Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)
Directed by: Steve Miner
Starring: Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Nick Savage, Rachel Howard, David Katims, Larry Zerner, Tracie Savage, Jeffrey Rogers, Richard Brooker, Catherine Parks, Kevin O’Brien, Gloria Charles, Cheri Maugans, Steve Susskind
(out of 4)
WARNING: Some spoilers ahead.
It’s 1982, and the era of the slasher movie is in full swing. The avalanche of slasher cinema hit theaters with movies like The Burning, Happy Birthday to Me, Halloween II, and Slumber Party Massacre. Fortunately for audiences (or unfortunately), this happened to coincide with the beginning of the (short-lived) 3D era, which was coming back in the form of high quality output like Parasite and Comin’ At Ya! So if you’re Paramount, slowly realizing that this crazy Friday the 13th franchise of yours is becoming quite a phenomenon, you get the bright idea of combining the two gimmicks – the slasher and the 3D – into a perfect-storm date movie. (The producers of 2009′s My Bloody Valentine 3D have the same idea).
Friday the 13th, Part 3 starts off with a repeat of the ending of Part 2, where Ginny slices into Jason with a machete and runs off. A closeup on Mrs. Voorhees head becomes the background for the groovy opening credit sequence, which zooms at you in 3D while a neat disco soundtrack plays (Harry Manfredini’s cheesy score one of the best things about this movie). We are then introduced to a mom and pop store run by a likable but oafish fellow (Steve Susskind) who is constantly being nagged at by his annoying wife (Cheri Maugans). Don’t get too attached to them – they are front line fodder only used by the script to let us know that Jason is still up and around. (But this time he looks bigger – being played by Richard Brooker).
Speaking of likable-but-oafish, the only victim in this sequel that resonates in any way is Larry Zerner’s character of Shelly. Shelly has low self esteem so he is constantly resorting to practical jokes to get attention. This guy is so into his elaborate pranks that he brings along his own wetsuit, harpoon gun, and hockey mask. Jason is only too happy to trade in his burlap sack for the iconic mask that would help carry him through 8 more sequels and a 2009 remake. I like to think that Jason would, out of gratitude, periodically return to Shelly’s grave with fresh flowers in hand, but that’s just me being sentimental. Steve Miner, called back after Part 2‘s hackathon, continues to deliver his own metaphorical hacking, which is especially noticeable here – he tries his hardest to reproduce the events from the first movie, which includes trotting out a Ralph-wannabe and delivering a shock ending where Mrs. Voorhees jumps out of the water (with her head re-attached). There are some interesting touches this time around, like a pregnancy subplot that is briefly mentioned before being completely forgotten (was the point to elicit sympathy for the victim? Nice try!), a run-in with a biker gang (what is a biker gang doing in one of the smallest town’s I have ever seen?), and a backstory involving our final girl Chris (Dana Kimmell) and the killer (she was attacked by Jason years ago but escaped). I would like to know how Chris hallucinates being attacked in the water by a woman who she has never seen or heard about, or for that matter how she managed to get away from Jason two years prior – Jason isn’t known for letting his victims escape so easily. Did Chris hallucinate that attack? Maybe Jason and his mom are just figments of her imagination!
The kills range from ho-hum (electrocution, machete) to decent (speargun to the eye) to laughably silly (a victim’s fake eye, attached to a clearly visible wire, pops out of his fake head). Most of them are no big deal creatively-speaking, but they are an improvement over the last film. The “sex=death” equation is downplayed – we really only get one PG-rated tryst in a hammock, and most of our victims don’t even do the deed. Besides the fact that poor Shelly dies a virgin, there’s really nothing else to talk about here – it’s just Jason running around killing folk, like always. It does seem to me like he is taking liberties with what he considers his “territory”, though… perhaps he could draw a map for everyone so they know enough to stay outside of his property lines. The movie tries to compensate for the minimal plot by throwing in a plethora of 3D effects (bouncing yoyo, TV antenna, flying spear, pitchfork impalement, attacking snake) which probably looked really good in polarized 3D but induces eye rolls otherwise. There’s also a hint of self-awareness in a sequence where a girl is reading Fangoria magazine before getting offed. How postmodern for an early 80s slasher!
If Friday the 13th Part III works at all, it’s because it rides the nostalgia wave that also helped Part 2, and because of the 3D gimmick. It continues the tradition of the spunky heroine; Dana Kimmell holds her own in the physical confrontation with Jason, even if her acting is amateurish. (It helps that her character is allowed to have a bit more personality and history). Relying more on 3D jump-scare tactics and goofy characters than the previous movie makes Friday 3 come across as less serious in tone, which strangely enough makes it more enjoyable. It also seems like the creators have done feeling their way through the murky fog of “Friday the 13th” style and pacing. At this point in the game, the slasher formula has been etched in stone – future Jason sequels will stand out based not on plot or direction but on how over-the-top the kills are.
I am disappointed with the new release of Friday the 13th Part 3. It comes with both 2D and 3D versions of the film, and a pair of 3D glasses, with nothing else but a trailer. The cast commentary from the last release is gone, and the 3D version is mediocre quality at best – there is a lot of ghosting and my eyes had a hard time focusing on anything. Foreground/background scenes work pretty well but many “comin’ at ya” shots don’t work right. It basically suffers from the same problem as most anaglyph stereoscopic images (where red/cyan glasses are needed). (The original theatrical released was shown in polarized 3D, not anaglyph). But hey, at least it’s something. Also, there is a remastered soundtrack. I would like this release better if it had more features but getting DVD extras out of Paramount is like pulling teeth.
- Bill Gordon
Note: If you have a newer LCD hi-def, it may help to turn down your color, make sure you are far enough away, all lights off, and finally try watching it with two glasses put together instead of one. That seems to help with the ghosting a bit. Of course, your mileage may vary.