There were key movies in my life that helped to make me who I am today. Movies that I have loved from the moment the opening credit rolled and still love now. This blog series is about those, My guilty pleasures, my favorites, my escapes. Some were very popular, others not so much. Some of these will have some real life take-aways, others are just for fun.
Today we continue our extended stay at Camp Crystal Lake with the third of the classic slasher franchise Friday the 13th. So, here is Friday the 13th Part III!
Today’s Key Movie:
This film takes place literally the next day as Jason finds himself mask-less, injured and looking for a way to survive. After adding more to his kill count, he finds himself in Higgens Haven, a location near Crystal Like, where he encounters, well, more people to kill.
Why this movie?
As I discussed in the previous reviews, I first watched the first four Friday the 13th films as a kid over a weekend at a friends house. I had never seen them before but had already become a fan of the Nightmare on Elmstreet saga so my friend insisted that I watch his favorite slasher franchise. While I wasn’t overly impressed with the first one at the time, I soon found that these films had a strange appeal with the evil Jason Vorhees turning out to be akin to a backwater version of Halloween’s Michael Myers. After plowing through the first two films, we came to what was originally meant to be the final in the Friday trilogy but did not stop there.
Taking place immediately after the events of Part 2, Part 3 picks up with a wounded and mask-less Jason fleeing the scene only to find himself on the other side of Crystal Lake in a place called Higgins Haven. After killing some shopkeepers, Jason turns his murderous rampage toward a group of teens who are visiting for a romantic couples get-a-way. What ensues is yet another gore fest as only Jason can provide but this time, not only is it in 3D but Jason finally get’s his iconic Hockey Mask.
Now, before we really dive in, you have to understand that this movie was originally filmed to be seen in 3D, so, much like Freddy’s Dead the Final Nightmare, you get a ton of things aiming for the audience or poking ‘out of’ the screen. The problem is, this is very early 3D technology so, watching it in 2D really gives away all of the tricks used. For instance, there is a TON of obvious wire work to make things like snakes and harpoons fly ‘just right’ toward the screen. While it’s not great, you have to try to set that aside seeing that this was one of the pioneers of 3D technology and, if it wasn’t for Friday the 13th Part 3, we may never have had James Cameron’s Avatar! (which might not be a bad thing but thats a subject for another time). So, setting aside the fact that the 3D effects are rather obvious, lets talk about Friday the 13th Part 3.
You like it, but is it really a ‘good’ movie?
I remember liking this one more the first time I saw it as a kid and I really wanted to like this entry this time around. Although it has some really solid scares, the movie felt like a forced sequel that was made just for the sake of the genre’s popularity at the time. It’s silly and really makes no sense in the least. The only thing that makes this movie worth it is that it features the origin of the iconic Hockey Mask and furthers the mythos of the Jason Vorhees we have come to know and love.
Opening with a rehash of the previous film’s ending, we are immediately treated with the stalking and killing of two shop keepers who are the worlds most mismatched couple you would ever meet. Unfortunately this is the best 15 minutes of the film as the rest devolves into a hamfisted repeat of the previous films with sex-crazed teens, a hopeless prankster, a ton of bad decisions, a punk motorcycle gang and a hippy couple that really don’t fit in anywhere. I mean, I know I shouldn’t expect more out of a Friday the 13th sequel but you would think that at some point they would want to give the formula a twist to keep things fresh. Right?
No, instead we get a carbon copy group of kids who, after running into a crazy man walking around with a human eyeball, spouting apocalyptic warnings, they go on to their cabin as if there was nothing strange going on in the area at all. They even drive past the scene of the shopkeeper murders without much more than a blink. To add insult to injury, one of the girls is in fact returning to Crystal Lake after having been attacked by a ‘horribly deformed man’ some two years earlier. That horribly deformed man ends up being Jason of course, but she somehow survived her encounter even though she has no memory as to how. What makes this even worse is that the cast seem to be acting in a melodrama with their reactions never in line with their situations, while there are a few solid moments, for the most part everyone seems to be playing at having real emotions instead of actually having them. I sure didn’t expect an Oscar award winning performance from any of them but this…well, when Jason is the only halfway believable character then there is something seriously wrong.
All that aside, it’s not all bad, while it is rather rather forced with a rather melodramatic cast and a story line that just didn’t work, actor Richard Brooker in the role of Jason is actually quite impressive. Throughout the previous film you got the sense that Jason was nothing more than a mindless beast, a killing machine that could only really use brute force. However, Brooker somehow manages to instill some intelligence into this creature without ever uttering a word. Seriously, throughout the film we see Jason puzzle out problems and actually think his way through obstacles. In fact there are moments where it seems he actually sets up situations to frighten or confuse his prey. There is even a point where he takes off his mask to show one of his victims his face and then puts it back on just as quickly implying that he wanted her to remember who he is. It’s a strange moment but it reinforces the fact that this Jason is not just a creature. While he may be a deformed mutant psychopath, the Jason in this film is no dummy, he just wants to clean out his lakeside property of the vermin that keeps showing up.
This movie also serves up some pretty iconic kills that include everything from severed limbs to even a head being crushed. At the time this film also marked the most kills in the franchise which would be immediately dethroned with it’s sequel and those after it. If you are here for the gore fest, then frankly this is one of the best at it so far and for that it is a hoot. There are even a few fun bits referencing the original makeup artist Tom Savini as well as a moment that pays homage to the classic killer kid feature Alice Sweet Alice.
Bottom line, so far this is the weakest of the Friday the 13th Franchise but has a place of honor with the introduction of the Iconic Hockey Mask and the early use of 3D. It is not a ‘good’ film, heck even the score doesn’t fit with a strange techno-disco theme opening and closing the story, but it is certainly not the worst of the bunch. No, that honor is reserved for a sequel much further down the line. Part III isn’t great but to be honest, it isn’t horrible either.
OK, where do I get this movie?
If you are going to watch this, I recommend finding a way to watch it in it’s intended 3D. That at least gives it that extra bit that it was intended to have. You can pick up a copy in 3D here or just go for that killer boxed set that includes the first eight films. Either way, you will be well on your way to experiencing the world that is Friday the 13th.
Late To The Game 1/28/2021
If you would like to read more reviews please check out the rest of the Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday.
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