Synopsis: Jason Voorhees takes refuge at a cabin near Crystal Lake and continues his killing spree as a group of co-eds arrive for their vacation.
Stars: Dana Kimmell, Richard Brooker, Paul Kratka, Tracie Savage, Catherine Parks, Jeffrey Rogers, Larry Zerner, Rachel Howard, David Katims
Director: Steve Miner
Running Length: 96 minutes
TMMM Score: (5/10)
Review: If there’s an era of film-going I wish I could go back to, it would definitely be the early ’80s when the seats weren’t stadium, malls had just a few screens, and you often had to wait in line through the screening before yours to secure your seat for the next show. Stuck at home without all the bells and whistles of going to a theater, it’s nice to take some sort of solace in any kind of feature in your home cinema that enhances your experience which is why I’m glad I have a 3D television that not only plays movies released in 3D but converts regular programming into that format. I grew up after the small resurgence of the 3D gimmick happened so never had the chance to see films like Parasite 3D (the early Demi Moore film, not the recent Oscar winner), Jaws 3D, or Friday the 13th Part 3: 3D. Growing up, I’d watch these films and wonder why they looked so terrible and how come there’d be random items that would be shoved in front of the camera lens and then held there for extended periods of time. Though I’ve sadly never gotten the opportunity to see them in theaters projected as they were back in the day, Parasite 3D and Jaws 3D were eventually released on BluRay in a 3D format that allowed you to ditch the awful Red/Blue cardboard glasses that caused your eyes to cross and just use the regular sleek shades provided to those that had 3D televisions. That just left Friday the 13th Part 3: 3D as the one I’d been wishing for.
Thankfully, my movie-loving prayers were answered this year with the arrival of Scream Factory’s gigantic collector’s edition of the Friday the 13th series which included a spiffy new 3D version of Part 3. Now, I’d finally get to clearly see all of the effects and sit through the entire film without popping a few Tylenol halfway through. Part 3 had never been a favorite of mine to begin with but it’s notable for a few reasons, the first is obviously the 3D and the second is that this is the one where killer Jason Voorhees gets his infamous hockey mask. So after catching up with the original Friday the 13th and its fun but quickly made sequel, it was time to throw on my glasses and see Jason leap off the screen. Released just 28 months after the original film (Part II came out 11 months after the first!) and swapping filming locations from the East Coast to California this would be the biggest box office take of the series to date and picks up the day after it’s predecessor ends.
After a traumatic encounter in the woods two years earlier seemingly unconnected to the massacre at Camp Crystal Lake, Chris (Dana Kimmell) has returned to her family cabin on the lake with her college friends for a relaxing weekend. Too bad for them Jason has just hacked his way through a group of counselors in training (from Part II) nearby, fled the scene, and is now lurking around the property. As Chris reconnects with her onetime boyfriend Rick (Paul Kratka, one of the hunkier leading men in the series and also one of the worst actors) on an evening drive, the rest of her friends stay behind to play practical jokes, smoke weed, fornicate, and meet gruesome ends by the hulking killer. When prankster Shelley (Larry Zerner) scares Vera (the lovely Catherine Parks, a personal fave) wearing a hockey mask, you can’t help but get a little zing of excitement at the realization that soon the unmasked murderer, whose face returning director Steve Miner has gone to great lengths to hide, will soon be wearing it. As the numbers dwindle and a final showdown begins, Miner repeats much of what he did in the last film but having Jason go up against a resourceful foe that won’t go down without a substantial fight.
There are some films that just are what they are and no matter how much you fancy them up or try to rewrite their history, they just aren’t going to improve. As I said before, Part 3 has consistently been on the lower end of my appreciation list and it’s not because this is the first one that starts to feel like a machine more than a movie but because there’s a lack of authenticity to the whole film that gives off a phony quality. Perhaps the change of scenery to California is the cause of that; most everyone feels like they came out of the same acting class. Their look, their style, their choices…all of it has a slickness to it that was missing from the first two and that’s not a good thing. Also, the weathered ranch with a dingy beach the movie was filmed on looks nothing like a lush lakefront so believing you’re back on Crystal Lake is a stretch. One could also argue that the script from Martin Kitrosser and Carol Watson with additional material from an uncredited Petru Popescu was lacking in sufficient development of characters and the Voorhees myth. Two stoner characters might have been fun in 1982 but watching them now I have no idea how they related to the other people and why they were present. Also, the silly background story given to Chris seems to imply that Chris may have met one of the characters from Part II before and been, well…I mean…I just can’t say it. Watch it and you’ll know what I’m referring to and you can draw your own conclusions. All I’m saying is that you could outright skip this one and move on to the excellent Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter and not miss anything crucial to the overall timeline.
What the film does have are some gags that are pretty fun in 3D. A number of these are of the eye-rolling variety (and two of the eyeball variety) but the effect is put to good use not just in the obvious ways but by adding depth to locations and sharp weapons that come flying out at you. The barn on the property gets heavily used and its well appointed set has a number of nooks and crannies that play well with a 3D view. While the murders may not fully benefit from the filming technique, there were a few cool shots I hadn’t noticed before which were enhanced by a body or body part popping out a bit more. All in all, it was well worth the wait to finally see this as audiences did back in 1982. You can see why it took a hefty sum at the box office and how the producers original plan to end the series as a trilogy tempted them to call it a day with “The Final Chapter” a year later. I’d still have to resist the urge to skip this one if I was attempting a marathon but knowing I could watch the disco-scored credits in the pleasant 3D might sway my thoughts moving forward.