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FRIDAY THE 13TH PART II
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Amy Steel, John Furey, Adrienne King
Director: Steve Miner
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 86 Minutes
Release Date: June 16, 2009

“I told the others, they didn’t believe me. You’re all doomed. YOU’RE ALL DOOMED!”

Film **

I mentioned in my review of the original Friday the 13th that it was perceived as nothing more than a clone of Halloween, and released as a way of cashing in on that film’s success. Ironically enough, both movies got sequels released in 1981. It was pretty much a sign of things to come from any successful horror movie.

Halloween II, the only decent sequel of that series, succeeded in that it further advanced the story of Michael Myers’ reign of terror, where as Friday the 13th Part 2 comes across as a simple retread of the first movie. Even though a new killer is born in this installment and catches up to the lone survivor in the opening scene, there’s absolutely nothing significant about this entry in the series…except maybe for a few neat little grisly kills.

After the opening title sequence, the movie carries a here-we-go-again vibe right from the first frame. Five years after the bloody massacre at Camp Crystal Lake, a bunch of teens gather for some summer fun at camp counselor’s training grounds located basically a hop, skip and a jump from the area now dubbed as “Camp Blood”. In other words, the 2nd stupidest idea next to actually setting foot on Crystal Lake itself.

The head of the training staff, Paul Holt (John Furey), warns his group of trainees not to wander over to Camp Blood. Of course, that doesn’t work whatsoever. In fact, it inspires a number of these smart individuals to explore it. What can’t prevent any right-minded viewer who watches this and say to the screen, “Yeah, you people expect to die.”

Granted, this was 28 years ago when the slasher formula was just getting established. And as it stands, many fans seem to rate Part 2 as one of the best installments in the series. I can’t fault them on that opinion, simply because I’ve never been a hardcore Friday the 13th fan.

But I did watch this not too long after first seeing the original many years back and even then I didn’t feel as thoroughly frightened like I did after watching its predecessor. After seeing the first Friday, I actually never wanted to venture outside in the dark for a period of time. But we do get the expected nasty kills in this sequel, including the graphic killing of a wheelchair bound character in what seems like an attempt to outdo a similar scene in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

I also remember laughing more at the movie this time around, clearly indicating that I’m more mature in my movie going these days. An early scene, where a town cop spots a suspicious figure in the woods and gives chase for what feels like a good five minutes before his inevitable demise in a vacant shack, was really testing my funny bone’s patience. And when the last surviving member of the teen clan, who happens to be a child psychology major, comes face to face with Jason (hooded, not hockey masked), she puts her future college degree to some good, if somewhat unconvincing use.

While the series has seen much worse (Part 5, anyone?), I can’t say that Friday the 13th Part 2 is successful in the attempt to take the series in any new direction. Strangely enough, a couple of sequels would succeed in basically re-hashing the formula established by the first movie. One, in particular, did it even better, but more on that sequel when I get around to it!

Video ***

Having viewed the movie on DVD not long ago, I certainly did notice some slight improvement on the Blu-ray. Grain does show up in bits, but that’s to be expected for a low budget horror film from 1981. However, the 1080p has provided much more image detail than I remember seeing before, particularly in daytime sequences which there is actually quite a bit of this time around.

Audio ***

Strangely enough, I remember the sound mix on the DVD being a bit stronger. But on the whole, the Dolby TrueHD does get the job done. As is the case with every Friday movie, the music score by Harry Manfredini is the highlight. The campground settings do provide some nice background sound bits, most notably during the quiet bits at night.

Features ***

All of the extras from the Deluxe Edition DVD release make their way onto this Paramount Blu-ray release. we get three neat featurettes, starting with “Inside Crystal Lake Memories”, an informative interview segment with author and fan Peter M. Bracke, “Friday's Legacy: Horror Conventions”, which features footage from a 2008 Scare Fest convention, and “Jason Forever”, which runs almost a half hour and features footage from a 2004 Fangoria convention where four of the actors who played Jason are interviewed and do a Q&A with the audience. Lastly, we get the concluding segment of the short, “Lost Tales from Camp Blood” and a Theatrical Trailer.

Summary:

Though it does mark the official arrival of Jason Voorhees, Friday the 13th Part 2 is otherwise a mostly mediocre entry in the long running horror film series. However, I do encourage all die hard fans of the franchise to seek out the new Blu-ray release.

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