FRIDAY THE 13TH 3, 1982
Director: Steve Miner
Stars: Dana Kimmell, Tracie Savage and Richard Brooker
Review by Mark Engberg
Having escaped, Jason Voorhees is back, hockey mask and all, to continue his murderous rampage across Camp Crystal Lake.
If you're sitting at home, alone and in the dark with your entertainment center rigged to play any one of the spatter-fueled Friday the 13th movies, then you're missing out. Like a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the real entertainment of any film in this franchise exists not in the storyline, cinematography, or character exposition. The fun comes from the audience, some of whom are barely old enough to qualify for the R-rating and definitely too young to be as intoxicated as they most certainly are.
And the importance of seeing a Friday in the theater has never been more apparent than with this third entry, which was originally introduced in 3-D. If you're watching a DVD copy of Part III, you might be wondering why there are so many tediously long shots of rake handles and clotheslines jabbing at your television screens. These were just the dimensional effects designed solely for the benefits of the drunken theater patrons. They weren't supposed to be scared of these gimmicks. They just looked cool.
And you know what else looks cool? Jason Voorhees donning his iconic goalie hockey mask for the first time. There is a rumor that Jason wears an Umpire's mask in the original script, but the 3-D effects supervisor, a man named Martin Jay Sadoff, just happened to have a bag of hockey equipment on the set when the crew was performing lighting checks. Since Jason was upgrading to an unidentifiable mask from a hood, Sadoff's mask made a good stand-in.
If that nugget of nerd gossip is indeed fact, then the world of slasher-horror would be a different beast than what it is today. Would Jason the Umpire be as menacing to the entire world, or as long-lasting as a box-office asset? Would he have spawned seven additional sequels (eight, if you count Freddy vs. Jason) and a big-budget remake without his trademark emblem?
Think about how different the world of hockey would have been the past three decades if Jason had slain the umpire instead. Is there a hockey player or fan alive who isn't reminded of Jason whenever they see that cold and lonely stare coming from the goalie's net? Would goalies be as intimidating to the rushing offense players?
But, I digress. There might be similarities between hockey players and homicidal maniacs (in fact, quite a lot, now that I think about it), but the Friday the 13th movies were never about sports, music, or any other element defining a culture or generation. They were about cold-blooded murder done to goofball teenagers who were wrapped in drug-induced, post-coital bliss.
The 3-D gimmick may be new, but the story structure is all but identical to the first two Fridays. There's a lead girl who survives to the end (kind of). There's a crazy old man. There are some wonderfully filmed stunts, most of them courtesy of Richard Brooker, a former trapeze artist who was hired to play Jason based on his physical abilities.
While most people forget the background storylines of these doomed creatures, there is no denying that much of the film is spent on their short-lived character arcs. We learn their addictions, their passions, their final sentient sins . . . and then watch them get butchered like chickens at Purdue Farm. That's why it was such a rip-off when Shelly, that dim-witted clown who ultimately relinquished Jason's legendary mask, wandered onscreen with his throat already cut.
What?! We've been watching this guy annoy the hell out of every character in the movie (most certainly Jason) with his incessant and whiny self-deprecation. The first time I saw this movie, I actually thought he was going to make it, because so much time had been spent on his background. If Jason was going to make such an important kill (Shelly did, after all, supply the mask), surely it should have been more of a spectacle.
Paramount probably had something gorier in mind, but had to cut back in the editing room to avoid an X-rating. These days, the original cut would have had no problem, what with Human Centipedes and all.
But the MPAA actually cut short a death scene for being too realistic in terms of human reaction. That's a sizable credit to any horror feature, in my opinion. Another character's death was shortened because of excessive blood flow. Another was cut for being too steamy, as when Jason shoved a smoking hot fire poker into Chili's abdomen.
A couple of years ago, I was able to see the 3-D version of Friday Part III at the Cedar Lee Theater in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Of course, I had seen it countless times already and even owned it on DVD. But I wanted to experience the 3-D dynamic of its original release (which, I think, is purely a novelty ploy without any groundbreaking intent). And I wanted, more than anything else, to hear that rambunctious crowd again: those drunken nerds who know every line by heart and mock the death of every one of those stupid teenage bastards.
For Jason's behalf, I gotta declare that this one is the most fun and honestly scary (that creepy vision of Jason in the window during the final nightmare sequence still bugs me to this day). It has a respectable body count (12), and some truly stunning onscreen slays – best among them are Andy, the handstand guy, and Vera, the girl who takes an eye-full of harpoon gun.
And if you can't get to a midnight screening of a Friday the 13th movie at the Cedar Lee, then at least invite a horde of friends before starting the flick. You're going to want the comedic participation to get through the first act.