It is kind of mind-boggling that we are now in the fourth season of The Witching Hour and are only now visiting the Friday the 13th movie franchise. There was never any doubt in my mind that we would get here at some point but I never intended for it to take several years. In any case, we are now ready to look at Friday the 13th part 3. As usual when talking about movies that are decades old, expect some mild spoilers.
Oddly enough, I had difficulty in deciding which Friday the 13th would be the first one to be reviewed. I briefly considered reviewing The New Blood first because it is such a strange movie – even by this saga’s standards. I also thought about going all the way to the beginning with the very first movie but decided against that for one very simple reason – most people associate the franchise with Jason Voorhees and he was not the primary villain of the first film.
Friday the 13th Part 3 was ultimately chosen because while it is not the first movie to feature Jason Voorhees as the killer, it is the first time he dons the familiar hockey mask we all know and love. In some ways I see this as the true beginning of the character as immortalized by pop culture.
It is also worth noting that this film has another historical landmark – it is the first Hollywood 3D film to receive a mainstream theatrical release. With that said, the number of 3D film copies of the movie is relatively rare because most movie theaters in 1982 were not equipped to show 3D movies. By the way, This was also the first 3D film released by Paramount in nearly 30 years; their 3D film before this one was Ulysses way back in 1956.
The movie begins by replaying the final scene of Friday the 13th Part 2 with a young woman named Ginny discovering an altar with the decapitated head of Pamela Voorhees – Jason’s mother. Ginny dons the dead woman’s sweater and attempts to trick Jason into thinking she is actually his mother. The ruse is not entirely successful but a timely distraction gives Ginny a moment to strike Jason with her machete. She escapes and then the opening credits for this movie begin. The credits are drawn to take advantage of the 3D gimmick and the accompanying synth pop music makes the opening so awesomely cheesy and definitively marks the film as a product of the 1980’s.
After that recap, the story of Friday the 13th truly begins the next day meaning this movie actually takes place on Saturday the 14th and into Sunday the 15th. A seriously wounded Jason Voorhees makes his way to a store at Crystal Lake and takes refuge in a nearby barn. In what has become a common trope in horror flicks, a group of young people are on their way to visit the lake at the same time. One of these is Chris, the main character whose old family home also happens to be at Crystal Lake. She is played by Dana Kimmell and that is quite an interesting casting choice considering that she expressed a wish for films to stand up for good values and she is also known to have a low opinion about on-screen sex scenes. What made her audition for a Friday the 13th film is beyond me.
My favorite character in this movie is Shelly (Larry Zerner), a homely fellow who thinks it is the height of hilarity to sneak up on his friends wearing a mask and pretend to kill them. He is also the stereotypical homely guy who pines for the beautiful woman who does not share his interest. Interestingly enough, it is Shelley who first finds and wears the iconic hockey mask; Jason takes it from him about one hour into the film.
Who knew that a random hockey mask taken from a victim an hour into the movie would ultimately come to define the character of Jason Voorhees? I doubt that the producers had any idea at the time. Why would I say that? Well, for the first hour of the film most of the scenes with Jason were composed so that his face is off screen. It is actually kind of weird; almost as if we are watching a generic villain instead of one of the most famous horror movie villains.
Having been shot in 3D, there are several scenes in the movie with some kind of object pointed through the screen to make it look as if it is coming at the audience. Jason’s very first kill while wearing the hockey mask is one such moment when he uses a speargun. Unfortunately, these moments do not look as good when viewed on a 2D screen as you can see below. At least the film has a strong campy element going for it.
If you want to watch Friday the 13th Part 3, it is widely available digitally and on physical media including Blu-ray discs. I bought the movie recently on Vudu and have seen it on Amazon Instant Video and Google Play. However, if you want to see the unrated version you will need to track down one of the rare Dutch VHS copies of the film. Fun fact – Friday the 13th 2-8 were all released on VHS uncensored in Holland. Those versions are considerably bloodier and gorier than the rated American versions.