This summer marks the 30th anniversary of what is considered the greatest blockbuster season of all-time: summer, 1982. That year, the cinemas were loaded with genre-defining classics that are still shaping the worlds of science-fiction, fantasy, horror, and action to this day. In this retrospective series, 1982: The Greatest Year, Jeff and other members of the Geek League of America will take a fond, and sometimes funny, look back at this monumental time in nerd culture history.
What the hell is there really to say at length about a Friday the 13th movie? It’s not like they’re laced with a sweeping narrative, breathtaking cinematography or stupendous acting. Hell, the only real moral of the movies is – you drink/smoke/have sex/do drugs, you die. Let’s face it, the only real purpose of these movies is to see a little T & A and a lot of blood.
Coming on the heels of John Carpenter’s seminal Halloween, the original Friday the 13th was made to jump on the new-found “slasher” bandwagon. And while the original Friday pales in comparison to Halloween, its main antagonist, Jason Vorhees, is arguably the most easily recognizable killer in film history.
But we’re not here to discuss the original Friday. No, we’re talking about 1982, the year of Friday the 13th Part 3. Usually the third chapter in a movie franchise – especially horror – tends to start looking long in the tooth, rarely adding anything new to the series. Friday the 13th Part 3 stands out for two reasons. 1.) It was released in 3D, at a time when virtually no films were shot (or as the case lately, post converted) in 3D. And 2.) It introduced Jason Vorhees’ signature look, as he dons the iconic hockey mask for the very first time.
The story itself is pretty much the same as it always is with the Friday movies: a group of sex crazed teens gather at Camp Crystal Lake where they are offed one by one in variously gruesome and gory ways, although much of the gore was excised to avoid an X rating. Among them: a kill that showed a victim’s leg being cut off and his stomach being ripped open; another because of excessive blood flow; and an impalement was trimmed because of a shot showing steaming blood hitting the floor. My, how times have changed, as we’ve seen most of that and worse in the Saw and Hostel movies.
Dana Kimmel stars as emotionally damaged Chris, who returns to Crystal Lake as a form of “therapy.” It seems that, some time ago, Chris was attacked in the woods of Crystal Lake by a man with a horribly deformed face. During the attack she passed out and woke up the next morning in the safety and comfort of her own bed at home. She is not entirely convinced that it was all a dream, and so decides that a weekend at the camp may just be what she needs to deal with the past. This leads to quite a few questions, namely if she truly was being attacked by Jason, how is it she survived? She passed out and Jason just thought, “oh dang, what fun is she? Ho hum. Guess I’ll move on…” or maybe he got distracted? “Kill, kill, kill..squirrel!” That’s just one of many things that don’t make sense. But then again, this is a Friday the 13th movie. Logic doesn’t just fall out the window — it is beaten to a pulp, bound and gagged, tossed into a potato sack and hurled through the window. But I digress…
The other characters are pretty much your standard, unmemorable horror movie stereotypes (the druggies, the bitchy girl, the jock). None of them really leave an impression, save Larry Zerner as Shelly, the ugly practical joker with low self-esteem. He actually is one of the most important characters in the Friday the 13th universe, as he is the one who brings the iconic hockey mask to Crystal Lake which Jason steals, cementing his place in horror movie history. Incidentally, Larry is now a successful entertainment lawyer in California.
Ably directed by Steve Miner, who returned to the director’s chair after taking on the far superior Part 2, Friday Part 3 features a few nice jump scares, and one pretty cool kill of a dude walking on his hands. But it is lacking in nudity (no I’m not a perv… well I am, but for the sake of this article I’m comparing the amount of T & A with others of the franchise) and is for the most part….boring. Though the end does feature a nice homage to the original with Chris ending up in a boat on the middle of the lake and Jason’s mother popping out of the lake to pull her in. (Let’s just ignore the fact that Mama Vorhees had her head intact even though it was severed in the original because you know…that damn logic!)
Even when viewing the film in 2D, one can tell the 3D was actually well done. Various objects jump right off the screen, most of them the handles of gardening tools, a spear and in one case, an eyeball popping out of a crushed head. I do recall watching the movie on television as a youngster and thinking I could see the spring the eyeball was attached to, although now I think it wasn’t so much a spring as the head crush effect itself just looked a little too fake.
Made for a paltry $4 million, the movie made its money back and then some on its opening weekend, grossing nearly $9.5 million. It was one of the more successful entries in the series, grossing over $36 million. It actually remains the most successful sequel in the franchise. (Only the original Friday, Freddy vs. Jason, and the dreadful remake have grossed more.) It also was the second highest grossing horror movie that year (Poltergeist being the first), in a year that also included better genre entries The Thing, The Entity and Creepshow.
All in all, Friday the 13th Part 3 isn’t the worst in the series (that distinction goes to Jason X), but it’s also far from the best. However, thanks to the introduction of Jason’s signature look, it is significant. Just forget about the logic…