- Movie Rating -

Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

| August 13, 1982

I am not really sure how to say this without sounding like I’m praising this drivel but, Friday the 13th Part III is actually better than its two predecessors.  Technically, it is done with more skill, better production values and, due to the inclusion of 3D, sort of fun in a morbid way.  “Fun” is a tricky word.  I saw the movie with an audience comprised of about 150 people at a revival house who had either a bizarre devotion to the first two movies or perhaps nothing else to do on a Wednesday.  They were eating it up.  Bless their hearts.

I guess the thrill is sort of addictive in a crowd like that.  I can’t imagine the experience sitting at home in my living room, which is a test that I’m not planning to administer.  Friday the 13th Part III is, more or less the same movie all over again only with more color, better sound and that 3D gimmick.

It doesn’t have a story, so much as a series of events to get you from start to finish with brief stops in between so that some hapless teen can be eviscerated right in front of your eyes.  The story, by this point, is movie folklore.  The first movie introduced the notion of a kid named Jason who drowned at Camp Crystal Lake 20 years ago while the camp counselors were in the barn making hay.  It offered a slightly clever twist that his mother was the killer.  The second movie had Jason as the killer, but offered an obvious question that nobody ever seemed willing or able to answer: How can he be the killer if he died all those years ago?

I’m afraid, dear reader, that Friday the 13th Part III won’t answer that question.  Not that you’ll run to this movie for the continuity.  You’re there for the novelty, and for a while it’s kind of fun.  The 3D offers up popcorn popping, a yo-yo, a snake comes out of the grass.  It’s kind of fun for a minute and then the inevitable unpleasantness gets underway.  After Jason robs a hardware store and hacks up the elderly couple in charge, the movie settles into a long and laborious mid-section in which the hapless teens arrive at a cabin for the weekend and then settle in to cash out.

Soon Jason arrives and the mayhem starts.  The weekend lovers/pranksters/losers are hacked off one by one by one.  Jason is out there in the dark; someone goes off to “Have a look around” and soon they meet their grisly fate.  The technical set up of the 3D makes the killing a little more potent, particularly an eyeball the flies toward the camera.  It is unappetizing, but hey, everybody’s having fun, right?

I say that this is better than the previous two films, but only in a minor sense.  The acting is slightly better and there are some clever false alarms, but largely you are asked to sit through a series of murders that have been disturbingly well-thought out.  One by one, Jason picks off his victims until one remains.  There is always one that remains, usually a girl.  How does this keep happening to Jason?  Why can’t he, for once, just finish the job?  Maybe he needs a bigger axe.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.