What?! Jason’s back (for the second time, not the third… or at least not as the killer… it’s weird) and ready to kill again. After surviving his machete wound from Part II, Jason is targeting a group of regional theater actors (I presume) that take an ill-timed vacation in the woods. Will these sexed-up, weed-smoking teenagers be able to survive their encounter with evil? Friday the 13th Part III!
Why?! I love horror films. The motivation is quite simple: Jason is made to kill and teenagers are made to try to survive (usually ineffectively). There are a couple of interesting subplots for the characters though. One is an aspiring actor, there is a couple that is young and pregnant, and the main girl organized the entire trip to try to confront her demons regarding a traumatic experience she had at the lake house. Coincidentally that traumatic experience involves Jason who just happened to wake up from a 5-year hiatus the day before the film takes place. Ouch. Bad luck.
How?! Uh… in like a thousand different ways. Jason’s MO is generally to sneak around a place and slit people’s throats or bury an axe or machete in their head. No different for this film. This is the entry where creative kills became a thing, particularly a harpoon death, death by red hot poker, a guy getting his head crushed and having an eye pop out, and easily the goriest scene of the franchise thus far where someone is chopped in half. Don’t worry though, most of these things are more hilarious than actually scary.
Who?! Friday the 13th hadn’t totally embraced how ridiculous they all were quite yet, so the jokesters in the first three films aren’t quite true Planchets. This film almost got there, though, with the character of Shelly. Shelly is a fat, fro-sporting aspiring actor (who is easily the worst actor in the film). He plays pranks by pretending to get killed and be a murderer. It would be meta and somewhat funny if the character wasn’t such a downer. He spends nearly the entire film being like “you all hate me cause I’m ugly and fat. Waaaaa!” At least be funny once in awhile, man. Otherwise it’s no fun for any of us.
Where?! It’s clear through the first three films that we are located at or very near to Crystal Lake. Several indications tell us that we’re in New Jersey in the first film, and it’s confirmed in the second film. Thank God, because this was the first film to be (very clearly) filmed in California. But it gets a New Jersey tally as it is near Crystal Lake. C-.
When?! As noted in Part II’s recap we know that this film takes place in 1984 and is set in June or July. We can be pretty sure this film starts on a Friday as the group of teenagers are off to the lake house for a weekend getaway (starring Selena Gomez). This leads to one of the most commonly cited timelines for the series with this film taking place on Friday, July 13th into the 14th. This means the first film takes place July 10th-13th. Apparently the move to July is rooted in the script which states explicitly that the film takes place on Friday the 13th (which could only occur in July). Fine whatever. I would prefer it was set in June and they didn’t worry about the exact days of the week, as June 13th is Jason’s birthday and it would make more sense that he kills on or around that anniversary. This timeline made me sad. C-.
Those are the W’s, but there are only three letters we care about here at HQ. Whether this film was B-M-T.
‘Ello everyone! Friday the 13th Part III? More like Copying Halloween Part III! That’s right, I watched the first three in arguably Hollywood’s worst horror mega-franchise, could three times be the charm? … In a way, but maybe not in the way you’d expect. Let’s get into it.
- The Good – The lore in this series is strong and, when you compare it to Halloween, it definitely shows more promise than where Halloween 4, 5 and 6 ended up. Not exactly fair because I assume Friday the 13th Part 5 is really where things just go off the rails. Still, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this series. It gave me a new appreciation for the slasher genre (not joking) which I still didn’t quite understand with Halloween. We’ll get into that a bit later.
- The Bad – The 3D nonsense was insane, you can kind of see how terrible and beholden they were to it at the time. I mean … Shelly. The franchise itself suffers from one big issue in parts 2 and III: they seem to go all out for the first kill and they just nothing but nothing for at least 30 minutes afterwards. Then they are stumbling all over themselves to kill off at least 10 people in the films. If I were to rank the classic tropes this movie created or fell into: (1) Terrible young actors, (2) obsession with gruesome kills over genuine tension, (3) too many kills such that the movie grinds to a halt to just murder people in clusters, (4) too many Chekov’s red hot pokers such that the movie became very linear and predictable. Again, we’ll get a bit more into the pros and cons in a bit.
- The BMT – Honestly, no. Not any of the three. Shelly gets you close, but he’s just on the correct side of tongue in cheek I think. The budgets are too small, the lore is too good, and the films are just a bit too self aware. I assume that the fourth (the final chapter) kills Jason and I assume zombie Jason represents the franchise crossing the Rubicon. And seriously, I can’t wait to sit down and watch two or three more. I understand slasher obsession a bit now.
I’ve already written a lot, but here I think I need to go into a bit of Sklognalysis. The main reason being that the lore of this film is kind of incredible. The first three in this franchise see the evolution of the bad guy from Jason’s mother, to a bag-wearing monstrous mamma’s boy in the woods, to a psycho man in a mask. Each film involves a lake (from which one can oddly assume Jason draws his power), each film occurs in about a single day, each film has 10+ kills, each film has a variety of weapons, and each film culminates with a storm. The films start with a replay of the previous film, and in each a single person survives and has a horrible dream to end the film, and is driven insane and taken away by the perplexed police. In the recap for part 2 I rewrote this trilogy a bit, but even without the rewrite I think the franchise may stand alone in showing evolution while being true to its lore and predecessors. They evolve the killer while stopping short of explicitly falling back to supernatural explanation. I don’t know … I kind of loved this first trilogy, even if all three are objectively poorly made films. There is something about them. Lucky for everyone there is eight other main franchise films to destroy its legacy.
I am genuinely excited to watch the entire series and then watch the Crystal Lake Memories (it is a 7 hour long documentary!).