Blu-ray Review: ‘Friday the 13th Part 2′

Friday The 13th Part 2 is where a lot of fans feel the series really began. Sure, we met Jason Voorhees at the tail-end of the original, but it’s here that we actually see him begin his journey towards pop-culture icon status. We also learn that his dream-like appearance in the first film was just that, seeing as it’s impossible for a deformed, dead child grow to hulking wilderness man size in the five years that takes place between the two films in the series’ universe. But, that’s the almighty power of the sequel.
Friday the 13th Blu-rayPart II starts out with a bang, as Alice (Adrienne King) is stalked and killed in her house by an unknown assailant a few months after the events of part one. Even upon my first viewing about a decade ago, I was really surprised that they killed off the heroine from the original so quickly and easily and I still think it’s the most daring thing they do during the eighty-six minute runtime.

Unfortunately, the problems with the film also start with the opening scene. It was during this time frame in the MPAA’s history that they were hacking up slasher films’ death scenes and Part II befell the same fate as My Bloody Valentine, having the majority of its gory bits severely edited down to practically nothing. What makes the whole situation worse is that Paramount claims they can’t find the footage and it’s forever lost in some dank, dark film vault in Antarctica.

Some of the later films were also heavily edited, however I always felt that they were lost causes and it wouldn’t have made a difference since they weren’t that good to begin with. Part II shows a lot of promise, with Steve Miner’s ability to be a more energetic director than Sean Cunningham – who thought it was OK to not move the camera around and make all the shots as boring as possible – and Amy Steel’s turn as Ginny being what is still one of the best performances in any of the Friday films, but between the editing and the horrible idea of having more than half of the counselors go into town to party instead of stay behind and be cannon fodder for Jason, the film manages to just be slightly above average but never great. It’s not that I exactly hate the film because of the MPAA’s cuts, it’s just that I wish the filmmakers would’ve had something more interesting in the film in its raw form to make up for the abrupt edits that came later on.

Paramount’s 1080p presentation of Friday The 13th Part II is an improvement over the recent DVD rerelease of the film in terms of color and sharpness, though it should be noted that they both use the same master. The image is noticeably brighter and crisper – scenes that take place in the woods tend to look soft, however – and the depth of the shots is represented more favorably (the DVD looked a bit flat overall). Like the Friday The 13th Blu-Ray, Part II‘s transfer has a considerable amount of grain but at least it’s more consistent than the original, which flip-flopped between grainy and ungrainy every other scene. The TrueHD 5.1 mix leaves a lot to be desired, as dialogue seems to be the only thing that was remastered. The case here could be that since the film was made on a shoestring budget, the master audio wasn’t recorded as well as it could have been, but as far as lossless audio tracks go, this one is pretty disappointing. The music and sound effects sound flat and add little dimensionality to a film where these elements are what make up most of the atmosphere.

It doesn’t exactly stray far from the formula of the original film – neither do most of the other ones – but Friday The 13th Part II still stands as an iconic and important entry in the series due to the introduction of Jason as the antagonist of the series and the usage of Italian horror films as an inspiration for its death scenes – most notably, the spear copulation death from Bava’s Bay Of Blood.

Special Features

Inside “Crystal Lake Memories” (11:15) – In the first featurette on the disc, Crystal Lake Memories author Peter Bracke talks with Dark Delicacies owner Del Howes about his book and the impact of the series, specifically Part II, on the slasher subgenre. It’s a short and sweet overview of Bracke’s chapter on the sequel and hits the highlights that every fan who hasn’t read the book yet would want to know about, like the deleted gore footage and alternate ending. Hopefully, the extras on these Blu-Rays and rereleases that feature Bracke will encourage those who haven’t picked up Crystal Lake Memories to do so immediately; it’s a must own coffee table book for fans of the series.

Friday’s Legacy: Horror Conventions (6:50) – Filmed at Scare Fest in Lexington, KY, this extra focuses on the presence and significance of the Friday the 13th series at conventions and also features interviews with some of the stars of the series, of which only Harry Manfredini worked on Part 2 (Adrienne King can be seen signing autographs in some of the shots and it’s kind of a shame she didn’t get interviewed). Honestly, I thought this was kind of a pointless extra since almost everyone who’s going to buy the Blu-Ray – or has already bought the DVD – is familiar with how horror convention reunions function.

Lost Tales From Camp Blood: Part II (8:54) – I don’t get these short films at all. They’re trying too hard to be amateurish, they’re boring and the killer clearly isn’t Jason. I wasn’t a big fan of the Lost Tales episode included with the Friday the 13th Blu-Ray and this is just more of the same. I wish Paramount would invest more of their time into finding the lost footage from Part II than commissioning these lackluster shorts.

Jason Lives (29:28) – Originally released as a Best Buy exclusive on the Friday the 13th: From Crystal Lake to Manhattan DVD box set, this featurette culls footage from a Jason panel moderated by Peter Bracke, featuring Ari Lehmann (the original), CJ Graham (Part VI), Warrington Gilette (Part II) and Kane Hodder (Parts VII – X), and separate floating head interviews with the aforementioned Jasons. I think it’s actually the best extra on the disc, considering the interviewees are given the opportunity to talk for a good amount of time and Bracke is obviously the best person to moderate the panel, considering the how great his book is.

Film: 3/5
Blu-Ray: 2.5/5