Friday the 13th is one of the most successful horror franchises of all time. Not as critically appreciated as some of its horror peers, it’s still one of the 80’s ‘Big Three’. Jason Voorhees is as engrained in mainstream consciousness as Dracula or Frankenstein. But we haven’t seen a new franchise entry since the 2009 remake courtesy of an ongoing legal controversy. Aside from the original movie, fans tend to pour their affections on Part IV: The Final Chapter. But with Friday the 13th Part 2 just celebrating an anniversary, I’m going to make an argument that this is the best of the sequels.
Friday the 13th Part 2 Repeats The Original’s Charms
Like the original Friday the 13th, Part 2 is a flawed horror movie even by slasher film standards. In fact, Steve Miner’s sequel shares most of the same problems and strengths as its predecessor. It’s arguably the most formulaic of the franchise entries. Director Steve Miner adheres very closely to Cunningham’s blueprint. In fact, almost 15 minutes of footage from Friday the 13th are used as ‘flashbacks’ at the start of the movie. Some of the movie’s logical gaps are also more gaping than victims’ wounds. How is Jason Voorhees alive? Why didn’t he just tell his mother? If Jason is just outside Alice’s house, where is he calling from? When did he learn to use a payphone? Simply put, Part II doesn’t make much sense.
It feels like it exists in the same world in spite of loose attention to continuity.
And Part 2 stands out as one of the better sequels for all these reasons. Within the franchise, Miner’s sequel is the most tonally similar to Friday the 13th. It feels like it exists in the same world in spite of loose attention to continuity. In following 80’s slasher sequel rules, Part 2 also delivers more of what worked the first time round. Though Jason shoudn’t be in the sequel, Miner makes it work and, as a result, sets the foundation for one of horror’s most iconic villains. And as much as the goalie mask is associated with the character, Part 2’s nod to the more obscure The Town That Dreaded Sunset may actually be creepier.
Brutal Kills and Even More Brutal Censorship
Following Friday the 13th’s surprise box office success, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) closely watched the horror genre. Steve Miner’s sequel was one of the MPAA’s first victims. Jason’s impalement of two lovers mid-coitus was notoriously censored. But anyone who grew up in the 80’s probably remembers the back of the sequel’s VHS box. It gives you a pretty good idea of what you missed. Yet in spite of the MPAA’s censorship, Friday the 13th Part 2 still boast some of Jason’s most ruthless kills. Poor Scott’s murder is brutal and feels so unexpected, even when you knew it was coming.
Friday the 13th Part 2 Has The Best ‘Final Girl’ In a Killer Third Act
Despite its derivative approach to the story, Friday the 13th Part 2 delivers exactly what fans wanted. Execution matters, and Miner ups the ante in the sequel’s final act. Part 2’s final confrontation in Jason’s homemade shack stands out as one of the series’ best moments. The foreshadowing earlier in the movie helps build the anticipation perfectly. After Jason murders that meddling police officer, you know the movie will come back to show you what’s in that hidden room. And Jason’s shrine doesn’t disappoint. Who hasn’t paused that part of the movie to try and figure out what’s in the shrine? NECA, the National Entertainment Collectible Association, has even recreated the moment.
As the preeminent slasher franchise, Friday the 13th has its share of ‘Final Girl’s’, but Part 2’s Ginny is the best.
Every slasher movie fan knows about the concept of the ‘Final Girl’. As the preeminent slasher franchise, Friday the 13th has its share of ‘Final Girl’s, but Part 2’s Ginny is the best. Played by Amy Steel (April Fool’s Day), Ginny perfectly combines smarts, resourcefulness, and relatability. It’s Amy Steel’s ‘Ginny’ who makes the final ‘cat and mouse’ final act work so well. Yes, Part 2 employs some lazy pop psychology, but it’s hardly the only horror movie to do the same thing. Other horror movies would later rip off Ginny’s impersonation of the killer’s mother (see Canadian slasher, Humoungous) to diminished returns
A Contender for the Franchise’s Best Sequel
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter may be the series’ best sequel. Most Friday fans would agree with that sentiment. But Steve Miner’s sequel has my vote. It feels more connected to the first movie, and I’ve always preferred this sequel’s more ‘human’ version of Jason. In some ways, the sack-wearing killer comes across as scarier. And while Part 2’s finale falls short of the original movie, Jason’s window-smashing entrance got a good jump out of me the first time I saw it. Besides, Part 2 leaves you with the franchise’s best mystery – What happens to Paul?