some Arvo Pärt minimalism, which just makes the sudden, violent eruptions just that much more thrilling. 

Listening to the Friday the 13th Part 2 soundtrack is essentially like listening to some particularly forward-thinking modern classical music run through an echoplex and thick sheets of reverb. How could you possibly go wrong?

The Friday the 13th Part 2 soundtrack is not without melodicism, though. Tracks like “Ginny Visits Villa Jason,” an album highlight, have all the heroic brass of a Star Trek score while “Who’s At The Door?” does the romance-bursting-into-maniacal-malevolence trick first heard on Friday tne 13th‘s “The Boat on the Water.” 

Friday the 13th Part 2 differs from Part 1 in one very key aspect – an emphasis on synthesizers. Even orchestral cues will have a backdrop of virulent ominous synthesis, giving a decent portion of the soundtrack a unique proto-industrial quality, like John Carpenter meets Bernard Herrmann quality. 

This, alone, makes Friday the 13th Part 2 worthy of hearing, even if you’re not a fan of the franchise. 

If you’re thinking of watching Friday the 13th Part 2 as part of your Friday the 13th celebration, you can read our review here.

If you want even more horror soundtracks (who doesn’t?) you can subscribe to our Horrorscores playlist on Spotify:

The Creeping



ig: @TheCreepingFilm

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