In 1980, FRIDAY THE 13TH became a big box office in smash, the highest grossing horror film of the year in fact. Paramount, the major studio which released it, was quick to order a sequel, yet none of the major creative team behind the original (producer/director Sean S. Cunningham, writer Victor Miller, make-up effects artist Tom Savini) was temped to get involved, believing that the character of Jason Voorhees was long dead and only appeared in the film as a fragment of a surviving character’s imagination. Steve Minor, the production manager on the original film, stepped in to produce and direct, and Ron Kurz wrote the screenplay, reviving several characters and assuring that that the body count was high.
Mrs. Voorhees, a serial killer who stalked the grounds of Camp Crystal Lake, is now dead, and the only survivor of her wrath is Alice (Adrienne King). Still trying to recover from the traumatic experience, Alice opens her fridge one night, shocked to find Mrs. Voorhees’ mummified head there, and she’s soon murdered as gruesomely as her friends were five years earlier. Camp Crystal Lake may be closed and condemned, but a campground near the same body of water is acting as a training sight for counselors, and these incoming youths quickly become fodder for Jason, a wandering mongoloid madman out to avenge his mother by murdering anyone in the surrounding vicinity. Before it’s all over, Ginny (Amy Steel) plays a cat and mouse game with Jason, using a kind of warped psychology to turn the tables on him.
With a bigger budget and slightly slicker production values, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 repeats the formula of the first film, but the results are far more predictable, as it really doesn’t set itself out to unravel any kind of mystery. Young, horny and not very likable exposable characters allow Jason to use any kind of garden tool he can get a hold of to do away with them while they’re not having sex, smoking grass or getting trashed at the nearest honky tonk. The sequel allows for some full frontal female nudity (something not witnessed in the original) courtesy of gorgeous Kirsten Baker, and the gore effects (this time out by Carl Fulerton) are nicely done, if a bit quick on screen (two of the inventive deaths – a machete to the face and the Shiskabob impaling of a love-making couple – were directly aped from Mario Bava’s BAY OF BLOOD/TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE, but done better in his earlier, far superior film). The MPAA forced edits to avoid an X rating, and the eradicated splatter has never shown up in any video release of the film and is now considered lost. The grown-up Jason (here played by Warrington Gillette) sports a white hood over his head with one eye hole slit open, and when he’s unmasked, the make-up for his deformed mug is effectively gruesome. Thankfully, Harry Manfredini returned to do the superb score, as his musical talents would became an undeniable asset to the continuing series for years to follow.
The transfer for this new “Deluxe Edition” of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 looks to be the same as what was used for previous DVD releases, which is not a bad thing. Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement, colors and fleshtones look very good for the most part, and detail is also top notch, especially for a film with so many dark scenes. Grain, though minimal, pops up now and then, but is never a problem. A new Dolby Digital 5.1 English audio track is a clear and offers a solid mix, and the original English mono track is also present, along with mono tracks in French and Spanish. Optional English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles are included.
Extras on the discs are primarily a series of featurettes. “Inside Crystal Lake” (11:16) is a sit-down interview with Crystal Lake Memories author Peter M. Bracke, talking about his book and PART 2 in particular, including its inception and the censorship which took place before it was released. “Friday’s Legacy: Horror Conventions” (6:50) contains footage shot at a “Scarefest” con, including interviews with attendees, the convention’s organizers and celebrity guests (Tom Savini, Betsy Palmer, Ari Lehman, Henry Manfredini and Victor Miller) giving their views on everlasting “Friday” fandom. “Lost Tales from Camp Blood - Part 2” (8:55) is a continuation of a short film (seen on the Deluxe Edition of the first “Friday”), written and directed by Andrew Ceperly, which involves a hooded stalker terrorizing a young couple stranded out in the woods. “Jason Forever” (29:27) was shot at a Fangoria convention in 2004, and apparently it was intended for the “Friday the 13th: From Crystal Lake to Manhattan” box set, but not used for that massive DVD collection. This longer featurette has Bracke conducting a panel discussion with four collective screen “Jasons” – Ari Lehman, Warrington Gillette, C.J. Graham and Kane Hodder – and all are also interviewed in separate, sit-down scenarios. It’s unfortunate that they couldn’t reach out to any other PART II cast members for interviews, as Amy Steele was present in the aforementioned box set’s extras. The original theatrical trailer (which boasts a body count starting from the number 14 down) rounds out the disc’s supplements. (George R. Reis)
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