FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III

friday33.5 Stars  1982/18/91m

“A new dimension in terror!”

A.k.a. Friday the 13th Part 3: 3D

Director: Steve Miner / Writers: Martin Kitrosser & Carol Watson / Cast: Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Richard Brooker, Tracie Savage, Jeffrey Rogers, Catherine Parks, Larry Zerner, Rachel Howard, David Katims.

Bodycount: 12

Dire-logue: “You get on top of me…or I could get on top of you?”


To everything there is a season blah, blah, blah… By the summer of ’82, the slasher cycle had peaked commercially and the critics were getting pissed at the veritable tidal wave of cheap-ass flicks trying to emulate the success of the original set. Friday the 13th Part 2 raked in a huge amount of cash for its tiny budget, opening up the prospect of a Jason-led franchise to huge profits. Thus, it begat the third entry, which was given the added bonus of being shot in 3D, the form of the moment…

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Directed again by Steve Miner, this was where things started to get just a little bit silly. Continuity was launched out of the window by relocating from New England to California, where Crystal Lake now appears less green and lush, more yellowy-brown and muddy. This does not stop a group of teenage friends from driving out to a ranch on the lake for a weekend. There’s pregnant couple Debbie and Andy, stoners Chili and Chuck, chubby prankster Shelly, his blind date Vera, and finally Chris, who is returning to the ranch for the first time in years after “something happened to her.”

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At the ranch is Rick, Chris’s horny hook-up for the weekend, who wants nothing more than to jump her bones. The group seem oblivious to what happened at Camp Packanack and the deaths of a shopkeeper and his wife the previous evening but Chris keeps seeing things, barn doors that swing closed and stuff, while a shady stalker hangs about at the side of the frame (in place of the point of view shots used in the first two films).

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Shelly and Vera take a trip into town and end up crossing swords with a trio of leather-clad, chain-swingin’ bikers, who follow them back to the ranch where they intend to burn down the barn but are intercepted by Jason, who gets them first. As night falls, Chris and Rick take off for some alone time and Shelly tries to connect with a reluctant Vera, who resists his come-on and so becomes the victim of another practical joke involving a hockey mask…

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“You want fame? Well this is where you start paying…in pitchforks.”

After all manner of things are thrust towards the camera (spliffs, juggling balls, a yo-yo…), Jason acquires the mask by forces unseen (for now) and begins stalking and killing the friends in cheesy 3D-ized fashion, using a speargun, a poker, electricity and his soon-to-be inseperable machete. Blood gushes in amounts limited by imposed cuts (more so for the UK until the DVD release restored them) and an eyeball is popped until Chris is the only one left alive and must go up against Jason, who turns out to be the same man who attacked her at the lake a couple of years earlier, all on her own.

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Friday the 13th Part III shows a definite drop in the quality of its storytelling than the previous films, probably since it was clear the low-budget would allow for a huge return, less creative effort was invested than before. The story, therefore, suffers in the face of this and the requirements of the 3D effects, with evidently took precedence over any plot turns and acting. It’s like open-mic night as the teen cast struggle with making their dialogue believable.

There’s also a reliance on recycling motifs from 1 and 2; Kevin Bacon’s infamous murder is re-staged, bodies fly through windows and fall out of trees and the ‘shock ending’ is practically a shot-for-shot retread of the canoe gag. An alternate ending that involved a dream-decapitation was, for some reason, done away with. The existing ending does house a decent scare as Jason appears at a window without his mask, hissing at Chris. That part wigged me out for a few years… Jason’s make-up is so different from the Farmer Ted get-up of Part 2, as is his alleged escape from the cabin (removing the machete from his shoulder before the shock ending, where it was still firmly embedded there) that it looks like nobody involved could even remember the preceding film!

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Even in the throes of terror, Dana never forgot the dance moves to ‘Tragedy’…

Friday 3 is still fun; it’s cheesy and funny with enough of its own charm to raise a smile, serving as the first in the series that didn’t seem bothered by everything that went before it. Curiously, although it pairs nicely with the fourth film, The Final Chapter, that film used almost the same plot again, sans the reliance of 3D trickery. It’s gotta be seen, it’s Jason after all and everyone should see how he originally got his hockey mask!

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Blurbs-of-interest: Dana Kimmell was also in Sweet Sixteen; Steve Miner later directed Halloween H20Twisted Nightmare was shot at the same location.

2 comments

  • The dream sequence is pretty tacky, even more so after the parade of re-used scares from the first film that precede it. It’s especially confounding since one of the main features of Part 3 is that it’s the only film in which no one knows who Jason is or even mentions his name. In that way it is unique in the series. And yet she dreams of Mrs. Voorhees pulling her into the lake. Perhaps Tina from Part 7 wasn’t the first supernatural heroine of the series, if Chris psychically knew about old Pam.

    Though I agree that maskless Jason in the window was super creepy, and saves the ending from being a missed opportunity (of course, the chase sequence prior is pretty fantastic as well). This is one of the best unmasked Jasons in the series, if not the best. More than in part 2 or 4, this is the one where he actually seems to look like a grown version of the boy who drowned in the lake all those years back. The makeup job in 4 was a little bit over the top, for my liking.

    Plus, there is something really effective about his look, particularly how pleased he seems to be when looking at Chris and imagining what he’ll do to her – which in the original script included some creepy flashback rape (a scene that makes more sense when you realize it was re-written at the last moment – hence the vague and unsatisfying conclusion). Funny that the producers were ok with Jason’s psychotic murder sprees, but the idea of him sexually assaulting a young girl in the woods rather than murdering her was considered too horrible to put on film. Even funnier that some fans of the series are offended by the mere suggestion that Jason would be interested in such things. I’ve seen some weirdly indignant responses to the accusation. As big a slasher fan as I am, I’ve never found myself idolizing or sympathizing with the late Mr. Voorhees. I don’t quite understand that portion of the audience. Like when Kane Hodder insisted that Jason wouldn’t kill a dog as if he “knew” the character. Even if you don’t attribute the dead dog in part 2 to the be-sacked one, is it such a leap from the wanton slaughter of human beings? Kane Hodder didn’t seem to think Jason would ever move beyond the pace of a brisk walk either, so I’m not sure he’s my go-to guy for the character.

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