In a sequel made very quickly to cash in on the success of the first Friday The 13th film, Jason (Warrington Gillette/ Steve Daskawisz) gets some real screen time in this second installment, mainly because Betsy Palmer didn't want to come back for a second round. The film follows Ginny (Amy Steel), a pretty young woman who is going to work at a new camp not too far from where the events in the first film took place. Once again, camp counselors start getting off'd one at a time until it becomes obvious that Jason Voorhees, who seems to have gotten really big really fast when you consider his size and stature at the end of the first movie, is not dead. Will Ginny be able to get inside Jason's head and trick him out of killing her or will she wind up like all the other no good horny teens?
While still sans hockey mask, Jason (clad with a burlap sack over his head - and looking all the more frightening for it) picks up the machete for the first time in this obviously rushed sequel. The storyline is almost exactly the same as it was in the first installment, but that doesn't really diminish the fun factor much at all - we get exactly what we expect out of the movie, that being teenagers killed in the woods in reasonably inventive ways and a little T&A thrown in just for kicks.
This first of many sequels essentially takes the formula that made the first film work and runs with it, adding more nudity, a few more kill scenes. This isn't a bad thing - if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? - but it also means that the film doesn't do a whole lot to differentiate itself from the its predecessor. That said, it expands on the continuity and plays nicely off of the ending from the original film, resulting in a fairly predictable but completely enjoyable backwoods slasher that plays just about as well as any of the other entries in the Friday The 13thseries.
With Jason at the forefront of the film, we're given a very menacing antagonistic screen presence to fear and the film does a very good job of ramping up the tension, particularly during the last half hour of its lean eighty-six minute running time. The film's weakness, however, is that many of the kill scenes take place off screen. While the picture is certainly violent and worthy of its R-rating, the carnage and bloodshed in this entry is tepid compared to most of the other films. Director Steve Minor keeps things moving at a good pace while Harry Manfredini's now classic score compliments the eeriness of the film's wooded settings.
Amy Steel and John Furey are sufficient enough in their lead roles to carry the picture while the rest of the 'teen' cast are fairly forgettable and more or less serve as cannon fodder. It's fun to see Walt Gurney and Betsey Palmer pop up, even if it is only briefly, and Adrienne King's supporting performance helps things out a fair bit too in addition to tying things into the first movie rather appropriately.
The series would soon go into a few different directions (Jason would eventually be resurrected and then visit Hell, Manhattan, and outer space before taking on Freddy Kruger) with mixed results but Friday The 13th Part 2 holds its own with the best of the series. While it isn't hard to figure out where the movie is going, getting there is enjoyable enough and as far as slasher movies go, this one is much better than average and a very worthy follow up to the classic first film.
The AVC encoded 1080p 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen high definition transfer on this disc isn't going to wow you the way you might hope it would, but it's still a noticeable upgrade in quality from the recent deluxe edition SD release (itself a nice upgrade from previous home video releases). Colors look a bit more natural and fine detail is more prevalent and impressive. The darker scenes are still dark to a bit of a fault but there aren't any problems to note with compression artifacts or heavy edge enhancement at all. The picture quality definitely has a nice filmic quality to it that hasn't transferred over so well previously, which makes the movie much more of a home 'theater' experience . There's a bit of grain here and there but it works for the transfer rather than against it, never overpowering the picture or ruining the experience at all. Print damage is held in check, relegated to the odd speck here and there and while you can't really call this a reference quality picture, you can certainly call it a strong one.
Audio options are supplied in a newly created Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track though carried over from the previous release are the Doldy Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track in English with Dolby Digital Mono options available in English, French, and Spanish. Subtitles are also supplied in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish. While purists will be thankful for the Mono track, the TrueHD 5.1 mix does a nice job of spreading things out when it counts, even if there isn't a huge upgrade from the Dolby Digital 5.1 option provided. The score in particular has more resonance to it than the last release afforded it while dialogue and sound effects are all nice and crisp and levels remain properly balanced throughout. Bass is a bit richer and there's a tad more clarity. Again, as it was with the video, the quality difference is noticeable, but it isn't so much a revelation.
There's no commentary here as there was on the recent SD and BD deluxe edition reissues of the first film but there are a few featurettes carried over from the SD release of this film from a few months back, starting with Inside Crystal Lake Memories (11:15). This is basically an interview with Peter Bracke about his massive tome on the series, Crystal Lake Memories. He talks about what went into researching the book, how fan input shaped his efforts, and what some of the more memorable moments where in creating the book. He also talks about the different between writing as a 'fan' and writing as an 'expert' and the fine line that there is between the two.
The second featurette, Friday's Legacy: Horror Conventions (6:48), is a look at who goes to horror conventions and why and how many of the Friday The 13th stars show up at these things, such as Tom Savini, Ari Lehman, Betsy Palmer, Victor Miller, Harry Manfredini - all of whom offer their input on why they enjoy doing conventions.
Jason Forever (29:25) is a featurette where four of the actors who have played the masked madman over the years - Ari Lehman, Warrington Gillette, C.J. Graham, and Kane Hodder - showed up at a Fangoria convention in New Jersey for a panel moderated by Peter Bracke. As each actor talks about his contribution to the series, we hear about what it was like to play the part, some of the difficulties involved with their respective shoots and more. Cut-aways to separate interviews are included here as are some nifty behind the scenes clips and photographs.
Last but not least is Lost Tales From Camp Blood- Part 2 (8:54) is another new short film directed by Andrew Ceperley that clocks in at about nine minutes in length and which is a fairly lame sort of tribute film inspired by the Friday The 13th pictures. It's got a decent kill scene towards the end but like the first part, it's not very good.
Rounding out the extras are the film's original theatrical trailer, some animated menus, and chapter selection. All of these supplements appeared on the SD release, but with the exception of Jason Forever, here they're presented in high definition which is a nice touch.
Still one of the best entries in the series, Friday The 13th Part 2 gets a very respectable Blu-ray debut from Paramount who have provided a very nice looking and sounding disc with a decent array of supplements. Highly recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.