Reviews: Senseless Rants from a Picky Sissy
His Girl Friday
I know it may seem odd that I’m reviewing one sequel in a series of 11 installations without even addressing the original, but damn convention.
While Friday the 13th Part 2 is not my favorite Friday (that would be Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, due to both an early-puberty crush on one Corey Feldman and a scary obsession with both Crispin Glover and horny twins), it does feature my favorite Friday Final Girl – and indeed, perhaps one of my favorite Final Girls of all time, a certain Miss Amy Steel. See Amy show up late for the first day of work. See Amy drink. See Amy play tricks on her WASPy boyfriend. See Amy play chess, spout off about child psychology, piss herself, run around the woods for hours, hug a puppy, and sink a machete into Jason’s shoulder. See Amy walk away with the movie, the series, and my cold, brittle heart.
Things begin 2 months after the close of the first film, which left original Final Girl Adrienne King soggy with pondwater and a story of a deformed boy who lives in Crystal Lake. These days, Adrienne is looking a bit worse for the wear – even though it’s only been 2 months, she looks like she’s been ridden hard, and in a drawn-out scene built mostly of incredibly long Steadicam takes, we see the toll that being the only survivor of the original massacre has taken on her. A shower and a classic cat-scare later, Adrienne is gazing in horror at a head in her fridge and screaming at the ice-pick in her temple. It’s ten minutes into the movie, and our heroine is toast.
But wait – there’s more!
A closer look at the first scene will reveal that dear Adrienne isn’t the only one who’s been treated badly by the early months of 1981: apparently, young Jason (who was a pre-pube at the close of the original), in the finest of daytime soap-opera traditions, has managed to age about 8 years overnight. No matter – bring on the sexy teens!
And sexy they are. Sad to say, this might be one of my favorite Fridays even without the Unsinkable Ms. Steel simply because of the bounty of hotties that has taken up residence up the road from our beloved Camp Crystal Lake (yes, this one takes place somewhere else, remember?). There’s the (ahem) “gentlemanly” Russell Todd, who brandished his chiseled good looks in a few other horror titles (Chopping Mall and He Knows You’re Alone, most notably) and who here receives limited screen time but some fabulous sweaters. There’s the white-hot Kirsten Baker, who does the obligatory naked swim and models some hot workout wear and short-shorts (check out that apple-bottom! Whoa!) before getting hers. Even Lauren-Marie Taylor (also in Neighbors and one of my faves, Girls Nite Out), who is too mousy to be flat-out hot, gets a disgusting pre-sex moment when she sprays perfume in her crotch before riding a cripple (she never makes it, instead becoming the object in one of the most famous subjective POV shots in horror film history). John Furey as Paul, Ginny’s (Amy’s) boyfriend, is what you’d get if you stuffed Eric Stoltz into a JC Penney catalogue model, but he’s certainly better than most Final Boys and gets a great campfire story showcase monologue (which would be used as archive footage in the Final Chapter). We’ve even got what is unquestionably the hottest Jason, Warrington Gillette, who is oddly shot to look like he's about 5 foot tall and sadly spends the entire film with a bag over his head.
Indeed, there are other castmembers who would be better served by wearing sacks over their heads. Unfortunately, our resident Rutting Couple leaves a lot to be desired; considering that this couple is supposed to be the very vision of unbridled teen lust, they really could have thrown us a bone and cast sexier actors. As it is, we have a frizzy, duck-shaped girl and a nondescript goober who wander around looking for places to hump, talk incessantly about how oversexed they are, and generally gross us out with their pigginess (it isn’t altogether unreasonable, then, that they end up skewered like hogs on a barbecue spit). I spent most of the time they were onscreen transfixed by the puffy expanse of Marta Kober’s nimbus-like hair, trying with all my might to not picture the couple naked.
We also have the uncomfortable matter of Stu Charno. Let's face it, people -- looks are not exactly Stu's strong suit. Which is fine, of course -- but placing him in a room with these Betties and Baldwins is downright cruel. Maybe the filmmakers were trying to amp the hotness of the hot teens even further by giving the audience some contrast -- heck, maybe Stu is perfectly attractive when not in the company of sexy supernovas like the ones we see here. But as it is, the effect of Stu contrasting with the rest of the counsellors vibrated like a bad flourescent light bulb and gave me a headache. And really, why's he there in the first place -- he doesn't even do anything!
The same cannot be said for one Tom McBride, who is arguably the hottest man in the history of the Friday the 13th franchise, even considering the fact that he is in a wheelchair and remains nearly fully clothed the entire film. This former Marlboro Man (or Winston Man or Salem, Alive With Pleasure! Man – it’s all the same to me) is absolutely drool-worthy even though he only moves from the waist up, and probably even beats out the hottie from Monkey Shines as the Hottest Paralyzed Stud in Horror Film (even considering the fact that Monkey man Jason Beghe gets a series of spongebaths from Joyce Van Patten, stretches in the nude, and has his face ridden in a stable by Kathryn McNeil).
Granted, his good looks don’t get him any farther than anyone else in the film. He actually has one of the least dignified deaths: getting a machete in his head and then somehow getting knocked backwards in his wheelchair down a flight of stairs that are nowhere near the porch that he starts on, suggesting that Jason kills him on the porch, then gently lowers him off the veranda, wheels him down the sidewalk, and finally topples him down the steps. Had they actually included this entire process in the film, it would likely be my favorite film ever based on sheer cruelty alone.
Anyway, there are lots of other fun inconsistencies to keep your viewing of F2 good and lively. For one, what in the hell happens to the other dozen or so counselors who are in the first few scenes and then vanish into thin air? They apparently show up for work, eat dinner, go out drinking, and are vaporized. Second, what happens to valiant Paul, who is notably absent from the final scene? Why do our clever kids look for the guy in the wheelchair... upstairs? And to whom does the dead puppy belong that the stoner nymphos come across in the woods, if it's not the beloved camp poodle Muffin, who magically reappears in the penultimate scene? In fact, I think Friday 2 makes a strong argument for Jason having a lapdog fetish: notice how he lunges for Amy Steel through the shattering window at the end. Now consider that she's holding a poodle (or a Llasa Asshole, or whatever the hell the little dishrag might be). Is it beyond possibility that Jason was merely trying to play with the stained and savory little pup?
Besides being fun, scary, and brimming with hotties, Friday 2 also has a somewhat haunting queer element. Tom McBride (the wheelchair fella) was by the end of his career -- and, sadly, the end of his life -- an openly gay man living with AIDS who became the subject of the documentary Life and Death on the A List, which chronicled his losing battle with the disease. A sobering look at how a strong, healthy body like the former Marlboro Man's can be ravaged by AIDS, the film portrays McBride as a rather tragic figure who regrets not having slept with more men above all else. Maybe it's overly nostalgic to watch McBride in his prime in 1981, but I suppose these old movies mean simpler times to a lot of people.
So as a successful sequel, a tim capsule, a collection of good scares, a showcase for a kickass Final Girl, and a big ol' bowl of eye candy, Friday the 13th Part 2 is, in my book, a great amount of Friday bang for your buck. While other Fridays may boast a few hot elements here and there (the robot-dancing chick in The New Beginning; the superhot naked Italian guy in Jason Goes to Hell; the operatic virgin-murder in Jason Lives), overall this is one of the few worth screaming about.
This made-for-TV movie features a young actor who would later star as a closeted homo in Far From Heaven