1980's cheap and lucrative Friday the 13th predictably became a series in 1981 with quickie sequel Friday the 13th Part 2. When director Sean Cunningham, writer Victor Miller, and makeup whiz Tom Savini neglected to return--citing that bringing the drowned Jason back to life defied logic--writer Ron Kurz and director Steve Miner took up the reins. Miner would later take on another franchise by directing 1998's Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, but in 1981, he was a small-time producer and second unit director getting his first shot in the big chair.
The new creative team's choice was to keep it simple. As much as was possible, they would duplicate everything about the original that made it such a smash success. Part 2 opens with a rerun of the first film's finale, with Adrienne King's Alice in a showdown with Betsy Palmer's overprotective mother Mrs. Voorhees. In what would eventually become a tradition, the sequel proper sets out by dispatching King in a short pre-credits sequence. Then it's on to the next generation of nubile camp counselors, blithely reporting to the a camp adjacent to Camp Crystal Lake (a.k.a. "Camp Blood"), where the original film's massacre unfolded five years earlier.
"Mongoloid" isn't a politically correct term or remotely an accurate one, but it's a word almost ugly enough to evoke Jason Voorhees, the hulking, deformed, presumably brain-damaged stalker-killer who somehow survived a childhood drowning and hid out in the woods for years, counter-intuitively avoiding his mother while she killed to avenge him. The frayed logic somehow suited this burgeoning horror franchise always meant to evoke the sketchiness of a spooky campfire story.
Killer effectively substituted, the sequel gets back on the same track as its predecessor. Walt Gorney's Crazy Ralph even returns to say, "I told the others. They didn't believe me. You're all doomed. You're all doomed." Harry Manfredini returns as composer, supplying the "chh-chh-chh-haa-haa-haa" theme and slasher violins. The rest is the usual stew of sex (skinny dip in the lake, check; paired off couples all around the camp, check) and violence (the goal being ever more creative "kills"). The latter element was hampered by a ratings board intent on cracking down after the success of the first film, and the reaction of the "moral majority."
With generic characters, acting that ranges from blah to bad, and a compromised and incoherent ending, Friday the 13th Part 2 is basically only for completists looking to see Jason take center stage for the first time.
Friday the 13th Part 2 offers no reason for complaint in its hi-def Blu-ray upgrade. The image is clean, stable and film-like, with a not-too-heavy veneer of grain. Color and contrast are good, and detail offers a significant bump from standard-def DVD. The original mono soundtrack is included, as well as a solid, lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. It's hard to believe the aging source material could sound any better than it does in the 5.1 version; though rudimentary relative to modern mixes, this one gets the job done nicely with clarity and a bit of directional ambience.
"Inside Crystal Lake Memories" (11:15, HD) is an interview with author Peter Bracke about his book on the franchise and a few specifics about how the original movie became a series with Part 2.
"Friday's Legacy: Horror Conventions" (6:50, HD) is a quick look at horror conventions.
"Jason Forever" (29:27, SD) is a video of the 2004 Fangoria Convention Q&A session gathering four "Jason"s: Ari Lehman, Warrington Gillette, C.J. Graham, and Kane Hodder.
"Lost Tales From Camp Blood - Part 2" (8:54, HD) is the second installment of original "Camp Blood" horror short films produced for the new special editions.
Last up is the film's "Theatrical Trailer" (2:12, HD).
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