“I told the others. They didn't believe me. You're all doomed. You're all doomed.” – Crazy Ralph
I’ve always had a soft spot for this one, maybe because it was the first Friday the 13th I saw, back in the day – specifically 1981, not long after I’d seen John Carpenter’s Halloween for the first time on TV. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I hadn’t even seen the first F13 when I saw this sequel. (That would come later, on a double bill re-release.) But that was okay – because the first fifteen minutes of Part 2 comprise a flashback of Part 1. It really was like seeing two films in one, and makes for one of the longest pre-title prologues in film history.
The reason for the extended prologue is that a couple of months after the events of Part 1, lone survivor Alice (Adrienne King) has presumably been undergoing some sort of counselling and is recovering in an apartment, but suffers flashback nightmares of her ordeal at Camp Crystal Lake, including dreaming about the dream sequence at the end.
Waking up, she decides to take a shower – but in a cutaway scene, we’ve seen an ominous pair of work boot clad feet walking outside. Poor Alice’s role in the film is short lived, as heading to the kitchen after her shower following a call from a well-meaning mother and another with seemingly nobody at the other end, she opens the fridge and there’s Pamela Voorhees’s severed head inside. As she recoils, she’s grabbed from behind and receives an ice-pick to the temple. Slam, bang. Titles.
Let’s just look at this for a second, okay? Presumably, the killer is Jason Voorhees, making his real onscreen debut (as the last sighting was a dream.) His mother was driven to homicidal madness thinking he had drowned in the lake as a child, yet no body was ever found – it can’t have been found, because clearly, he didn’t die and is now an adult. Why didn’t he ever make contact with his mother? Evidently, he saw his mother being decapitated by Alice and went to the trouble of picking her head up and taking it with him, so he was nearby because he decided to take his revenge, and homed in on Alice to the point of tracking her down her to avenge his mother’s death, yet he never bothered to go home and say “hi, mom” in the 24 years between his supposed drowning and the beheading of Pamela. It’s mentioned that Jason was retarded which doesn’t really cover his two and a half decades of hiding, but he somehow manages to trace Alice’s location with deadly accuracy AND place a phone call to make sure she was at home. Who taught him to use the phone and come to think of it, look up her number in the directory? Other points that go unanswered are how did he get in to her apartment though the smallish window without her hearing? Why put the head in the fridge? (He didn’t know she was going to open it.) And where and how does he buy his clothes?
Okay, nit picking aside – let’s move on to the bulk of the film, which is stunningly fast paced, and has a simple bare-bones narrative.
Five years later, there’s a Camp Counsellor Training Centre open for business, called Camp Packanack, and attending the refresher course are the usual box ticking horny teens. One of the first encounters one couple have is with a carryover from the first film, Crazy Ralph, played again by Walt Gorney who gives his usual creepy dire warning that they’re all doomed. Camp Packanack, you see, is on Crystal Lake – and shares a boundary with the abandoned Camp Crystal Lake – now known locally as Camp Blood. In fact, it’s off-limits, as a stern State Trooper tells a couple of the curious teens who’ve wandered over to take a look. The teen cast are generic, the Camp Leader Paul (John Furey) is a clean-cut all-American guy, trying his best to be a wholesome role model, his assistant Ginny (Adrienne Steel) is really the standout star of the show, for reasons we’ll get in to shortly.
The first on-site casualty is sadly Crazy Ralph, having cycled over to make a nuisance of himself, is skulking around, when he’s killed with a garrotte of barbed wire in a killing that makes no sense. The garrotte is passed down over his head from behind a tree he’s lurking behind. Think about it. Jason would have to pass one end of the wire from one hand to the other in front of Ralph before using it. And besides that, how did someone as bulky as Jason hide behind a tree from someone as nosey as Ralph? And in any event, why kill Ralph? He wasn’t a camp counsellor. I can understand why he kills the state trooper who intrudes into his house a little later and finds the shrine to Pamela, with her rotting head as a centrepiece – but poor old Ralph?
Also, that state trooper is an odd one – the officer is returning to his base after escorting the trespassing couple back to Packanack with a warning. Jason runs across the narrow road ahead of the trooper’s car, the trooper decides to give chase on foot. For what? Jaywalking on a country lane? Jason’s reaction when the cop enters his shabby little shack made of scraps of wood and corrugated iron (with a flushing toilet connected to the mains because it has water in it – in the middle of the woods) is to bury the hatchet – in the cop’s skull. But – and here’s the point, nobody seems to miss the cop, nobody goes looking for him, nor is his abandoned patrol car found as far as I know. You’d suppose that the place would be crawling with police and helicopter support, looking for their missing officer.
So, as darkness descends on their second night and the lightning storm arrives right on cue, most of the counsellors head to town for a few drinks at the local bar, leaving a handful to be slaughtered. This is by the numbers slasher movie stuff. One female is killed after skinny dipping, the creepy guy who followed her and stole her clothes is caught in a snare and has his throat slit (good riddance, pervert) a couple having sex are forever joined in the act of love with a spear that impales both of them. Most sadistically of all I think, a guy in a wheelchair receives a machete to the face and goes tumbling down a stairway. His would-be lover goes looking for him, as she was freshening herself up and slipping into fresh underwear (?) during his murder and goes looking for him… upstairs. Guy was in a wheelchair, what was she thinking? Predictably, she doesn’t find him, but she does find Jason – whom we see is wearing a burlap sack over his head with a hole for one eye, kind of like The Elephant Man, and that’s the end of her.
Paul and Ginny return and find the camp in darkness – with someone waiting for them.
After a struggle with Paul, Jason is victorious and chases Ginny as per slasher movie convention. But here’s the big difference, and what makes Ginny, as portrayed by Amy Steel, who we’ve already seen in April Fool’s Day, absolutely outstanding and the best of all the F13 “last girls” – Ginny isn’t a standard dumb victim, forever doing stupid things. She does everything she possibly can to survive and we, the audience are with her all the way, rooting for her. Fleeing, she hides under a bed in another cabin, but a rat scurries up to her face, causing her to wet herself in terror, giving away her hiding place. Again on the run, she hides behind a bush and kicks the pursuing Jason in the nuts (I think she’s the ONLY girl to do that). She even has a go at him with a chainsaw.
Running for her life, she finds herself in his shack, but can’t leave because he comes in right behind her. We’ve already been told she’s majoring in child psychology in college, so she uses her training and dons Pamela’s sweater from the shrine we’ve seen before and addresses Jason as Pamela, which works until she tries to attack him and he defends himself. As Jason overpowers her, a not dead yet Paul enters and provides the assist, saving Ginny who’s had her leg sliced open in the struggle. Jason is down. They limp their way back over to Packanack.
As they gather themselves in their cabin, there’s a noise outside the door and Ginny arms herself with a pitchfork as Paul investigates and opens the door – but it’s only a small dog that went missing earlier in the film. Sigh of relief – until an unmasked Jason comes crashing in through the window behind Ginny, grabbing her. (This was a scene that legitimately haunted me for years, whenever I’d draw the curtains in the dark. And I’ll never forget the screams from the audience in attendance at the cinema when I saw it for the first time.)
I wish the film had ended there, instead of carrying on to the next morning, when Ginny is being loaded on a stretcher into an ambulance, asking where Paul is. We don’t know. He’s never mentioned again. Also, where’s the little dog? Is it going feral in the forest?
Sadly, we never saw or heard of Ginny again either. It was planned to have her return in Part 3, but Amy Steel’s agent advised against being typecast at the beginning of her career.
And speaking of Part 3, that’s another story for another time. Next time, we’re going to another, unrelated, summer camp – with a twist at the end you’ll never see coming. Until then, keep your machete sharp.
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