|The Plot: In this sequel to the Friday the 13th series we start where we left off last time, with Jason Voorhees escaping from the scene of the crime. Once again we’re a little up the road from camp Crystal Lake at another neighboring camp site, with a brand new series of teenagers just aching to be slaughtered. It doesn’t take long for Jason to find the kids and start picking them off one by one. Will these kids wise up and find a way out of this terrifying situation or will they all be hacked up in memory of mommy dearest?|
The Review: My good friend Jon, known online as Coffin Jon, always ends up giving me a certain amount of guff for being a bit of a Lucio Fulci apologist. I will concede that the man did not always patent his style or best efforts after a film with a great plot, but I have to say I’m a great admirer of the man’s showmanship. However, as much of a fan and apologist as I am for Lucio Fulci, you had better believe that I’m an even bigger apologist for the Friday the 13th films. The same mind set is required to be a diehard fan of either cinematic section, because both essentially suffer from many of the same flaws. Lots of blood, not always the most original scripts. At this point in the series, there’s actually enough blood still coursing through the veins of this camp crystal lake epic that not only do we get a film that does maintain much of what one might expect from a Jason Voorhees movie but there’s enough originality that it can sustain the weight of the series. Many have called this their favorite entry in all of the Friday movies and although I won’t take it that far, I will say that I can certainly see why someone might.
Where in the second film there were subtle allusions to the original Friday the 13th throughout, with Friday 3 the notion of a formula arises pretty early on. If you were to watch all three of these movies back to back, as I have, then you can almost make the call of what is going to happen at what point – and not be wrong. Although, having grown up with the entire series, rewatching these gems in order as I have has given me a new insight into their creation. Gone are the allusions at this point, Friday 3 takes the first two movies then beat by beat actually begins to re-paint them. That probably seems a lot more negative than I intended it, but it does take a lot of cues from those first two movies then deliberately recreates them. The interesting thing here though is how it mixes these older ideas in with a lot of new interesting twists and changes. I think the first thing I’m obligated to even mention, or my license as a card carrying horror freak might actually be revoked, is that yes indeed: Jason finally gets his mask. After two very mask-less Friday the 13th films we finally have our hockey masked serial killer that would soon become one of the most iconic visuals in all of mainstream horror media.
Jason picks up the mask only for the latter half of the film, but I guess it was enough to embed itself into the minds of every teenager screaming at the theater back in those days. I suppose since the sport has never been as heavily followed here in the states as something like football, the mask actually comes across as something perhaps a little foreign to us. The visual of it is almost Gladiator like and what can you say, it’s just darn cool. The hockey mask may be the largest addition to this series and its vitality, but there is one other new addition that has to be mentioned when talking about Friday the 13th Part III. That’s right, it is in 3D. Well, that’s the way it was originally intended to be shown in theaters. For those of us who have grew up watching it on television and video, we were unfortunately never able to experience that joy but the intentions still live on through numerous cheesy “3D FX” moments where our cast literally throws or shoves any number of objects directly into the lens of the camera. When you know the intention, it just comes off as being so corny. Still, there’s a certain amount of fun naivety to it all. It takes you back to that point where even in a formulaic slasher, producers and directors still wanted to get a shock or scare out of us in the audience. These days one starts to just feel like another dollar at the box office to them.
Although it’s certainly formulaic in nature, Friday 3 is still fun for the way it provides all the familiar objects in a not so familiar environment. We’re given a new camp, once again up the road from Crystal Lake (how long is this stretch of camping grounds?), there’s that new addition of the mask, it’s Jason’s first time using a speargun, there’s a biker gang lead by a Pam Grier looking woman (what kind of gang takes orders from a chick anyway? Can it be a gang if there are only three members?), it actually manages to keep the violence high while taming the nudity down considerably and the film also marks the first time Jason would use a body as a projectile through a window! Although true, I’m joking on that last bit but there are a lot of interesting new ideas going on here amongst all the regular Friday stuff one would expect. Once again we have a practical joker, once again teens die while having sex, once again we have a warning of impending doom before our teenagers arrive and we’ve got a stealthy killer wandering around making everyone pay. It’s your prototypical Friday movie, but it still plays oh so well by keeping with what works and not being afraid to throw in it’s own additions.
For some new fans who are just coming to this series, once you get past some of the dated visuals and styles of the times, you may find a slasher that actually demonstrates how to use suspense in a meaningful way. Although certainly not the film that best demonstrates this, I was surprised while watching the movie with my thirteen year old cousin by just how much it affected him. It showed me that despite it’s age, it’s still giving people those knee jerk reactions. Where viewers are constantly belittling the cast for their bonehead decisions. For walking into that dark room with no light, or not running for the car when they have a chance. It is most certainly one of the best of the series and truly shows why these first four are so immortally loved. They still pack a punch after all these years and are likely the films that the series will be best remembered for. I give it a four out of five, yet another classic that has to be seen.