Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Directed by: Steve Miner
Written by: Martin Kitrosser & Carol Watson
Starring: Richard Brooker, Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Tracie Savage, Jeffrey Rogers, Catherine Parks & Larry Zerner
FRIDAY THE 13TH Part 3 can be commended for a few noticeable accomplishments. This cheesy slasher featured revolutionary 3D technology at the time. It’s also the first film in which Jason Voorhees dons his iconic hockey mask. On an impressive box office note, this low-budget horror flick knocked E.T. from its number one spot for a single weekend and was the second-highest grossing film of 1982 (behind POLTERGEIST). Finally, this third FRIDAY THE 13TH injected campiness and humor into the familiar slasher formula. With all of these positives considered, it should also be mentioned that this third FRIDAY is beneath the previous two installments in quality. Technical accomplishments aside, Part 3 feels lazy and simply goes through the bloody motions.
A group of eight friends venture to a lakeside cabin for the weekend. Take a wild guess which lake this summer cabin is located near? Yep, that’s right. Crystal Lake! But, wait, shouldn’t these sex-crazed, pot-smoking teens be safe, because wasn’t Jason Voorhees killed by final girl Ginny in the previous installment? Well, in this series, the killer never stays dead. As soon as Ginny took off, Jason simply pulled the machete out of his chest and recovered. He’s strayed from the campgrounds and is hiding in the farmhouse next to the cozy cabin populated by new victims. When he spots new nubile prey, Jason takes out an assortment of deadly tools out and goes to work.
Of the first three FRIDAY THE 13THs, Part 3 features the most clichéd slasher victims imaginable. In this third outing, the prey include: horny lovers, a goofy geek, two stoners that regularly toke, a hillbilly couple, and three rugged bikers. Of all those I just mentioned, goofy geek Shelly (Larry Zerner) serves as the most annoying in the bunch. This afro-haired character is a fan favorite, but I couldn’t stand him, his annoying jokes, and his “poor me” attitude. I was waiting for Jason to slice and dice him, but even his death comes off as anticlimactic. Still, he’s the reason that Jason dons his trademark hockey mask, so that’s one positive quality to come out of this otherwise aggravating character.
FRIDAY THE 13TH Part 3 deserves kudos for attempting to add depth to final girl Chris Higgins (Dana Kimmell). The script tries to give this character a history with Jason, but sadly that connection feels half-assed. There’s a flashback and a bit of exposition that initially sets up an interesting backstory, but then doesn’t pay it off at all. Chris is just a bland final girl who pales in comparison to previous heroines Alice and Ginny. An alternate ending actually had her meet a gruesome fate at Jason’s hands through one particularly gnarly practical effect. I wish this third outing had closed out with that gory conclusion. I hated all of these bland victims. Not one of them was remotely likable.
Since Part 3 is populated by unlikable idiots, one might assume that the kills are extra satisfying. If I hated these people so much, wouldn’t it be thirst-quenching to watch them die in gruesome ways. There are a handful of creative demises, but an equal amount of generic “stab” kills. For every arrow to the face, body split in half, and crushed head, there’s an equal amount of pitchfork use and stabbings. Still, one of these stabbings echoes the best kill from the first film and the practical effect looks fantastic. The highlights of this third FRIDAY definitely arrive in the kills and gore, even if the film doesn’t necessarily keep all of the deaths interesting.
FRIDAY THE 13TH Part 3’s biggest problem is that the entire movie feels like a dull repeat of past beats in the series and pales in comparison to the previous two installments. Even unmasked Jason looks more silly than scary, a significant downgrade from his creepy appearance in Part 2. Slow pacing, thoroughly unlikable victims, and lazy writing are big flaws that weigh this generic slasher down. Sure, the 3D gimmick adds hilarity to the mix (weapons, body parts, snakes, and other objects are thrown at the camera), but in the end, Part 3 is one of the less enjoyable FRIDAYs.