Thursday, January 19, 2012

"Friday the 13th Part 2" the birth of a phenomenon

BASIC INFO:
TITLE: "Friday the 13th Part 2"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1981
DIRECTOR: Steve Miner
STARS: Amy Steel, John Furey, Adrienne King
EDITOR: Susan E. Cunningham
AWARDS: N/A
BOX OFFICE: $21,722,776 (USA)
RUN TIME: 87 min.
RATING: R
VIEWING FORMAT: DVD

SUMMARY:
Five years after the murders committed by the late Mrs. Voorhees, a group of horny camp counselors start dying on the shores of Crystal Lake. Who is committing the murders, and how will they be stopped?

WHY THIS IS THE FILM OF THE WEEK:
Jason Voorhees is essentially, and arguably, the greatest of the 80's horror icons. His signature machete, hockey mask, and never-can-die attitude are known by people around the world, and often parodied, satirized, and copied. Many fans don't realize though, that "Friday the 13th" (1980) only featured a young version of the character, with the antagonist being his infamous mother. This sequel was the first to feature Jason as the main villain, and still did not feature his hockey mask. Jason himself was also just a troubled young man, and not the undead super-killer he turned into in later films in the series.

The character went on to star in nine more sequels, and one remake. He has been featured in magazines, comic books, and referenced in many popular forms of media (often spoofed on "The Simpsons"). The strange part, is that many of his trademarks came from sequels, as opposed to his original appearance. Much like Clint Eastwood's "Dirty" Harry Callahan did not gain much of his cult status until later years, Jason's legacy came from the longevity of the film series' career. The series, to date, has grossed over $876,000,000, out-earning such blockbuster series as "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984), "Paranormal Activity" (2007), and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974).

One more thing that makes this series, and this film, important, is the fact that it really began to set the standard for what would become the "slasher" movie rules. Horny teenagers (also known as the "sin factor", where anyone seen naked on-screen or doing drugs, is later killed,), seclusion, initial warnings (which are ignored), and a masked killer.

CRITIQUE:
"Friday the 13th Part 2" is better than it ought to be. It is cliché, but in fairness, it created many clichés. It is gory, but not overly so. It is funny, but not in a distracting manner. Overall, this is a good, and fun, movie. It has little to offer non-slasher film fans, though many  have found this franchise's early entries appealing over the years. This has lead to a cult status for the film.

It is easy to see the age of the film, but it holds up well. What sticks out is the ending, where a psychological battle ensues before a physical one. Is Jason as heartless as he appears to be, or is he protecting his own secrets? It adds a layer to the character that makes it easier to enjoy his screen presence. Steve Miner stuck with directing the series for one more entry, then moved on to notable horror films "House" (1986), and "Halloween H2O: 20 Years Later" (1998). Horror fans, this is a must see. To everyone else, it is still not a waste of time, and ends up being quite enjoyable!

MY IMDb RATING:  7 out of 10


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