Ah, Friday Part 2, sweet, sweet sequelitis! Friday part 1 did so well at the box office that it made the majors finally pay attention to the possibilities of the slasher film. Halloween was this fluke success, a flick that, against all odds, managed to have people lined up around entire city blocks just to see it. The return on investment was so astounding but when Friday took that formula and did their own thing with it, Sean Cunningham managed to replicate the success almost note for note. A one-off movie, a flick that wasn’t supposed to have a sequel suddenly sprang to life and with a new director at the helm and took off in the direction that would shape the face of horror in the 80’s.
Part 2 lands squarely in second place on my list of favorite Fridays, second only to Part 4 which is the usual fan favorite. TheFinal Chapter is easily the most well rounded of the series, but Friday the 13th Part 2 features the most likable cast of victims and portrays Jason for the first time as a seriously intimidating villain. The finale, as the cast is whittled down to its only living witnesses, is exceptionally tense. Friday was the leader of the pack when it came to these stupid slasher flicks but Part 2 here deserves a little more credit than it gets as it’s actually pretty good. Appropriately enough, it’s also the best of the three Deluxe Editions released to prepare you for the remake on Friday.
For all of its positive qualities, Friday the 13th Part 2 expects you to suspend your disbelief for a little too long. Understand, Friday the 13th was released in 1980 and after it success, Friday 2 was fast-tracked into production like a Saw sequel in order to keep people’s attention. Yet Part 2 for some reason takes place five years later in the time line. No reason is ever explained, nor is it ever explained how the boy who drowned in the lake back in the 50’s is suddenly stalking co-eds through the woods, but it’s all good. Questioning the logistics of this setting is only going to give you a headache. What you do need to know is that Camp Crystal Lake is gearing up for another shot at summer camp and in preparation a new cast of counselors has been selected to come in and die. By now, though, everyone has heard the story of Pamela Voorhees and her killing spree and they tell the story of her son like a campfire story. But then they all start dying off.
Friday the 13th Part 2 is what it is and you either have a good time with it or you suffer quietly. Cunningham’s original vision of Friday the 13th being a brand on a new movie with each sequel, each having nothing to do with the last was squashed by the studio and the money people who thought it better to go out on limb and retread the formula that worked last time, even if it meant defying all logic and brining back the child who died now as this lunatic in the forest. It works out in the end and the film is tightly paced throughout but like most of the early Fridays, it suffers from the awful dream-sequence ending, this one particularly confusing.
As I said, of the three discs released in this wave, this is easily the best of the bunch. The picture is remarkably sharper than the predecessor suffering the same night time ailments where the black and blue tones strangle everything around them and the sound is the same great 5.1 mix with a two channel stereo option if you’re in the mood. I can’t find a single complaint with the audio and visual presentation. The lack of commentary track is a bit frustrating, though. The stories behind these films are a lot more fascinating than you might think and the fan documentary that is suppose to cover all that, His Name Was Jason, doesn’t quite go there.
The rest of the extras are outstanding, if suspiciously decentralized. Where the extras on the Friday the 13th Deluxe Edition speak to the first movie directly, this set seems to be about the series as a whole but features more for fans who want to know about the actual making of. A six minute interview with author Peter Bracke covers his impressive tome, Crystal Lake Memories which is the exhaustive Friday the 13th resource. Everything you could ever possibly want to know about every Friday the 13th movie is in that book and Peter’s point of view is insightful. Additionally is some coverage of the Friday reunion that was held at the Scarefest convention held in Kentucky last summer. To round it out there’s a talking head series from the men who played Jason and another one of those miserable Lost Tales From Camp Blood features, plus your standard trailer.
It may just be for lack of resources but the cut violence from this feature is noticably absent in the extras. Part 1 boasts the uncut print that fans without all-region DVDs players have been hungry for but this disc as well as the Part 3 DVD lack any of the violence that would have driven the film into X-rated land since the MPAA really had it out for the Friday movies back in the day. With uncut discs being standard fare on just about every disc, particularly horror movies, you’d think they pull out the good stuff for the fans.
So far, these Friday Deluxe Editions have been good releases with a frustrating lack of key extras that fans have been hungry for for a long time. We appreciate a good looking release but let’s face it, we’ve all seen these movies a million times over and by this point we’re all looking to fill in the blanks. We want to know the why rather than the how these days and we’re just not getting it. This hardly detracts from the value of the Deluxe Edition DVD releases and these releases present even more than the last boxed set did but without the cut footage and commentary, these discs still feel like they’re missing something vital.