I say that, of course, in reference to the expected quality of a movie like this. In general, horror series like the seemingly endless Friday the 13th series are composed of one hugely successful original film (generally, by today's standards, inexplicably so, despite the abysmal standards of today) followed by a lot of stomach-turningly awful sequels that try in vain to recapture the success of the original film. The first sequel in the Friday the 13th series, however, seems to escape that trend, although it never manages to be much better than the original, which wasn't that great in the first place. But at the very least, even the Austin Powers series went more precipitously downhill than Friday the 13th.
The movie takes place several years after the original ended, and since Mrs. Voorhees was the real killer in the original (which we all know because we've all seen Scream) and was beheaded at the end, we now have to have a real killer. The thing that helps this movie escape the treacherous realms of the sophomore effort is that it presents the story so well. Jason has lived in the woods since his mother was killed (a horrifying event which the young Jason witnessed), not interacting with a human being in any way in all those years. In order to seek revenge for his mother's murder, he has been savagely stalking and murdering anyone who comes close to his area of the lake.
Not exactly the most intricate storyline, but at least it's not some mindless killer running around killing any teenager daring enough to get involved in any kind of sexual behavior (an extremely popular motive in cheesy horror movies). In this case, promiscuity is punished because Jason supposedly drowned because the counselors who were supposed to be watching him were making out when he was screaming for help.
There is a cheesy fireside scene where one character explains this whole thing to all of the teens who are out there training to be counselors, which obviously ends with one person in disguise jumping out of the bushes screaming and scaring the hell out of everyone around the fire. The movie then jumps into auto-pilot for most of the film, becoming your typical slasher movie, but at least they took the time to explain why all these killings were happening, right?
This makes me wonder, however, why they would cover Jason's face with a cheap piece of bedsheet with a little hole torn in it for one of his eyes. They've seen Halloween! They know the effectiveness of an expressionless mask, so why not be a little more creative here? The only reason I can think of is that Jason lives in the woods and doesn't exactly have access to things like the costume store where Michael Meyers got his mask, but he did have access to axes and machetes and candles and whatnot. Surely in all those years he could have come up with something at the very least a little more comfortable to wear or easier to see through.
At the very end of the film, by the way, we are treated to a close up and slow motion look at Jason's real face (something that we never get to see of Michael Meyers, although we almost do in one of the films), as he leaps through a window to grab the last girl left alive. And what a face! No wonder nobody wants to play with him!
As far as the killings themselves, Friday the 13th Part 2 fits in with most other 80s slasher films, which are little more than exercises in coming up with new and interesting ways to kill people, because we already know the formula from countless slasher films made before. In this case, there are certainly some creative murders, and the film even confused me with feelings of sympathy for Jason near the end, particularly when he is holding his arms up trying to get away from the chainsaw.
The poor guy! Someone killed his mom for avenging his death, and he's lived in the woods alone his whole life! He's the victim here! Okay, I wouldn't go that far, but I definitely felt badly for the poor guy when he fell off the chair and then almost got chainsawed. But luckily he's soon back on his feet (even after almost being cut completely in half with a weak swing of a machete) goring people with big scary knives and reminding us of the dangers of messing with him. Or, as it were, being anywhere near Camp Crystal Lake.
This is also, by the way, the last time that any sympathy can be felt for anyone dumb enough to go up to the lake. The rest of the sequels are filled with people who deserve to die anyway for being so dumb. Well, at least his mask improves from this point on.