Making The Franchise: Friday The 13th Part 2

The unprecedented success of Friday The 13th 1980 at the box office created a whirl wind of imitators to be released in the following year in 1981. Knowing that there was more money to be made in the midst of the slasher film craze, both Paramount Pictures and Georgetown Productions (who had financed the film independently before selling it to Paramount for distribution) decided to get a sequel on the fast track.

Knowing the success of the first film and the impending franchise possibility, studio head Frank Mancuso Sr. was determined to make sure they held worldwide distribution rights for Friday The 13th Part 2. Before that could happen, however, Paramount demanded that Georgetown Productions pay the cost of the production once again. If Georgetown could deliver another Horror film as marketable and scary as the first Friday The 13th, Paramount would agree to put Part 2 into theaters. In order to make a sequel that could live up to the lofty standards of the first, it was time to try and get all of the principal players from the first production back into the fold for another successful run. That proved to be a very difficult task to complete.

Offers were put out to the main people credited for the success of the original film: Director Sean. S Cunningham, effects master Tom Savini and writer Victor Miller. Unfortunately, all three declined the opportunity to return to the franchise as they all felt that a sequel didn't make much sense with the first film's killer as well as most of the original characters dead. With many of the main components of the original production not returning, Georgetown Productions were tasked to find new talent to not only write a new film, but to direct as well. In order to fill the void, familiar faces behind the scenes of Friday The 13th 1980 were enlisted to bring a second film to the silver screen.

Steve Miner was given an Associate Producer credit for his work on the first film while he was responsible for directing some second unit scenes and helping with storyboarding duties. Since he was trusted by Sean Cunningham to handle numerous responsibilities on the original production, Georgetown decided to offer him the opportunity to direct his first feature film. Steve immediately began plotting out who he would like to have on his crew and it made sense that he would try and bring back as many people involved in the first film as possible. He succeeded in getting original editor Susan Cunningham, cinematographer Peter Stein as well as many other crew from the original film to commit to bring the curse on Crystal Lake back for a second go around. However, the film still needed a writer.

Ron Kurz was brought into the production of Friday The 13th 1980 to "polish" the original script of Victor Miller, but was never given writing credit on the film due to problems with the Writers Guild. So when Georgetown Productions went looking for a writer, it was a natural choice to offer the role to a man who knew the original story so well. With the services of Ron Kurz secured, the first first question asked was which direction should the burgeoning franchise go? The psychotic and vengeful Mrs. Voorhees was decapitated at the end of the original film. Georgetown Productions partner and unofficial franchise champion Phil Scuderi thought it a good idea to shift focus of the film to Jason Voorhees and make it that he somehow survived the drowning as a child. It was an odd choice as his death was the entire foundation of the plot of the original film. Many involved in the production of the sequel were skeptical of Jason's return, but filming pushed forward with the inclusion of a young, up and coming producer.

Frank Mancuso Jr. was the son of the head of Paramount back in the 1980's. His father had taken the small, independent Sean Cunningham film the previous year and turned it into a bonified financial hit. Mancuso Jr. was initially brought on set of Part 2 by Paramount Pictures to keep an eye on the production, but he would eventually assist the filmmakers in every aspect of production as numerous crew members would leave the production due to the union. In doing so, he earned himself an Associate Producer credit. With a production crew ready to film, Director Steve Miner was tasked with finding a new set of fresh faced teens to populate Crystal Lake as well as a man to fill the shoes of what would become one of the most iconic villains ever to grace the silver screen.

With only one survivor left from the first film, it was a no brainer to bring back the original Final Girl of the franchise to star in the Friday The 13th sequel. Alice Hardy was strong enough to withstand and defeat the evil Mrs. Voorhees, but the character would not survive the contract negotiations needed to keep the heroine involved for the entire film. The agent for Adrienne King (Alice Hardy) began contract discussions with Georgetown Productions to bring the actress back for the sequel, but unfortunately, neither side were able to settle on the salary. Apparently, Adrienne's agent had demanded a higher salary for her services for the second visit to Crystal Lake which then caused the producers to ask writer Ron Kurz to kill the Alice character off after the opening scene. As Adrienne King mentioned in an interview, she was unaware that the Alice character was to be killed and when she showed up on set to film her first scene, she then realized her time on Friday The 13th Part 2 would be short lived.

Alice's death meant that the sequel needed a new heroine and so the character Ginny Field, named slightly after the production designer Virginia Field, was created. For the role of Ginny, the producers hired the young and beautiful Amy Steel, a twenty-year old actress from Pennsylvania. Amy once did some modeling work as well before diving into acting full time for which she had recurring roles on a few daytime soap opera television shows such as All My Children. With the movie's heroine locked in, filling the role of Jason Voorhees proved to be one of the most daunting tasks of the entire production, and to this day, there are still many varying opinions on who really played the role in certain scenes.

Taso Stavrakis, who had played the killer for the majority of Friday The 13th 1980, and also assisted Tom Savini with make-up effects, was the first to be asked to portray Jason Voorhees. In a move that Taso later admitted to being one of the worst decisions of his film career, he said no to the offer. This left Steve Miner and Georgetown Productions searching for another person who could take on the rigors of playing such a physical role. The production thought they had found their man in Warrington Gillette, but it would turn out to be another huge bump in the road to completing the film.

Gillette had initially auditioned for the role of Paul Holt, Ginny’s boyfriend and head counselor of the Counselor Training Center. However, producers eventually hired actor John Furey for the role, which left Warrington in a precarious position. Sensing an opportunity to still get hired for Friday The 13th Part 2, Gillette claimed to producers that he had stunt acting experience. Since the film still needed someone for the Jason Voorhees role, Warrington Gillette was hired on the basis of this proclaimed stunt experience. After long and arduous prosthetic applications that lasted upwards of six hours, Gillette’s first day of filming was to be for the climactic scene towards the end of the film where a hideously unmasked Jason jumped through the cabin window.

After a few takes, it became clear to the majority of the production crew that their Jason actor simply could not handle the complicated stunts that were required for the role. Warrington eventually left the film and suddenly, Steve Miner was without his killer once again. With a sense of urgency, Miner and crew scrambled to find another stunt actor to fill the role they so desperately needed to finish the film. Stunt coordinator Cliff Cudney remembered a friend of his who used to be a New York City cop that was looking to make his mark in the film business. The former man in blue would become one of the first people to portray the adult Jason Voorhees, but he would never receive the screen credit he deserved.

Steve Daskawisz made an appearance on-screen as a cop in 1980's The Jazz Singer and met Cliff Cudney during his time during filming. The out of work actor answered the call of Cudney and agreed to play Jason Voorhees and drive down to the production in Kent, Connecticut the following day. During filming, Daskawisz (who would later shorten his last name to Dash) would receive several injuries that would send him to the emergency room multiple times.

The first injury was during a scene for which the Jason Voorhees character chased Ginny Field through the woods and was supposed to jump out at the heroine. Dash missed his mark during one take and landed on top of his pitchfork, cracking four of his ribs. The second injury of Dash took place during the climactic scene when Ginny pretended to be Jason's mother, wearing her blood soaked sweater. When Jason kneels down, Ginny raises a machete above her head and brings it down. Jason realizes the attack just in time and knocked the weapon to the ground with his axe. During one take of this scene, the blade of Ginny's machete struck Dash’s hand which almost resulted in him losing a finger. Dash luckily did not lose any fingers and he was back to filming his scenes.

Despite his toughness and obvious credentials to portray the Jason character, the producers were forced to bring Warrington Gillette back to complete the filming of the end dream sequence. Because the production budget was small and the filming schedule was on a severe time restraint, they were unable to recast the make-up appliances for Steve Dash which was needed for the unmasked Jason Voorhees in the scene. The decision to bring back Gillette meant that he would receive screen credit as Jason even though he would only appear in one scene. In the end, Steve Dash would receive just a stunt double credit.

Before Warrington Gillette or Steve Dash were even hired for the Jason Voorhees role, filming had already begun and the opening scene of the movie required the appearance of Jason. Luckily, a full blown Jason character was not needed to be seen on camera, so a few members of the production crew stepped in to play the now infamous killer role. Friday The 13th Part 2 opens with a child's feet splashing in puddles singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider". Out of nowhere, Jason’s feet splash in the same puddle and begin walking towards a house. This scene with Jason featured the only woman to play Jason in a film, and that was costume designer Ellen Lutter. In a later scene in the opening of the film Jerry Wallace takes over as Jason when he stabs Alice Hardy in the head with an ice pick.

Upon the completion of filming, Friday The 13th Part 2 was submitted to the MPAA. The organization came down hard on the film. Still embarrassed by their Friday The 13th 1980 review, allowing many scenes to go untouched en-route to an R rating, the MPAA forced many cuts on Part 2. The final edit of the first sequel in the franchise resulted in a much softer slasher film with regards to the gore. In fact, many fans contend that the makers of Friday the 13th Part 2 intentionally filmed a bloodless sequel. Carl Fullerton's masterful makeup effects work for the film was all bust lost during the final product and may never be seen again as Paramount Pictures has since destroyed all of the original negatives.

Two notable and excessively cut scenes include the death of the character Scott and that of the double impalement of Sandra and Jeff. Scott's death, while being strung upside down from a branch, was to have a large bloodspill that was reduced to a split second of what was supposed to happen after having his throat cut. The original effect, had actor Russell Todd (Scott) with a foam appliance on his neck. A deep cut was carved into the appliance to allow blood to run down his body to simulate a machete wound. A tube was attached to the Russell's leg and ran up into the tree above, where effects men would operate a pump that would send the blood down to the wound.

The other heavily cut death scene, one which is still criticized and debated for being lifted from Mario Bava’s Twitch of the Death Nerve, is Sandra and Jeff's double impalement scene. Actress Marta Kober (Sandra) would lay on her back with her shoulders against a support, with her co-star Bill Randolph (Jeff) laying on top of her. A pressure tank was used to release the blood from the wound on the back of Bill. An appliance was designed to attach to the actor’s back to double as his body for which the spear would be driven through. The effect was never seen in the film with only the spear raised in the air and then the audience only seeing it hit the floor underneath the bed.

Friday The 13th Part 2 was released on May 1, 1981 to a respectable opening weekend with a final domestic box office total of $21,722,776. There was an initial mixed reaction to the film by fans who were not sure what to expect in a sequel to a whodunit film where the killer was already dispatched. The sequel did not perform as well as the first film in the franchise, but it's likable characters and introduction of Jason Voorhees as a new Horror icon would drive Paramount Pictures to crave another trip back to Crystal Lake, but this time a new gimmick was needed to bring audiences back for Jason Voorhees and that idea was another dimension.

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