Originally, Friday the 13th Part 2 was not intended to be a direct sequel to the 1980 original but rather part of an anthology series of films based on the Friday the 13th superstition, but after the popularity of the original film's surprise ending to feature Jason Voorhees attacking the heroine, the filmmakers decided to bring back Jason and the mythology surrounding Camp Crystal Lake, a trend which would be repeated for the rest of the series.
Stylistically, Friday the 13th Part 2 reproduces certain key elements that made the original Friday the 13th a sleeper hit in 1980, such as first-person camera perspectives, gory stalk-and-slash scenes, and campground settings. Although it did not reach the original's box office success, the sequel was a financial success, grossing over $21.7 million in the United States on an budget of $1.25 million.
Two months after the Crystal Lake massacre, sole survivor Alice Hardy is recovering from her traumatic experience. In her apartment, she finds the head of Pamela Voorhees in her refrigerator and is brutally murdered by an unseen Jason Voorhees with an ice pick.
Five years later, Paul Holt hosts a camp-counselor training camp at a building near Crystal Lake. Included among the counselor hopefuls are lovers Jeff and Sandra, troublemaker Scott, his girlfriend Terry, wheelchair-bound Mark, sweet-natured Vickie, jokester Ted, and Paul's assistant Ginny. At the campfire that night, Paul tells them the legend of Jason Voorhees to scare the other camp counselors from entering Camp Crystal Lake. That night, Crazy Ralph wanders onto the property to warn the kids, but is garroted from behind by Jason. The next day, Jeff and Sandra go to Camp Crystal Lake and find a recently killed animal that looks like Terry's dog, Muffin. They are discovered trepassing by the sheriff and returned to the camp. As he is leaving, the sheriff spots Jason on the road and chases him into the woods, coming across a rundown shack. As he invetigates, he discovers a sight that horrifies him, moments before he is killed by a claw hammer.
Back at camp, trainer Paul offers the others one last night on the town, but makes Jeff and Sandra remain behind as punishment for their earlier excursion. Terry stays behind to look for Muffin. Scott stays behind to flirt with Terry. Mark doesn't want to go. Vickie decides to stay with Mark. Terry goes swimming and Scott plays a prank on her by stealing her clothes. He gets caught in a rope trap and hangs upside down from a tree, while Terry goes to get a knife to cut him down. Scott's throat is slashed with a machete, and Terry is killed offscreen when she returns. At a noisy bar in the nearby town, Ginny muses that if Jason were still alive, having witnessed his mother's death with no distinction between life and death, right or wrong. Paul scoffs at the idea, proclaiming that Jason is nothing more than an urban legend.
Back at the camp, while Mark is waiting for Vickie, he is murdered by Jason with a machete to the head, and his wheelchair is pushed down a flight of outdoor stairs. Jason then moves upstairs and murders Jeff and Sandra with a spear as they are having sex. Vickie returns and comes across her friends's bodies, before she is stabbed to death by Jason, who is wearing a burlap sack to conceal his face. Ginny suspects something is wrong when she and Paul return to find the lights out and the place in disarray. Jason creeps through the dark and attacks Paul before turning on Ginny who runs in terror. She is chased through some of the cabins before fleeing into the woods, and eventually comes across the old shack. After barricading herself Inside inside, she finds a rough altar with Pamela Voorhees's head on it, surrounded by a pile of Jason's victims. Ginny quickly puts on Pamela's sweater and tries to psychologically convince Jason that she is his mother. The ruse fails when he spots his mother's head on the altar and attacks Ginny. Paul suddenly intervenes and attacks Jason but is quickly overwhelmed. Just as Jason is about to kill Paul, Ginny picks up a machete and slams it down into his shoulder, seemingly killing him.
Paul and Ginny return to the cabin door by Muffin the dog, alive and well. Just as they feel at ease, an unmasked Jason bursts through the cabin window behind Ginny and tries to drag her out. She then awakens, being loaded into an ambulance, calling out to Paul, who is nowhere to be seen. Meanwhile, back at the shack in the woods, Pamela's head remains on its altar.
- Amy Steel as Ginny Field
- John Furey as Paul Holt
- Adrienne King as Alice Hardy
- Warrington Gillette as Jason Voorhees
- Walt Gorney as Crazy Ralph
- Stu Charno as Ted
- Bill Randolph as Jeff
- Marta Kober as Sandra Dier
- Tom McBride as Mark
- Lauren-Marie Taylor as Vickie
- Kirsten Baker as Terry
- Russel Todd as Scott
- Betsy Palmer as Pamela Voorhees
- Cliff Cudney as Max
- Steve Daskawisz as Jason Voorhees stunt double
Following the success of Friday the 13th in 1980, Paramount Pictures began plans to make a sequel. First acquiring the worldwide distribution rights, Frank Mancuso, Sr. stated, "We wanted it to be an event, where teenagers would flock to the theaters on that Friday night to see the latest episode." The initial ideas for a sequel involved the "Friday the 13th" title being used for a series of films, released once a year, that would not have direct continuity with one another but be a separate "scary movie" in their own right. Phil Scuderi—one of three owners of Esquire Theaters, along with Steve Minasian and Bob Barsamian, who produced the original film—insisted that the sequel have Jason Voorhees, Pamela's son, even though his appearance in the original film was only meant to be a joke. Steve Miner, associate producer on the first film, believed in the idea and would go on to direct the first two sequels, after Cunningham opted not to return to the director's chair. Miner would use many of the same crew members from the first film while working on the sequels. Cunningham had mixed feelings about the entire "Friday the 13th" enterprise that he outlined for film critic and author Stephen Hunter in an interview for a book Hunter wrote on violent films. Hunter stated that Cunningham "wasn't particularly proud" of his work on these films, and Cunningham bluntly said that the only thing that seemed to reach a teenaged audience at that time involved high levels of gore and graphic violence.
Adrienne King was pursued by an obsessed fan after the success of the original Friday the 13th and purportedly wished her role to be small as possible, though in the documentary Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th, it was stated that King's agent had asked for a higher salary, which the studio could not afford.
The film's heroine, Ginny, is played by Amy Steel, who won the part through an audition. "At the time of [making the film], it was before the genre really picked up so I didn’t give it a lot of credit or take it seriously. For me, it was just another audition because I had no idea what it would end up meaning after all this time. When I played Ginny, I was really young and different from a lot of the people working at the time so that came out in my character. I was naturally suspicious of cocky guys at that age, and you see a lot of that when I’m on screen with Paul (John Furey). I tried to put so much behind the actual words in the script just so she felt almost unreachable, to Paul and to audiences. I wanted her to have some power."
Actor Warrington Gillette played Jason unmasked at the end of the film. Stuntman Steve Daskawisz (also known as Steve Dash) was credited as Jason Stunt Double but played the masked Jason throughout the rest of the film.
Principal photography took place from October 3 and finished in November 1980, and primarily occurred in New Preston and Kent, Connecticut. Special effects artist Tom Savini was asked to work on the film but declined because he was already working on another project, Midnight (1982). In addition, he was not receptive to the concept of Jason as the killer in the film. Savini was then replaced by Stan Winston. Winston, however, had a scheduling conflict and had to drop out of the project. The make-up effects were ultimately handled by Carl Fullerton. Fullerton designed the "look" for the adult Jason Voorhees and went with long red hair and a beard while following the facial deformities established in the original film in the make-up designed by Tom Savini for Jason as a child. Fullerton's look for the adult Jason was abandoned in the sequel, Friday the 13th Part 3, despite the fact that the film took place the following day and was helmed by the same director, Steve Miner. Some fans have theorized that the sequence showing Jason with a beard and long hair reflects a "dream" rather than a reality because the following sequel picks up with the events showing his face having not happened, and therefore what was represented was Ginny's guess at what he looked like under the burlap sack rather than what he actually looked like, which would excuse the break in continuity.
Steve Daskawisz was rushed to the emergency room during filming after Amy Steel cut his hand with a machete. Steel explained, "The timing was wrong, and he didn't turn his pickaxe properly, and the machete hit his finger." Daskawisz received thirteen stitches on his middle finger. During the subsequent shoot, Daskawisz was forced to wear a piece of rubber over his finger, and both he and Steel insisted on reshooting this scene. During one take of Alice being killed by Jason, the ice pick prop didn't retract, injuring King.
In one scene where Daskawisz was wearing the burlap flour sack, part of the flour sack was flapping at his eye, so the crew used tape inside the eye area to prevent it from flapping. Daskawisz received rug burns around his eye from the tape from wearing the rough flour sack material for hours. The use of the sack hood was similar to the 1976 film The Town That Dreaded Sundown.
The scene where Steel's character gets grabbed from behind by an unmasked Jason in the climax took three takes to shoot it right. Steel was tense and frightened during filming of the scene.
Rumors sparked that John Furey left before the film wrapped, as his character does not appear in the end. In truth, his character was not intended to have appeared.[
In 1982, Gramavision Records released an LP album of selected pieces of Harry Manfredini's scores from the first three Friday the 13th films. On January 13, 2012, La-La Land Records released a limited edition 6-CD boxset containing Manfredini's scores from the first six films. It sold out in less than 24 hours. Waxworks Records released the Harry Manfredini-composed score on vinyl in summer 2015.
Much like its predecessor, critical reception to the film was initinally negative. It has a 34% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes among 32 reviews.
A novelization based on the screenplay of Ron Kurz was published in 1988: Hawke, Simon, Friday the 13th Part II: A Novel, New American Library, New York, 1988