"The Body Count Continues". Right off the bat, the makers of Friday The 13th knew they were on to something. The next year, Part II was released as the golden age of slasher movies was underway. The film follows basically the same format as the first, but with an increased budget and without Tom Savini in charge of effects. It was a money maker, but, like part I, was ripped by critics,
The plot picks up 5 years after Part I as Jason tracks down and kills Alice, his mother's killer from Part I, and then starts bumping off counselors at a camp neighboring Camp Crystal Lake. It ends with a spooky confrontation in Jason's shack involving his mother's severed head, a pretty effective jump scare and a confusing ending.
As I stated in my review of Part I
, I have an old VHS tape on which I recorded Parts I&II. Also like Part I, I've seen this movie dozens of times, mostly on cable in the 80's. It's my favorite from the series and I think it's easily the scariest. The opening is great with Jason prowling suburban streets and killing the heroine from Part I, a scene that lets the viewer know that no one is safe. After that, the campfire tale of Jason and his mother is very effective and the jump scare works, even though I'm sure most viewers know it's coming. Like in Part I, I find the characters likable and natural, though not overly memorable. Ginny, the last girl, is very smart and capable, although she has it a bit easier as Jason isn't the super effective killing machine that he would become later in the series. He's actually a bit clumsy. The scene in Jason's shack is great, possibly the scariest bit in the whole series, and Mrs. Voorhees' head sure helps. While I remember being really freaked out as an 11 year old at Mrs. Voorhees' talking as Jason in Part I, I remember a much more enjoyable scare with the severed head. Super creepy!
Jason wears a burlap sack over his head, having not yet donned the hockey mask, a look most likely inspired by the 1976 movie The Town That Dreaded Sundown. He has some un-Jason-like moments, where he's seen running and gets stopped by a knee to the groin. You can tell he's not very experienced.
Alice. The opening kill is really an effective scare. Through flashbacks and Alice's exposition, the viewer is brought up to speed on the story and given a glimpse into how Part I affected her life. There is a nice Psycho shower homage and the tension really builds with a cat-jump-through-a-window scare that sets up the spectacular head in the fridge and ice pick through the temple scene. Jason's odd moving of the whistling tea kettle off the burner afterward just adds to the scene.
The wheelchair kill. It's not very PC, but was probably the most memorable kill from the movie. I think this killing was another one that made the viewer know that typical movie standards wouldn't be followed.
The double spearing. This was similar to the arrow-through-the-throat killing from the first movie, but upped the ante a bit.
The rope trap killing. This special effect was similar to the jeep girl killing in Part I but featured a much hotter girl and a victim who was much less likable. I remember knowing that leaving that guy hanging in the trap was going to lead to a scary scene. And, of course, having an idea of what was coming made the scene even more tense to my 11 year old mind.
Part II follows basically the same formula as Part I, and delivers what it wants to do while having a larger budget, leading to a better production.
While the Jason jump scare at the end isn't as effective as in Part I, the set up is just as good. Mrs. Voorhees' head really adds to the creepiness.
In Part I, the mystery of the killer was almost impossible to guess. In Part II, the mystery is given away very early, but because audiences at the time weren't very familiar with Jason, it was still effective. The chronology of events is hard to make sense of and the ending is explained even less than Part I, but I still think this is the scariest of the series and has the second most nostalgia value for me.
The movie had a budget of around $1.5 million and made $21 million, so more movies were sure to come.