12 Things You May Or May Not Have Known About Friday the 13th!

As we all know, with one notable exception, the majority of the cast of the original Friday the 13th didn’t exactly go on to greater heights of stardom.  The movie may have made a lot of money but it didn’t lead to bigger roles for Laurie Bartram and Mark Nelson.  When the movie was released in 1980, Betsy Palmer was the best known member of the cast and, according to the book Crystal Lake Memories, the cast of Friday the 13th Part 2 used to joke that maybe the cast of the first film actually had been murdered in the woods because no one ever saw them again.

Of course, today, no one can watch Friday the 13th without saying, “Oh my God, Kevin Bacon’s wearing a speedo!” but, at the time he was cast as doomed Jack, he was just another struggling actor.  However, if things had gone as originally planned, today Bacon would not be the only respected actor with Friday the 13th on his resume.  When the film was in pre-production, director Sean Cunningham originally tried to get a star to play the role of Alice, the only camp counselor to make it out of Camp Crystal Lake alive.

Who was that star?

Sally Field.

The future multiple Oscar-winner was seriously pursued for the role of Alice.  She did not, as some sources claim, audition for the role.  Instead, she merely turned it down and went on to win her first Oscar for Norma Rae.  Once it became obvious that Field had no interest in going to Camp Crystal Lake, Cunningham decided to go with a cast of unknowns and Adrienne King was given the role of Alice.

Personally, I think that worked out for the best.  Not only was Adrienne King perfect for the role but the use of unknowns undoubtedly made the film more effective when it was released.  After all, everyone knows that a star is going to survive.  (That’s one reason why, when seen today, it’s still jarring to see Kevin Bacon get dispatched.)

Here’s a few more bits of trivia to make your Friday the 13th a good one:

2. After the success of Friday the 13th, Adrienne King was stalked by an obsessed fan and, when she was asked to return for 1981’s Friday the 13th Part 2, she requested that her role be as small as possible.  As a result, Alice showed up just long enough to be killed off.  Amy Steel replaced King as the film’s heroine.  Steel would later go on to star in another classic slasher film, April Fool’s Day.

3. Originally, 1982’s Friday the 13th Part 3 was envisioned with Steel returning to play Ginny.  However, Steel turned down the chance to return, leading to the filmmakers instead simply remaking the first film (in 3D!).  After being cast in the lead role, Dana Kimmel requested that the sex and drugs featured in the original script be toned down.  That’s just one of many reasons why many consider Friday the 13th Part 3 to be the worst film in the series.

4. Even if she didn’t return for Part 3, Amy Steel was instrumental in convincing her friend, actor Peter Barton, to appear in 1984’s Friday the 13th — The Final Chapter.  Barton’s likable performance as the handsome but definitely doomed Doug was a highlight of the film.  Another highlight was Ted White’s performance as Jason.  As opposed to the character he played, White once threatened to quit the film because he didn’t like the way the director was treating the film’s cast.

5. The working title for 1985’s Friday the 13th: A New Beginning was Repitition.  Having killed Jason at the end of The Final Chapter, Corey Feldman returned for a cameo that he shot at the same time that he was filming The Goonies for Richard Donner.  Along with the first film, this is the only one to not feature Jason Voorhees committing any murders (unless you count the ones that he committed in Tommy’s nightmare) and the film’s ending was specifically set up so that Tommy could take over Jason’s murderous ways.  However, the film’s disappointing box office reception led to Jason returning as a zombie in the next film.

6. With its intentional comedy and its emphasis on action over blood, 1986’s Friday the 13th: Jason’s Lives is a rarity in that it was a Friday the 13th film that actually got somewhat good reviews.  John Shepherd, who played Tommy in a New Beginning, was offered a chance to return to the role but turned it down, saying that the film’s went against his religious beliefs.  As a result, Thom Matthews was cast as Tommy.  Matthews also played the lead in another horror comedy, Return of the Living Dead.

7. 1988’s Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood was originally envisioned as being a cross-over with A Nightmare on Elm Street.  However, when Paramount (who held the rights to Jason) and New Line Cinema (who held the rights to Freddy) could not come to an agreement, the project was temporarily abandoned.  According to Crystal Lake Memories, the film’s executive producer, Barbara Sachs, wanted Friday the 13th Part VII to be the first Friday the 13th to win an Academy Award and came with an extremely ambitious storyline that she envisioned being directed by none other than Federico Fellini.  Cooler heads prevailed and, instead, The New Blood found Jason battling a young woman with psychic powers.

8. The initial working script for 1989’s Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan was entitled “Ashes to Ashes.”  The film’s anemic box office convinced Paramount to sell the franchise to New Line Cinema.

9. After New Line purchased the franchise, the first film’s director, Sean S. Cunningham, returned to produce 1993’s Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday.  Much like The New Blood, this was originally envisioned as being a Freddy vs. Jason film but that plan was, again, abandoned.  Freddy Krueger does make one brief appearance, when his clawed hand appears and drags Jason’s hockey mask to Hell.  Director Adam Marcus also included a shot of a book that was meant to be the Necronomicon as an attempt to link Jason to the Evil Dead universe as well.  Because New Line did not own the rights to Evil Dead, Marcus did not tell them what he was planning to do and instead asked Sam Raimi if he could borrow the prop.  Raimi thought it was a great idea.  Less amused was Tom Sullivan, the man who actually created the prop and who received no money for its use in Jason Goes To Hell.

10. The 8 year gap between the release of Jason Goes To Hell and 2001’s Jason X was a result of Freddy vs. Jason being stuck in development Hell.  Jason X was largely produced to keep audiences from forgetting about Jason.  Screenwriter Todd Farmer appeared in Jason X, playing a character named Dallas (a nod to the original Alien).

11. After spending two decades in development, 2003’s Freddy vs Jason finally brought the two infamous serial killers together.  Kane Hodder, who had played Jason in every film since New Blood, was not asked to return for Freddy vs. Jason, supposedly because the film’s director wanted Jason to tower over Freddy and it was felt that Hodder was not tall enough.  At one point, Freddy vs. Jason was envisioned as ending with Pinhead appearing and defeating both of them but New Line could not secure the rights to the Hellraiser character.

12. 2009’s Friday the 13th was meant to reboot the series.  Perhaps the less said about it, the better.  Plans for a sequel to the reboot are currently trapped in the same development Hell that once imprisoned Freddy vs. Jason.

Happy Friday the 13th!


Playing Catch Up: First Daughter, Ice Girls, Raising The Bar, Walk Like A Man

So, this year I am making a sincere effort to review every film that I see.  I know I say that every year but this time, I really mean it.  Unfortunately, over the past two weeks, real life has interfered with my movie reviewing, if not my move watching.

So, in an effort to catch up, here are four quick reviews of some of the movies that I watched over the past two weeks!

  • First Daughter
  • Released: 2004
  • Directed by Forest Whitaker
  • Starring Katie Holmes, Marc Blucas, Amerie, Michael Keaton, Margaret Colin, Lela Rochon

Michael Keaton as the President of the United States!?  Now, that’s a great idea.  Michael Keaton plays President Mackenzie.  First Daughter was made long before Birdman so Michael Keaton doesn’t really have a huge part but, whenever he does appear, he is totally believable as a world leader.  You buy the idea that this guy could win an election and that he’d probably be a good (if not necessarily a great) President.  Someone really needs to make another movie where Michael Keaton plays the President.  Maybe President Birdman.  Just don’t give it to Inarritu to direct because he’ll make it too political…

Anyway, the majority of the film is about Katie Holmes as the President’s daughter, Samantha.  Samantha has been accepted to a college in California.  She’s excited because it means that she’ll finally be able to have a life outside of the White House.  The President is concerned because he loves his daughter and he knows that, if she makes any mistakes in California, his political opponents will try to use her against him.  Samantha goes off to college and tries to have a good (but rather chaste) time.  Making that somewhat difficult is her secret service entourage.  Fortunately, Samantha meets a guy (Marc Blucas) who loves her for who she is and not because her father is the President.

It’s all pretty silly and shallow but I have to admit that I get nostalgic whenever I see this movie.  Much like From Justin To Kelly, it’s definitely a film from a more innocent and less angry time.  To date, it’s also the last film to be directed by actor Forest Whitaker.

  • Ice Girls
  • Released in 2016
  • Directed by Damian Lee
  • Starring Michaela du Toit, Lara Daans, Arcadia Kendal, Sheila McCarthy, Taylor Hunsley, Shane Harte, Elvis Stojko

Struggling financially, Kelly (Lara Daans) is forced to move back to her hometown and move in with her sister (Sheila McCarthy).  Until she got married and gave up that part of her life, Kelly was once an up-and-coming figure skater.  Fortunately, her daughter, Mattie (Michaela du Toit), has inherited her mother’s talent.  However, a serious injury shook Mattie’s confidence.  Now, she says she doesn’t want to skate anymore.  Still, she’s willing to accept a job from Mercury (Elvis Stojko) at the local rink and it’s not too long before, under Mercury’s guidance, Mattie is skating once again.  Mattie also befriends another skater, Heather (Taylor Hunsley).  Heather happens to be the daughter of Rose (Natasha Henstridge), who was once in love with Kelly’s father…

It sounds like the set-up of a melodramatic Lifetime movie but actually, Ice Girls is a sweet-natured film about two ice skaters, one who has a mother who is too protective and the other who has a mother who is too driven.  In the end, both of them end up skating for themselves and not their mothers and that’s a good message for the film’s target audience of young skate fans.  The majority of the cast is made up of actual ice skaters, so the skating footage is pretty impressive.  It’s a predictable movie but I enjoyed it when I watched it on Netflix.

  • Raising the Bar
  • Released in 2016
  • Directed by Clay Glen
  • Starring Kelli Berglund, Lili Karamalikis, Tess Fowler, Emily Morris, Peta Shannon

I also watched this one on Netflix, a day after I watched Ice Girls.  (I was in an Olympics sort of mood, even though neither film took place at the Olympics.)  Raising the Bar feels a lot like Ice Girls, except that the ice skaters were now gymnasts and instead of relocating to Toronto, the family in Raising the Bar relocates all the way to Australia.  Once in Australia, Kelly (Kelly Johnson) finds the courage to re-enter gymnastics and ends up competing against her former teammates.

Kelly Johnson gives a good performance in the lead role.  Though it may be predictable, Raising the Bar is an effective and sweet-natured family film.  Perhaps the most interesting thing about watching the film was that I quickly found myself rooting against the American team.  Australia all the way!

  • Walk Like A Man
  • Released 1987
  • Directed by Melvin Frank
  • Starring Howie Mandel, Amy Steel, Cloris Leachman, Christopher Lloyd, Colleen Camp, Stephen Elliott, George DiCenzo, John McLiam, Earl Boen

Oh, what sweet Hell is this?

Okay, I’m going to try to explain what happens in this movie.  You’re not going to believe me.  You’re going to think that I’m just making all of this up.  But I swear to a God … this is an actual movie.

When he was a baby, Boba Shand (Howie Mandel) got separated from his family.  His mother and his father assumed that he was gone forever but what they didn’t know was that Bobo was found and raised by a pack of wild dogs.  For twenty years, Bobo lives as a dog.  Then he’s discovered by Penny (Amy Steel), an animal researcher who tries to teach Bobo how to be a human.  However, as time passes, Penny comes to realize that maybe she’s making a mistake trying to change Bobo.  Bobo is innocent and child-like and obsessed with chasing fire engines.  When he has too much to drink, he runs around on all fours.  And … PENNY’S IN LOVE WITH HIM!

Seriously, she’s in love with a man who thinks he’s a dog.

However, Bobo stands to inherit a fortune and his evil brother (Christopher Lloyd) is planning on having him committed.  Penny has to prove that Bobo is human enough to manage his own affairs while also respecting his desire to continue living like a dog.

I’m serious.  This is a real movie.

Anyway, making things even worse is the performance as Howie Mandel.  Mandel has always been a rather needy performer and the role of a man who thinks he’s a dog only serves to bring out his worst instincts.  Remember when Ben Stiller played Simple Jack in Tropical Thunder?  Well, Mandel’s performance is kinda like that only worse.  At one point, Bobo walks up to a mannequin in a mall and says, “I have to go pee pee.  Come with me,” and I nearly threw a shoe at the TV.  Oh my God, it was so bad.

The main problem with Walk Like A Man is that it wants to have it both ways.  It wants to be a wild comedy about Howie Mandel chasing fire engines but it also makes us want to tear up when Penny explains why Bobo should be allowed to live as a dog.

All in all, it’s a really bad movie.  And yes, it does actually exist.

Cleaning Out The DVR: Women of San Quentin (dir by William A. Graham)

(Lisa is currently in the process of cleaning out her DVR!  She’s got over 170 films to watch before the end of 2017!  Will she make it?  Who knows?  She recorded 1983’s Women of San Quentin off of Retroplex on January 25th.)

For some reason, back in January, I felt the need to record several prison movies off of cable.  I’m not sure where my mind was at that I would see a title like Women of San Quentin listed in the guide and think to myself, “That’s something I definitely need to record.”  Maybe I was thinking of pursuing a career as a prison guard.  That seems to be the easiest way to get a show on A&E nowadays.

Anyway, I imagine that anyone reading this review is looking that title and considering the VHS cover art and they’re probably assuming that Women of San Quentin is some sort of Cirio Santiago-directed women in prison film.  And then consider the film’s cast: Amy Steel is best known for Friday the 13th Part II and April Fool’s Day.  Stella Stevens is an exploitation film vet.  One of the prisoners is played by Rockne Tarkington, who starred in a handful of blaxploitation films.  William Sanderson, star of the infamous Fight For Your Life, has a small role.  Yaphet Kotto plays a prison guard here but he’s best known for playing the villain in Live and Let Die.  Gregg Henry plays a sociopath.  Hector Elizondo and Debbie Allen play sympathetic guards.  Even Ernie Hudson, a now-respectable actor with several less-than-savory films on his resume, shows up.  Finally, consider this: Women of San Quentin was written by Larry Cohen, the man who directed both Black Caesar and It’s Alive.

However, despite all of that, Women of San Quentin is not an exploitation film.  Instead, it’s a made-for-TV movie.  (Director William A. Graham has over a hundred TV shows and made-for-TV movies to his credit.)  It follows several storylines.  Lt. Janet Alexander (Stella Stevens) is the tough-but-fair captain who is in charge of one of San Quentin’s most intimidating cell blocks.  She’s great at her job and she has a vaguely romantic relationship with Hector Elizondo but she’s also tempted to find a new career.  Charles Wilson (Ernie Hudson) steps up to lead the prison’s black inmates after another activist is assassinated.  Meanwhile, the leader of the Mexican Mafia plots a prison riot and Yaphet Kotto and Debbie Allen use any means necessary to discover what’s going to happen.

And then there’s Liz Larson (Amy Steel), the newest prison guard who struggles to prove that she belongs in San Quentin.  Sexist colleagues play cruel pranks on her.  The prisoners shout at her whenever she walks past their cells.  When she has to use a gun to break up a fight, she hesitates just a second too long.  Will she be able to step up when real trouble breaks out?  Among horror fans, Amy Steel is remembered for “surviving” several slasher films.  (Her performance as Ginny in Friday the 13th Part 2 largely set the standard for which all final girls are judged.)  Steel does a pretty good job as Liz but, actually, the entire movie is well-acted.  The script is frequently rudimentary but the cast is full of unique talent and it’s always fun to watch so many good actors playing opposite each other.

I assume that the Women of San Quentin was meant to be a pilot for a TV show or something.  It just has that feel to it.  If just for the cast alone, I would recommend watching Women of San Quentin if you get a chance.  I’m as surprised as anyone but, after all, where else are going to get a chance to watch Hector Elizondo, Yaphet Kotto, Stella Stevens, and Amy Steel all hanging out in a bar together?  There are certain opportunities that you just don’t miss.

The TSL’s Grindhouse: April Fool’s Day (dir by Fred Walton)

(Because of the nature of the 1986 pseudo-slasher film, April Fool’s Day, it’s impossible to really talk about the film without talking about the film’s ending.  As a result, this review will have spoilers.  The ending will be revealed.  The entire plot will be spoiled.  Do not read on if that’s going to be an issue for you.)

(Did you read the warning above?)

If not for the way that the film ends, April Fool’s Day would probably be a forgotten film.  It’s a slasher film that doesn’t feature much blood, sex, or any particularly flamboyant kills (though there’s a good reason for that).  Compared to most low-budget slasher films from the mid-80s, April Fool’s Day does have a surprisingly charismatic and likable cast but it’s rare that anyone watches a holiday-themed slasher film for the acting.  Up until the final ten minutes or so, April Fool’s Day is professionally done but somewhat generic…

But then you hit that ending and it totally changes the whole film.  It’s not a perfect ending.  In many ways, it’s probably one the most imperfect endings that I’ve ever seen.  It requires a massive suspension of disbelief.  It makes no logical sense. But dammit, I love it.  Almost despite itself, it’s a great ending and it confirms that April Fool’s Day is meant to be a satire and not a straight horror film.

For the first 80 minutes or so, April Fool’s Day plays out like the 100th variation on And Then There Were None.  Heiress Muffy St. John (Deborah Foreman, giving a wonderfully odd performance) invites a group of college friends to her island mansion.  They arrives on April Fool’s Day and they spend the first night dealing with Muffy’s strange sense of humor.  (Actually, Muffy and I both find the same things funny but I’ve been told that I have a strange sense of humor so, therefore, I assume that Muffy must have one too.)  Harvey, who prefers to be called Hal (Jay Baker), smokes an exploding cigar and discovers his bedroom has been decorated with newspaper articles about a car accident that he was involved in.  Jock Arch Cummings (Thomas F. Wilson) finds steroids hidden away in a medicine cabinet.  Nikki (Deborah Goodrich) comes across handcuffs in a dresser.  Nan (Leah Pinset), a serious-minded drama student, hears a baby crying in the distance and is reminded of her abortion, something that she believes that only Muffy knows about.

The next day, Muffy is now wandering around in a daze and her brother, Skip (Griffin O’Neal), has vanished.  Kit (Amy Steel, playing a similar role to her character in Friday the 13th Part Two) and Rob (Ken Olandt) think that they see Skip’s decaying body floating under the boathouse.  As the day progresses, Arch and Nan vanish and later turn up at the bottom of a well.  Harvey is found hanging from a rope.  Chaz (Clayton Rohner) is castrated and, while we’re not quite sure what exactly happens to Nikki, we do see that it involves a large puddle of blood.  Kit and Rob discover Muffy’s head in the basement and realize that they are being stalked by Muffy’s crazy twin, Buffy.

(Deborah Foreman is great in both of the roles.  As Muffy, she delivers all of her lines with just a hint of sarcasm and constantly seems to be silently laughing at a private joke that only she understands.  And when she’s Buffy — well, she’s totally batshit crazy.)

Being pursued by a knife-wielding Buffy, Kit runs through the mansion and finds herself in the drawing room.  And who is waiting for her but all of Buffy’s victims?  No, they’re not dead!  Instead, they’re alive and they’re all in a very good mood.  And Buffy is not Buffy.  She’s Muffy and she’s been Muffy all along.

That’s right, it’s all a huge elaborate joke!  Muffy does spend a few minutes explaining how the whole weekend was a dry run for her plan to turn her estate into a resort, one that will offer a weekend of fake horror.  But, ultimately, it all comes down to the entire movie being an elaborate joke.  I know, just from perusing some of the comments at the imdb, that there are some horror fans who hate the ending of April’s Fool’s Day.   But, really, that’s the only “honest” way that a film like April Fool’s Day could end.  If the movie was called Thanksgiving, I could understand being upset.  But this is an April Fool’s Day movie!  It has to be a joke.

Of course, if you think about it too much, the ending makes no sense.  Muffy specifically states the no one was in on the joke until the last minute.  Whenever one of her friends would wander off on their own, Muffy would grab them, explain the joke, and get them to play along.  When you consider the size of the island and where, at various points, the victims are in relation to the other characters, Muffy must be a very fast explainer, as well as being very persuasive.  (As well, Harvey brings a gun with him to island.  Muffy jokes about nearly getting shot by him but imagine if he had been successful?)  Even if you accept that all of the friends — even Arch and Harvey, who are both kinda dumbasses — would be able to play along without screwing things up, you have to wonder why Muffy thought it would be a good idea to use dark secrets from everyone’s past.

If you search far enough online, you can find all sorts of rumors about the film that April Fool’s Day was originally meant to be.  In the finished film, Skip is a bit of a cipher but, in the original script, he was a much more complex character.  While Muffy was busy playing her elaborate prank, Skip was planning on killing Muffy and claiming their parent’s inheritance for himself.  The crying baby, the drugs, the incriminating newspaper articles; all of them were originally meant to be the work of Skip.  While Skip’s subplot was dropped, the dark secrets of the past were not.  As a result, Muffy comes across as being a lot more cruel than was originally intended.

Originally, the film was also meant to end with Skip killing Muffy but the ending was apparently changed at the last-minute.  (Reports differ on whether or not the original ending was ever filmed.)  Instead, the film now ends with Muffy stumbling into her bedroom, playing with a jack-in-the-box, and then getting a knife drawn across her throat by Nan.  It’s just another elaborate practical joke and, once Muffy realizes that she’s not dying, Nan gives her a quick kiss and smiles enigmatically.

(A lot of imdb commenters — mostly males — have read a lot into that kiss, obsessing on a subtext that really isn’t there.  As opposed to being the homage to Blue Is The Warmest Colour that many commenters appear to believe it to be, it’s really just a friendly kiss, a way of saying, “I got you.”  Sorry, guys, that’s all there is to it.)

It’s an ending that would never be done today.  Today, all horror films have to end with the promise of a sequel.  Muffy might still get away with pulling an elaborate prank but Nan would definitely have killed her at the end of the film.  Her little smile would have said, “Wait for the sequel.”  And the modern version of that ending definitely would not be as effective.  In fact, it would be so expected that it would be damn near infuriating.  Instead, the ending of April Fool’s Day is good-natured and likable, which is appropriate because April Fool’s Day is a surprisingly good-natured and likable film.

After Nan’s final joke, April Fool’s Day ends with a song.  And here it is!  Enjoy and I hope everyone had a great April Fool’s Day!


Film Review: Friday the 13th Part 2 (dir. by Steve Miner)

(Spoilers Below)

This the one where the nice guy in the wheelchair gets a machete to the face.

There’s a lot of different ways that you can describe Friday the 13th Part 2.  It’s a horror movie, a slasher flick, and a sequel.  It’s the first Friday the 13th movie to feature Jason Voorhees as the killer.  It’s also one the best installments in the franchise.  However, to me, this will always be the movie where the nice guy in the wheelchair gets a machete to the face.

Originally released in 1981, Friday the 13th Part 2 is, of course, about more than just the nice guy in the wheel chair getting a machete to the face.  The film opens with Alice (Adrienne King), the sole survivor from the first film, struggling to get on with her life a year after the massacre.  She has a small apartment that, in a nice touch, is full of drawings of the disfigured boy who attacked her at the end of the previous film.  One night, Alice’s cat startles her by jumping out of a closet and shouting, “Watch out, there’s a mysterious killer in here.”  Foolishly, Alice ignores her cat and ends up getting an ice pick rammed into her head. 

(If only people listened to their cats…)

Five years later, Camp Crystal Lake is once again reopening, this time under the direction of alpha male Paul Holt (John Furey).  Paul and his annoying sidekick Ted (Stu Charro) tell everyone not to worry about any old rumors about some mysterious murderer killing anyone who goes to Crystal Lake.  Meanwhile, Crazy Ralph (Walt Gorney) is wandering around, going all “You’re all doomed!” and then watching as Paul’s girlfriend Ginny (Amy Steel) undresses in her cabin.  Bad Crazy Ralph!  Luckily, Crazy Ralph then gets strangled with barbed wire.  (Ouch!  I guess he was the one who was doomed, huh?  Get it?  Anyway…)

Paul, Ginny, annoying Ted, and the rest of the counselors decide to head into town so they can spend the night getting drunk.  However, a few counselors decide to remain at the camp.  (Again, this just goes to prove that slasher films are not only about punishing people for having sex and doing drugs.  If the majority of this installment’s victims had simply been willing to go get drunk, they would have survived.)  Remaining at the camp: horny couple Jeff and Sandra (Bill Randolph and Marta Kober),  Terry (Kirsten Baker), who for some reason refuses to wear underwear, Scott (Russell Todd), who is obsessed with Terry but could do so much better, sweet-natured Vicki (Lauren-Marie Taylor), and finally Mark (Tom McBride), the nice guy in the wheelchair.

Anyway, if you’ve ever seen a slasher film than you can guess what pretty much happens.  Jason (played here by Steve Daskawisz) shows up and kills everyone until eventually Ginny and Paul return to the camp.  (Annoying Ted stays behind to keep drinking and somehow manages to survive the film.  It’s an odd slasher film where the nice guy in the wheelchair gets killed but the obnoxious, dorky guy somehow makes it through.)  There’s a big, genuinely exciting final battle with Ginny and Paul on one side and Jason on the other.  Ginny survives, Jason escapes, and Paul … well, who knows?  One moment, Paul’s there and the next he’s gone.  I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Friday the 13th Part 2 is controversial among many horror fans because so many of the killings are identical to the killings from an earlier slasher film, Mario Bava’s brilliant Bay of Blood (a.k.a. Twitch of the Death Nerve).  One especially obvious example is the double impalement of Jeff and Sandra and when I say obvious, I mean that the exact same scene can be found in Bay of Blood.  In Peter M. Bracke’s history of the franchise, Crystal Lake Memories, Part 2’s self-important screenwriter, Ron Kurz, claims to have never heard of Bay of Blood.  And to that, I say, “Whatever, Ron Kurz.  You’re either a liar or you actually don’t know who Mario Bava is.  Either way, you suck.”

Though Friday the 13th Part 2 is obviously a rather derivative film and frequently doesn’t make much sense, it’s also a personal favorite of mine as far as 80s slasher films are concerned.  The cast is likable and attractive (especially Russell Todd, who gets killed way too early as far as I’m concerned) and some of the kill scenes are genuinely well done.  Amy Steel, much like Adrienne King before her, make for a strong heroine and her final battle with Jason is actually pretty exciting.  The true star of the film, however, is director Steve Miner who fills each scene with a sense of genuine menace that goes a long way to making up for Ron Kurz’s sloppy script.  As opposed to Sean Cunningham (who directed the first film), Miner shows a genuinely inventive visual sense.  My favorite shot in the film is a rather minor one of a bunch of cars driving down a shadowy road.  The scene doesn’t really add anything to the story and it almost feels like filler but it’s still effectively eerie.

It could be argued that Friday the 13th Part 2 is the first true Friday the 13th because it’s the first film to actually feature Jason Voorhees killing camp counselors.  The character of Jason makes even less sense in this film than he did when he was just some kid living underwater in the first film.  It’s impossible to watch the film and not wonder how 1) Jason suddenly went from being a 13 year-old living in a lake to a 40 year-old living in a shack in the woods, 2) how Jason managed to track down Alice, 3) how Jason managed to then walk all the way to Alice’s new home and then all the way back to Crystal Lake without anyone noticing him, and 4) why exactly has Jason been hiding in the woods all this time and apparently allowing his mother to believe that he was dead.  That said, I actually think that Jason is probably at his scariest in Friday the 13th Part 2.  A lot of that has to do with the fact that, instead of wearing that famous hockey mask, Jason spends most of the movie with a burlap sack over his head.  As opposed to the hockey mask (which makes Jason look rather Canadian), both the sack and Jason’s odd overalls make him look like a faceless demon that’s sprung, full of fury, out of rural folklore.

Though it made less than the first film, Friday the 13th Part 2 was a financial success.  Audiences ignored the film’s many critics and they flocked to see it.  Not surprisingly, Paramount Pictures immediately called for a sequel.

The end result — Friday the 13th Part 3 — would be one of the worst horror films ever made.

We’ll deal with that tomorrow.