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Retrospective – Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
Chris (Dana Kimmell) brings along her boyfriend Rick (Paul Kratka) and a group of their friends to Chris’ lake house at Crystal Lake for a boozy weekend. Little do they know Jason Voorhees lingers, waiting to attack.
“Ki ki ki, ma ma ma”… Whenever this death siren plays, a machete wielding iron man appears into frame, donning blood stained clothing and that oh so iconic hockey mask… Jason is here.
It’s these intrinsic qualities that have meshed itself into horror history, ensuring legendary status for decades to come. But, not all of these Friday the 13th staples were introduced in the 1980 slasher that started it all, instead it was in the series most underrated film, Friday the 13th Part III where Jason’s iconic status kicked off.
Friday the 13th Part III (1982) directed by Steve Miner is the entry that changed the entire game for both the franchise and the genre in general. The setup for Part III takes place directly after the sequel, where Ginny Field (Amy Steel) managed to fight off Jason with his own weapon. However, the slasher laws obviously dictate that the killer is never dead, nicely setting up the events for the next film to follow. Miner introduces the new generation of victims through enacting a rather predictable, nevertheless effective plot following a group of teens heading on a trip to Crystal Lake. The night is rife with the standard debaucheries followed by stabbings, slashings, and gouging’s that naturally come with 1980s splatter fests, but it’s within this air of familiarity and expectedness where the film thrives. Unique takes at cat-and-mouse chase kills highlight what Part III does best, and whilst it is still a great and easy popcorn movie, Miner divulges into heavier themes such as arising trauma.
At one point Part III’s final girl Chris, discusses the reason why she previously left Crystal Lake–A deformed man attacked her, hinting at a possible assault. After all this time she’s plucked up the courage to return to the dreaded grounds that left her shaken in hopes of facing her fears. The necessity of the plot point is irrelevant, what truly matters is that Chris is one of the first final girls akin to other survivors such as Jess Bradford (Black Christmas, 1974) who are fully fleshed out, willing to survive through critical thinking, and most importantly Chris challenges the archetype of the ‘survivor’, shaping the final girl character that we all know and love today.
The fruitful execution of Chris embodying the opposite of a montonous recycled scream queen is brazen, leaving her counterparts to come across as even more braindead and fun to see fall. The rest of the group are just meat for Jason to devour, and whilst their annoying tone could have been a fatal mistake it only works to the films benefit. Jason is ruthless, vile, and downright savage, definitely not a happy camper. Some of the franchise’s best kills reside in Part III, especially with the oh so icky pitchfork through the jugular kill, or the old’ spear through the eye. It doesn’t get better than that!
Jason has remained one of horror’s most prolific serial killers, as well as being extremely culturally referenced and recognised all thanks to the iconic mask. Masks are inherently rooted within depictions of cinematic psychopathy, shielding emotions, and denoting the killer to be anonymous, creating a god-like power to be feared. Originally, there were plans for Jason to wear a mask, but there wasn’t any particular cover chosen yet, nor was it particularly important to the story. Jason’s mask came about as an accident as the film’s makeup artist Doug White and his crew didn’t want to apply the laborious makeup to Jason just for a light check. Luckily enough a crew member brought in their hockey gear, and they were able to borrow the face shield. From that day forward movie history was made.
Watching such an immensely entertaining film emits a vibe, one that is perfect in a cinema, meant to be watched in a crowd to here the boos, experience the howling’s when Jason finally brings the machete down to his victim, and to feel the jolt when he jumps out from a dark corner. Part III’s box office smashing figures was due to the epic extravaganza that Miner captures, and the use of 3D technology that soared the gore to the next level. Every possible image that would benefit from being 3D was used, with every whack and weapon thrown being a complete immersive stab at the audience.
Another element of surprise for Part III lies within the first drafts of the script. Ginny was supposed to reprise her role as Jason’s arch nemesis, continuing the franchise with her being the Laurie Strode within Jason’s path. However, Ginny’s riddance moulded this replaceable element towards the characters in Part III. Each film in the franchise is individualistic, with the only consistent factor across the continuing nine films being Jason, and this is all linked back to Part III’s encouragement of going off in a new direction. Many slasher films ended up following in these footsteps, keeping the excitement alive, and commemorating the villain over the protagonist every single time.
Throughout the film there is a constant riveting energy that only adds a punchy injection to the overall camp demeanour and excess of exaggerated kills. It may be 40 years since its release, but Part III is still an exhilarating trip into the slashing world of Jason Voorhees.
We’ll be screening Part 3 in 3D this May, more details here.
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