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
Much like its predecessor, critical reception to the film was initinally negative. It has a 34% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes among 32 reviews.