The one thing that has always kept Friday The 13th fans on their toes is that the unkillable series has never really sat still when it comes to the film’s status quo. Oh sure, the basic details of each film are pretty much identical (a fact made painfully obvious if you’ve ever tried to marathon them) but the vast majority of movies that make up the bulk of Jason’s cinematic lifespan has relied heavily on gimmicks to keep things… well I don’t want to say fresh, but well… you know what I mean. So to celebrate the budding franchise’s third outing the studio elected to go the most early 80’s route they could and chose to add an extra dimension to the slasher genre… a third dimension.
That’s right, Jason’s newest adventure literally came at you thanks to 3D but let’s not get TOO excited here, after all it was still only 1982 and Avatar was barely an itch in James Cameron’s balls so back then 3D was that muddy green and red image that required coloured glasses (usually in cardboard frames) to render something even remotely workable – that still looked like shit.
Kicking off with a relentlessly odd disco theme over the opening credits that raises vast quantities of questions before the film has even started we find Jason, who has managed to not only shrug off getting sliced through the shoulder to the clavicle by a machete mere hours earlier but has swapped up his bag-head/dungaree look for snatching some clothes off a washing line that miraculously fit his hulking frame. Stalking and killing an unbearably obnoxious married couple – whom you suspect have such a shitty life that a swift death by a meat cleaver must seem like a blessed relief – Jason continues on aimlessly down the road looking for refuge only to come across a local farm which currently hold a batch of kids so disparate in character you openly wonder how any of these guys would even find themselves in a queue at the bank together let alone be friends long enough to fuck off to a farmhouse for a break – you won’t wonder long however, as you’ll pretty much be forgetting each and every character’s name while you watch these chattering meat sacks wander throughout the movie.
As these “youths” (the stoner couple look at least 35 if they’re a day) go about such cinematic business as shopping and wondering how to fuck in a hammock (no cures for cancer in this lot…) our main character Chris outs herself as this movie’s final by being the only one to have a backstory that goes beyond a single descriptive sentence (jokster, pregnant, Hispanic etc) and confesses to her old boyfriend Rick that she’s only returned here after two years to confront her demons and that she left because she was assaulted by a deformed man after running away from home after an argument with her parents. Rick in return scores negative boyfriend points by mumbling something about being horny and complaining that he’s being forced to wait – but misogynistic blue balls is the least of his worries, as Jason sets his sights on the farmhouse and it’s insipid occupants and even gets some iconic new face coverings to boot. Say hello to the hockey mask…
So once again we’re hardly in the presence of high art here, but like the other movies in this series, Friday The 13th Part 3 is dedicated to achieving what it does best and that’s killing the shit out of as many stock teen characters as it can by the time it’s 90 minutes are up and you have to give credit where credit is due, they definitely play up the 3D angle all they can.
This leads to one of F13th P3’s most endearing quirks in which as you’ll most likely be watching it in a 2D format, you’ll be overwhelmingly amused at how much the movie bends over backwards to unsubtly cram the gimmick down your throat. Prepare yourself for endless shots of people sticking things directly into the camera like washing line poles and pokers that have utterly no effect in a 2D format aside from being unintentionally hilarious – Jesus Christ, we even get whole scenes about yo-yo-ing and juggling just to for a further lame excuse to shove things into the damn lens just to get a cheap gasp out of a 1982 audience with red and green cardboard goggles on their face.
Plot wise the film has a flimsy grasp of logic that’s weak even for a slasher film but at least it’s trying to do SOMETHING with these characters even if is awkwardly handled. Portly practical joker Shelley is sad because he’s fat and tries to compensate by being annoying, Vera is a rare non-white non-stereotypical character in early 80’s slasher flicks and has to deal with cracks about food stamps and Debbie is pregnant… and that goes nowhere, but you see my point. Although it does seem that returning director Steve Miner is desperately trying to wrap his head around the painstaking 3D procedure more than the story or character arcs and you can positively feel his exhaustion enimating from the screen.
So is there anything worth celebrating in this 3D movie that isn’t usually in 3D? Why yes. Despite the first appearance of Jason’s trademark facial appliance, this part three boasts some truly entertainingly over the top examples in creative killing which our hockey faced antagonist proves to be a crack shot with a harpoon gun, bisects a poor shit who insists on walking everywhere on his hands and, most spectacularly of all, crushes a dude’s head with his bare hands with literal eye popping results (THAT one must have KILLED in theatres). The final chase, which involves Big J getting stabbed, sliced, tripped, hung and ultimately chopped goes on for so long it also clumsily staggers (presumably from blood loss) into the realms of the unintentional belly laugh but still holds the attention which finally (and eventually) resolves in a nonsensical shock ending nightmare sequence that’s only harrowing due to how confusing it all is.
There’s better Friday The 13th movies and there’s worse but this third instalment seems to ironically stand out because of the LACK of it’s chief selling point.
Referencing the tagline of Jaws 3 – that other early 80’s 3D “extravaganza” – the third dimention is terror. Actually it seems the third dimention is people awkwardly waving shit into the camera lens…