Friday the 13th, Part III,
directed by Steve Miner
(Paramount, 1982)

Some fans name this as their favorite Friday the 13th film -- but I'm not one of them. Sure, Jason finally gets the hockey mask and really gets his slashing groove on, but there's no denying the fact that the silliness factor that marred the series as a whole began here. Dope-smoking hippies and the world's worst and dweebiest practical joker definitely lowered my expectations early on, and the whole deal with opening the movie with an extended flashback of the climactic moments of the last film had already gotten old (plus, in this case, those events really have very little to do with the story as it unfolds here), so I was in a fair-to-middlin' mood about halfway through the action.

Jason really stepped up to the plate, though, delivering some pretty cool kills, although I have a few issues with the film's blood and gore levels. Regrettably, the film's best carnage had to be edited out in order to avoid an X rating, which is just silly. Then you have two murders featuring some of the fakest special effects you're likely to see.

Having escaped an attack from a deformed, mad killer a year earlier, Christy (Dana Kimmell) comes back to the property to prove something to herself, but all she really proves is that she's an idiot. Of course, she's apparently oblivious to the fact that Jason had just killed a gaggle of camp counselors the day before (although her old boyfriend Rick, being a local, certainly should have heard something about it). Personally, though, if I ever drive up on an old coot sleeping in the middle of the road who proceeds to get up, shove a fresh human eyeball in my face and warn me to go back where I came from, I'm turning around, brother. Of course, all of Christy's friends are either too young or too stoned to worry about their mortality, especially when there's sex to be had just down the road.

So, basically, Jason has decided to hide out in a barn near Higgins Haven (and, despite what should be a massive manhunt for yesterday's Crystal Lake massacre killer, no cop even shows up to peruse the nearby lakeside property). Upon arrival, Christy and her friends go into basic slasher film mode -- with some hooking up, some getting high and some taking a drive so that they can arrive back home right after Jason has killed all of their friends. You know the drill. This time around, the designated oddball is Shelly (Larry Zerner); not being the best-looking fellow around (not by a long shot), he keeps trying to impress the ladies by playing stupid practical jokes (as if the old machete-in-the-head joke ever impressed a woman anywhere on the face of the earth). At one point, he even sports a wetsuit, underwater harpoon spear (huh?) and -- wait for it -- a hockey mask.

I believe this film was originally intended to be the final film in the series. That is the only rationale I can come up with to explain the conclusion, which I found worthy of a few boos. Not only are there some logistical problems involved with the whole idea, its payoff moment is of a distinctly "been there, done that" nature that pretty much backfires, in my opinion. You can't call the same trick play two out of three downs and expect it to work both times. Thankfully, the film made more money than its predecessors, paving the way for more Jason-style blood and mayhem in the years to come.

review by
Daniel Jolley

24 July 2010

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