Thursday, October 18, 2012

Friday the 13th Part III Movie Review

My greatest recollection of this film was the hokey use of 3D. I never saw it in that format because it was only available that way in cinemas, but you can spot the moments in the film that are meant to have shit popping out of the screen into your face.

Click here for a list of all other films reviewed and considered for this October 2012 series of horror reviews.

Friday the 13th Part III was part of the 1980s’ short-lived craze with 3D cinema exposition. That incarnation of the technology was nothing like the more immersive 3D we see so often today. It was a rehashing of the old 1950s style of having things pop out of the screen at your face. Watching a movie like that on TV means having to endure shot compositions contrived to have knives, pitchforks and eyeballs directed toward the camera. Its artificiality calls attention to itself in a way that instantly draws you out of the film. Even without such antics, Part III would still be a spectacularly bad movie.

This time, instead of jumping ahead in time, it takes place the day after the slaughter of Fridaythe 13th Part II. Jason remains at large according to a TV new report in the home of a married couple who are two disgusting personalities. Her nasty henpecking and his filthy habits make it okay for us to not feel bad when they become Jason’s first victims in this chapter. That’s really the only significance of Part III: it marks the first time the filmmakers actively solicit support for Jason from the audience. At a certain point in any horror franchise there arises a turning point at which devoted fan are cheering for the villain.

His second set of victims is a motorcycle gang that looks like it’s been cast with rejects from the music video for Michael Jackson’s “Bad.” These three cause a bit of trouble for Vera and Shelley when they leave camp for a ride into town. Shelley is another character designed with the specific intent of causing elation when he’s killed. I don’t know if this is the first example of someone like him, but we’ve certainly seen his type since. He’s socially awkward and not all that attractive. So he covers for it by playing practical jokes involving masks and gory make up. You see where the Boy Who Cried Wolf is headed.

Steve Miner is back as director and has quite thankfully dropped most of the shaky point of view camera work in favor of direct shots of Jason’s lower legs and feet. The screenplay by Martin Kitrosser and Carol Watson makes a bit more effort at crafting some kind of story, or at the very least of providing the protagonist a back story.

This time the group of young people are here for a little vacation at a farm house near Crystal Lake. Chrissy (Dana Kimmell) hints at a traumatic event that haunts her. Later she reveals the story of a rainy night spent in the woods and being attacked by a hideously deformed creature (Jason). Her story, like the endings of the first two films, makes no sense. It ends with her waking up in her bed with no recollection of how she escaped his clutches. Also, she surely knows something of the Jason legend and the murders of five years ago. What the hell would bring her back? And why does her beau Rick (Paul Kratka), whom she hasn’t seen in a year, assume they’re a couple when they first see each other? And why is Jason’s make up job completely different to his look in the last film?

Once again the end becomes a one on one struggle between the female lead and the killer. Then when it appears she’s cornered, a character we saw ‘killed’ earlier turns out to be no only living but spry and energetic enough to attack Jason. It’s as if Kitrosser and Watson wrote themselves into a corner and simply resurrected a victim for convenience.

It’s hard to understand how any core audience stuck around after this installment, which is probably the worst in the series if you consider that the later films are deliberately so bad they’re good. Part III comes across as a horror film in earnest. And that’s one of its greatest sins.

Deaths (with my rating out of 10)

Total deaths: 13 (11 on screen)
Average rating: 3.92/10
Highest rating: 7

Ratings are based on my personal reaction to the killing taking into account factors such as shock, surprise, and fear, as well as the creativity involved and how graphic it is.

1.       Harold takes a meat cleaver to the chest (3).
2.       Edna gets a knitting needle in the back of her neck (4).
3.       Fox is pinned against a barn rafter with a pitchfork in her neck. Murder is off screen and body seen later (2).
4.       Loco takes a pitchfork to the stomach (1).
5.       Vera gets a harpoon fired from distance directly into her eye (7).
6.       Andy gets cut in half as he’s walking on his hands in the house (6).
7.       Debbie takes a knife through the back from below a hammock (4).
8.       Shelley has his throat slashed off screen, but he appears later still alive (3).
9.       Chuck is thrown against an electrical box and dies by electrocution (2).
10.   Chili gets a red hot poker driven through her stomach (3).
11.   Rick has his head crushed between Jason’s hands until his eyeball pops out (6).
12.   Ali, whom we thought had been killed earlier by being punched and then beaten with a wrench, gets his arm chopped off before being hacked with a machete (4).
13.   Jason is hanged and then takes an axe to the head (6).

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