Blu-Ray Review: Friday the 13th Part 2

Here's a little piece of trivia that all but the best horror buffs tend to forget: Horror icon Jason Voorhees doesn't actually appear and kill people until the second film of the series. Remember, if you will, that the first Friday the 13th is entirely about Jason's mother getting revenge on the camp counselors that let Jason drown because they were too busy smoking the reefer and fornicating to watch the little monster swim. With the success of the first film, a second was a sure thing, but while producer/director Sean S. Cunningham had the idea to make the series an anthology about murder sprees on various Friday the 13ths, the studio had a different idea. They wanted to meet Jason, the dead son of the first film's killer who appears in the first film only in a dream sequence. The idea was that he actually was still alive, living in the woods as a feral creature and now wanted revenge for his dead mother.

It was a decision that angered a number of the film's creators, who in turn left the project for greener pastures. So how did it turn out? Well, in retrospect Friday the 13th Part 2 is a groundwork movie -- one that lays out the story and motivation that would carry it through the subsequent 10 films. It's a fun one that is a little unsettling for those first getting into the series, as Jason is not yet the Jason we've come to know. He's more like the Elephant Man. A feral, angry, spree killer with mother issues and a sack over his head with a hole cut for his only functioning eye. But it's solid, gory fun that kicks off so many of the tropes other films would come to imitate.

The Blu-ray transfer is fantastic. It looks great -- just as it did on the big screen years ago -- sans the scratches. The images are so crisp (with the only flaw being the quality of the film stock the movie was shot on) that I almost want to take my projector in the backyard and get that drive-in movie feeling while watching it.

In addition, each of the Friday the 13th Blu-rays has a handful of new features made especially for the disc. This time around there is a short, and far from in-depth, feature on horror conventions, mostly focusing on one particular recent start-up. But if you've never been to a Horror Con, it's a nice primer for the weirdness you'll experience. From that same convention comes "Jason Forever," a panel discussion with four of the best-known "Jasons." There is, of course, Kane Hodder, who was and ever shall be Jason to most of the core audience. (He's worn the mask more than anyone else.) In addition, there are the Jasons from Parts 1, 2, and 6; there's a lot of great trivia here about how each Jason came to be the way they were; and Friday the 13th fans will delight at watching how each actor's take led to the evolution of the icon.

Then there's an interview with the author of the book Crystal Lake Memories, chronicling how the first and second movies came to happen and how things went both right and wrong. This is where you'll learn about who left after the first movie and why, as well as get a real feel for how Jason evolved as a character. The author also shows up in a few of the other extras scattered throughout the discs as one of the reigning authorities on the subject of Jason. Finally, there is part two of what appears to be a three-part short horror film series that, while borrowing whole hog from the Friday movies, doesn't actually seem connected. There doesn't seem to be any explanation for these shorts on any of the discs, which left me relatively unimpressed. But hey, it's free extra content, right?

All in all, it is a solid disc with something like an extra 90 minutes of brand-new content, which is a real treat for longtime fans.

Friday the 13th Part 2 is available on Blu-ray now from Paramount Home Entertainment.