Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Movie Review #46: Friday the 13th - Part III (1982)

Directed by Steve Miner

The recent re-make of Friday the 13th this year made me want to watch all the Friday films over again in order. It has been years since I saw them, and tonight I popped in Part 3. Most horror fans will agree that the first 4 films are the only ones worth watching, and I couldn't agree more. The first 2 films are horror classics, and few realize that it wasn't until Part 3 that Jason puts on his infamous hockey mask. So I decided to start with this film for the purposes of this blog . . .

Part 3 starts off with a re-cap of the second film, which left off inside Jason's shack in the woods, home to his candlelit shrine with the decapitated head of his mother Mrs. Voorhees. Cut to a country store, where we hear a TV news station report on the Crystal Lake murders. The film starts off slow, with an old couple who become Jason's first victims during 15 minutes of useless footage -- an anti-climactic body count of 2 before the intro credits even roll. The film finally kicks off with a group of teens preparing for a camping trip (big surprise!). The couple who wants to have lots of sex in the woods, the annoying roommate, and two stoners -- the usual recipe for disaster. And in typical horror genre fashion, the group has an encounter with a crazy old bum carrying a human eyeball, who warns the kids that they are in danger. How come no one ever listens to the crazy old bum holding a body part? I guess then we wouldn't have a horror movie, would we?

Anyway, one of the main characters, Shelly (played by Larry Zerner), is a prankster who has a run-in with a local motorcycle gang in front of the general store, knocking over their bikes. The gang follows Shelly back to the lake house seeking revenge, and soon meet face to face with Jason (or should i say face to bag face - Jason is still sporting the potato sack and hasn't put on his mask yet) in broad daylight. Three of them are killed in the barn -- one gets a pitchfork to the face and is hung up by the neck; the other gets a pitchfork to the chest, and the third gets a few whacks to the face with a meat cleaver. The "bad guys" don't last very long in this film . . .

After cleaning up the bad apples, Jason moves on to our main characters. Surprisingly, the couple having sex aren't the first to go. One of the girls is found sitting on the dock dipping her feet in the lake, and Shelly emerges from the water in a hockey mask holding a spear gun. Jason soon acquires the mask and spear gun, which he uses to murder her in one of the best kill scenes of the film, firing the spear from a distance right through her skull. However, we never actually see him take the mask -- one minute he just emerges from the shadows wearing it. It's strange that there is no emphasis on Jason putting on the mask, which has since become a historic symbol of horror that everyone recognizes, and it should have been a crucial moment in the film.

One by one Jason takes out our main characters, leaving behind one girl, Chris (played by Dana Kimmell) to fight him off in the end. She gets a few good stabs at Jason, and his painful grunts are rather comical. And what do you do when you're trying to get away from Jason in a van and he reaches into the driver side window? You roll up the window of course! That oughtta stop him! The interaction between Jason and Chris during the final moments of the film are your standard horror movie chase scenes, poorly acted, drawn out too long, and adhere to the same format as the first 2 films (and pretty much every other horror film to follow). Remember kids, the killer is never really dead in the end, no matter what you do to him, even if you leave him hanging by the neck from the barn. But Part 3 is a good watch, and a critical part of the series where Jason gets his mask, a must-see for all horror fans. Also keep an eye out for the brief moment when Jason lifts his mask to reveal his mutated face, something that was left to the imagination at the end of Part 2 when Ginny pulled back the potato sack.

Important to note here is the use of 3-D technology which, at the time, was still very new (Part 3 was made in 1982).
However, it still must have been a treat for movie-goers during those days. The director is obviously testing the new concept in this film, wasting it on useless shots like a baseball bat coming off the screen but making good use of it when Jason fires the spear gun right at the audience. And again in one of my favorite scenes when Jason squeezes Rick's head until his eyeball pops out in all its 3-D glory. Hollywood has come a long way with the use of 3-D, and judging by the 60+ films being released in 3-D this year, the gimmick is back in full force.

PS. what's up with the funk soundtrack that Harry Manfredini wrote for this film? It sounds like Goblin making a porno . . .

Check out Friday the 13th Part III on IMDB over at:

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