There was a time when FRIDAY THE 13TH PART II was my least favorite entry in the series. Over time I've grown to appreciate it. So much so that I now actually think it is a better movie than the original. Heavily edited gore and Hillbilly Jason being the only things going against the film. Other than that, the sequel has better characters, more production value, and it's a better directed film.
When comparing the two films FRIDAY THE 13TH will always beat PART II in the kills and gore department, hands down. But in terms of direction and camera work the sequel wins. While FRIDAY THE 13TH has it's moments of good tension building and inventive kills, the rest of the movie is flat and kinda boring.
Even though I think the sequel is a better film it too has it's fair share of problems. The main one being censored gore, a issue that will continue to haunt the series (except part 4). Like the original, there are moments where FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 is down right boring. The film begins with a overlong recap dream sequence. I'm sure in 1981 this was fine with fans, getting everyone pumped. But it's long and drawn out, plus Jason going outside of Camp Crystal Lake territory to kill someone feels odd and out of place. The final issue I have is Jason himself. Hillbilly Jason just doesn't work for me, and it never will.
Speaking of Jason, time to point out the elephant in the room, Jason Voorhees. After FRIDAY THE 13TH became a huge hit Paramount Pictures wanted a sequel. Director Sean S. Cunningham liked the idea and presented a anthology concept. Paramount said no, we want Jason. Due to artistic differences Cunningham left the project.
While I like Jason as the killer, his being alive is kind of a plot hole. If Jason is alive, why then did his mother go on a murderous rampage to avenge her son's drowning? A huge plot hole for sure, but it makes for a great campfire story.
Now that the problems are out of the way it's time to talk about what I like. While all these films can be summed up as “Teenagers in Peril” movies with the characters only motivation is to be killed off by Jason, I do like the counselors in PART 2. Yes they are paper thin but likable, a trait long gone in horror, especially in slashers.
Before Tommy Jarvis became the closest thing to a “protagonist” in the series, there was hope for Ginny. Breaking the mold of the traditional Scream Queen, actor Amy Steel in my opinion set a new gold standard for strong willed “Final Girl” characters. The producers had a really good character with Ginny, it's a shame Amy never came back.
I mentioned earlier that FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 is a better made film than the original, and it's true. Hands down Steve Miner is a better director than Sean S. Cunningham. It just boils down to that Miner is a better filmmaker. There is a little more substance in Miner's film, and it's got a few darkly comical moments too. There is a scene with a cute dog roaming the woods who runs into Jason, the very next shot is hot dogs cooking on a grill. It's hilarious!
It seems to me that the first four films in the series add something iconic to the franchise as a whole. In the original movie it's the twist ending, PART 2 is Jason's shrine to his dead mother, Part 3 is the first appearance of the classic hockey mask, and THE FINAL CHAPTER introduces the most popular protagonist of the series, Tommy Jarvis. In conclusion, I highly recommend FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2. It's Jason's first legit appearance, the cast of camp counselors are better, and like I've said a few times already it's a better looking film than the original. You can tell the studio put a little extra money into the production.
So when the next Friday the 13th rolls around gather some friends put on a pot of coffee and marathon the first four movies!
Happy belated Friday the 13th!