Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)

Director: Steve Miner

Starring: Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Tracie Savage, Jeffrey Rogers, Catherine Parks, Larry Zerner, David Katims, Rachel Howard, Richard Brooker

In three different eras now, Hollywood has pulled out the 3-D gimmick for movies: the 1950’s, the 1980’s, and its current incarnation. This is not to say that 3-D did not exist or was not being used in-between the three periods, but its mainstream popularity dwindled in the intervening years. Even with the advancements in technology made by 3-D’s latest resurgence, I find myself largely unimpressed. Too often, 3-D is used as an excuse to throw stuff at the screen and without any real point to it. Until a way can be found to invent the holodeck, as seen on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” where one could find themselves not only watching their favorite movies but becoming an active participant in the narrative, I will prefer the 2-D experience. I’ve never seen “Friday the 13th Part 3” in 3-D, yet I’ve never felt as though I’m missing a thing.

A day after the events of “Friday the 13th Part 2,” (thus making it Saturday the 14th, for those keeping score), Jason Voorhees (Richard Brooker) departs from the scene of his most recent brutal crimes, making a stop at a lakefront store where he steals a set of clothes and dispatches the store’s two owners. The next day (or Sunday the 15th), Jason lies in wait at the farmhouse Higgins Haven as Chris Higgins (Dana Kimmell) returns there for the first time with her best friend Debbie (Tracie Savage), Debbie’s boyfriend Andy (Jeffrey Rogers), Andy’s roommate Shelley (Larry Zerner), stoners Chuck (David Katims) and Chili (Rachel Howard), as well as Vera (Catherine Parks). Chris’s on again/off again boyfriend Rick (Paul Kratka) is there, too, and he’s eager to pick things back up where they left off.

When looking for who your main character is supposed to be this time around, look no further than Chris. It’s her family’s farmhouse, after all, and she’s hiding a terrible secret which is destined to be revealed at the movie’s midway point. You might think that Debbie would be safe, given that her character is pregnant, but then you cast your mind back to “Part 2.” That movie featured the wheelchair-bound Mark, and he didn’t fair so well. Neither will Debbie, and neither will any of Chris’s other friends. Shelley, although he’s as doomed as anyone else, plays perhaps the most significant role of any secondary character in the series. No, it’s not because of his unrequited infatuation with Vera, and it’s not because of his ill-timed practical jokes. It’s not even because of his and Vera’s run-in with a motorcycle gang that does nothing for the plot but to serve up three more people for Jason to kill. But it is because of one of the items Shelley carries with him for said jokes: a hockey mask. THE hockey mask.

The big secret which Chris reveals to Rick is that she’d been avoiding coming back to Higgins Haven because of an incident where a hideous-looking man (Jason) attacked her in the woods, an attack which she barely escaped, blacked out, and wound up back in her bed. Her parents act like it never happened, but she remains certain. Watching this scene play out, I could only think of one thing: It should be used in film classes around the country as an example of how NOT to deliver a monologue. Where the failure lies, in the writing or in the acting, I cannot say for sure… but it’s one bad scene, no bones about it. When Chris discovers the identity of the masked killer who is now stalking her, it sends her into full-blown panic mode.

Now, get this… Do you remember the jump scare from “Friday the 13th”? The one which was hastily repeated in “Part 2”? Would you believe they did it again? The first time, it made thematic sense, as Alice was at her breaking point following her life-and-death struggle against Mrs. Voorhees. Her subsequent hallucination about being pulled underneath the water by the young Jason was symbolic of her “going off the deep end.” As originally intended, Chris’s hallucination would have been thematically similar. She was to have returned to the farmhouse and opened the door to find Jason standing there, and he would then decapitate her. Effectively, she would be shown as having gone crazy by “losing her head.” But that’s not how it plays out in the finished movie. Instead, we simply repeat the first movie’s ending, only it’s the reanimated rotting corpse of Mrs. Voorhees pulling Chris underneath the water. HUH?!

“Friday the 13th” has always been equal parts gore and eye candy. “Part 3” sports the most attractive collection of female cast members the series has to offer. Certain members of the cast of “Part 3” also have some of the more interesting post-“Friday” careers. True, none of them became big movie stars like Kevin Bacon from “Part 1” did. Catherine Parks later starred as Bernie’s girlfriend in “Weekend at Bernie’s” (and was the first of two cast members from that movie to appear in a “Friday the 13th” film), Larry Zerner became a successful lawyer, and Tracie Savage became a news journalist. Savage first found work at WHIO-TV in Dayton, Ohio from 1986-1991 before moving to Los Angeles, where in 1994 she went to work at NBC4. It was during this time that she found herself under subpoena as a witness in the O.J. Simpson trial. Since 2001, she’s been the anchorwoman for KFWB Radio in LA, as well as the Internet TV station PJTV. Pretty far cry from featuring in a slasher movie sequel.

“Friday the 13th Part 3” was the first in the series which I ever saw. Because of this, I’ve always had a soft spot for it, even though it’s even more amateurish than either of the first two. Everybody seems to pick Kane Hodder (Parts VII, VIII, and IX) as their favorite Jason, but mine has always been Richard Brooker. Here, Jason is still human, still afraid of death (he’ll dodge an oncoming car), but is no less brutal. Some of the most inventive kills of the franchise happen here. “Part 3” was to have been the concluding chapter in a trilogy. The way we leave things at the end, it feels like a pretty clear cut ending. But as long as the series was still popular, there was no way it was going to stop just yet.

“Part 3” is (almost) as enjoyable as the first two, and just as chopped up as the second. It’s evident that all the death scenes were supposed to have more to them than they do, especially that of Andy, who gets macheted while doing a handstand. Also evident are the wires used in some of the 3-D shots, making at least two of the death scenes appear more fake than they should. But these are minor concerns, as watching this movie is about having a good time. If you could do that for the first two, it should be easy by now to have fun with “Part 3.” You don’t even need the 3-D effects for that.

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