Now that Friday The 13th had become somewhat of a phenomenon, the question remained how to continue the now-franchise. Given the timeframe that this decision-making was occurring, it really should not come as a surprise that Paramount made the decision to take the next adventure at Camp Crystal Lake into the third-dimension. At the time, 3D was making somewhat of a comeback as it had not been popular since the late 1950s. While it would be short-lived in the 80s, we all know that 3D would experience another resurgence in the late 2000’s and it hasn’t gone away since.
With the plan in place for how the film would be presented, naturally the next step was to come up with a script, director and a crew. The writing duties for the third entry in the series would be handled by Martin Kitrosser and Carol Watson and then polished up by an uncredited Petru Popescu. In terms of the direction and crew, this would be quite simple. Returning behind the camera once again was the man who had worked as Assistant Director on the first film and directed the second, Steve Miner, bringing much of the same crew along with him.
The film begins with a modified revisiting of the second films finale, before we find ourselves at a local general store run by Edna (Cheri Maugans) and her husband Harold (Steve Susskind). After some arguing back and forth between the married couple, they both meet their untimely demise by a freshly clothed but still mostly unseen Jason. This then takes us into the main part of the story, where Chris (Dana Kimmel) and her group of friends, including Andy (Jeffrey Rogers) and his pregnant girlfriend Debbie (Tracie Savage), Andy’s roommate Shelly (Larry Zerner) as well as the pot smoking hippie couple Chuck (David Katims) and Chili (Rachel Howard). After picking up Shelly’s “date” Vera (Catherine Parks) the group heads off to Chris’s family vacation home “Higgins’ Haven”. Given that the events of Part 2 happened just the day prior (technically making this film Saturday The 14th) they are unaware of the carnage that awaits them. Upon arriving we meet Rick (Paul Kratka) an old flame of Chris’s. With the stage set for the ensuing mayhem, Shelly and Vera make their way into town to pick up some supplies where they have a run-in with some bikers, Fox (Gloria Charles), Loco (Kevin O’Brien) and their leader Ali (Nick Savage, who many horror fans may recognize as one of the bouncers foolish enough to cross paths with Jerry Dandridge in the original Fright Night). In an effort to impress Vera, Shelly backs up into the gang’s motorcycles, knocking them all over. The gang then takes their own trip to Higgins’ Haven to help round out the body count. Once Jason’s bloodlust has been satiated, he goes one-on-one with Chris, who we learn through flashbacks has had a run-in with Jason before. In the end, even after being hung in the adjacent barn, it takes an axe to the head to put Jason down once and for all.
There are many things that make Friday The 13th Part 3 unique in contrast to the rest of the series. As is the case with the first two films in the series, our beloved anti-hero is mostly relegated in the background until the final reel. And as any good Friday The 13th fan knows, this installment is where Jason first dons his iconic trademark hockey mask, thanks to Shelly. Once Jason gets the mask he becomes much more front and center, using a wide variety of tools to take care of the group. Without a doubt, Andy’s fate is one that is beloved by Friday fans everywhere, as he essentially splits him in two through the crotch with his machete as he walks on his hands. Many of the other kills in this installment are rather standard fare for the series, as the people behind the series hadn’t quite established that the real star of the series was Jason and the ways he would dispatch his prey. The heavy focus on the 3D aspect may also be contributed to the level of violence, as it begins to feel more like a friendly Friday The 13th film. While not as playful as the series would later become, these aspects certainly had to play a part in the MPAA going a little easier on this third entry.
As had become standard for the series by this point the acting is exactly what you expect. Everyone is rather lackadaisical in their role with few exceptions. I have personally always had a soft spot for the character of Shelly and the performance by Larry Zerner. Given that he was picked off the street for his look with no prior acting experience, its incredible how pivotal of a role he played in the series, what with being the character responsible for Jason getting his hockey mask and entering the nightmares of children worldwide. During my youth I struggled with my identity and went through several different phases and due to my genetics and having horrifically curly hair my grade 10 student picture I actually slightly resembled Shelly, and with his weird love of horror and social awkwardness, it allowed me to connect with his character on a different level, giving this entry in the series a more potent place in my heart. Outside of this, the only real highlight is the performance of the late Richard Brooker as Jason, who has more of a mean streak and a cold methodical approach to his work in this series, making him a stellar favorite of many.
In the end, Friday The 13th Part 3 stands as one of the more entertaining entries in the series, despite its heavily goofy 3D effects and the overall tone being lighter than subsequent entries. Given the fact that this film gave Jason his iconic hockey mask and sealed his popularity as one of the new icons of horror, Part 3 has a very important place not only in the history of the Friday The 13th series, but in all of the horror genre.
Keep your eyes posted for the next entry in the Friday The 13th
Survivor Series feature, as up next is Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter which, despite everyone now knowing the promise of finality wasn’t quite true, is a favorite of many hardened fans of the series!
Andy getting sliced with a machete from crotch through shoulder while walking on his hands.