I was a freshman in college when Friday the 13th Part II was released. By the time this one came out, I was more familiar with the jump scare techniques they used in the first Friday the 13th film. During my first semester of college, I had helped form a group called the Bad Cinema Club. We would go to see almost any horror film that was released at that time. The studios were putting out a glut of horror films because of the success of Friday the 13th and Halloween. We could go and see something almost every week. Since we were college students trying to be mindful of how much money we spent, we would try and go to see these movies on bargain night. Friday the 13th Part II would be showing at the old Malco Theater in Jackson, Tennessee. This was located in downtown Jackson just off of the court square. The audience for this film would be filled with broke college kids, drunks from the downtown bars, and easy to scare poor people from the neighborhoods around the downtown area. This would be the perfect audience for watching this scary movie.
We sat near the rear of the theater that night so we had a good view of the crowd. And the theater was crowded. This was probably the Tuesday after the opening weekend of the film and the buzz was still big for it. Before the movie started they showed trailers or previews of coming attractions. This would be my first experience with a “red band” trailer. Most trailers that you see have a green screen that says the preview has been approved for all audiences. One of the trailers they showed had a red screen that said it was approved for restricted audiences only. I had never seen this before and paid little attention to it. The trailer was for the movie Scanners. The trailer includes the most infamous scene from the movie where a guy’s head explodes. The scene is very graphic and the crowd in the theater screamed in reaction. There was also a steady stream of people leaving the theater. I had never noticed anyone leaving a theater before because of something on the screen. Maybe not all of them were leaving because of that but at least some of them had to be. And the real movie hadn’t even started yet.
Friday the 13th Part II was a typical teen slasher film. It opens by showing all of the jump scare killings from the first movie. I don’t think our crowd was ready for this either. While they were showing this part of the film, the aisles of the theater were crowded again with people leaving. And I didn’t notice anyone coming back either. So when people ask me what the scariest film I’ve ever seen, I have to answer that the two that have scared the most people are the trailer for Scanners and the first reel of Friday the 13th Part II.
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