Slasher films had been around through the 70s, although they were more commonly associated with snuff films, but when John Carpenter thrust Michael Myers and Halloween into the horror genre, the flame was struck. Two years later, Sean Cunningham teamed up with writer Victor Miller and stoked the fire further to propel slashers into the mainstream and a plethora of similar movies soon followed.
So, it was inevitable that Paramount Pictures would look at the film’s success and look at ways to spawn a franchise… but there was one big problem.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear, at the beginning of my movie, Jason is dead!Victor Miller
When they offered me the script for Part 2, I got the script and Jason was running around and I said, “What are you doing?Tom Savini
If you track that into any kind of timeline, it makes no sense whatsoever.Sean Cunningham
If the original creators were puzzled, so were the fans, but it wasn’t just the script that was out of whack. There were a number of other conflicts that occurred behind the scenes. Most notably was the return and demise of the films original heroine, Alice played by Adrienne King. King wasn’t shy with her complaints about the production and the way that both her and her character were treated… killing her off in the opening scene supposedly without her knowledge. Those who had come to love her character and her strength in the climax against Jason’s mother Pamela, thought that it was dealt with rather too swiftly.
Another controversial component in-house came with the casting of Jason himself. Let’s forget about the whole sandbag over the head thing which was clearly a lift from The Town That Dreaded Sundown released five years earlier. Instead the issue centred on Warrington Gillette who was given the role of Jason when he failed to win the role of lead counsellor Paul, losing out to John Furey. The only problem was that Warrington at the time wasn’t a stuntman, so the producers had to call in Steve Daskewisz to perform the stunts and debate would strike over who the real Jason was.
Friday the 13th Part 2 was clearly trying to stitch the pieces back together on its path to create a franchise, and arguably were pulling from other movies to inspire or develop this world. Although the creators claimed ignorance, there is a striking similarity to one death scene in the movie to Mario Bava’s 1971 flick, Twitch of the Death Nerve, aka A Bay of Blood (The Surgeons will be taking a look at this movie in more detail for a podcast down the track).
Despite all this, some iconic moments were created.
The introduction of Ginny (Amy Steel) who not only kicked arse as the final girl, but was smart and managed to psyche Jason out by pretending to be dear old Mom. This also brought Betsy Palmer back to resurrect Pamela albeit in dream form.
Also returning from the original movie was Crazy Ralph (Walt Gorney) and with him the wacky old guy character that would become synonymous with the slasher films. Plus the iconic camp fire scares and young school counsellors getting busy before they get whacked, which is a key draw card for the sub-genre.
Speaking of kills, with the absence of Tom Savini in the makeup and effects department having signed on to make The Burning, another mastro Stan Winston stepped into the scene, only to also be called away for another commitment. Instead Carl Fullerton (Wolfen, The Silence of the Lambs) would more than step up to the plate and deliver some great effects sequences and some of the most memorable kills from the franchise.
It may have been built on some shaky ground with some questionable narrative decisions that are still debated today, but the final result pulled in $21.7 million at the box office. This wasn’t as successful as its predecessor but it was enough for Paramount to call it a win and from the wake of Pamela Voorhees came the birth of Jason. They were still finding their feet in who or what Jason would be and he is more in embryonic stage, but with Director Steve Miner returning again to helm the next instalment alongside producer Frank Mancuso Jr. history was being made and Jason would soon take great strides in the horror film industry.
- Saul Muerte