Friday the 13th Part III

Friday the 13th Part III ★★½

The formula is firmly in place by Part 3.  Jason. Stalker. Deaths. Survivor.  As similar as it is to Part 2, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3, in my view, is a better piece of schlock to consume.

PART 3’s cast is a better.  The script, despite some hair-brained quirks for some of the characters basically drops the facade of their being at camp.  Jason’s in the woods. He’s killing people. No need to pretend to still be at a campground.  In its newfound simplicity, Jason dispatches characters with demographic identifiability.  He gets the hippie.  He gets the guy in the wheelchair.  He gets the girl with no money. The nerd.  When a character shows up with hair curlers early on, it’s clear that character backstory is less important than visibility.  Damn, there’s even a 3-member multiple ethnicity motorcycle gang loitering at a country road market.

In my view, Part 3 is a bit more showy and visual than the predecessors.  Better-lit outdoor scenes.  Bright colour costumes.  More attacks involving heights and depth.  It’s appropriate because most of its screens during theatric release were in 3D.  Director Miner has a variety of ‘3D’ shots to showboat.  Some of them—like the eye popping out to the camera—are hokey.  But some of them, like an underneath view of a yo-yo and an overhead view of jugglers add uncommon, but appropriate frivolity to the visual landscape.

It’s also suitable that in Part 3 Jason dons the iconic mask because it’s here he evolves into more of a boogeyman legend than anything more serious.  The deaths are more inventive here (partly to pander to 3D) and Jason finally develops his “why won’t he just die” onscreen trait.

Part 3 ultimately benefits from not taking itself too seriously, (which I feel was Part 2’s problem) embracing its ridiculousness while still tipping the cap to the ‘killer lurking in the shadows’ fear that was a cornerstone of societal fears of growing up in the 1980s.  It has an energy and made the series iconic with that crazy mask.

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