FX WORKSHOP: Double Impalement (Friday the 13th Part 2)

Whilst 1980’s Friday the 13th was a melting pot of ideas taken from a variety of recent successful horror films (specifically Carrie and Halloween), Friday the 13th Part 2 would lift a murder wholesale from a cult 1971 thriller called Reazione a catena. Originally distributed in the United States by Hallmark Releasing (who would also handle The Last House on the Left, the feature debut from Friday the 13th’s Sean S. Cunningham) under the more commercial title Twitch of the Death Nerve, many have since cited the Mario Bava classic as a prototype for the summer camp slashers of the early ’80s. But the comparisons between scenes in both Bava’s movie and Steve Miner’s Friday the 13th Part 2 almost bordered on plagiarism, despite the latter claiming to have never seen the film.

The sequence in question saw young lovers Sandra (Marta Kober) and Jeffrey (Bill Randolph) impaled shortly after having sex, pinning both bodies together as the spear digs deep into the floor under the bed. It would prove to be one of many sequences that the MPAA would severely neuter in an effort to avoid passing through a movie as gruesome as its predecessor. Regardless of how original the death was, it still remains a fan favourite and would – much like Kevin Bacon’s arrow-through-the-throat gag from Friday the 13th – require the assistance of a number of special effects artists.

With Miner unable to convince Tom Savini to return to provide the gory effects for the sequel, he had approached his old friend Stan Winston to take over splatter duties but, due to scheduling conflicts, he was unable to commit to the project. At the suggestion of make-up legend Dick Smith, Miner contacted a rising young artist called Carl Fullerton, whose credentials included the hit show Saturday Night Live and as Smith’s assistant on 1980’s Altered States. It would be Fullerton’s work on Wolfen, which he had presented to Miner whilst auditioning for the film, that would ultimately convince the director. Fullerton’s team would also consist of another Saturday Night Live alumni, John Caglione Jr., as well as Smith’s own son, David.

To achieve the effect, in which the spear is forced down through Jeffrey’s back (who is lying on top) and Sandra’s stomach, a special bed was designed which had a fake bottom. Kober was sat down on the floor against a couch support, with her head resting on the pillow and her body hidden underneath the bed. Randolph then lay down on top of her, with only his head and arms visible to the camera. Fullerton had created an artificial upper body that was then attached to Randolph’s back and laid out across the bed, giving the impression that both actors were laying down. The set up would prove to be extremely uncomfortable for both Kober and Randolph, who were forced to remain in the same position without a break for several hours, as the crew laid out the set for the difficult sequence.

In order to prepare for the effect, Fullerton went through several ‘dry runs,’ in which he would practice the gag without blood. This would involve thrusting the spear at a very specific target; a three-inch hole at the centre of the false back that would drive through to the floor, without breaking the body or injuring the actors. David Smith’s role during the scene was to operate an air pressure tank filled with blood made from jelly, that would be released at the point of impact. Satisfied that the effect would go according to plan, Fullerton stabbed the spear but missed the hole, causing the blood to pour across the bed. Several hours later, the crew had cleaned up the set and were ready to try again.

With the cameras rolling, Fullerton managed to hit his target, whilst Smith sprayed blood from the tank via a small syringe attached to the end of a tube. Blood sprayed everywhere, whilst pieces of gelatin that the torso was built from split and were visible to the camera, looking like chunks of torn flesh. Miner’s concerns that the MPAA would be ruthless to the picture proved to be true; when the movie was released on May 1st 1981, all of the gruesome shots were removed and fans of its predecessor were understandably disappointed. But not as much as the artists themselves, who express their frustration at having their work censored to the point that its effects were diminished.

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About the Author

Christian Sellers

Christian Sellers is a film critic for various horror magazines, he owns and runs horror site Dr. Gore's Funhouse.com and music site Love-It-Loud.com and is the author of The Complete History of the Return of the Living Dead. Email: christian.sellers@fridaythe13thfilms.com

17 Responses to “ FX WORKSHOP: Double Impalement (Friday the 13th Part 2) ”

  1. Too bad that scene was so heavily cut. Sigh, to think what could have been. I always liked Part 2. Amazing, if that film were released today, that scene would probably susrive.

  2. One of My favorite kills in the series.

  3. Yeah it is a shame, the scene was more butchered than the characters!

  4. I read somewhere effects artist Greg Nicotero talking about seeing the scene uncut and how taken aback and horrified he was at the time. what a loss; you’d think these effects artists would at least hold on to the footage (like John Carl Beuchler did)! what the hell.

    Whether or not the special effects survived — or even looked good (alas some didn’t) these effects artists are amazing craftsmen. Great articles Christian!

  5. Thanks ratta tatta touille. I also read somewhere a comment from Greg Nicotero, from what I recall he visited Fullerton’s workshop at some point around the time they were making this and was amazed at what he was creating. Fans seem to dismiss this film as being tame and blood-free, but that certainly wasn’t the intention of the filmmakers. Had it been released uncut fans would have loved it even more than the first.

  6. Regardless of the cuts, even in the theatrical version you can feel that spear go through them like a hot knife through butter. Ouch!

  7. The mpaa were unnecessarily savage on this one. Mark’s death in particular looked like it would have been cool.

  8. Sounds rather uncomfortable – like the back of a Volkswagen.

    This cut always bothered me due to the small amount of blood that hits the floor along with the spear – perfectly acceptable if Jason cut one of their pinky toes off!

  9. Nice little Mallrats joke there Dusk! Yeah damn shame this movie was cut so much as in some ways it improved on the original.

  10. Well. First off I’d like to know how you stab someone through a bed and boxsprings.lol. thats just lame. i liked the kill, but it wasnt very well thought out. i hope we get some freakin’ news on a new movie sometime this century. i’m getting tired of waiting. no one is hardly even making slasher films anymore. sad. i dont care if they even put friday the 13th straight to dvd. at least we would get to see it faster. waiting sucks.

  11. BlazeX ,
    That is a good point about that double impalement death scene. I have watched Friday the 13th part 2 so many times and I have never really thought about that until you pointed that out.

    I really wish there would be another new Friday the 13th sequel soon!

  12. I remember listening to Nicotero talk about seeing a tape of the double impalement and how freaked out his was about seeing them impaled with the spear through Jeff’s back and Sandra screaming underneith him…Now, i have said this to other people and i will say it here. When the next F13 comes out and im sure Cashamount..i mean Paramount will want to go back and do some more dvd re-releases or maybe another F13 boxset, this time they should get Daniel Farrands to scour the valuts for extras pertaining to parts 2 & 3 and in addition to doing they, they should contact Carl Fullerton and ask him if he has anything, esp the tapes that he showed Greg Nicotero years ago of cut footage from F13th Part 2… Im suprised that Fullerton was not interviewed for Crystal Lake Memories (Or was he? I’ll have to check) however Mr Fullerton might be the one who indeed has the footage of what is to Friday The 13th fans (Or at least me) the holy grail of all unseen F13th footage. Remember they thought the footage to the original My Bloody Valentine was lost forever till it was found in the office closet of the executive producer…anything is possible. :)

  13. Yes Carl was interviewed for Crystal Lake Memories. Not sure what will be left of these deleted scenes, I guess it depends on whether or not Paramount kept the footage somewhere safe for the last thirty years.

  14. interesting to see Carl Fullerton actually played Jason in this role, you can see him wearing the Jason shirt in the left pic. So thats what, five people that played him in part 2?

  15. I long for the cut scenes from this kill. According to the director of 2, he said the scene was almost hard to watch. Sounds like my kind of scene! Just one Jason fans opinion.

  16. This has been one of my favorite kills for a long time. I too wish we could see it one of these days in it’s full glory.
    We had the priviledge of working with Bill and Marta at a convention last year and it is fun to hear them go back and forth about the discomfort. In fact only Bill had to stay in that spot for so long, as he puts it, Marta could slide in and out while he had to stay there for 8+ hours.

  17. Somebody correct me if im wrong, but when Greg Nicotero said that he saw those scenes he said that he saw them at Carl Fullerton’s workshop as in Fullerton had the cut scenes, including Jeff and Sandra’s death, not Paramount. Kind of like how the director of Part VI had some of the cut scenes from his film in the closet. If Fullerton still had those scenes in his poessession, then he like i said he has the F13th holy grail of all lost scenes.

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