Horror-A-Thon: Friday the 13th Part II

Friday the 13th Part II sits in the middle of the pack as far as my favorite films in the series go. It gets a lot of credit for introducing Jason to the series, and rightfully so. In this iteration we get overall wearing, cloth sack masked (a nod to The Town That Dreaded Sundown), fairly mild mannered Jason (as far as the kills go), but Jason nonetheless. It also pulled a fast one on the audience by giving Friday the 13th survivor Adrienne King top billing only to kill her off almost immediately.

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For me, Friday the 13th Part II would sit on the back half of the films in the franchise, and I’ll tell you why. First off, the beginning of the film spends WAY too long rehashing the events of Part I. How much time? They literally go through the entire ending, beheading and all, through dream sequences. It feels like a cheap rehash and it’s overlong. The second thing I don’t like about the film is that it walks in the same shoes as the original, just with a new killer. I give it a nod in creating the mythos behind Jason but he doesn’t really starting coming into his own as a movie maniac until Part III. Finally, how does this movie feel cheaper overall than Part I? The first film was shot on just barely over $500,000. Part II had a budget well over double that but doesn’t feel as real. Maybe it’s just me.

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Part II suffered a 30 million dollar drop off at the box office compared to Part I, raking in almost 21 million in ticket sales. Despite the huge difference in profits, 21 million was still a huge return on investment. Something else to consider is Part II had steep competition that the first film didn’t have. 1981 saw the release of The Howling, Scanners, The Funhouse, My Bloody Valentine, and a handful of other now cult classics early in year.

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I don’t mean to come off as completely against this film, because I’m not. I enjoy it and it’s by no means a failure. Halloween II would present a much sleeker and better presented example of how to do a slasher sequel later in the year. In fairness, nobody really knew how to make a follow up back then because slashers were still in their infancy and new water was being tread. Of the original three films it holds up the least, and I guess that’s the point I’m coming to.

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