Friday, June 11, 2010

Five Reasons Why Friday The 13th Part 2 Is Awesome

Last night after a bitch of a day at work and with cold beer in hand and pizza rapidly cooling, I went through my usual “How can I own so many movies and have absolutely no desire to watch any of them?” battle. Before settling on Friday The 13th Part 2. One of the funnest easiest to watch movies the slasher genre has to offer.

I’d even go so far as to say to the less horror incline of my readers, if you’re to watch only one slasher film on your brief existence in this mortal coil, make it this one.

The reason is simple, within its compact frame (under eighty minutes if you don’t count the ten minute recap that pads- er starts it) contains everything fun (Boobs, Gore, Bad Behavior) that the genre has to offer and a good deal of stuff that kicks it up a notch. Here are the five reasons that Friday The 13th Part 2 non ironically rocks my world, and places it well above the standard fair, making it the type of film that rewards plumbing the most dubious genres.

1) The Opening: Its now standard operating procedure that if someone survives a horror movie they will die in the sequel. But Friday The 13th was written before the rulebook started (and slashers if nothing else follow the rules of their form in a a way that makes Kabuki look improvisational). And its delivered with a vicousness that still shocks.

Part of it is just how hard won Alice’s survival in the first film was. Something we’ve just been reminded of after the recap. Part of it is they made the effort to get Alice Hardy back for the brief part. But most of it is the unmitaged nastiness of her death, an ugly ice pick to the head. Especially shocking coming after that most innocuous of scares “The Cat Jump. After all she’s been through its just plain not fair. Look for Alice to go along with Shelia next time Arbogast does “The One You Would Have Saved”

2) The Final Girl: Amy Steel is a charmer, and one of the few actresses I’ve was genuinely surprised never really made it out of the slasher ghetto. Brash, independent, tough, charismatic, and unashamedly sexual and adult in a way most demure final girls aren’t supposed to be.

This is a woman so cool she scared the shit out of Jason. Coming as close to killing him as anyone has. The bit where she surprises him with a Chainsaw, set up with the meticulousness of Chekov's gun, is kind of beautiful. Its worth noting that even though he's come back many times, Jason has never had the balls to tangle with Amy Steel again. I’d watch her even if she wasn’t in a duel with a back woods mongoloid. Inspeaking of which…

3) Bag Head Jason: With the creepy canvas sack. Mad staring eye. And odd little action (I love him taking a teapot off the stove after dispatching his victim). This is probably the only time that Jason has actually been frightening. When he received his hockey mask Jason became an icon. By definition things that are Icons are familiar and that which is familiar is once again by definition not scary.

4) Steve Miner: Unlike the first Friday which was directed by Sean Cunningham, a man whose sense of pace and mise en scene can charitably described as “clumsy”. Steven Miner is a decent director, He keeps the film at a strong pace, uses creative framing (He creeps his frames nice and open leaving Jason room to appear anywhere rather then the usual, keep the frame tight and cropped so when he comes in from the side its a surprise), creates a good atmosphere, has a rapport with the actors. He’s even able to stage a decent sight gag.

Its no accident that Miner has directed some of the most beloved slashers of all time (and also that movie where C. Thomas Howell drinks a potion that makes him black and Big Bully err….) He stages the kills in a way that makes them more then gratuitous gore shots, and the stalking scenes actually suspenseful.

5) Wheelchair Death: I’ve watched a lot of horror films. And I’ve watched a lot of exploitation films. And this is still one of the most sublimely tasteless things I’ve ever seen.


Liam [Less Than Three Film] said...

Fantastic post!

The Friday the 13th series is possibly my least favourite of the long-running slasher series, and I actually prefer some of the later entries (Parts 6, 7 and 8) than the first couple. But I also really need to get around to giving them all a rewatch some time soon.

Aaron said...

I completely agree. My favorite always goes back and forth between this one and FINAL CHAPTER, but this one has the most re-watchability out of any of them. Baghead Jason has always been one of my favorite looks in the entire slasher subgenre. Something about it is just very unsettling, and I would be legit terrified if I were out in the middle of the woods and saw someone with a sack over their head as opposed to a hockey mask.

MrJeffery said...

LOVE this post and can totally relate to wanting to watch nothing but a movie like this after a terrible day. I used to loathe this sequel but I've grown fonder of it in recent years. I think she's one of the best final girls and I love its straightforward, old school quality.

Erich Kuersten said...

Awesome post! I saw this on afternoon cable once when 14 with my friend and we had to go scouring all the bedroom closets in the house with crowbars and butcher knives in hand, ferreting out Jasons. We'd get to the top and hear something in the basement and have to start all over again. It was freaky but hilarious... tough from then on slashers became a focal point for my nihilistic teenage anxiety. Now you've made me realize I have to face my fears and rent this again. Salut!

Neil Fulwood said...

Not only a great post, Bryce (and a trenchant reminder of how utterly wrong that wheelchair scene is), but you've managed to enunciate something I thought it was only me that suffered from: that frustrated trawling through the DVD collection, knowing that you bought every title because it seemed utterly essential at the time, but not finding a damn thing you actually want to watch!

Franco Macabro said...

One of the best in the series, totally agree. How can a director go from this awesome movie, to directing shit like that Day of the Dead "remake" bullshit with Mina Suvari.

AK said...

Can't do much more than to echo all the praise here, maybe one thing I'd add is that the very MINUTE Jason became the unstoppable killing machine (Part 3) he became TOTALLY non-frightening--not that some of the sequels aren't without their moments or jump scares, but it's always the same plot with a changing (and increasingly dislikeable)cast of victims.
Semi-related:I also like the first F13, but the ending reveal has always pissed me off-if they'd at least SHOWN Mrs. Voorhees sometime prior to revealing her as the killer in the last 15 minutes (maybe she could have been one of the patrons at the bar who tries to warn off poor Annie from going to Camp Crystal Lake?), it wouldn't have felt like such a cheat.
And oh yes, Amy Steel as Ginny! She's right up there with Laurie Strode as a heroine (even more than Nancy Thompson)!

Bryce Wilson said...

Thanks for the love guys. I needed it tonight.

@ Liam: I like the later ones as well. Oddly enough V is a weird favorite of mine.

@ Aaron: You hit it right on the head. Baghead Jason seems more like something you'd actually be scared shitless of.

The Final Chapter is fun and Savini is amazing, but I don't know, this has always just been the ultimate slasher for me.

@ Mr. Jeffery: Many thanks man. There is indeed no school like the old school.

@ Erich: Dude. I CANNOT WAIT to see you write this up.

@ Neil: Thanks man. Too right though. Alot of it I think is life getting in the way. Its like "Man I really want to investigate the back catalouge of this Renoir boxset I bought. But after a nine hour day I'm fucking tired. And want to watch something I KNOW I'll like."

@ FC: Really? Miner did that. Jesus. Now I"m depressed. I could forgive Soul Man and Big Bully, but not that.

@ Rob: Damn straight on all accounts Rob. I never thought about that with Mrs. Voorhes before but it makes a lot of sense.

Aaron said...

Geez, am I the only person that didn't hate the DAY OF THE DEAD "remake"?

Bryce Wilson said...


I'm afraid there is no cure.