6/12/12

Friday the 13th Part 3: A New Dimension in Mediocrity

Camp, I’ll be the first to tell you that I never went. My one aborted effort ended up with me coming home in the middle of the night rather than staying one moment more. While some may say that I missed out, and that I would never know the joys of making a wallet or swimming in a muck filled lake, I think I’m good with that. Over the years here at the Lair, I’ve talked about a lot of campers, but I’m still making my way through the most famous group of all, alumni of Camp Crystal Lake. So today I’m turning an eye to the Voorhees clan’s hat trick, and first appearance of the hockey mask,  Friday the 13th Part 3. Presented in 3-D, or 2-D with some rather silly scenes intended for the third dimension, which is how I watched it, this third entry (like the fourth after it) was intended to bring to franchise to a close. Yet, how can it, when every year there’s a waiting list for parents looking to send their snot nosed kid off to Voorhees country for a summer of terror. As long as they keep making teens and sending them into the woods, Jason is going to be there to hack them up.


I should have gone to Spacecamp. 
Chris Higgins (Dana Kimmell) and her friends are headed up to Camp Crystal Lake for the weekend despite the fact that two years prior Chris had been attacked by a disfigured man in the woods. On their way there, they get the traditional warning from a local crazy (David Wiley) and run into a gang of punks who go by the names Fox, Ali, and Loco, but none of it dampens their spirit for skinny dipping and promiscuous sex. Naturally, the number one party pooper, Jason Voorhees, has survived the machete wound that stopped him at the end of Part 2. Since then he’s been killing locals with knitting needles, and looking for something to replace his lost head bag. He finds just the thing when prankster Shelly (Larry Zerner) dons a hockey mask to scare one of the girls. After dispatching the practical joker, Jason slips into his iconic form and begins to cut a bloody swath through the teens.

Jason is blue and red. Throw in that white mask
and he's the most patriotic slasher this side of Uncle Sam.
If there seems to be scant information about the plot or characters in my synopsis, it’s because Friday the 13th Part 3 spends scant time on either. From the moment that Friday the 13th pops from the screen (out of Mrs. Voorhees skull no less), director Steve Minor seems more interested in showing off the greatest hits (or should I say kills) of the franchise, but in 3-D. Fans of the first two films will find a spear gun death, pitchfork death, and even a knife from under a bed (a hammock in this case) that seem strikingly like re-treaded ground. Then there are the many nonsensical scenes where people do things just so they can be in 3-D. A scene centered on a yo-yo comes to mind instantly. Friday the 13th 3 was released just as VHS was starting to get a massive foothold on the US market, and when home viewers got a hold of the film, released for years in a pair of dimensions, the film must have felt lacking as it did for me. After two very strong entries in the series, it’s a shame the film makers spent more time on novelty than they did on character and storytelling.

A young Albert Brooks smokes weed with Marc Maron
in the back of a custom van. This either happened or was
a dream I had once. 
Very few of the actors rise above the fray at all in this entry into the Friday the 13th series. Amy Steele was offered a chance to come back and reprise her role as Ginny from Friday the 13th Part 2, but she declined. The role of Chris, mysteriously attacked by Jason in her spare time and not on film, seems to be a slightly rewritten version of the Amy Steele character. While Dana Kimmell is quite fetching, after her role was gutted to accommodate the fact that her character was “new”, there just wasn’t a whole lot left. She does share one trait with Friday the 13th characters, when in doubt, always fall asleep in an unmoored boat what will drift out into the middle of the lake. Larry Zerner is the only actor who infuses his role with anything special. Looking like a young, nerdier version of Albert Brooks crossed with Arnold Horshack from Welcome Back, Kotter, Zerner’s practical joking Shelley is more than the comic relief. He’s also a character that the audience will like, relate to, and, dare I say it, feel a kinship with, and in this movie, he’s basically the beginning and end of that.

Sad Jason. How can you tell?
You're just going to have to trust me on this one.
Now I would go into who played Jason in this installment, but I’ve come to a realization in the past few months. Who cares? Unlike Freddy Kruger, who Robert Englund instilled with a personality, The Tall Man, imposing due to the presence of Angus Scrimm, or even Chucky, defined by the voice of Brad Dorif, Jasons are pretty much all alike. Some are bigger than others (the modern era of Jason is defined by a body builder type), some try to throw a head tilt or a motion as if to build a character, and some just cut their way though the film without ever defining a thing. I find nothing more confusing than the large lines at conventions to meet a non-speaking actor, who, while buried under a pile of makeup, was involved in a special effects sequence. The is especially true when one or two spaces over I find actors like Andrew Robinson (Hellraiser, Deep Space Nine, Dirty Harry) or Jill Schoelen (Popcorn, Phantom of the Opera) sitting there alone. Personally, you could put any fellow in front of me and say, “He was Jason.”, and I’d be uninterested but totally willing to believe you. While Mr. Voorhees is the grounding force of the franchise, no actor has ever proved the same about the character.

Good going, Jason.
 Now 3-D is never going to work for her either. 
The question for me becomes, if I saw Friday the 13th  in 1982, in the theater, with 3-D going on, a tub of popcorn on my lap, and my best gal clutching my arm at the scary parts, would I have thought this was any better than I did watching it in 2-D, eating some trail mix, and with the wife sleeping on the couch? I just can’t imagine I would have. Though Part 3 has long been a fan favorite, I have no clue as to why. A quick glance at Rotten Tomatoes finds it clocking in at less than 20% fresh, and even in IMDB, Friday the 13th Part 3 ranks below the first two installments and the next supposedly final chapter. This wont be our only visit to Camp Crystal Lake this summer. For the next two months, I’m going to take a couple more trips and begin to round out the series. That about wraps it up for today, but join me back here tomorrow for some more summer fun, and until then, kids, if you parents are trying to send you to camp, it just means they want you dead. So heads up, just saying.

Bugg Rating

6 comments:

  1. Ha ha! Great review. I actually like this one more than Part 2 [besides Amy Steel, of course - best final girl in the franchise not named Tommy Jarvis]. The disco theme is just hilarious and catchy and Jason reminds me of a dirty perv at the end while he looks at Chris from the upstairs window, panting like he wants some. Definitely hokey, but I find it pretty fun. Not great cinema or anything, but it passes the time without boring me. I think it's loved by a lot of people due to the first appearance of the iconic hockey mask. I do think the sack is creepier though. Look forward to reviews for the rest of this franchise.

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  2. Nice puns! I love this movie though... but I've been watching it since age five so it stuck with me.

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  3. Well you might have liked it a bit better for the 3D if you saw it in theatres, since the makers took great pains to film this movie in proper, actual 3D.

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  4. Chris, as I said in the last paragraph, I don't think I would. The kills would still be derivative and the characters bland and cardboard. I don't think any amount of D's would help that. Plus, I don't really care for 3-D across the board historically.

    Wizard, thanks very much I pride myself on my puns.

    Fred, thanks! The disco theme is quite a novelty, and the prevy parts are fun, but there's nothing there to really sink one's teeth into. And yes, I agree the sack was way creepier.

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  5. Great review. I have to agree with everything you've said about this one. It really is the worst of the bunch, one that is made even more disappointing when coming off the heels of the first two movies.

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  6. Yeah, this is probably one of my least favourite entries in the series, too. There are some creepy moments, like when we catch a glimpse of Jason through the laundry sheets in the opening scene, and when he's hissing at Chris through the window at the end; but overall, it's dull, dull, dull. There was some interesting stuff in Chris's back story too, but it was overshadowed by the tedium of everything else.

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