The first in a new series of articles in which we celebrate the Friday the 13th franchise. Updated: Find out all about how Jason got his groove back, and the special guy who helped him find it in our Friday the 13th: Part 3 (in 3D!) piece…
Let’s make our position definitively clear (as if you ever had any doubts): Clarissa Explains Fuck All loves horror films. We’ve sat through everything: horror with strong, capable women who fight till their final breath, horror concerning the fear of female sexuality, reproductive organs and childbirth, equal opportunities horror where every sexy young thing is near naked and fair game and even the juvenile ‘lets kill as many naked chicks in as many sexually suggestive positions as possible and maybe even incorporate an unnecessary girl-on-girl love scene for all the hetero-bros in the audience hurr hurr’ of your average Eli Roth produced piece of shit.
Equal opportunities horror is an odd one. Usually this kind of horror film likes to punish it’s young characters for their sexual promiscuities, beautiful bodies and love of partying and it doesn’t play favourites. The women are usually naked, the dudes usually get topless (whip your dick out, equal-opps horror! Come on!) and everyone but the one, final girl is hacked up and bludgeoned for just wanting one last toke on that blunt and maybe a little pussy play.
It’d be too easy to simply cast off these films as being unjustly misogynistic simply for the parade of petrified, objectified near naked women who just so happen to love getting high in the same spot that some homicidal maniac has returned to in order to reap his revenge. Don’t get me wrong, this sort of shit still completely boils my blood – the male gaze is far too present in too much of cinema, not just horror – but at their heart these are films are just really bitter against the young, the beautiful and the carefree. People without bills to pay, rent to make, horrendous day jobs to go to or romantic relationships they can’t just bail out on when shit gets tough because they own a bed and an expensive smoothie maker together.
The Friday the 13th franchise is one such set of wonderful cinematic garbage and probably also the most covertly conservative and god fearing horror films you could ever watch, starring everyone’s favourite sexually frustrated man-child virgin: Jason Voorhees.
Jason is big time fucked up. Being the bizarre pseudo-supernatural, silent, hulking monster that he is it’s easy to simply write him off as having all the emotional and physical requirements of a military drone (i.e. HATEKILLDESTROY) and forget that somewhere in that brick shithouse mass of murder is a grown ass man weeping for his murdered mother, his lost childhood and supposedly, a dick that he neither knows how to use or ever wants to. Poor Jason.
In many ways you could easily envision him as being a drone for Jesus: perhaps the Westboro Baptist Church are all huddled around the one flat screen feed of ‘hockey mask cam’ screaming: Get that slut over there with the nice ass and the pert tits! GOD HATES SLUTS! And then get her boyfriend in the wheelchair afterwards! GOD PUNISHED HIM FOR A REASON! And smash up that party girls face whilst you’re at it! COCAINE IS THE DEVIL’S CAKE FROSTING!
You get the picture. Jason is the ultimate party pooper. He’s the dude you never invite to your party because he secretly harbours some less than favourable views about women, is taking his training to become an ‘officer of the law’ a bit too seriously, brings nothing but a bottle of cherryade along with him and is a 40 year old virgin at a party for 18 year olds. In fact, Jason is such an anti-party dick that sometime in the 90’s he even became a hero of the straight edge punk scene (there’s even a straight edge punk band from Durham called Voorhees) inspiring self-righteous preachers of sobriety to plow through audiences at punk gigs and knock drinks out of people hands with all the same gumption that Jason would wreck his way through a party with his medley of murder (nb: not all straight edgers are assholes! Most of them are absolute lovelies).
As a result I’ve always secretly fantasised about a Jason vs Andrew WK (a.k.a. The official party spokesman for the universe) short film which is one of the only ways that balance could obviously be restored to the world. We’ll make this happen one day, Andrew lad.
Jason Voorhees / Norman Bates: The Art of the Perv and Kill
But I digress, what’s established in Friday the 13th Part 2 (a.k.a. Jason: the Slapstick Years! More on that in a bit) is that Voorhees was basically an early 80’s recreation of Norman Bates: mourning for his dead mother, keeping a shrine to her in the back room (complete with mummified corpse!) and killing sexy young things right after enjoying a good solid perve at them first.
They both also represent the ultimate hypocrisy of the male gaze: enjoy the aspects of women which you’ll also punish them for (for example, any Daily Mail article criticising young women for their sexuality knows that it should arouse and entice the reader with sexy pictures of said young women alongside condemnation of whatever is being portrayed in those pictures). It can barely be a coincidence that J-Voz has a bit of a bad habit of interrupting people just trying to enjoy a good, solid shag, a bit of post-coital cuddling or some quality outdoor nudity (nothing quite like a firm breeze on your nipples). He’s basically a very naughty boy, indeed.
Get it together, Jason!
Part 2 is still trying to figure Jason out and as a result he doesn’t know his arse from his elbow. He murders with the same nervous clumsiness as a teenage boy trying to figure out which hole he goes in during his first few attempts at sex. Without his iconic hockey mask (he wears a burlap sack on his head instead in what can only be seen as an ‘homage’ to the 1976 film The Town That Dreaded Sundown rather than an outright rip off), he’s more like ‘Voorhees in training’. There feels the need for some kind of musical montage which shows Jason practising all of his finest lurking, stabbing and power posing skills on pillows and trees like the first part of any superhero movie where our amateur hero is still clunking about the mean streets of his hometown, trying to figure out his skill set and most importantly his costume, before he finally becomes a hero to be scared of.
Jason is clumsy as fuck in part 2. It’s fucking embarrassing, is what it is. At one point he attempts to slash his way into a car via the roof (good luck with that, big fella!) before getting pushed off of it with all the comedy ambling of Madonna during a live televised performance. My god is he graceless. It’s surprising that there aren’t some cartoonish sound effects to accompany his bumbling about. At one point he even attempts to stab someone by standing on a chair which – whoopsie! – collapses under his weight and crashes him to the floor. Oh, Jason.
As if all of this wasn’t humiliating enough for Jason, there’s even a scene early on in the movie where a police officer is investigating his makeshift, ramshackle home and we’re treated to a long, lingering shot of Jason’s toilet. Which, like, I don’t know – if there’s one thing I don’t need it’s a mental image of Jason Voorhees having a shit whilst reading the funny pages.
The introductory 15 minutes of Part 2 recaps all the final events of Part 1 like an especially irksome 90210 recap which goes into more detail than you need in order to remember simple details about a simple narrative. Part 1 Final Girl Alice Hardy returns for the beginning of part 2 simply to get creeped on and stabbed up within the first 15 minutes. Turns out everyone should have taken her gruesome tales about getting pulled into Camp Crystal Lake by a deformed child who was meant to have drowned years ago with more than just a pinch of salt. But you can never tell with these sorts of things, eh?
But anyway, let’s introduce ourselves to the little horny lambs of part 2, shall we? We have Jeff and Sandra (a dimwitted couple with great fucking hair), resident prankster Ted (he’s a laugh a minute! Also looks like the kind of guy whose IMDB page only has this film listed and then about three Doctor Pepper adverts where he plays ‘awkward, gawky teenager #1’), potential date rapist Scott, supremely hot girl Terry (we know she’s hot because the camera spends a good two minutes on a close up of her peachy ass popping out of a pair of teeny tiny hot pants), Mark (whose only defining personality trait is that he’s in a wheelchair) non-entity Vickie and overgrown camp counsellor Paul and his girlfriend / personal assistant Ginny (because those marshmallows won’t toast themselves, sister).
Paul is running a ‘boot camp’ for counsellors in which, from the looks of it, the ‘training’ part consists of lots of sex, warning women not to leave their tampons in for hours at a time in case they attract bears (seriously ladies, keep it clean ‘down there’, eh?) and a beer chugging championship down at the local hick bar. He doesn’t seem at all fazed to be using a camp just next door to the infamous ‘Camp Blood’ (Crystal Lake) where all those counsellors got hacked up only five years ago. And as we all know, lightening doesn’t strike the same place twice, so ladies rip off your shirts and let’s have a great time!
Water, sexy wet things and non-murder lady blood
Now, before we go any further it needs to be brought up that Part 2 introduces the idea that Jason is somehow willed into action via water. He first appears pounding his size 12’s into a big puddle of water and one of his first real kills happens after poor, hapless Terry thinks she can just go for a solo skinny dip without Scott or any other potentially violent presences interrupting her. When will women learn!? He also just about loves it when the beer is flowing, when saliva is being passed from mouth to mouth and when the sexy juices of a couple of grunting, bolting teenagers are spilling out all over the camp bedding.
Part 2 also has a weird, initial fascination with periods. Like, really fucking peculiar. Aside from the whole ‘keep your pussies clean to keep the bears away!’ speech, there’s also a casual aside that Ginny whispers, seductively, to Paul where after turning up late to the camp she promises him (*winkwink*) that she’ll ‘never be late again’. This would be unremarkable if it weren’t for the fact that Ginny is really eager to tell Paul something as they’re getting down and dirty later on in their cabin. Ginny’s request to be listened to gets shrugged off (boring!) but the next morning Paul (ever the jokester!) has written ‘Beware of the Bears!’ on their mirror in lipstick. Total japes. She’ll never be late because, d’uh! she got her period! So, along with attracting bears it’s also really poorly suggested (in a manner that you can only imagine the writers were doubled over, smearing tears away from their eyes with laughter about) that menstrual blood also maybe attracts Jason, who apparently has a nose like a bloodhound.
Moving swiftly on.
The whole ‘equal opportunities’ side of the film really comes into play around the middle of the movie. Whilst some of the campers decide to head into town to drink themselves into a ghoulish oblivion, some of them stay to enjoy whatever party they have in their respective pants. Jason hates everyone. He first kills Scott (as punishment, supposedly, for perving on Terry who was skinny dipping), and then Terry (as punishment for said skinny dipping, because how fucking dare she) before impaling Jeff and Sandra together right after a noisy shag (which, like, they don’t seem to be in too much pain over? I don’t know. I remember seeing an episode of Grey’s Anatomy where two people got impaled together following some kind of freak accident and they were fine and fully functioning right up until they had to remove the thing and then one of them had to die to save the other. So, you know, there was partial hope for one of them at least).
Poor old Mark is then like this close to hooking up with Vickie (whose classy seduction technique, incidentally, is to purr “…I only want your fingers” at the guy before handing him some really primitive hand held game consoles. Oh, the innuendo! If there’s one thing that gets a girl’s motor going it’s watching a man speed flick a finger against several inanimate buttons at once. Oof!). And like, yeah. So they obviously die too because bad chat up lines and kissing.
Back at the hick bar, Paul and Ginny decide to head back to camp following a ridiculous conversation about Jason Voorhees in which child psychologist student Ginny theorises what kind of man Jason would be now. At no point does anyone question why it was that Jason’s body was never found at the bottom of a tiny lake when he supposedly drowned, or even what he did between the years of ‘deformed, drowning child’ and ‘beefcake psychopath’ – like, I mean, for someone who loved his mother so much why the fuck didn’t he just pop over and say hello whilst she was massacring all those teenagers? I don’t know. Maybe I missed something. Answers in the comments, please.
Resident prankster Ted (who, I don’t think I’ve paid enough attention to in this article. Just know that he truly is as funny as he thinks he is and exactly the sort of jokester you definitely wouldn’t just punch in the face for pretending to be a masked assailant round a relaxing, roaring camp fire) decides to stay at the bar a little longer. After-hours club you say? More beer you say? Sexy bartender working tonight? Ted is on it.
There really isn’t much else to say about the whole thing. Paul and Ginny find all their friends murdered back at camp. Much shock. Big sadness. They fight Jason. Jason gets stabby. Ginny finds the mummified corpse of Mrs Voorhees set up in a little shrine back at Chez Voorhees (along with her sweater!) and being the supremo child psychologist that she is pretends to be his dead mother to get him to stop all this killing. Because he’s just misunderstood isn’t he?
Jason is defeated. The dog that you think gets killed at the start of the movie (she’s called Muffin and has a little bow in her hair. As far as bitches go, Muffin is exactly the sort of preened little princess you can easily imagine Jason would hate enough to destroy) returns (happy ending!) and – you guessed it – Jason also returns (RUN MUFFIN!), knife in hand, gurning all over the place, smashing his way through a window like a drunk who can’t decipher between ‘outside’ and ‘glass pane’. Suffice to say it’s probably game over. Paul has counselled his final camp and Ginny has pyscho-analysed her final pyscho.
Which leads me to this final thought: Remember Ted? The biggest party animal of the lot? The awkward prankster simply looking for an after-hours bar to get completely and utterly loaded in? Yep. That dude is the real hero of the story, here. He’s the guy who dared to drink on with a bunch of strangers, probably waking up in the gutter of some 24 hour diner without his pants or his wallet. Poor Ted probably had a cracking hangover, spent all day hitching a ride back to camp in his underwear whilst trying to keep an endless stream of vomit from rising past his throat and then got back only to find blood and the fleshy debris of all of his best pals. But still, his determination to drink more beer than anyone else in the World at that moment (you champion, Ted) is what ultimately saved his goddamn life.
As such, I think we can all agree that Friday the 13th: Part 2 failed in it’s attempt at moralistic teachings, because the true moral of the story isn’t that pre-marital sex, getting high and chugging beer will kill you but that you sometimes need to have more pre-marital sex, get higher than you’ve ever been and chug so much beer that at some point it starts leaking out of your nostrils and puking its way out of your mouth and your ass in order to survive this monstrosity called life.
Evidently, it sometimes pays to be Awkward, gawky teenager #1. We salute you Ted.
Best Kill: It’s a toss up between the double impalement and Mark who simply gets a machete stuck in his face before getting pushed down a set of stairs in his wheelchair (Jason is such an asshole).
You can say that again: At the beginning of the movie Ted shouts ‘Welcome to God’s country!’.
This looks familiar: The first 15 minutes are a clear influence on the opening of Scream. Alice Hardy is tormented by abusive phone calls, leaves something cooking on the hob whilst she’s getting murdered (in Scream it’s a bag of Jiffy Pop, in Friday the 13th Part 2 it’s a kettle which starts squealing once it’s boiled) whilst the camera stalks an attractive blonde from room to room, upping the tension for an audience who wait for her to be attacked but ultimately expect her to survive (when Scream was first released nobody expected Drew Barrymore – the biggest name on the poster – to be killed off straight away). Ironically, it’s also an incorrect answer about Friday the 13th which gets Casey’s boyfriend murdered in Scream (she names Jason as the killer in the first movie, rather than Mrs Voorhees). Casey’s sweater choice is also clearly a nod to that of Mrs Voorhees.