Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #358
Number of Views: Multiple
Release Date: August 13, 1982
Sub-Genre: Eighties Slasher
Country of Origin: United States
Box Office: $36,985,198
Running Time: 95 minutes
Director: Steve Miner
Producers: Frank Mancuso, Jr.
Screenplay: Martin Kitrosser, Carol Watson, Petru Popescu (uncredited)
Based on Characters by Victor Miller & Ron Kurz
Special Effects: Francisco X. Pérez, Douglas J. White, Allan A. Apone
Cinematography: Gerald Feil
Score: Harry Manfredini, Michael Zager
Editing: George Hively
Studio: Georgetown Productions Inc., Jason Productions, Sean S. Cunningham Films
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Stars: Richard Brooker, Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Tracie Savage, Jeffrey Rogers, Catherine Parks, Larry Zerner, David Katims, Rachel Howard, Marilyn Poucher, Nick Savage, Gloria Charles, Kevin O’Brien, Cheri Maugans, Steve Susskind, Perla Walter, David Wiley
Suggested Audio Candy:
Harry Manfredini & Michael Zager Extended Theme
There can be no question that Jason Voorhees sparked something of a revolution in 1980. Sean S. Cunningham’s much cherished slasher, made for little over $500k, grossed almost a hundred times that and most critically opened the floodgates for other aspiring film-makers looking to get in on the action. Paramount Pictures were quick to spot their window of opportunity and, a year later, Steve Miner’s Friday The 13th Part 2 opened theatrically and consolidated its position at the top table with an also impressive coup of over twenty million. Not wanting to rest on their laurels as interest in the genre had already begun to wain, the studio decided there was still more cash to be milked from their proverbial cow and Miner was invited back for a second bite of the cherry.
Originally the plan was to also bring back final girl from the previous film Ginny and relocate the action to a psychiatric hospital but Amy Steel begrudgingly declined due to other commitments so the entire treatment was taken back to the drawing board and built again from the ground up. Time was evidently of the essence as, come August, audiences would be demanding another installment and there was additional pressure as the studio were looking to take advantage of the development of polarized 3D technology as well as being first to utilize the Lohmer crane for snazzy tracking shots. They knew they would be required to pull something out of the bag to halt the vague slide in popularity and, as a result, the third chapter took three times as long to shoot.
Starting to sound suspiciously like a labor of love right? More savvy business sense than anything else. Paramount knew that they would be required to make Voorhees more iconic as he sat out the first film and spent the second behind a burlap sack. Et voila…the hockey mask was born. There are few more enigmatic heirlooms in slasher than Jason’s headgear and he adds it to his inventory right here folks…and in all three glorious dimensions to boot. The 3D idea was no mere gimmick and had been researched thoroughly beforehand to ensure cutting edge technology was used to enhance the overall experience. I have watched this film on occasions too numerous to recall and it’s screaming out to be watched on the big screen. Alas, without that scale many shots in the film are rendered superfluous.
Voorhees wastes no time in picking up where he left off in Part 2 and this takes place the day after his last rampage was cut short when Steel donned that filthy old Cosby sweater and did her very best Pamela impression to foil her assailant. Obviously Jason is pissed at being thwarted, particularly given the fact that Ginny won’t be returning to the fray, but consolation is only ever a camper-load of stoned teenagers away in Camp Crystal Lake so he puts the whole sorry mess behind him and waits for the next delivery of fresh meat to arrive. Miner mixes things up a little and his cast comprises a more eclectic mix than the randy counsellors of the first two Fridays. Here Miner throws in a couple of older hippies and a gang of leather bedecked bikers (one conveniently named Loco) just to spice up the sauce some.
There is precious little characterization of course outside of our new final girl Chris (Dana Kimmell) while her lifeless boyfriend Rick (Paul Kratka) deserves to die an agonizing death for his fashion crimes alone after donning the kind of pullover that even Pamela would turn her nose up at. The joker of the pack is back in the form of numskull Shelly (Larry Zerner) and, in the absence of the recently garotted Crazy Ralph, we are presented with newly crowned town crazy Able (David Wiley) just to remind us all that we’re still doomed. Wiley is no Walt Gorney but he does bring a welcome dash of irreverence to proceedings and we’re here for the kills when all is said and done.
Speaking of which, Miner pulls out all the stops where the grue is concerned and much of it is facilitated inside an abandoned barn nearby the lodge. You can point the accusing finger all you like but the twelve-strong kill tally makes up for any real lack of invention elsewhere. It even has its own crowning moment courtesy of a split-second machete handstand execution which ranks amongst the series’ best ever dispatches. No sooner have we gathered our scruples than the decidedly messy aftermath is shown once more and Kevin Bacon’s famous throat skewering is affectionately relived on a hammock albeit without the Savini magic. That’s precisely what we came for and it’s served up enthusiastically.
It’s difficult to pinpoint where the franchise lost its sparkle, especially seeing as Joseph Zito’s fourth installment got so much right but the blame sure as shit cannot be placed on Miner’s doorstep. Many regard it as a dip in form for the franchise and admittedly it is no match for the two entries either side of it but it is still one of the easiest Fridays to revisit without the necessity for copious alcohol. 6″3 man mountain Richard Brooker is more than up to the challenge of representing Jason and is particularly feral and unreasonable throughout, the blood flows with great relish, there’s an admirable level of tension, and in terms of the overall 3D experience, it betters Jaws 3D’s freeze-frame folly hands down. Mommy would be ever so proud. Now give her back her sweater Rick or he’ll pop the other eye out!
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Grue Factor: 4/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: Implament, dismemberment, eyes popped from their sockets and punctured by harpoon arrows, throats cut, and last but by no means least pelvises shattered…and all multiplied by three thanks to those glasses. Sadly extended footage of three of the kills has since been destroyed meaning we will never see the true director’s cut which I’m told is something else. Thankfully, a little mandatory T&A is shoehorned in to pep us up as anything less would be utterly inexcusable.
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