Friday the 13th: The Complete Collection - Friday the 13th Part III Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Directed by Steve Miner
Written by Martin Kitrosser
1982, Region A, 95 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on September 13th, 2013
Dana Kimmel as Chris
Richard Brooker as Jason
Paul Kratka as Rick
Larry Zerner as Shelly
Catherine Parks as Vera
Tracey Savage as Debbie
Jeffrey Rogers as Andy
Friday the 13th Part III (3D) was the first film in the series that I got to see in theatres. I knew it would be as awesome as its marketing campaign featuring a knife coming right at me through a shower curtain! I really have no idea how I got my mother to agree to take a twelve-year old to a dead teenager movie, but I'm really glad she did. I ended up pushing her into countless horror films throughout the '80s, but the Friday the 13th films were somehow always a highlight.
This third installment is a bit of a step backwards for the franchise. There are several familiar elements, but unlike the previous films, things feel rushed and a little cheap. The emphasis here is on visual effects instead of acting and the 3D works best when presented in the proper theatrical environment. Until the Blu-ray release, all official domestic versions have been in standard 2D, which makes the gags seem rather lame and awkwardly unconvincing. Despite the development of Blu-ray 3D technology, this is the same headache-inducing red and blue anaglyph presentation of the previous standalone Paramount disc.
Steve Miner returns to the director's chair less than a year after helming Friday the 13th Part 2, this time working with screenwriter Martin Kitrosser (longtime script supervisor for this franchise and the works of director Quentin Tarantino), who shifts the action from the wooded campgrounds of Crystal Lake to a private homestead not far away. The story begins the day after the events of Part 2, with a woman watching news footage of Ginny Fields, the sole survivor of this most recent attack, being wheeled into an ambulance (Steve Miner appears in a cameo as the newscaster). The woman and her husband run a convenience store where Jason helps himself to some new clothes before dispatching the bickering clerks.
The real story begins with Chris and her friends on a weekend getaway to her parents' summer home. With the emphasis on making the 3D awesome, the characters took a backseat and became the archetypes one may come to expect from a horror movie. Shelly is the loveable outcast, a chubby schlub on a blind date with sexy Vera, a girl waaay out of his league. Andy and Debbie are a likeable couple; she's pregnant, he's an athlete who juggles and can walk on his hands (a talent that leads to a highlight of the film). Rick is Chris' overly supportive and unbelievably patient boyfriend. Chuck and Chili are a stoner hippie couple that are hanging out with these kids for no reason as they never bond with any of them. Everyone has come together for a good time and to help Chris overcome a not-too-recent run-in with a would-be attacker.
The script shoehorns in a prophet of doom named Abel to replace the recently departed Crazy Ralph. He is there to warn trespassers, but his appearance quickly wears thin and I wish Jason would have simply carved a message into his corpse for the kids to read instead of leaving the guy on the road holding someone's eyeball (that is thrust into the 3D viewing spectrum). But wait, it gets better. In addition to the goony Abel we are also treated to a tiny motorcycle gang that has only three members. Fox, Ali and Loco hassle Shelly and Vera at a local market and later decide to follow them home and burn down their barn. Their inclusion in this film is uneven and their motivations questionable, but at least their screen time is limited.
Why there are so many peripheral characters that add nothing to the proceedings is beyond me, but at least they give a break to the main cast who are generally lacking in talent. The standout performers this time around are Catherine Parks and Tracey Savage as Vera and Debbie respectively. Both appear natural and confident in their roles, unlike many of the cartoon characters that surround them. Possibly the best performance, however, is that of the recently deceased Richard Brooker as Jason. His towering form is intimidating and he brings something additionally dangerous to the character, even when he is standing still. This film marks the debut of the iconic hockey mask and Brooker wears it well.
Seeing this movie in the native 3D was quite a thrill, and while some of the bits are forced, there are some genuinely fun moments. There are plenty of gags featuring things zooming at the camera, including: popcorn, a yo-yo, fruit, a fireplace poker, pitchforks and knives. The best visual effects involve the times Jason damages someone's eye (either with a harpoon or by crushing their skull) and whenever his hands lunge towards the screen. This film kicked off a brief resurgence of the technology and was followed by Jaws 3D and Amityville 3D, among many others.
Friday the 13th Part III - 3D is easily the lamest of the initial trilogy, but not the worst of the franchise. The film was more financially successful than earlier installments and another one was inevitable. Despite the emphasis on visual gags over acting skills, there are a few great moments in this movie, namely the climactic pursuit of the Final Girl. This chase makes better use of the geography and is set during a freak wind storm as a nice variation.
Reflections from Behind the Mask (may contain spoilers):
Dana Kimmel is a pretty lady, but her character Chris is the worst Final Girl of the lot. I don't know how people put up with her. She is a cold fish to Rick, her blue-balled boyfriend in response to an attack two years prior. It seems she ran away from home and fell asleep in the woods and was possibly raped by Jason. She informs Rick that she blacked out and when she awoke she was in her own bed and without any recollection of how she got there and that nobody ever mentioned the ordeal...maybe it was a dream. If not, when did Jason get horny? Isn't sex one of his hot button issues?
Jason is awesome, but if this story takes place hours after Part 2, how does Jason change his appearance so drastically? He grows more than a foot taller and loses all his hair before camping out in a random barn waiting for trespassers... of the barn.
Shelly has a little tackle box about the size of a shoe box, filled with his tricks for the weekend including a wet suit and hockey mask. This kid knows how to pack.
Why does Chris dream about being attacked by Mrs. Voorhees? She never met the woman, never met the woman's sweater, and yet gets pulled into the tiny lake by her maggoty corpse. This was actually a weaker substitute ending that replaced one where Jason decapitates Chris. This ending is in the original movie tie-in book and was filmed, but the footage is presumed lost.
For that matter, nobody knows Jason in this film. His name is never mentioned.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features for this collection will be discussed on the final page of this review.
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