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Jameson Cult Film Club: Friday the 13th, Part II

In many ways, Friday the 13th, Part II is an interesting choice for a Jameson Cult Film Club event. Traditionally, these special screenings have tended to focus on films that are broadly agreed to be popular classics – films as diverse as Jaws, Alien, Fight Club, The Blues Brothers and Die Hard. There is a very solid argument to be made that Friday the 13th, Part II is the odd film out here.

It is an early eighties slasher film, one with very few nuances. It is a grimy, gritty horror thrown together very quickly to cash in on the success of the of the original film – it is very much channelling better and more successful horrors like Psycho or Halloween. The movie’s defining feature is a ruthless pragmatism, a willingness to do anything to get a jolt from the audience.

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As such, Friday the 13th, Part II is a controversial choice. It is a film that is even subject to considerable debate within the fandom of Friday the 13th. Is it one of the weaker films in the series? Is it one of the stronger? There is a sense that Friday the 13th, Part II is more open to debate and discussion than many of the films screened as part of the Jameson Cult Film Club cycle.

However, the fact that Friday the 13th, Part II is such an off-centre choice is refreshing. It affords the event a considerable freedom With Halloween approaching, the goal seems to have been to do a slasher movie in the Jameson Cult Film Club style, and Friday the 13th, Part II works very well in that context.

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As ever, the evening was stunningly well organised. It is very easy to take for granted the level of care and consideration that goes into these events. Converting Royal Dublin Society’s “Industries Hall” into a stand-in for the shores of Crystal Lake, the crew managed to produce a very effective atmosphere. A wonderful ambiance for the week before Halloween.

Tents were pitched out front, while a campfire burned. Inside, while the assembled audience were treated to refreshments, Crazy Ralph and Ginny could be spotted wandering through the crowd. If you looked close enough, you could even spot Jason himself (complete with pillow case) lurking at the edge of the reception area. (Complete with a loving recreation of his shack.)

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The idea of doing a slasher movie in this style is inspired. After all, that sort of horror is built around big shocking moments, moments that tend to lend themselves to the live-action stunts that the Jameson Cult Film Club use to bring the movie to life. There are plenty of opportunities for shocking moments, complete with music stings, to get the audience to jump in their seats.

In a way, this is the freedom that comes with choosing something like Friday the 13th, Part II rather than a more established (and probably more familiar) horror film. The crew get to have a bit of fun with the set-up. Much of the ambiance from the performance was rooted in the fake scares – Ted jumping out with the spear, the cat leaping through the window.

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A lot of the work used to bring the rest of Friday the 13th, Part II to life was more ambient – the use of lighting to extend the lightning storm at the climax beyond the screen. The sight of Ginny and Jason running along at the edge of the screening area – rather than on the big stage directly under the screen.

As such, the performance’s big staging sequence – the pursuit of Ginny inside the cabin – had a lot more impact. Rather than simply trying to re-enact every big scare in the film, the production team seemed to pick one very big moment and to work around that, allowing the rest of the film to breath a little easier.

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It as a fantastic evening, very well organised and put together – a great way to start the Halloween season.

The Jameson Cult Film Club organises special screenings of classic films throughout the year in unconventional venues and in creative styles. They are a wonderful celebration of cinema. The tickets to their events are free, and are raffled among members. To sign up, visit their website.

2 Responses

  1. Sounds very cool!

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