Why You Should Watch: Friday the 13th Part II (1981)

From IMDb: Mrs. Voorhees is dead, and Camp Crystal Lake is shut down, but a camp next to the infamous place is stalked by an unknown assailant.

Still on a summer blockbuster and Friday the 13th kick this week. I was going to write about one of my favorite Friday sequels Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives aka “sorry we screwed up!”, but I’d be remiss not to dedicate at least one post to the first sequel.

This sequel introduces Jason, establishes the pattern of repeating the same movie with a slight variation every time, and features one of my favorite final girls Ginny Field.

As I mentioned, this Friday the 13th really sets the blueprint of purposefully making the same movie over and over with slight variations in order to rake in cash:

“With the Friday the 13th films, we had always made a conscious decision to make the same movie over again, only each one would be slightly different.”

Director Steve Miner

It starts with Jason mercilessly killing the first movie’s final girl Alice Hardy. That’s right, somehow Jason Voorhees has been alive this whole time, and the series will (almost always…) focus on him as the killer from now on. (Also sidenote: Alice is from California. So my headcanon is that this Jason drove and or took a bus across country just to stage a dramatic revenge killing).

But this film has still not introduced the hockey mask-clad, musclebound supernatural zombie monster Jason we will come to know and love. In this first sequel, he is a very human, occasionally bumbling man wearing a burlap sack over his head with a single eyehole and overalls.

We do get to see his face at the end, something that remains hidden in most of the films going forward.

This film duplicates a lot kills from the original, down to a post-coital impalement and sudden blade straight into someone’s face. But it takes a bit more time to create some likeable characters, and in particular Ginny. It feels just different enough to not feel too stale, and includes an iconic campfire story about the legend of Jason Voorhees:

And of course there is the final girl. Ginny is introduced as a fun, sarcastic young woman who isn’t afraid to talk back when their senior staff member/her boyfriend Paul goes on awkward tangents about bears being attracted to period blood. She is also studying to become a child psychologist, and manages to drunkenly and accurately profile Jason.

Ginny: He’d be grown by now, right? The only person that ever knew him was his mother. He never went to school, so he had no friends. She was everything to him.

Paul: Yeah. Deranged killer.

Ginny: No, no, no. You’re missing my whole point. I doubt Jason would have even known the meaning of death. At least until that horrible night. He must’ve seen the whole thing happen. He must’ve seen his mother get killed, all because she loved him. Isn’t that what her revenge was all about? Her sense of loss, her rage at what she thought happened, her love for him? Bizarre, isn’t it? He must be out there now, crying for her return, her resurrection.

Friday the 13th Part II

The reason I love Ginny most of all is I’m an absolute sucker for final girls who think their way out of situations.

But also how can you not love a movie with this jumpscare revolving around a tiny dog called Muffin? And a goofball character who survives because he insists on staying at the bar instead of heading back to camp with everyone else?

There is something special about every Friday the 13th, and I just love that this one’s special element is such an awesome final girl.

Watch it with friends back to back with the original. They make two lovely companion pieces before the filmmakers start playing with hockey masks, 3D, and disco.

Next week, I’ll make my best argument for the 6th film deserving some more love.

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