Sunday, December 2, 2007

Friday the 13th Part 2

A good many fans of this series point to the original three or four as being the pinnacle of the series. As one may have guessed from yesterday’s review of the first film, I am not one of those people. This one continues in that vein, as it may well be my least favorite film in the entire series (in fairness, I don’t really remember part 3 or Jason Goes to Hell very well, so either of them could easily take the crown). There are a couple good moments to this film, but they’re trapped within an incredibly tedious mess.

I’ll start with the beginning of the film. As much as I loved the grand Friday the 13th tradition of the killer flinging the corpses of past victims at the end survivors, this film indulges in another horror sequel tradition that I hate with an equal amount of passion. To wit, it beings with the lone survivor of the previous film for no reason other than to kill her off ten minutes into the movie. It just raises my “fair play” hackles when someone actually manages to eke out a win against the monster, only to be casually killed off to give us a “shocking” opening scene for the sequel. The most recent example I can think of with this was with Hostel 2, which I also hated. It’s just bad sportsmanship, really.

It’s also incredibly unnecessary, and makes a later, somewhat better done, scene completely redundant and useless. The film opens with her having a nightmare that flashes back to the first film, basically giving us a quick run-through of the entire plot and “shocking” twist, just in case there was someone going to see this who hadn’t seen the first film. Then when the camp counselors all get together in preparation for another grand camp opening, they all gather round the campfire at night as the head counselor repeats the entire story to them. I guess this was for people who missed the first film and who were also stuck at the concession stand for the first ten minutes of the film. I was a little hopeful that someone else would try to recap the first film at the end, just to accommodate people who hadn’t seen the first film and who also have really weak bladders that caused them to miss the first two recaps, but it never happened.

All that said, though, there were two moments that I love in this, and I’m going to spoil them for you here so that you don’t have to waste your time seeing this. The first comes about halfway through the film, as a schmuck in a wheelchair takes a machete to the head and then, because that’s clearly not enough on its own, takes a tumble down a flight of stairs, still in the wheelchair. Brilliant, I say. The other comes near the end, as the last remaining woman runs from Jason (who, prior to his claiming of the hockey mask, hides his hideous face here by tying a sack around his head with some rope) and hides under a bed. She can see his feet as he searches the room for her, but then steps away and she doesn’t see or hear anything from him for a while. Of course she assumes the coast to be clear, and crawls out from under the bed, only to find he had just been standing on a chair waiting for her to come out so he can stab at her with his trusty pitchfork. He’s a good egg like that.

Outside of that, though, this film really is the pits. While they were surprisingly popular, these early efforts in the series really had little to distinguish themselves from literally hundreds of similar slasher efforts being churned out in the early 80s. You probably don’t want to hunt this one down.

Rating: ½ *

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