Cult Corner: Friday The 13th (2)

1980 – 2009

Words: Oliver Innocent

Released the year following Friday the 13th, Part 2 is the movie where Jason Voorhees takes centre stage as the killer in question.
He’s not, however, the same Jason we would come to know and love. Part 2 sees Jason finding his feet as the series’ central icon. In contrast to later entries he’s fast on his feet and more of a wild man living off the land than an indestructible killing machine.

He also seems pretty green around the gills when it comes to this whole business of killing teens, falling off chairs when trying to be stealthy and cowering in fear when the heroine brandishes a chainsaw at him. The most noticeable difference, however, is that Jason wears an Elephant Man-style sack over his head as opposed to the now iconic hockey mask.

Apart from the identity of its killer, Friday the 13th Part 2 is almost an exact replica of its predecessor, with the same setup of teens getting killed at a soon to be opened summer camp being copied almost verbatim. With better pacing and more likeable characters it could be argued that it actually improves upon the original.

It’s certainly one of the standout entries, boasting a cosy yet creepy campfire tale atmosphere and some of the series’ most memorable imagery. There’s Jason’s macabre displaying of his mother’s decomposing head on an altar; a wheelchair-bound victim hurtling down a flight of stairs with a machete impaled in his head; and the final jolt of an unmasked Jason leaping through a window (look out for window smashing, it’s a staple of the series).

Friday the 13th Part 3 marks the point in the series where everything gets bigger, cooler, sillier, and more, well, ‘80s.
For a start, it’s now in 3D, automatically making everything more over-the-top. Adding an extra layer of cheese to proceedings, the 3D gimmick is milked for all its worth with yo-yo’s, snakes, pitchforks, juggling balls, and eyeballs popping out all over the show.

However, even viewed now in its 2D form, the brandishing of objects at the screen doesn’t seem that out of place in a film where the killer can crush a man’s head with his bare hands. Indeed, in contrast to Part 2’s lithe wild man, this Jason is a hulking brute with a neck the width of a tree trunk, superhuman strength, and the ability to survive a mortally fatal axe-wound to the head.

This is also the first Jason to don the infamous hockey mask, Friday the 13th now finally boasting a truly iconic villain.
The filmmakers really let their villain flex his muscles in this entry, upping the body count with the introduction of non-essential characters like a store owner and his wife, and a biker gang scripted in as nothing but disposable cannon-fodder.

Adding to the insanity is a disco-style theme that kicks off the credits, an annoying boy-who-cried-wolf character who pretends he’s been murdered to provide cheap scares at regular intervals, and a barmy dream sequence ending where Mrs Voorhees leaps out of the lake.

Perhaps the quintessential Friday movie, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (don’t let the title fool you, there’s still eight more to go!) pretty much encapsulates the essence of the franchise in 91 glorious minutes.
If you only watch one Friday the 13th movie, make sure it’s this one. Right from the outset it’s clear that, this supposedly being the last entry, the filmmakers wanted to give the fans something really special. And what better way than dialling everything up to 11?

Opening with helicopters, ambulances and police cars at the crime scene of the previous movie, The Final Chapter’s modus operandi is plain to see; bigger is better.
There’s double the violence, double the action, two groups of victims (the usual teens and, surprisingly, a family unit complete with pre-teen child and dog), and more window-smashing than you can shake a stick at. Just to show how serious it is at giving you more bang for your buck, there are even identical twin sisters for Jason to kill!

It’s also notable for the return of Tom Savini to the series. He provides some truly excellent effects work here, such as Jason cutting a guy’s throat with a surgical bone saw before promptly twisting the poor bloke’s head around 180 degrees. Perhaps the standout effect though is Jason’s demise. Bringing things full circle by destroying the character he created, Jason’s death scene provides a fitting ‘end’ to the series. Suitably gory and over-the-top, Jason is whacked in the face with his own machete and then slides down the blade while his eyes roll and his tongue writhes.

The movie’s reputation is further bolstered by the inclusion of 2 famous faces in its cast list. First up there’s ‘80s child star Corey Feldman, he of Gremlins and The Goonies fame. Feldman plays Savini-inspired horror mask-maker Tommy Jarvis, one of the series’ few recurring characters (albeit played by different actors in each of the 3 movies he appears in). He also stands out as the first prominent role awarded a pre-teen child and is the one who gets to ‘kill’ Jason.

Second up is Crispin Glover who would pop up as Marty McFly’s dad the following year in Back to the Future. Unsurprisingly Glover is a tour de force of weirdness, bestowing on us one of Friday the 13th’s most iconic moments; the dance. Hilarious, surreal, and almost inhuman, Glover’s dance to ‘80s rockers Lion’s (best known for The Transformers: The Movie theme) Love is a Lie really has to be seen to be believed. Just search for Crispin Glover dance scene on Youtube to bask in its cheesy glory.

The Final Chapter turned out to be another big success for Paramount. Perhaps too big as, figuring their hockey mask-wearing cash cow was far from dry, promptly resurrected the franchise the following year with Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning

 

see The Final Chapter of our retrospective look at Friday the 13th >here<.

or revisit Part 1 >here<.

 

 


 

 

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