To the best of my knowledge and recollection, Friday the 13th Part 3 (in 3D!), was the first and only F13 movie I ever saw in a theater; all of the others were on home video. What makes it such a vivid memory was my friend Richard, his brother Rodney and myself went to a midnight showing the weekend it opened (3 days after my 17th birthday). I’d met Richard through Fangoria, and he lived just a mile or two away from me. Our love for horror and especially make up effects for him, gave us a fast, if not especially long friendship. We made a werewolf movie together on his super 8mm camera that had sound, and while the end product was about what you would expect from some teenagers, it was a hell of a lot of fun.
The theater was so packed we couldn’t find seats next to one another, and that was only one of two things which dampened the night. The second was the movie. In spite of us having a lot of fun, and enjoying the 3D, as well as the audience reaction, it’s simply not a very good movie. F13 never aspired to be high art, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun, enjoyable flicks. Sadly, one of the most iconic things about the franchise is introduced in this snoozefest, where even some kickass 3D effects can’t save the movie. Steve Miner returns to the director’s chair, and we’re all the worse off for that.
F3D (as I’ll refer to it), takes place immediately after the events of the second movie. We start off with Jason hanging around a general store run by two rubes Harold and Edna. Harold likes to nibble from packages around the store and put them back on the shelves, while Edna is a knitting and TV watching wunderkind. In fact when we first see her, she’s watching a news story (with Steve Miner as the anchor), about the murders at Crystal Lake. Jason meanwhile borrows some clothes that were hanging on the clothesline (in spite of the fact he’s much bigger than Harold), and ends up killing them both. Harold gets an ax in the chest after taking a very noisy dump, while Edna gets a knitting needle through the eye.
We then meet this installment’s nubile victims. Chris Higgins and her friends who are all going to her family’s cabin, which just happens to be on Crystal Lake. Not only that, but she was once attacked by Jason and escaped, and this is her first time back since then. We also have her pregnant best friend Debbie, her boyfriend Andy, and Shelley, the pudgy, dumpy comic relief-as well as his blind date Vera. Oh, did I mention the older stoner couple? They’re there too though no one ever tells us why. With Ralph being disposed of in the last movie, we have new town crazy that we meet as he’s laying down in the middle of the road. He warns them off with an eye he found, that belongs to one of the victims, Charming little bugger, he is.
I suppose the main reason the old stoners are there is for the scene where they have to eat all the dope in the car because the police are behind them with their sirens on. When they pull over the cops pass them. Hahahahahaha, isn’t that funny? Well, it was at midnight in 1982, when I may or may not have been high. As they make their way to the cabin, Shelley, who has a propensity for doing very bad pranks doesn’t like people touching his box of stuff, that has his entire life in it.
Once at the cabin we meet Chris’ ex boyfriend Rick. And as a sidenote, there’s a reason why people named Rick, are called Rick the Prick. This guy is a Harvey Weinstein wannabe. All he wants to do is screw Chris, and gets a little pissy when he doesn’t get his way. I found his death later in the movie to be especially sweet. Shelley pulls one of his pranks which angers everyone, so he schleps off to town with Vera. Once there, they run into some bikers, which concludes with Shelley knocking their bikes down with the car. Feeling a little cocky, he gains some self esteem, but is still a pretty miserable person. His death, when it finally comes is a relief.
The bikers somehow make their way to the house, and all of them end up getting killed in the barn. In fact, the barn becomes more of the center piece of the movie than the house. While it wouldn’t have been my choice, I can understand it as there’s a lot more room to maneuver, especially when you add 3D.
Speaking of which…the 3D effects in this were top notch for the time. Even on the DVD release they still look good. It’s really the only thing that makes watching the movie bearable. Aside from some pacing issues, awful dialogue and cardboard characters, there’s just a lot of stupidity flowing throughout the movie, for instance, Stoner guy has to go to the bathroom, so we see him use an outhouse instead of the perfectly good bathroom in the house. If he couldn’t smoke in the house I could see that, but he could, so it was simply a way to get him off on his own. Stupid. Another time stoner has to go check the breaker box because the lights went out. The basement is separated from the main house like a bomb shelter. Again, for no other reason than the writer’s weren’t clever enough to think of something which made sense.
The kills in 3 are well done, but nothing special, and aside from one or two, not especially gory. There’s zero tension, and zero atmosphere, and all the scares are cheap jump ones, which is a real step down from the first two. Miner and the writers tried adding a sense of humor ti the movie, and it falls flat, because that’s not needed in an F13 film. Let’s not even talk about the acting. Had it not been for Jason getting his iconic mask after killing Shelley, no one would remember 3 at all.
I give Friday the 13th Part 3 4.5 machetes.