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A Nightmare from Friday to Halloween - Friday the 13th, Part II (1981)

The three most prominent American horror franchises (Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street) have influenced American cinema even beyond the horror genre. As of 2021, there are exactly 31 movies across all three franchises, and I am going to attempt to watch all of them, for this Halloween, one per day.

Friday the 13th, Part II is where the franchise seems to crystallize somewhat (no pun intended). Very early on, it gives up the pretense that it’s trying to be on the same level of Halloween or any of the other well-crafted slashers and thrillers that the original ripped off. Instead, it leans further into the idea that these teenage counselors are merely bodies to be killed in interesting ways. And as gruesome as it sounds to rate a movie on its kills, Friday the 13th Part II really invites that viewing. A boy gets his throat stabbed while he is lying on a bed while another gets hung upside down from an old-fashioned trap. Jason doesn’t even have sympathy for the person with disabilities. We know that all of these teenagers are going to get killed off and there’s that weird fascination with how creative Jason will be with his next kill.

Probably the cleverest scene in this movie is when Ginny (Amy Steel) uses Mrs. Voorhees’ head to control Jason, which is yet another nod to the very clear influence that Psycho has on this film. I also found it interesting that the iconic Jason with the hockey mask hadn’t been quite formed yet. I almost prefer this Jason because the iconic image of Jason is also a patently absurd one that makes him into almost a superhero/villain instead of a desperate half-shell of a person with murderous tendencies. I definitely enjoyed this more than the first Friday the 13th. It works if you go into this expecting cheap, gory entertainment rather than anything truly insightful about the human condition or whatever.


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