You can see our other Friday the 13th lists here. Today, it’s time for Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), aka, the one where Jason is the killer for the first time but covers his face with a pillow case instead of a hockey mask
Friday the 13th cost less than $1 million to produce and ended up grossing $39 million domestically, which would be like grossing $123 million at 2014 ticket prices. Paramount Pictures wanted a sequel out as soon as possible, rushing Part 2 into production 4 months after the release of Part 1. But, wait, other than Alice everyone was dead at the end of Part 1, including the killer. What more story was there to tell? Well, there was an obvious choice; it just didn’t make a lick of sense.
[My sources from this point forward are either the documentary Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th or the companion coffee table book of the same name]
1. Friday the 13th almost became an anthology series because Jason was supposed to be dead
It has passed into extreme cliche at this point, but back in 1980 audiences were genuinely surprised/thrilled by the infamous ending dream sequence of Friday the 13th featuring the sole survivor, Alice (Adrienne King), being suddenly attacked by a demonic Jason rising from beneath Crystal Lake. We were never supposed to take it seriously, though. It a blatant Carrie rip-off looking for a cheap scare, not a calculated attempt to set up a franchise focused on Jason as the killer. After all, it makes absolutely no sense for Jason to still be alive. Plus, in the dream sequence he appears not to have aged at all since the time of his original drowning even though at least 21 years are supposed to have passed since then. If not the product of a dream sequence, then Jason at the end of Friday the 13th is nothing more than a very hands-on ghost.
But money was made and a sequel was ordered. So they contemplated turning Friday the 13th into anthology series of unconnected horror films, rolling a new one out each year. That wouldn’t work out so well for the Halloween franchise just one year later in 1982 with the horrible, Michael Meyers-less Halloween 3. Friday the 13th was saved from that same fate because the uncredited East Coast financial backers of the franchise, headed by Phil Scuderi, insisted the sequel focus on Jason as the killer.
2. Even Friday the 13th‘s director and writer thought bringing Jason back was stupid
Director Sean Cunningham and writer Victor Miller just made Friday the 13th to rip-off Halloween, but even they drew the line at doing a sequel centered around Jason. Legendary make-up/practical effects wizard Tom Savini, who made his name with Friday the 13th, agreed, “So, is [Jason] living off crayfish by the pond for 35 years, and nobody saw this weird kid?” Friday the 13th producer Steve Miner, on the other hand, had no such professional reservations. Cunningham, Miller, and Savini walked, leaving then 29-year-old Miner to take over as director. Ron Kurz, who performed un-credited re-writes on Miller’s Friday the 13th script, took over scripting duties. Cunningham did eventually return to assist good friend Miner with casting and pre-production.
3. Stan Winston almost did the make-up effects
With Savini leaving to work on Friday the 13th knock-off The Burning, they turned to Stan Winstonto deliver the gore for Part 2. Unfortunately, Winston was forced to leave due to scheduling conflicts, making way for Carl Fullerton. Within 5 years, Winston won an Oscar for his work on James Cameron’s Aliens, and his Stan Winston Studios would go on to be responsible for the design work on the Terminator, Alien, Jurassic Park, and Predator series. After a decade in gore, Fullerton ascended to the A-List of Hollywood make-up artists with Glory, Godfather 3, Silence of the Lambs, and Philadelphia. He’s now worked as Denzel Washington’s personal makeup artist for over two decades, last teaming with him on 2 Guns.
4. The President of Paramount Pictures’ son started his career with Friday the 13th Part 2
Friday the 13th‘s production crew gained a notable new addition for Part 2 in the form Frank Mancuso, Jr., a recent college graduate at the time who happened to be the son of the President of Paramount Pictures. Mancuso, Jr. worked on Part 2 as an associate producer/roving crew member. By Part 3, he became the steward of the Friday the 13th franchise, producing the next batch of sequels and executive producing the Friday the 13th TV series.
5. Jason was briefly played by a woman
The actual first shot of Jason in Part 2 is of his legs walking toward Alice’s house, but those legs actually belonged to the film’s costume designer, Ellen Lutter. This is the only time in franchise history Jason was played by a woman.
6. Why did Alice have to die?
They killed off Friday the 13th‘s sole survivor, Alice (Adrienne King), in the first 15 minutes! WTF! For years, the explanation was that Adrienne King requested Alice be on screen for as short a period of time as possible because the success of the first film had earned her a stalker. This was back in the pre-Rebecca Schaeffer days meaning there was little legal protection for celebrities against stalkers. King’s stalker actually befriended her, with her only realizing he was actually her stalker around the time he pulled a gun and held it to her head. She managed to talk him down, saving her own life.
Considering all that, it’s understandable that King might have requested a reduced schedule on the film, but she didn’t specifically ask that Alice be killed. She claims she didn’t even find out about her character’s death until she arrived on set to film it. Ron Kurz claims Alice was actually killed because King’s agent demanded too much money.
7. Adrienne King had to improvise all of her dialogue because there was no script
According to King, there was no script for her scene which is why she didn’t know her character died. She showed up to set, found out Jason was going to kill her, and that they needed her to completely improvise a phone conversation. So, everything with Alice talking to her mom on the phone about struggling to move on with her soon-to-end life was unscripted.
To add literal injury to insult, the actual death by ice pick moment did not go right during the first take, as the prop man playing Jason screwed up. The prop ice pick being shoved into King’s temple did not retract properly. Her scream of pain was very real.
8. Jason had to be re-cast
The Friday the 13th series is notorious for its rotating cast of stuntmen parading around as Jason, with Kane Hodder holding down the fort for films 7-10. This tradition began with Part 2. Warrington Gillette, who originally auditioned for the role of the head camp counselor Paul, was cast as Jason. However, he could not or was unwilling to perform his own stunts. They brought in stuntman Steve Daskawisz (aka Steve Dash) to play Jason. Gillette ended up being credited for the role, but other than the final scene where an unmasked Jason breaks through a window the guy underneath that pillow case was usually Daskawisz.
9. Did they rip off the pillow case from The Town That Dreaded Sundown?
Sean Cunningham and Victor Miller own up to their Halloween/Psycho mimicry in Friday the 13th, but when you accuse the later films of performing similar feats of cinematic theft a common response is a general, “Come on – Do you really think we, the people who made a Friday the 13th film, had ever heard of that thing you say we stole?”
For example, Jason’s pillow-case-covered face in Part 2 is an extra eye hole away from being identical to the serial killer in the 1976 thriller The Town That Dreaded Sundown. According to co-producer Dennis Stuart Murphy, the idea to have Jason wear a pillow case over his head in Part 2 came from their costume designer, who figured it was the type of readily available item Jason could have conceivably and easily procured. Then gain, maybe they totally stole it from Town that Dreaded Sundown, but aren’t telling.
10. Did they rip off the double-impalement from Twitch of the Death Nerve?
Part 2‘s most famous kill not involving a man in a wheelchair involves the double-impalement of two counselors who are making sweet, sweet love missionary style. This sequence was originally much longer and gorier, playing up the tension of the girl seeing Jason as he approaches and struggling to get the guy on top of her out of the way so she can try to escape. They decided to cut it down to avoid an “X” rating. However, the scene is still freakishly similar, nay, identical to a murder scene in Mario Bava’s 1971 Twitch of the Death Nerve.
Was the theft intentional? The answer is a solid maybe. Sean Cunningham says he had never heard of Twitch of the Death Nerve at that point, but he wasn’t Part 2‘s director. The real evidence comes from screenwriter Ron Kurz, who claims most of the kills in the film came from Phil Scuderi, who would act them out while the two hammered out the film’s story over business lunches. Although Kurz had never heard of Twitch of the Death Nerve he reasons Scuderi, an East Coast-based theater owner, quite likely had.
11. Jason had to go to the emergency room
Yes, that was Betsy Palmer reprising her role as Jason’s mom, and yes, Jason’s retardation (?) is such that he would seriously think for a moment that Ginny (Amy Steel) was his mom just because she said so and wore his dead mother’s sweater. However, until Paul (John Furey) shows up that was a real machete Amy Steel was swinging down at Jason. In the film, her swing is deflected by Jason’s pick ax, but in real life on the first take Steel missed and came down on poor Steve Daskawisz’ finger. After a quick trip to the emergency room for stitches, he returned to finish the scene, a make-up enhanced condom used to cover his finger.
12. What happened to Paul?
To mimic the structure of the first Friday the 13th, Part 2 features a fake-resolution (Jason’s dead – yay!) prior to one big last scare (Jason’s not dead, or else who’s the big dude who just attacked Ginny through a window?). However, rather than have Ginny awake from a dream we oddly cut to the next morning with Ginny being escorted into an ambulance as she cries out, “Where’s Paul?”
Where indeed. For years, the rumor mill argued John Furey was no longer on set at that point, possibly having walked off in protest, so they improvised an ambiguous resolution for his character. Actually, the scripted ending was always meant to be ambiguous, although neither Amy Steel nor John Furey understand why exactly or what really became of Paul. Maybe that’s because…
13. A Winking, Smirking Mrs. Voorhees was supposed to greet us at the very end
The ending originally featured one major difference. As is, we end on a freeze frame of Mrs. Voorhee’s head atop Jason’s country hick altar. The head we saw for most of the film was a prop based on a cast made of Betsy Palmer’s head. However, for the ending they cast Connie Hogan to play Mrs. Voorhees’ decaying head so that the final shot of the film could be Mrs. Voorheees opening her eyes and smiling. This, in a very Stephen King “evil never dies” kind of way, would then imply that Jason had killed Paul, and evil lives on. They…changed their mind. Why? Because it looked astoundingly stupid, and that’s saying something from the people who had their killer wear a pillow case over his head for most of the film.
The final damage in Part 2?
- Body Count: 9 (Not Counting Paul)
- Box Office: $21 million domestic (like $65 million at 2014 ticket prices) on $1 million budget
Next Friday, we’ll tell you all about the alternate version of Part 3 that was supposed to be centered around Ginny at a hospital, ala Halloween 2.
Use the following links to check out our other “13 Things…” lists: Friday the 13th, Part 3, The Final Chapter, A New Beginning, Jason Lives, New Blood, Jason Takes Manhattan, Jason Goes to Hell, Jason X, Freddy Vs. Jason, and Friday the 13th (2009).
You can also head here to check out our “13 Things…” lists for each of the Nightmare on Elm Street films.