THREE GUYS AND… A MOVIE
series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson
“FRIDAY THE 13TH” Parts I & II
written by Dominick Cappello
“Friday the 13th” (1980)
I’ve always referred to this film as the most heralded of all the “Halloween” (1978) knockoffs before “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984) reinvigorated the slasher genre. Directed by Sean S. Cunningham, who worked with Wes Craven on “The Last House on the Left” (1972), with special makeup effects by Tom Savini, a legend from “Dawn of the Dead” (1978).
The film opens in 1958, when a pair of promiscuous counselors are murdered at Camp Crystal Lake. The murders are shown from the point of view of the killer, similar to the opening of “Halloween”, but almost all the murders in “Friday the 13th” are shot in this manner to keep the killer’s true identity a mystery. Years later, Annie (Robbi Morgan) is on her way to Camp Crystal Lake, which is about to be reopened. The locals she meets use the none-too-subtle moniker, “Camp Blood”. This film is clever in that it introduces Annie as if she will be the “final girl”. The rest of the camp counselors arrive, including Kevin Bacon, the most recognizable face in the cast. The actual protagonist of the film is Alice (Adrienne King). All the audience learns about Alice is that she is a talented artist and that the new owner of the camp, a 1970s porn star looking guy, is smitten with her. Not a lot of info, but enough to make her a relatable character.
Annie never arrives. The poor girl gets killed while hitchhiking, which was a nice twist because she’s the character who was told the backstory. The counselors engage in some 1980s’ horror flick clichés. One jackass fakes drowning, so he can kiss the girl who attempts mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Crazy Ralph, an irksome character, shows up uninvited and warns the counselors that the camp is cursed. To me, Crazy Ralph almost turns the film into a parody. As per the rules of a slasher flick, the teens who have sex and smoke weed are killed first. Kevin Bacon has probably the most famous death scene, being stabbed through the neck with an arrow. His girlfriend is nice enough to walk around in her underwear before getting axed to death. Another girl, in a conservative nightgown, is killed on the archery range. The 1970s porn star is stabbed in the gut. Not a very inventive way to kill someone in a horror movie. One poor schmuck is found with his throat slashed and shot with several arrows. Why’d he get it twice as bad as everyone else?
Alice is the final girl. A jeep arrives, driven by the seemingly friendly Mrs. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer). However, if you recognize her jeep as the same one that picked up Annie earlier, you’ll realize that Mrs. Voorhees is not what she seems. Mrs. Voorhees use to work at Camp Crystal Lake. Her son, who was a weak swimmer, drowned back in the summer of 1957 because the counselors were making love instead of watching him. His name was Jason and today, Friday the 13th, is his birthday. Mrs. Voorhees hears Jason’s voice inside her head, telling her to kill anyone who dares to set foot on the campgrounds. In a fight for her life, Alice decapitates Mrs. Voorhees with a machete. Alice then seeks haven in a canoe and floats to the center of the lake. Police arrive in the morning, but before they can come to her aid, the rotting corpse of a child, presumably Jason Voorhees himself, emerges from the water and attacks her. Alice wakes up screaming in the hospital. The police claim to have no knowledge of the boy in the lake, so the film’s ending is ambiguous.
Was Alice dreaming when she saw Jason? Did the death of his mother bring him back to life? Since the ending was a last minute suggestion by Tom Savini, in an attempt to have a final scare similar to “Carrie” (1976), where a hand emerged from the ground and grabbed Amy Irving, we’ll have to look to the sequels for clarification.
“Friday the 13th, Part II” (1981)
Adrienne King reprises her role as Alice, the sole survivor of the previous film. She has not yet recovered from her traumatic experience. Her nightmares recap her battle with Mrs. Voorhees at Camp Crystal Lake. In an homage to “Psycho” (1960), the film teases that Alice will be killed in the shower. Instead, she gets killed in the kitchen after finding the severed head of Mrs. Voorhees in her refrigerator. A full grown man, who turns out to be Jason, stabs her in the temple with an ice pick.
Since the opening scene was set only two months after the previous film, I guess Alice was dreaming when she was pulled into the lake by Jason. I know I may anger some “Friday the 13th” fans, but the story doesn’t make any sense. Jason didn’t drown? He made it to shore and has been living in the woods since 1957? And, even though he’s feral, he was savvy enough to track down Alice and knew to take her teakettle off the burner? And people complain about Michael Myers being able to drive?
Steve Miner directed the sequel. After the death of Alice, the story continues five years later. Crazy Ralph is still ranting and raving about Crystal Lake being cursed. Instead of Camp Crystal Lake, the story is set at a camp counselor training center down the road. It is established that the counselors all have experience, so I’m not sure why they need training. Ginny (Amy Steel) is the new protagonist. She’s considered to be one of the top three “Friday the 13th” female protagonists along with Adrienne King and Lar Park Lincoln from Part 7. Crazy Ralph is strangled to death while spying on the counselors. Good riddance. A police officer gets a glimpse of Jason running though the woods. In this film, Jason bears little resemblance to the more well-known version of the character from later sequels. Because of the scene in “Scream” (1996) where Drew Barrymore is forced to answer horror movie trivia, casually fans know that Jason was not the killer in the original film, but I don’t think it’s common knowledge that he didn’t sport his legendary hockey mask until Part 3. In Part 2, Jason wears overalls, a flannel shirt, and a what looks like a potato sack on his head. He was a deranged hillbilly, who lives in a shack with his mother’s severed head on a makeshift alter.
For the first time in a “Friday the 13th” film, there was a skinny-dipping scene. And, for the second illustrious film in a row, a girl taking a casual stroll in her underwear. The best kill is when a guy in a wheelchair gets a machete to the face and rolls backwards down a flight of stairs. Jason also spoils a post-sex cuddle by turning the couple into a shish-kabob with a spear. Ginny is the final girl. After a chase, she finds herself at Jason’s shack. Proving to be quite resourceful, Ginny wears the sweater of Mrs. Voorhees and fools Jason into thinking that she is his mother. Jason is deranged, so he actually envisions his mother’s face. Betsy Palmer reprised her role for a brief cameo. Paul, Ginny’s bland boyfriend, shows up and helps her fight Jason, who is now wielding a pick-axe. Ginny drives a machete deep into Jason’s shoulder and it seems like there will be a happy ending. Ginny and Paul return to their cabin and reunite with a Shih-Tzu, but Jason dives through the window and seizes Ginny. He is no longer wearing his potato sack. His cranium is deformed, matching his appearance from the conclusion of the first film. Also, he has scraggly hair and a beard. The next morning, Ginny wakes up while being loaded into the back of an ambulance. There’s no sign on Jason or Paul.
I didn’t see the need for another ambiguous ending. I’m just going to assume that Jason murdered Paul, then retreated when he heard the sirens approaching. He definitely abandoned his mother’s severed head. This second installment in the series is somewhat disjointed because it had to resurrect Jason, but he wasn’t the undying monster that he became later on to justify multiple sequels.
– Dr. Rochester