Hello again dear readers,
I hope you all enjoyed your Friday the 13th celebrations and, as promised, I will now regale you with my account of Friday the 13th Part 3 which for the purposes of this post will now be referred to as F13P3! I have several reasons for picking F13P3 out of the pack, the primary one being that it was a great excuse to get some use out of my 3D Blu-ray which I had imported from America, as the 3D version is not currently available on these dark shores more’s the pity. Excitingly it comes with two pairs of 3D glasses fashioned in the style of the Jason mask. My second reason is that 3D seems to be the acronym buzzword of the 2010’s for disgruntled film critics who like to discuss 3D as if it were discovered by James Cameron during a submarine dive to the bottom of the ocean during the making of Titanic. Suffice to say this is not the case, the horror genre has a long legacy of 3D frolics. I should say now that I am reviewing the 3D version of the film but the 2D version is widely available in the U.K. and is absolutely no different aside from being slightly flatter. Interesting factoid; while writing this post I discovered that hilariously my Blu-ray has an incorrect synopsis on the back that describes the teens in the film as camp counsellors which is not the case as we will go on to discover.
We open on a news report telling us that a crazy maniac has just killed a bunch of kids at the local youth camp down at Crystal lake. Slightly disconcerting yes? Not for the middle aged married couple who own the grocery store where our story begins! The horrible news does not stop them from wondering around next too as many eerie washing lines and, sharp implements as possible until they are both promptly murdered. We are then introduced to main girl Chris who is driving her teen friends up to stay at her parents idyllic empty holiday home for the weekend, which just happens to be located near Crystal lake. Chris is feeling uneasy about this trip having not returned to the house since an ambiguous incident in the woods one night two years ago where she was attacked by a disfigured man (Jason) but with no recollection of how she escaped. On arrival at the house Chris begins seeing strange sighting of the man, but is led to believe that it is all in her head until her friends and the local gang of punk rockers start to disappear one by one.
The first thing to say is that F13P3 starts with a ‘beyond belief’ recap of the end of Part 2. This is not a montage style recap but an actual lifting of a full 10Min chunk of the end of the second film. I would go out on a severed limb and say that Part 2 is the best Friday film and therefore it may be necessary to either watch Part 2 first or skip the first scene or Part 3 if you intend on watching Part2 at some point. Skipping the recap loses nothing as this is fully unnecessary exposition. The real start of the film is, as previously mentioned, the doing away of the two grocery store owners by Jason. But blink and you’ll miss it the TV news report tells us that P3 is supposed to lead straight on from P2. Hmm what does this remind us of? A Sequel that follows straight on from the previous film? Yes that’s what I thought, a very similar concept to Halloween 2. And when you know that F13P3 was directed by Steve Minor who is a massive Halloween fan, and went on to direct Halloween H20: 20 years Later (1998) it all starts to make sense. On further investigation (watching the special features, which were very interesting) I discovered that Steve Minor had originally wanted to go one step further than this and have Amy Steel, the actress from P2, wake up confused in a mental institute only to be stalked by Jason again. An interesting idea, but it was probably fortuitous that this version did not get the go ahead as it would have made the Friday series too similar to the Halloween series, and also it is never a good idea to see Jason out of the woods as Jason Takes Manhattan, and Jason X are a testament to. Armed with this extra information it is easier to imagine how the long recap of P2 came about. No doubt a studio exec watching the finished film decided that without Amy Steel this follow on opening was now ‘confusing.’ How could this be rectified? With a massive chunk of the previous film of course, problem solved.
Back to the ‘real’ opening, or second opening, at the rubdown Crustal lake store. This type of opening is more familiar in the slasher genre, we start with a death to shock the audience and set the tone for the rest of the film. The message the film-maker wants to send out is that all bets are off (any Scream fan knows this). Unfortunately for P3 this opening is far to long drawn out to be affective, and the characters are so unsympathetic that by the time they are both slaughtered I am sighing with relief. Not the intended effect.
We are then introduced to the main protagonists, in what is almost a third opening section. These guys aren’t hugely sympathetic either, and are a role call of stereotypes that can be broken down into these couple categories; Debbie and Andy the horny ‘jock’ couple, Chuck and Chili the ‘hippy pot head’ couple, Vera and Shelly the ‘will the geek ever get the girl’ couple, and main couple Chris and Rick the ‘he wants to do it but she is troubled and stalked by a serial killer’ couple. In the most part their vices are their downfall, Debbie and Andy die because they are pre-occupied with sex, Chuck and Chilli die because they are ‘high.’ I had slightly more sympathy for Shelly (a geeky guy who is into special effects make-up) and Vera who don’t seem to do anything wrong and get very close to getting it together before they are both bumped off. During most off this main girl Chris is away in the wood with Rick recounting her previous ordeal with Jason Voorhees through a series of flashbacks.
The only additional plot consists of a run in with a gang of punks (no joke) who Shelly and Vera are taunted by at the store (a different store to the one from the opening). Shelly reverses a car into their motorbikes, this angers the punks who decide to come back later for revenge. They siphon off the petrol from the kids van with the intention of using it to burn down the barn belonging to the house, but get distracted when they realise what a fun play area a barn full of sharp deadly objects can be, which is where Jason steps in. The addition of the punks in the film is clearly the work of some evil mad genius, they have their own disco music theme too, but they do also have some plot function. The siphoning of the petrol stops Chris driving off when she realises that all her friends are now food for worms, and an unlikely ‘return from the dead’ which I will not specify helps Chris in her final fight against Jason.
On to the ending. I must admit that I found the ending(s) rather ropey, and it was not hard to tell that this was ending by committee, and in fact an additional two endings to the film were shot, and from what I’ve hear would have possibly been better choices.
All in all the plot and characterisation in Friday the 13th: Part 3 are thin to say the least, and the story does not more along quick enough to keep the tension tense rather than tedious. However there are some great set pieces including a character being chopped in half groin first whist doing a hand stand, and a harpoon being shot straight into the lens. Despite the majority of plot points in this instalment being loosely hung around opportunities for people to poke pointy objects into the camera the 3D elements are very entertaining and of a higher quality, and frequency than a lot of modern 3D films. Some little treats include an eye ball with out an owner being held up for us by the local crazy old hobo, and a juggling act. Whilst this is not one of the best in the franchise, (nor is it one of Steve Minor’s best outputs, F13P2 and H20 are both great films) neither is it the worst. So why should you watch this film? And I still think you should. Well is you are looking for intense horror you’ve come too the wrong last house on the left, but if you are a lover of horror films and their history you will want to watch this. I would describe this film as one of those puzzle pieces with a bit of sky or grass on; it is not so exciting in of its self but you can not complete the puzzle without it. P3 is an important part of the Friday the 13th lore, this is after all the film where Jason gets his trademark hockey mask and machete, and the disco 3D credits are something not to be missed out on!