In the 80s if the third installment in a franchise was being released there was about a 90% chance it would be in 3D and thus we got such classics as Jaws 3D and Amityville 3D but the true thriller killer was the installment of Friday the 13th Part III 3D, which had Jason Voorhees not only donning his signature hockey mask he was literally “Comin’ at Ya” in glorious 3D.
Once again the movie opens with not so much as a recap of the previous entry but rather an almost complete replay of its last few minutes, yet they leave out the “Jump Scare” of Jason crashing through the window because in that film he was a hairy mountain man and now he’s a bald mongoloid for this sequel, and not only was this exclusion a lame attempt at covering up bad continuity it also has nothing to do with the events in this movie and somewhat pointless. After watching the “Last time on Friday the 13th” we are then introduced to our menu of soon to be victims; the group is led by Chris Higgins (Dana Kimmell), her boyfriend Rick (Paul Kratka), loving couple Debbie (Tracie Savage) her boyfriend Andy (Jeffrey Rogers), a couple of stoner friends and Shelly (Larry Zerner), the film’s required prankster, a character of such odious nature you will practically cheer Jason on in the hope his death could come sooner.
And what exactly has inspired this particular pilgrimage to Crystal Lake? Via a wonderful flashback, we learn that two years ago, while out in the woods, Chris was attacked by a deformed man and the reason for her return to Crystal Lake is to confront her fears and escape that personal trauma. How she survived the attack is never explained and she claims to have simply awoken back in bed, and though the original draft had Jason rape her, which was jettisoned due to raping not really being a Jason thing, it still doesn’t explain why Jason would not only let a victim live but tuck her back in bed as well. It’s all made worse by the fact that this moment is never referenced again and poor Chris just gets to add a new trauma to replace the old one.
I know when watching a Friday the 13th film you aren’t expected to find intricate plotting or deep character development but even by slasher standards, this one is pretty thin. In the first film, we had a villain with clearly defined motivations, if a little crazy, but in the following two sequels it was all about quickly introducing the cast of soon-to-be corpses and knocking them off as quickly and as entertainingly as possible. In this outing, Jason Voorhees (Richard Brooker) seems more like an escapee from The Hills Have Eyes than anything else, a mute monster who wanders around Crystal Lake until he bumps into something to kill. Even at that, he isn’t all that good at his job as he gets his ass readily handed to him numerous times by this film’s Final Girl, one could almost make a drinking game out of how many times Jason is knocked on his ass by Chris.
• Taking place a few days after the last movie none of the events in this film occur on Friday the 13th.
• We don’t so much as get Crystal Lake in this movie but something more akin to Crystal Pond.
• Wouldn’t the film have been so much better if the stoner couple had been played by Cheech and Chong?
• Crazy Ralph is replaced with a new “harbinger” one who waves around a severed eyeball while decrying that everyone is doomed. Do you think the town has a casting call for this position?
• There is an offhand comment that reveals that Debbie is pregnant, so this is the one Friday the 13th movie where Jason kills a fetus. That’s something, right?
• The motorcycle gang includes discount Pam Grier and Sid Haig.
• Meta Moment: One of the girls picks up an issue of Fangoria that has an article about make-up artist Tom Savini who was the man behind the original film’s make-up effects.
• Jason clogs the bathtub with bloody towels, causing it to overflow, does this make Jason the original Wet Bandit?
• Jason learned from his mom about proper corpse placement, either having them timed to fall out of a tree or throwing them through windows.
• After surviving an attack by a serial killer is it normal to hop in a canoe to wait for rescue? Wouldn’t walking to town be a better option?
• Chris having a nightmare/dream sequence of Mrs. Voorhees jumping out of the lake makes little to no sense as she knows nothing of Jason or his mother’s backstory.
Note: If the formula stayed true to form the next film should have been about zombie Mrs. Voorhees stalking campers.
Of course, the real star of Friday the 13th Part III is the 3D effects and boy does this film hold nothing back in that area. Director Steve Miner literally throws everything he can at the camera, from yo-yos to popcorn no prop is spared the 3D treatment, all to hopefully keep the audience distracted from his film’s lack of script and two-dimensional characters, and I will admit this does make up for many of the film’s failings as the gruesome kills are taken up a notch by the 3D effects on display. The film also gets bonus points for a heroine who really puts Jason through his paces, she even pulls a knife out of the corpse of a friend to fend of the fiend, and though this does undercut Jason’s credibility as a threat it does go towards making Chris one of the better Final Girls.
Overall, aside from Jason getting his iconic hockey mask, and the very fun 3D effects, the film lacks anything else to distinguish it from the other countless “Dead Teenager” movies out there, and though Dana Kimmell may be one of the better Final Girls of the franchise her confusing backstory, which went nowhere, prevents this entry from being nothing more than another generic slasher film.
Friday the 13th Part III 3D (1982)
Movie Rank - 5.5/10
As a horror film Friday the 13th Part III is a type that is best enjoyed with like-minded friends who enjoy laughing at the stupidity of the killer’s victims and the outlandishness of the mayhem and murder.