The Video Nasties #115 – Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981, Steve Miner)

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‘That’s my good boy. That’s a good boy. That’s my Jason.’

If you ignore the first fifteen minutes of Friday the 13th Part 2, then you are left with an almost perfect distillations of the slasher movie formula – seventy-three minutes that pack in just enough character development, scares, nudity and murders to satisfy even the most jaded slasher enthusiast. Sadly, seventy-three minutes is apparently not an acceptable runtime for a movie, and so Friday is front loaded with some serious filler.

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We begin with a full six minutes of flashbacks to the original film (which only came out the year before!) before seven minutes of new footage showing what has become of Alice, the survivor of the last movie. It’s an interesting idea, and one that director Steve Miner would explore in more depth (but to equally dismal results) in Halloween H20, but the execution here is entirely bungled and the whole scene is rather pointless. It’s shot like a wannabe Brian De Palma  film, all fluid tracking shots and long takes, but Miner gives us nothing to look at, like when Alice gets undressed and the camera stays outside giving us a thirty second shot of an empty bed. If the whole film had followed Alice’s journey then it would make more sense, but instead she’s quickly murdered and the whole scene simply throws up loads of questions that will never be answered, such as; how did Jason find Alice? The phonebook? And how did he get all the way from Camp Crystal Lake to her house? Did he catch the bus? Maybe hitch-hike? Did he drive, and if so did Michael Myers give him lessons? Was he wearing that sack over his head the whole time? Was he carrying his mother’s head or did he have it in a knapsack? When did he learn to use the phone? And why oh why does he bother to take the kettle of the boil after he’s killed Alice? Did he intend to pour himself a nice cuppa before figuring out how the hell to get home? Why would Miner even include that shot, it’s so fucking ridiculous to see.

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I’ll be honest, anytime I ever watch this film (and I often do) I skip right past the opening credits, because the whole opening is a total bust. But once the film properly starts, the entertainment is non-stop. The action is set at a counsellor training camp that was right next to Camp Crystal Lake, run by boorish oaf Paul, who tells the counsellors that, ‘contrary to what everyone hears, bears are dangerous.’ Now I’m no survivalist expert, but I could have told you that. Paul also advises the women to ‘keep clean during your menstrual cycle,’ and later on indulges in some drink-driving, so he’s just an all-round asshole. Luckily his girlfriend is Ginny, one of my favourite slasher movie Final Girls, a tough, resourceful lady who can handle a chainsaw and take part in gratuitous lingerie shots. Ginny is a child psychologist, which gives us the classic moment when she wonders if Jason could still be loose in the woods, like ‘a frightened retard.’ Is that your medical opinion, doc?

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There’s lots of fun, likeable characters here, particularly Mark and Vickie. The Video Nasties don’t have a great track record for characters with physical disabilities (Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Don’t Go in the Woods…Alone) but here Mark is in a wheelchair but is still a strong, handsome guy that Vickie wants to get with. After some appalling flirting, the two are about to hook up, so Vickie goes to her cabin to prepare. This involves putting on some chunky knitwear and changing out of her black panties into some brown ones. Brown!

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I like Vickie, but she’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. She goes to look for Mark, and the first place she looks is up the stairs. Oh Vickie, maybe stick to the ground floor, yeah?

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Special mention also has to go to Sandra, perhaps the worst actress in any of the Nasties, and I mean that. Just listen to her line readings as she tries to convince her boyfriend Jeff to go to the old camp, which are somehow whiny and monotonously flat at the same time.

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Eventually we are left with Ginny versus Jason in the final showdown, but it’s a bit of a disappointment. Jason is more of a bumbling, slapstick buffoon here, falling down hills, getting kicked in the testicles and at one point jumping at Ginny but mistiming it and missing her completely. The best is when he stands on a stool but it breaks and he falls flat on his arse. The whole chase has a crazy Looney Tunes quality to it that I love. Friday the 13th Part 2 may not be the best of the franchise (Take a bow Part 4), but it’s one of the most purely enjoyable films on the Nasties.

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