FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III
“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.
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…
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.”
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).
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…
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.
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!
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!