It’s that unlucky time of year again. Not really.
Ah, Friday the 13th. This spooky date occurs once every 212.35 days and 1.7 times a year on average. Of unclear origin, a harbinger of bad luck to some, though I don’t suffer from triskaidekaphobia, or worry about any particular superstitions, I like black cats and have walked under ladders and smashed some mirrors and everything is swell – wait a minute!
On second thought maybe I am cursed. I’ll manage. It’ll be fine.
If you’re like me you associate Friday The 13th with Mr. Vorhees. Or Muffin’s mommy.
Now I am partial to the sixth installment of the franchise, Jason Lives. It went full on Universal movie monster resurrection and gave rise to an even more absurd zombie Jason rather than the regular run of the mill impossible to defeat Jason. And I love it, lightning bolts, maggots and almost all. I don’t enjoy the few goofy moments but it’s always nice to revisit and watch the final showdown with Tommy Jarvis.
You can’t fuck with the original F13, it established itself and hacked its way into the slasher Mount Rushmore, despite the absence of our favorite goalie masked serial killer. The movie found unlikely success emulating 1970s Italian Giallo films and another horror classic, Halloween. A major complaint is that the lunatic matriarch Mrs. Vorhees is never mentioned prior to her reveal at the end. I don’t care at all, I’ll always watch it.
That being said, the best entry in my worthless opinion is part 2. The only F13 films that matter to me are 1-6, you can scrap the rest, chain them to a rock and leave them at the bottom of a lake. The copyright legal dispute is now settled and I am curious to see what the prequel series Crystal Lake, which has already been greenlit or any future reboots will do for the franchise. The bar is pretty fucking low. Get your shit together, people.
F13P2 was released on May 1st, 1981, only a few days short of a full year after the premiere of the original, with the events taking place five years after the beheading of Mrs. Vorhees. That crazy bitch had it coming. Jason is estimated to be 33 years old in the sequel and was portrayed by four different actors throughout filming.
The plot hole that irked some people, problematic enough for Tom Savini (and others) not to return to do effects was the simple fact that Jason had died. Hold up! He didn’t drown? Homeboy can’t swim but he can survive on his own in the woods for 21 years? And the moment he decided to come out of hiding was precisely the moment his mom dukes got merked? Savini called bullshit. If you put aside logic, like way to the side, and just watch the movie, you’ll be fine. Of course it’s stupid but aren’t all these movies pretty fucking stupid? Relax and just be entertained, Ebert.
In the sequel Big Jay is now out for revenge for the murder of his momma who was knee deep in slaughtering horny camp counselors who she deemed responsible for the drowning death of her deformed and mentally disabled son who didn’t actually drown. Is this a Greek tragedy?
We get a nice recap in nightmare form from final girl Alice, in case we forgot the carnage, and catches an ice pick to the dome, which apparently didn’t retract in one of the takes and hurt the actress. Adrienne King, reprised her role as Alice only to be the first kill, the rumor was she had an awful experience with a stalker and only wanted a small part, maybe she did have a creepy secret admirer, but the truth was she wanted too much money and was dealt with instead.
I thought I enjoyed solitude but JV got some new neighbors and was mighty pissed. Paul opened up Camp Packanack, a counselor training center, right next door to Camp Blood, though he was persuaded not to by the townsfolk. This might be a hot take but Paul might be a bigger asshole than Jason. Hear me out. Paul was warned and still he opened up his little camp, and you see the way he talks to Ginny, he mocks Jason, even doubting his existence entirely, plus he rocks a fucking yankee hat. No tears will be shed for Paul.
Honorable mention. Props to Julie Michaels for repping the Mets in Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday. Queens in the house. You might remember her as Brad Wesley’s punching bag plaything who tried to seduce P. Swayze in Road House, but in the 9th installment she was an undercover FBI agent who lured Jason into an ambush, he gets smoked only to introduce the most ludicrous story line thus far. If people thought F13P2 was dumb then how the fuck did this pos get made? Anyway. F13 movies are full of babes and Special Agent Elizabeth Marcus is on the list.
Ginny, played by Amy Steel, who also taught Howie Mandel how to walk upright, is a far better final girl than her predecessor. Amy is pretty, affable and compassionate, not to mention a much better actress. Initially she wasn’t supposed to survive but they changed the script, and it paved the way for her to return in part 3, only for her agent to advise her not to.
Ron Kurz and Steve Miner, the writer and director respectively, took the reins from Victor Miller and Sean S. Cunningham who stepped away, Kurz and Miner had both worked on the original and took the formula of part one, employing all the horror tropes and enhanced the mythology. It is a similar but more interesting film, overall a better film. And I’ll say it, baghead Jason ala The Town That Dreaded Sundown is more menacing than the iconic hockey mask that Jason would strap to his gargantuan head in the following sequel and never take off again.
The fun ramps up when the counselors in training go out for a last night on the town, and my favorite thing might be someone yelling “Beer time!” as they pull out of the camp, leaving the randy counselors who opted to stay back sitting ducks. I don’t think it’s necessary to go over the minutia of the film. We know exactly what we’re getting. A little bit of premarital sex, some minor drug use, and murder.
It also has one of the foulest kills. Does it involve a young man in a wheelchair? Why, yes it does. And I love the vibe in Jason’s shanty and the shrine to Mrs. V. Now crack open a cold pop and watch your favorite F13 flick, whichever one it may be.
It’s funny now that when I leave my house and have conversations with adults I seem to channel my inner Crazy Ralph and align myself with his prophecies for all the poor camp counselors. “You’re all doomed!” You see what’s going on in the world, man? Yeah dude, we’re fucking doomed. Beer time!