61 Days of Halloween: Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it.

Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now.

Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment, I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

NOTE: This post was written originally for the Site Which Shall Not Be Named. It was my 2nd Installment in the series. I have decided to preserve the text as originally written.

Friday the 13th, Part 2 (1980)

In selecting my second film for 61 Days of Halloween I wanted to select something a little safer than what I chose yesterday (The Prowler). I managed to succeed in that task by selecting, of all things, a sequel.

The sequel is Friday the 13th: Part 2 (1981). It is a film that succeeds in spite of how much of the original is quite literally rehashed at the start and spliced in. It’s a great piece of myth-building that without having to backpedal introduces a new villain into the franchise, eventually the face thereof. There’s a great scene where the counselors are at the bar and speculation starts about how he could’ve been spurned to kill based on what he’d been through.

These films took the time to develop their maniac and because we as an audience became ensconced in this knowledge the makers of the remake needed to eliminate things and rush to create their tale. Keep in mind that the hockey mask, with which he is so synonymous, isn’t in this film.

Unlike The Prowler this film catapults after its teaser and the teaser kill at the beginning is very important as it directly ties into the original. However, this group of people who are going to be in the vicinity of Camp Crystal Lake are drawn out and we do get to know them to at least an extent, so it never really quite becomes a body count film, in which you not only await the next kill but also want it to happen.

It is a film that also uses the false alarm scare very well because the timing is impeccable and on occasion when you think the danger’s gone…here it comes.

Some of the kills are rather brutal, and as became usual, Jason spices it up. This is the film that propelled the film into franchise mode because here’s where the frontman comes into play. As great a shock as the end of the original was you couldn’t build a franchise around Missus Vorhees but Jason fit perfectly into the prototype created by Halloween in 1978.

More scares are sure to abound. Hopefully good ones. Stick around for the upcoming days.

Review- Green Lantern

Ryan Reynolds in Green Lantern (Warner Bros./DC)

Note: Some spoilers within.

Of the rash of comic book films that are due out this year I’d put Green Lantern near the bottom of the list with regards to how much prior knowledge I had about him going in (As opposed to The X-Men with which I am quite familiar or the upcoming Captain America, which would rank lowest). Thus, the expectations might not be as great but the onus would be squarely on the film to convey who this guy is what the rules of this particular universe and his abilities are. It’s serviceable but it could’ve been handled better. A lot of information about who the Lanterns are and what they do is disseminated immediately in a voice-over and considering that there will be more information to absorb later along with a lot of flashy fight sequences that don’t require thought it’s a risky strategy and there was some debate of the finer points amongst my party after the film.

Having said all that for the most part the foundation is laid and laid well not only in establishing Hal, his world and how it changes when he is summoned but also going forward should the films continue. A factor this film benefits from is that it’s not a super-being tale but rather gifts endowed to a regular person, which makes identification somewhat easier. While typically I am more drawn to the vigilante-type a la Batman, this film does do enough well to be considered better than The Green Hornet, who is of the vigilante mold, especially when you consider that this film managed to incorporate comedy with making it one, which is a tribute to the casting choice of Ryan Reynolds.

One of the decisions that didn’t work as well for this film is that in essence it contained dueling antagonists. On the one hand you have Parallax who is essentially a personification of fear that grows more dangerous and violent the more it defeats and consumes, which was pretty cool and different from what you typically get, and on the other you have Hector Hammond. Hammond is a scientist who gets infected by contact with one of Parallax’s victims and that creates a psychic link. Part of the problem with devoting so much time to Hammond is that he’s essentially a tool. It does give us a good performance from Peter Sarsgaard but his narrative ends rather unceremoniously.

Not to say Hammond was unnecessary but it just feels certain aspects of the film are short-changed in the interests of keeping the running time manageable. While Hammond’s being developed, I wanted more Hal, while Hal’s having his doubts I wondered what was happening on Oa. It seems as if in the interest of trying to get a lot covered the whole wasn’t all it could’ve been. On the positive, I thought the sequence with the requisite backstory regarding Hal’s father was very well-handled as was the introduction of what relationship all these characters had to one another. It’s just that plotting and pacing suffered after a while when trying to do too much all at once.

There are then with two antagonists and two climactic battle sequences; little fish then big fish. While I’ll be the first to complain when one seems far too long these were oddly truncated and anti-climatic. They each have their “Oh, that was cool” moments but also have that “Oh, it’s over?” moment as well.

The animation was rather good considering that there was a lot of it but definitely could’ve been improved further. For the record I did not see this film in 3D as I saw no need to as it is a post-converted film and I try to avoid those.

Lastly, don’t leave as soon as the credits start rolling as there is a little teaser at the end. Or you could leave because it really bugged the hell out of me. Can we knock it off with the teasers already? I recognize that running time begins at fanfare and ends when the credits stop rolling but more often than not these tacked on scenes leave you scratching your head or rolling your eyes rather than giving you anything you’re actually glad you stuck around and watched. Any superhero film has a built-in “excuse” for a sequel: it’s about a superhero. There’s always a bad guy. You don’t need to bend over backwards for it.

Anyway, having said all that I do want to stress that I think this film does more well than it does poorly it just sometimes that the latter is easier to expound upon. It’s a fair indoctrination to the character and the Green Lantern concept as a whole and is enjoyable popcorn-fare.