Director: Steve Miner
Writers: Martin Kitrosser, Carol Watson
Starring: Richard Brooker, Gloria Charles, Rachel Howard, David Katims, Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Cheri Maugans, Kevin O’Brien, Catherine Parks, Jeffrey Rogers, Nick Savage, Tracie Savage, Larry Zerner, David Wiley, Perla Walter
18 | 1hr 35min | Horror, Slasher
Budget: $2,300,000 (estimated)
Friday the 13th Part 3 feels about 20 minutes too long, and there is a very specific reason for this.
With the series already becoming tired after only two instalments, Paramount decided to cash-in on the Reagan-era, 3-D movie fad, a dismal period which included the likes of Jaws 3-D and the woefully absurd Amityville 3-D, an atrocity which featured some of the shoddiest practical effects ever conceived. 3-D sequels were a sign of desperation for any stale franchise (think Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare), and both Jaws and Amityville died a slow death during their inevitable fourth instalments, movies which gave us a vengeful shark and a possessed lamp respectively.
The third ‘Friday’ was perhaps the anomaly in that respect. Not only did the original franchise continue on for more than a decade, it fortuitously went from quirk to quirk in the years following its gimmick-laden third effort, giving us a ‘Final Chapter‘, a ‘New Beginning‘, and meta-infused sixth instalment Jason Lives!, which deftly side-stepped the MPAA’s slasher censorship crusade. But the main reason that kept Jason alive and killing came in the form of the soon-to-be iconic mask that he acquired from one of his victims in ‘3-D’, a horror artefact that has become universally recognisable.
The 20 minutes of superfluous material comes in the form of several laughably inane, 3-D-inspired sequences, which not only kill the horror dead, but also succeed in halting a by-the-numbers plot, making the whole experience totally peripheral to the movie’s stalk-and-slash focal point. So, if your idea of fun is to watch shirtless douchebags spinning yo-yos into your living room, or perhaps bales of hay swinging in and out of your screen as a largely second-rate cast struggles with long stretches of tacked-on dialogue, the 3-D version of this movie is for you.
However, if for some strange and peculiar reason you prefer your slashers swift and bloody and relentless, you would be best advised to stick with the 2-D version. You will still get those same stretches of inanity, but at least you won’t be disappointed by the lack of 3-D kills on offer, and you won’t have to wear the cheap, flesh-tearing glasses that come with the otherwise impressive Blu-ray release.
Asides from the movie’s central gambit proving an unmitigated disaster, there is actually a lot to excite fans of the series. As I have already mentioned, this is the one in which Jason procures his legendary mask. It is also the first time we get to see our killer as something more than a POV stalker, as the franchise furthers its goal in making Voorhees the star of the show. The movie is pretty graphic too, managing to escape the period of heavy cuts that would afflict subsequent instalments, resulting in some ultra-creative, often brutal slayings that will have gorehounds salivating. Add to this the best soundtrack in the series in Harry Manfredini’s synth-heavy, post-funk score, and you’re onto a winner.
In spite of some miraculously woeful acting, the film is relatively well made too. Not original by any means, but proficient, while goofy fodder such as the Hitchcockian ‘we’re all doomed’ character and a gang of hackneyed bikers will likely leave you in hysterics in the most unintentionally hilarious sequel in the entire franchise. A desperate punt at longevity this instalment may have been, but it more than serves its purpose, and for the first time in the series you will find yourself rooting for our bloodless killer as a cast of equally bloodless stereotypes succumb to Jason’s annual chop.
Fans of the franchise are really spoilt for choice here: a 3-D eyeball shooting out of a crushed skull, a long-range harpoon shot through the eye of a hapless vixen, but the award has to go to the brutal slaying of posturing gymnast, Andy Beltrami, whose well-deserved chopping while in a handstand position results in an incredibly graphic corpse. Next time you go and get yourself a beer, be sure to walk on your feet. If not for the sake of your life, then for the sake of your dignity.
Most Pointless 3-D Effect
Again, many to choose from here – far too many. Some bird’s eye view juggling, anyone? How about a striking viper or a leaping rake? Not gruesome enough for you? Okay, how about this: some kids are playing baseball in the road as a van full of teens pulls up beside them. The kid closest to the camera draws his bat in preparation for the swing. The bat protrudes through your television screen by about an inch.
That is all.
Most Absurd Dialogue
Actually, this instalment is relatively witty, but of all the grin-inducing puns, this industry in-joke is perhaps the freshest. Tubby prankster, Shelly, has just pulled off some Tom Savini magic by pretending to be a bloodied corpse.
Andy: Goddammit, Shelly, why do you always have to be such an asshole?
Shelly: Sorry. And I’m not an asshole, I’m an actor.
Andy: Same thing.
Perhaps not the most original in the series, but Friday the 13th Part 3 is a notable addition for reasons unrelated to its shoddy 3-D gimmick. If Part II introduced us to one of trash horror’s most iconic creations, then this instalment set the bar for the antagonist-led brutality that would prove such a box office smash.