There’s an old saying in Hollywood that goes something like this — with success comes sequels… lots and lots of sequels. Back in May of 1980, few at Paramount thought that Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th would be a runaway smash. Instead, slight profits were predicted in light of the horror film’s usual limited box office appeal. But thanks to the commercial and critical success of Halloween, the film went on to gross a staggering $40 million, which was a huge amount at the time. Naturally, a second offering was immediately mandated. But something had changed in the culture by the time Friday the 13th Part 2 hit theaters. By 1981, onscreen violence was suddenly uncool.
Coming five years after the first film, Camp Crystal Lake is now a condemned piece of property. But on the other side of the pond lives Paul Holt (John Furey) and his school for would-be counselors. With the help of his galpal Ginny (Amy Steel), he hopes to rally a ragtag group of party-minded young people into responsible camp employees. Of course, he has to address the rumors about Jason, the son of the late Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer). Seems many of the locals, including Crazy Ralph (Walt Gorney), believe the boy has been living in the woods, and ever since he saw his mother decapitated by the previous movie’s last girl standing, Alice (Adrienne King), he’s been on a murderous warpath. And wouldn’t you know it, Paul and his students are the next in line.
Without the need for much backstory and an amplified sense of slaughter, Friday the 13th Part 2 gets a chance to focus on some other elements. The murders are more inventive. Director Steve Miner (taking over for Cunningham) provides plenty of naturally-endowed eye candy, and the arrival of Jason as a big screen splatter icon is here in full, ferocious force.