A review coming up for this just as soon as I listen to Crazy Ralph…
For a series that spawned so many films, the Friday the 13th saga was never actually that good. The first film is just a reworking of Mario Brava’s Giallo classic Bay of Blood (With an ending admittedly ripped off of Carrie), and all the other films since reworked the formula just a little bit. The films range from good (This one) to largely bad (The rest). Yet there’s still something undeniably comforting about watching them. You know where you stand with Friday the 13th, and one of the best examples of the series is this entry from 1981 (The best is part 6, which is largely a riff on the whole series, but all the better for it).
First of all let us welcome back Steve Miner, who has made his third appearance on this list. Of those films this is by far the most straightforward, with little of the humour that ran through his later work. The set up is as simple as you would expect; some time after the events of the first film, a new camp opens up not far from the original Camp Crystal Lake. A group of counsellers start early for the season but someone is bumping them off one by one…
The first thing this film does is ditch the mystery of the original. We’re perfectly aware of who’s doing the killing this time, even if we don’t actually see them for most of it. At least it shouldn’t be a mystery anyway since they bombard us with references of Jason for most of the running time. The second thing the film does is off Crazy Ralph. Oh Ralph, how I miss thee. It would’ve been great to see him stick around for all the films, issuing the same “Doomed” warning to a new group of Kids each time. But alas he’s offed fairly early in the film, and Crazy Ralph was nevermore (Quoteth the Raven).
There’s one touch I liked here. We’re introduced to a large cast of characters, and there’s the promise of much bloodshed, but they end up being saved by heading into Town and getting drunk at the local Bar (Including a Black Guy – Well done you!). For once partying saved lives.
This is probably the best directed of all the Friday films, with Miner pulling off some nice sequences. One standout is the killing of a wheelchair-bound Jock who looks disarmingly like Billy Crudup. Curiously though it’s all over a little too quickly. The film runs about 92 minutes, and all the killing and action seems to take up about the last 30 of those minutes. Pacing issues aside this was the film the others seemed to follow (Until we bring in psychic girls later on…the less said about that the better).
These films were never cinematic art, but this was probably the highlight. That says about all you need to say about the Friday films doesn’t it?
Up Next: A new Halloween classic.