Monday, 20 June 2011

"FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2": MY FIRST



Aside from the many glittery, not to mention very sleazy, films I dissect with love every week, I also have the strongest view regarding horror movies. I fancy every type of horror but mostly the slasher genre. It all started with a little film called FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 which I saw at the young age of 15 in a darkened movie theater in the spring of 1981. Yes, the film was rated R, meaning no one under 17 was allowed, but I had managed to sneak in, to the delight of my best friend at the time who also desperately wanted to see the flick (with whom I also went to see X-rated movies sporadically, but that’s a whole different topic in itself). Suffice to say, my life as a horror enthusiast really began that faithful day.
 


Now, I sure as heck don’t need to recapitulate the film since the entire world knows all about Jason and the fate of the many camp counselors who have crossed his path. The only thing I’m going to say about the plot of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 is that, although very cliched even back then, it was all new to this teenager innocent eyes. Indeed, for the first time there I was, thanks to the keen direction of Steve Miner, at camp Crystal Lake with an axe murderer at my heels (because even then I could put myself in the characters’ shoes) and I was digging it like you wouldn’t believe. And not any axe murderer, mind you, but the one that would later become the baddest of them all, Jason Voorhees. Remember, it took another sequel for him to don the hockey-mask and become the anti-hero he is known to be today. So in this one, he was just a one-eyed burlap sack wearer Mongoloid who was avenging his cuckoo mom for her untimely death by offing the same people who had killed him.


What?!! Come again?!!! The same people who had killed him?! In a way, yes. Think about it: Pamela Voorhees was slaughtering camp counselors in the original film because years ago some other counselors had not taken proper care of her sick child who had accidentally drowned in the lake (in other words they were having sex while the kid was going under). After slicing and dicing horny teenagers, she ended up being beheaded herself by the strongest and purest teen of them all, Alice. Then, five years later, supposedly dead Jason takes over his mom’s workload (for part 2) by first, killing our sweet Alice who, frankly, was still lost in wonderland after the brutal attacks, then by continuing the bloody rampage just for the vengeance sake of it; a mother and son behavioral pattern passed on from one generation to the next.


After spending an hour and a half enjoying some gruesome killings while being scared out of my wits, I desperately wanted to check out the original movie on which this sequel was based, but remember, DVD players were nonexistent in those days, as were VHS recorders. Well, not exactly; we, the population, knew of them but barely could afford one since a single machine cost around 700 to 1000 dollars in Canadian money. But a streak of luck came my way during the summer of that same year. I was hired at Canada Post as a letter handler (putting envelopes into the right zip code box) and made enough money to purchase a Beta VCR system, the black sheep answer to the VHS player. Naturally, I was ecstatic as you can be, as well as being the neighborhood star for owning the first video cassette deck. Needless to say, I was not alone when I rented and watched the original FRIDAY THE 13TH. But sadly, as my friends could still attest, I came away rather disappointed by the Sean S. Cunningham film. To me, it didn’t hold a candle to the kick ass sequel.


Of course, that was way before FRIDAY THE 13TH began to grow on me, years before I came to put it up there with the best of them. You could say that maturity has something to do with it, as well as my love for anything grade-B of the late ‘70s early ‘80s. But back then I did think the pacing and the acting were a little off compared to its sequel. And to tell you the truth, I still think the same today. But I also know that however amateurish it appears to be sometimes, the overall effect is quite impressive. Because, yes, with all its apparent faux pas, FRIDAY THE 13TH still manages to sparkle due to its effective on-screen dread and overall special FX. And, because of those, every year like clockwork I pop in my DVD disc and enjoy the film for what it is and not for what it should be.


Like I said in an earlier post regarding one cinematic production, they sure don’t make them like that anymore, and it’s a shame. Oh, many have tried, but no one achieved the apogee of success and likability as Cunningham did with FRIDAY THE 13TH. And even if FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 is a lot better in the look, acting and pacing departments, both films are major influences in what would later be known as the heydays of the slasher genre, a genre that will forever stay dear to my heart, as it made me what I am today; and for that I will eternally be grateful. So here’s to you, Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Miner for introducing me to the Voorhees clan and their sickening ways.






Until next post—Martin



 
 

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