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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Friday the 13th Part 2

Well, after finding the original Friday the 13th actually pretty scary and fun, I decided to give the first sequel another go too. The good news is that it has scares and stands on its own as horror movie. The bad news? Well, it started a trend that has seen Jason, the movie's "anti-hero" fight a psychic, launch into outer space, and take side-trips to New York and into people's nightmares. If there's a gimmick to exploit, the Friday the 13th franchise has used it at some point.

Luckily for me, the potential for silly gimmicks hadn't yet been thought of by the second film's producers yet. The story itself is refreshingly simple: a few years after the events of the first film, a new group of idealistic young folks have decided to use the old Crystal Lake campsite property to launch a new camp. There are rowdy counselors in training, a skeptical cop...even ol' Crazy Ralph turns up!

But before we get too deep into it, we get a few scenes to resolve the previous film's loose ends...namely, the fate of Alice, the sole survivor of the first film. She's been sort of hiding out since the events of the first film, in a small, secluded house. At the very start, a child is playing in the rain, until the mother calls the kid inside. The second the kid goes, we see a stranger's shoes and pants.

If this really is Jason at the start, then I have a couple of problems with it. First, why are the clothes so clean-looking? I mean, yeah, in the first 3-4 movies he's not yet a zombie(or a slug, if you buy the premise of Jason Goes to Hell. Personally, I don't.), but where would he get clothes that seem relatively clean, and in the correct sizes? Second, how would he NOT attract attention by making this trip? His face is badly deformed, the kid seemed close enough for him to touch, yet there's no reaction of either one of them to indicate that either one saw the other. But that also got me thinking about the recent remake-sequel(requel?) that I enjoyed: why not do a few stand-alone sequels detailing the years from childhood to young adult? Show what Jason did to survive, how he developed his skills with a variety weapons, and so forth. Hey, at least it would be a new way to approach the franchise.

Anyway...the very first scene in the film serves as a very basic summary of how the previous one ended: we see Alice being met by Jason's mother, we see them discuss the drowning, we get most of the highlights of the chase, followed by the beheading, then the dream(?) of Jason getting her in the canoe, the stuff with the cop, etc etc etc...

These scenes are intercut with a scene showing that all of the flashbacks are actually a dream that Alice is having in the bedroom of her secluded little house. She wakes up abruptly, and has a few phone calls. She thinks maybe she's not alone in the house, and decides to check each and every room. The opening kills in Scream and Scream 3 both owe a LOT to this scene. After several false scares, Alice finds a severed head in her fridge, and gets either a knife or perhaps a screwdriver in her ear. Then Jason thoughtfully takes a kettle of boiling water off the stove. He's like Martha Stewart with a psychotic, wait, he's EXACTLY like her!

After the opening titles, we see a young couple in a pick-up. They stop at a gas station to get directions to the new campground, but have no idea if they're where they should be. All the boyfriend says is something to the effect of, "We're close." Uh huh. As they park and exit the pick-up, they attract the attention of ol' Crazy Ralph, still riding his Huffy 10-speed Holly Hobby bike, complete with the pink basket. Okay, not really, but it would've been great if it WAS that bike.

As our young schmucky couple run to a nearby phonebooth to call the camp, a towtruck pulls up in the background and latches onto their vehicle. Oh, and the directions to the camp are like something you'd hear in an average Scooby-Doo episode, stuff like, "...left onto the Old Spooky Side-road, straight until you see the Old Haunted Bridge..." THAT Shoulda been their first clue! Anyway, by this time Crazy Ralph has shown up to tell the couple that they're doomed, and that was when a weird thought occurred to me: Crazy Ralph is what Scott Bakula could look like in about 20-30 years.

So after Crazy Ralph leaves and the couple get directions to Spooky World Summer Camp("Jinkies!"), they finally notice their vehicle being towed away. Smart AND observant, these two. The guy yells at the tow driver, and they continue to chase the towtruck around the corner to the next street. As they catch up, the couple hear a lot of laughter, and see one of their friends waiting for them. He paid the tow guy to take their truck. Yeesh, what a dick. (Oh, and I'm doubtful that it's the same guy, but the nerdy prankster looks a LOT like the murderous bellhop in that one episode of "The X-Files", where Peter Boyle was a psychic salesman. If it's not the same guy, maybe he had a son?)

After a mostly pointless driving scene to the new camp(the nerdy guy, Ted, tells a joke that ends with the line " the bear wipes his ass with the rabbit!"), we've only really learned that the new camp owner is a serious guy. The ride comes to a halt because of a downed tree in the road. As the two guys do all the heavy lifting, the female offers up useful nuggets like "It's spooky out here." Fascinating, Agent Scully. She finds the discarded sign for Camp Crystal Lake as she wanders around aimlessly, and we see that someone in the forest is watching her. With the tree out of the way, the three get back on the road and resume their journey as Jason continues to watch from the trees.

In the following scene, we meet the new guy running the camp and our main group of victims. The group includes Paul Holt, the director of the new camp; Ginny, his cute assistant; Mark, an athletic guy in a wheelchair; Terry, whose incredible ass we see as she chases after her dog; Scott, who has a thing for Terry; and Vickie, Sandra and Jeff round out the majority of the victims...errr, I mean cast. The highlight of this scene is Paul telling the others that the main thing they have to be afraid of is bears. Um, Paul, what about the mass-murdering psycho population?

Anyway, while Paul is holding his "getting to know you" session, Ginny drives up in a car that is so comically beat-up, I thought for a sec that maybe I was watching Jason vs. Herbie Goes Bananas. As Paul continues to speak to the other counselors, Ginny tries to re-park her car, which won't do anything beyond making strange grinding noises. I have to admit, Ginny is one of my favorite Friday girls...cute as heck, and a lot of fun to watch.

Later that night, around a campfire, Paul tells the trainees the legend of Jason. According to his story, Jason grew up feral, stealing what he needed to survive. Oh, and stalking anyone who encroached upon "his" property. Paul also reveals that the opening scene in the movie occurred two months prior to the events of this film, though he only says that she vanished, not that she was killed. It's kind of funny--I mean, I was highly critical about the whole "survivalist" aspect of the 2009 remake, yet they obviously spelled out that very concept in this movie, so in a way, it was actually kind of appropriate. Now, if they can get on the whole "Jason Growing Up" idea I had earlier, all will be right with the world!

Anyway, re-telling the story of Jason and "Camp Blood"(what the locals called Camp Crystal Lake after the various murders and accidents there) was merely a set-up so that Ted can leap out of the darkness with a scary mask and a spear and give them a cheap thrill. Paul winds up the story session by saying that Jason is dead, and the rest is just local superstition. Okay pal, whatever you say...I'm sure it's a bear holding that machete.

As they all get comfortable in the cabin, Scott asks Terry to dance, which she flat-out refuses. Scott, not one to go home empty-handed, dances with her dog instead. Hey, he traded one bitch for another, sweet! While the bizarre bestiality mating ritual is going on, Paul and Ginny are embroiled in a thoroughly compelling chess match. Well, compelling to me, at any rate...but I like watching paint dry, so what the heck do I know? Oh, and Ted is engrossed in a handheld video game. This being the early '80's, my money is on either Frogger or a cheapo sports emulator.

Ginny gets tired of chess, and announces that she's calling it a night. As she leaves, Jeff and Sandra discuss the story Paul told about Camp Blood. Despite Jeff's objections, Sandra announces that she plans to try and find the older campsite the next day. Being a guy, Jeff gives in. Ladies, you control our every waking moment.

Back in her own cabin, Ginny starts undressing. YAY!!! We see Freddy Krueger's shadow pass by her cabin, but he keeps moving. I guess the camera crew were nice enough to show him where HIS movie set was located. Ginny hears a knock, but no one's there when she answers the door. As she turns to go back in, a hand covers her mouth. Relax, Ginny: it's only Paul, pulling all of the same hijinks he warned everyone else about. As they begin making out, a pair of feet are seen walking toward their cabin. It's Crazy Ralph, and he's looking a little "insane in the membrane", if you catch my drift. Anyway, as he's watching them get it on, Ralph hears a noise. He turns around quickly, and Jason uses the distraction to slip a cord around his throat and pin him against a tree, strangling Ralph to death.

The next morning, Ginny wakes up to discover that Paul has left to take the counselors on an early morning jog. He leaves her a helpful message, though: BEWARE OF BEARS. How thoughtful. As Paul leads the joggers through the woods, there are a few shown we haven't seen before, which is kind of weird. Where did all the new people pop out of? Do they even get names???

So the now-larger group ends up having a cookout. Terry GreatAss even brought her dog, Muffin, along for the fun. Too bad Jason doesn't like pets, because the dog disappears right after it encounters him. Oh, and in every scene, there are about 90 gazillion potential weapons shown. Chainsaws, spears, name it, these people brought it along with them camping stuff. Seriously, A SPEAR???? What's the theme of the camp, "Lord of the Flies"?

And in case you forgot, Sandra still insists on dragging Jeff with her to find "Camp Blood". Before they get to the old campsite, we get to see Ginny in a bikini. Da-amn. Okay, so now that I've drooled all over my laptop, where was I? Oh right: Jeff and Sandra. Despite barbed wire and a very clear "NO TRESPASSING" sign, these two decide to enter the abandoned camp anyway. Idiots. Jason follows them at a leisurely pace, confident that they won't be getting away any time in the near future.

They find the dead dog during their excursion, torn to pieces. His death must been RUFF! Okay, sorry. Couldn't resist. As Jeff and Sandy back away from the body, a hand grabs them from behind! Oh, it's just a local cop. Phew. Faster than you can say "red herring", he drives them back to their own campground to report their trespassing to Paul and Ginny. Paul goes easy on them, which pisses off the cop even more.

As he drives away, the cop sees Jason darting around at the edge of the forest. The cop chases him and is surprisingly agile, given his size and age. Still, he does have to stop a few times to catch his breath before resuming his pursuit. He eventually finds himself standing in front of some pretty weather-beaten shacks. Jason must have built himself these shelters. The cop enters one and finds it filled with junk: stuff like an old high chair, filthy rags, a toilet that's pretty grungy...this place wasn't constructed by Bob Vila, that's for sure.

The cop finds another room, and opens the door. Whatever's in there must be pretty nasty, because he is visibly shocked by what he sees. Before he ever gets a chance to call it in, though, Jason caves in the back of his skull with a hammer.

The next scene is back with the campers. Paul announces that he and Ginny would like to give them all a night on the town, because the next day the group will begin the strenuous work of starting to set up the camp. Everyone can go, with the exception of Jeff and Sandra, as punishment for the trespassing incident. In addition to Jeff and Sandra, the small group staying at the camp includes Mark, the guy in the wheelchair; Terry, who still insists on looking for her dog; and a cute brunette who seems to like Mark. As they all head inside, Jason walks around outside, waiting to strike.

Terry wanders around by the lake, sees that she's by herself, and makes the decision to go skinny-dipping. Thank you, Terry, from the bottom of my libido. This chick has an ass you could serve breakfast on. Man oh man. I wonder what she must look like now, 30 years after this movie was released. I swear, this movie had the cutest females of the franchise.

Back in the cabin, Mark and Jeff are arm-wrestling. Jeff cheats and wins. Before they can have a re-match, Sandra entices Jeff with her feminine wiles, and the cute brunette works her own cute charm on Mark. She challenges him to a video-game tournament, before basically throwing herself at him. Wow. Where were these cute, promiscuous women when I went to camp?

Terry finishes her dip in the lake, only to discover that her clothes are no longer where she left them. Oh, and soaking wet, she resembles Amanda Peet. One of the guys from the cabin, Scott, steps out from behind the lifeguard chair, and taunts her with the clothing. He runs off, occassionally dropping an item for her to follow his trail(and get dressed, which makes Scott's plan kinda dumb, in retrospect...)

Terry does catch up to him, and he gets what he deserves, when he accidentally steps into a trap left by Jason: a rope-snare that wraps around his ankles, then lifts him so that he is essentially upside-down. Terry gets her shirt back, and promises Scott that she'll get help. Yeah, sure she will. To her credit, though, Terry does try to help Scott out...but the cabin she goes into first is empty.

Left dangling, Scott hears someone approaching. "Someone" turns out to be Jason, who cuts Scott's throat with his machete like it's butter. Terry, unaware that she's talking to a corpse, returns to rescue him, and also to chastise him for his behavior. As she's speaking, she swings him around to face her, and sees the blood from his gaping throat-wound. Screaming, she runs right at the camera. Ouch!

Meanwhile, we catch up with Ginny, Paul and Ted watching the other counselors dance in a Country-Western bar. Ginny argues with Paul that Jason, if he is real, must have witnessed the first massacre at Camp Crystal Lake. As an adult with the mind of a child, she wonders how seeing his mother kill all of those people before being killed as well, must have disturbed him. True, Ginny. Now shut up and have another beer.

Okay, enough emo-psych 101 bullshit. We go back to the cabin, where Sandra and Jeff are upstairs getting hot 'n' heavy, while Mark and Vickie are planning the very same thing on the couch. I hope it's covered in plastic. Vickie leaves to go get herself ready for kinky chair-sex, and Mark decides to pass the time by going out on the porch and getting hit in the face with a machete. Good thing too, because that's what Jason had in mind as well. It gets better, though: the impact from the blow to the face sends the wheelchair backwards, and Mark's body goes flying off of the porch and down the front steps.

Jason then takes the spear from the cookout scene, and walks into the cabin. Upstairs, Sandra and Jeff are still screwing like proverbial rabbits. As she's about to "arrive", Sandy opens her eyes and sees Jason wearing a sack over his head and brandishing the spear. As she screams, Jason rams the spear down into both of them, impaling the couple and the mattress, which causes the blood to run under the bed. Vickie comes back and sees the couple stuck together, before Jason stabs her in both the leg and the chest.

As Jason is getting rid of bodies, Ginny and Paul return from the bar. No mention is made of Ted or any of the other "new" counselors who also went out to the bar. The couple wander around in the dark a bit, because Jason screwed with the phones and electricity. They wander upstairs and find the bloody bedsheets, just as Jason goes after Paul. Ginny runs like Speedy Gonzalez, and the body of Crazy Ralph makes one more surprise appearance.

Totally freaking out, Ginny leaps through a window to escape. She runs and runs and runs and runs some more, until she finally finds the same decrepit series of shack the cop found earlier. She also discovers the room the cop found right before he died, which contains a ton of corpses. All of the bodies(including Alice, who's seen better days) are arranged around a makeshift altar, which holds the severed head of Jason's mother.

Ginny puts on Mrs. Voorhees' sweater, just as Jason finds her. She pretends to be Pam Voorhees, and he seems to buy it, until he sees the severed head behind her. Angry at her for fooling him(how many times is this doofus going to fall for THAT trick??), Jason prepares to attack Ginny, Paul comes back to fight with him. As the 2 men grapple, Ginny uses the distraction to grab Jason's machete and hit him in the shoulder with it. Now that Jason is dead, Paul and Ginny stumble their way back to the camp. Terry's dog comes back, which is pretty damn bizarre, as it was mutilated earlier. Maybe the dog and Jason share the same regenerative DNA. As the trio prepare to live happily ever after, Jason crashes through a window. He drags Ginny out through the window, and then we discover that it was all a dream. We never get to find out whether or not Paul survived, but the final image is a close-up of Mrs. Voorhees' severed head. I've seen 2 versions of this scene over the years: one version is just a slow crawl to the severed head, and the movie ends. But on TV, I clearly remember an ending where the closeup ends with Mrs. Voorhies opening her eyes and smiling. Either way, it's THE END.

What have I learned from this particular slasher flick?
-Dogs, not cats, have 9 lives.
-Women in the early 1980's were super-hot!
-A Jason-Mama Voorhees team-up would have ROCKED!!!

The first 2 Fridays were a ton of fun. The effects were pretty amazing, the women were attractive, the suspense was pretty decent...this one gets 4 out of 5 killer tres from me. Next week, one of the The Fear movies, depending on how long it takes Netflix to send a replacement disc out.(I was going to do The Fear this weekend, but the DVD seemed faulty, as there was no volume after the menu screen and corporate logo crap. Anyway, we'll see what happens...see ya next week! Oh, and it may be awhile before I get to do Friday 3, as Netflix removed them from the Instant menu. Dagnabbit!