The best thing that Book 2 brought to the Friday table was a little diversity amongst the supporting cast. Yeah, Chapter 2 gave us a parapalegic, but outside of that little bit of flavor, there was nary but a lily-white victim at the receiving end of a Voorhees machete.
But then comes the reviled Chapter V and BOOM- you’ve got Reggie the Reckless, the little black kid who is “lucky” enough to get to spend his summers at a mental institution with his grandfather, who is the cook. Even if there was no serial killer on the loose, I would think that a summer at a nuthatch would make for a pretty shitty summer for a 12 year old.
In any case, Reggie isn’t alone in his ethnicity- his grandfather works at Unger, and his brother, Demon, is a short drive away. If you want to see how intent the makers of Book 2 were on incorporating diversity, take a look at Demon: A black man who lives in a trailer park and eats tacos, eggrolls, pizza, and enchiladas for meals. By my count, that is four ethnicities and a sub-culture represented in one character.
After Chapter V, Jason’s victim pool continued to diversify. Chapter VI brings us (for the very first time) a black counselor, and Chapter VII introduces no less than two black characters. Of course, one of them is the character of Ben, who wears rugby shirts. He is black in the way that Alvin from The Cosby Show was black.
And Chapter VIII gives us Julius, the aspiring boxer. What struck me here is not the obvious cliché of a black kid who wants to box, but that it is the first time in the series that Jason showed a bit of racism to go along with his homicidal tendencies. Don’t believe me? There is a scene where Jason has Julius dead to rights. They are on the deck of a giant cruise ship, and all he has to do is one of his patented “punch you through the chest and pull out your heart” moves. Instead, Jason just throws Julius overboard, subscribing to the discriminatory belief that black people can’t swim. Oh, Jason… come on, man. Haven’t we gotten past this?
OK, so African-American is the only ethnicity that was added to the dead pool in Book 2. I don’t know if it is good or bad that so many different cultures of people have yet to be slaughtered by Jason. Is that an area in which anyone would fight for equal rights? Is there a Rosa Parks for the Friday the 13th victim sub-set?
In any case, here are my favorite redshirts from Book 2, one per Chapter:
· Chapter V: Reggie the Reckless. Not only is this kid unflappable in the face of mental cases, boring summers, and sudden, shocking violence, he has the skills to drive a tractor in such a way that saves lives (good guys) and takes lives (imposter Jasons). Not sure where he learned how to drive a tractor- I feel like it is more complicated than we give it credit for. But if Ren McCormick from Footloose can do it, so can my man Reggie.
· Chapter VI: Sheriff Garris, because he really seems to love his job. Being a cop gives him the opportunity to say the following lines: “If I had you where I wanted you, you’d have your ass pumped full of formaldehyde!” and “I’ll repaint the walls with your brains!” and “Hit the noise and the cherries!” (when he wanted his deputy to turn on the police sirens). In fact, almost everything he says warrants an exclamation point. Add to this he sort of looks like Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers and you have a winner for Chapter VI.
· Chapter VII: Dr. “Bad News” Crews for his barely concealed sliminess. And the fact that Tina and her mother cannot see that this guy is villainous. I imagine that he tried presenting as a nice guy at first, then realized how stupid and naïve these women actual were. How freeing it must have been for him to not have to pretend he was something he wasn’t. Best character defining moment? Pulling Tina’s mother in front of him as a human shield.
· Chapter VIII: The never seen New York DJ who provides this introduction to the film: “It’s like this- we live in claustrophobia. A land of steel and concrete, trapped by dark waters. There is no escape, nor do we want it. We’ve come to thrive on it, and each other. You can’t get the adrenaline pumping without the terror, good people. I love this town.” OK, so what the hell does this mean? And who is this guy’s listening audience?