Director: Steve Miner
Cast: Dana Kimmell, Tracie Savage, Richard Brooker, Paul Kratka
Screenplay: Martin Kitrosser, Carol Watson
95 mins. Rated R.
Happy Friday the 13th. Today, we’ll look back on the third film in the horror franchise, Friday the 13th Part III. You may recall this entry being the first major film in its time to be shot in 3D. The previous major release 3D film from Paramount had been 1954’s Ulysses, so the gimmick had pretty much run its course (funny for me to say as it appears to be happening again right now). Heck, even the opening credits are in 3D, a trippy and very 1980s sequence of reds and blues.
Technically taking place on Saturday the 14th, the film picks up just following the horrific events of the previous film as Jason (Richard Brooker, Deathstalker, Deep Sea Conspiracy) continues his weekend long trek of vengeance over the death of his mother. Today, he comes across Chris (Dana Kimmell, Lone Wolf McQuade, By Dawn’s Early Light) who has had a run-in with the slasher before. In fact, Chris has come back out to her family’s cabin to get over the horrific memories of what happened. Her estranged boyfriend Rick (Paul Kratka, Blood Was Everywhere) tries to comfort her, but he is left unable to understand her pain. As Jason begins picking off Chris’s friends one by one, the young woman is left to her own devices to defeat the masked monster.
The problem with this sequel from Steve Miner (Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, Day of the Dead) is that his and his production team’s focus is all on the gimmick, and it is used rather poorly. Instead of focusing on using the 3D to enhance the story, the filmmaker chooses to employ the gimmick to show yo-yos and juggling…
Because of the 3D, the film doesn’t get to focus on the character development, and the movie suffers. Many performers acknowledged that other factors were more important than…acting.
This film is iconic for one major moment in the creation of Jason’s most important look: the hockey mask. There are several versions of the story of how it was found and used, so I won’t go into any of that.
The film has several callbacks to the original two films as it was seen as the closing chapter of the trilogy. For example, the character of Abel was created to envoke Crazy Ralph. There are murders in the film that callback those from the other films. In many ways, the film was created to close the trilogy. In fact, it’s almost become the middle of a trilogy consisting of Part 2 and The Final Chapter. All three films exist on the same weekend and create an interesting Jason trilogy that stand out from the other entries.
Friday the 13th Part III is a fun movie because it doesn’t take itself seriously. This movie by no means is good, but this is the first installment that really knows what it wants to be, embracing the campiness and being equal parts scary and fun, a formula that would later be perfected in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. It also began the tradition of filming sequels under the title of a David Bowie song (this one being Crystal Japan). Friday the 13th Part III is fun. Stupid fun. But fun nonetheless.
-Kyle A. Goethe
For my review of Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th, click here.
For my review of Steve Miner’s Friday the 13th Part 2, click here.