|Review||Friday the 13th: Part III (1982)||Director||Steve Miner|
|Writer||Martin Kitrosser and Carol Watson|
|Cast||Dana Kimmell, Tracie Savage, Catherine Parks, Paul Kratka, Larry Zerner, Jeffrey Rogers, David Katims, Rachel Howard and Richard Brooker|
“You can’t be alive!” – Chris
Chris (Kimmell) heads down to her old home in Crystal Lake to spend the weekend. Along for the ride are Debbie (Savage) and her boyfriend Andy (Rogers), Andy’s roommate Shelly (Zerner) and his blind date for the weekend Vera (Parks). And a couple of constant stoners named Chuck and Chili (Katims & Howard) for some reason are a part of this group. Once there Kris meets up with her sometime beau Rick (Kratka) and she shares with him her reasons for coming up to the house; Two years ago she had a traumatic experience when a deformed man attacked her one night in the woods and she narrowly escaped. But she doesn’t remember how as she recalls blacking out and waking up in her bed the next day.
Meanwhile in the vicinity the police have recently discovered a huge number of bodies which Jason Voorhees dispatched of in “Friday the 13th: Part 2” (1981). Jason is still around the area and makes his way over to the house where Chris and her friends are staying.
Every horror fan has at least a passing interest in the “Friday the 13th” series (1980-2009, so far), I think, and many a lot more than that. Most know the story of how a simple low budget project like the first film exploded at the box office and caught everyone off guard. So sequels were the logical next step and, since the original killed off it’s villain, the filmmakers were tasked with coming up with a new boogeyman. Jason Voorhees, oft times mentioned in the first film, was a good choice and his appearance in Part II suited the film well but but he was hardly someone who could sustain interest in further projects with a look borrowed from “The Town That Dreaded Sundown” (1977) and being projected as a kind of wild animal in farmer’s clothing. So “Friday the 13th”: Part III” set out to re-imagine Jason for the slasher crowd and, with warts and all (and there’s plenty of those), consequently became an important film not only in the series but in the horror arena.
“Part 3” introduced the iconic image of a hockey masked maniac who’s essentially a killing machine that refuses to die and dispatches of his victims in spectacular ways. Type “hockey mask” in Google and there are numerous references for Jason on the first page of websites and images. So iconic is the look of this serial killer and for this fact alone then “Part 3” is an important piece of horror cinema. As an entry in the long running series it’s in the upper tier; surpassed by Parts 1 and 4 (the best of the bunch), Part 2 and Part 6 but narrowly beating out Part 5. IMHO.
There’s no denying the fact that it is atrociously written with some cringe inducing dialogue. The majority of cringe worthy scenes include Kratka as Rick who comes off terribly as Kris’s on and off again boyfriend. Kris’s character is also very sketchily realized and their relationship, as a main focus to keep the audience invested in something other than the bloody mayhem, is boring to watch. Add to that a confusing backstory which seems to involve Jason and Kris from two years earlier that makes absolutely no sense in relation to what transpired in Part 2. Luckily though there are some secondary characters that make up for Kris’s and Rick’s lackluster chemistry. Savage and Rogers are very appealing as a young couple (who actually share some screen chemistry) who are also expecting so their ultimate fates really do hit the viewer a bit. Parks is very spunky in her role but Zerner really steals the show as Shelly, the rather annoying part of the group who resorts to scary pranks for attention because of a lack of self esteem and his unfortunate looks. And finally Katims & Howard do provide the most successful comedic moments but their placement in this group is fairly unbelieavable and goes down as another lazy screenwriting attempt to add more characters as slasher fodder.
Then there’s Jason. Played by Warrington Gillette in “Part 2”; Jason was agile and quick moving but not very imposing. Covered with a burlap sack on his head he was fairly ominous looking but a change in looks was deemed necessary. Richard Brooker took over the part and he’s much more menacing (especially once he dons the mask) and taller but doesn’t move very gracefully and is fairly clumsy looking on occasion. He does pick up some speed as the film progresses and ends up being a decent Jason but he was much improved upon by Ted White in “The Final Chapter” (1984). As a wordless killing machine he’s on par with Michael Myers but, like Freddy Krueger in “The Nightmare on Elm Street” series, Jason emerged as a kind of hero as the series progressed as opposed to a villain viewers wanted to see killed off.
As for set-pieces; “Part 3” delivers a few with style. Rick’s demise is certainly eye popping, rather fake looking but still impressive and Andy’s is particularly brutal, applied whilst doing a handstand. „Part III“ was somewhat neutered by the MPAA (but not as drastically as „Part 2“) and there are a few rough cuts apparent but it‘s fairly brutal on occasion despite the prunes. Aside from a few fairly funny moments the film plays it’s material straight and goes for suspense instead of chuckles. The atmosphere here is a little different from the two that preceded it with a much more secluded location and there’s some good visual style in the wide framing (the only Friday film shot in 2.35:1) and use of sound is pretty effective. There are quite a few little things in “Part 3” that are unique and help distinguish it from the rest
Also fun to think of; Friday’s Part 2, Part 3 and The Final Chapter form a sort of unity that chronicles the evolution and demise of a massive serial killer who carved his way through dozens of victims. It’s only in “Part VI – Jason Lives” (1986) that Jason returns and then he’s essentially a zombie. The on-goings in these three movies take place in a few days and those days are in fact human Jason’s legacy of terror.