Friday the 13th Part III

Friday the 13th Part III ★★★★½

OK, I still haven’t seen the two non-Paramount entries in the franchise, but of the rest of them, the first three are the best. No, no – I’m afraid the judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Come to think of it, scratch that: correspondence WILL be entered into, and with great relish – if you want to get in a below-the-line shit-slinging match then I am up for it but I warn you… my finger is hovering over the CAPS LOCK key so get ready for the tussle of your life!!! BRING IT!!!!

Actually, I doubt I can even articulate why I enjoyed this movie so much. There’s just something of the essence of the perfect 80’s slasher about this. When I say perfect, I don’t mean flawless (did you just call me an oxey moron? Well, you’re a bovine nincompoop). I just think the 80’s slasher is a lost art – the 90’s slashers tried to revise the formula and, although I kind of like the neo-slashers, they’re nowhere near as good. And now we get all sorts of attempts to recapture that 80’s slasher vibe, but they always feel like facsimiles. But Friday the 13th parts 1, 2 and 3 are the original dope.

I’d argue that Part 3, with its corny 3D gimmickry, captures the aesthetic even better. These movies were made to be watched by teens as a social activity. They demand a response, preferably a loud one. Their one and only objective is to provide a stupid good time and by fuck does Part 3 achieve that and then some.

I won’t deny there’s some nostalgia value there – it’s pretty intoxicating actually, and it’s weird how that can work when I don’t think these were really my favourite movies as a kid. But they definitely fascinated me – I was genuinely worried they would be too much for me at the time. Of course, they were never as scary or horrifying as they marketed themselves to be, but they felt weirdly illicit somehow. Well, technically they WERE illicit because they were supposed to be restricted to over-18’s – that’s actually kind of sobering to think that something so innocent and harmless was technically illegal. Do I have that right? Is it still that way? I stopped noticing ratings a long time ago…

Anyway, back to Part 3. To me, it’s the most exuberant of all the Friday movies. The formula, by this point, was down pat. So here, Steve Miner just focused on making the kills as bloody and gruesome as possible, and giving us plenty of ugly-Jason-head (…that came out wrong). And of course, he also focused on milking that 3D for all it was worth. Honestly, I get why people find it irritating, but I love how every 30 seconds there’s another thing pointing right at the camera, and the inclusion of gratuitous overhead popcorn-making scenes, and just endless riffing on that kind of nonsense. It’s pretty adorable and us sophisticated cinephile types can sneer all we want – back in a theatre in 1982, this would have been so much fun.

I keep comparing these films to roller coaster rides. Not because they’re all that scary or thrilling, but because of their raison d’etre. Every time I read a review which takes such glee in pulling apart all the mistakes and illogic and narrative sloppiness of these movies, I imagine someone getting off a roller coaster and saying “Well, I don’t know why everyone was having such a good time – it was simply a fully contained apparatus simulating the sensation of falling and crashing by moving around a rail at high speed. We were never in any danger of dying”. It’s like, dude, you are profoundly missing the point of this thing!

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