Paramount // 1982 // 95 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Gary Militzer (Retired) // October 31st, 2000
A new dimension in terror...You will witness the most revolutionary process in 3-D history. There will be nowhere to hide.
Originally filmed in 3-D, Friday the 13th Part 3 is best remembered in the pop cultural lexicon of filmdom lore as being the movie to first showcase the immortal Jason Voorhees hiding behind the visage of his now-trademark hockey goalie mask. This third edition of the long-running, money-making horror series comes replete with a constant barrage of gimmick-laden 3-D effects, which translates into nothing more than having the home DVD audience get poked in the eye with every conceivable pointed object seemingly available to the filmmakers at the time. The makers' decision to have a different and increasingly weirder murder weapon used each time is novel, but it neglects the fact that there is more to a murder scene than just numerous plunges of the blade and graphic spurts of blood; where is that missing sense of subtle tension created through imaginative use of light and paranoid shadow, where are the characters whose terror-filled plight we have a modicum of concern for in the first place? Indeed, we loved these mindless slasher-syndrome films in the 1980s, but then we grew up and found ourselves unbelievably agreeing with the typical parental assessment that these films were, in fact, utterly incompetent pieces of celluloid trash, with little to no artistic, cultural, or even intrinsic entertainment value.
Reworking the same cursory plot as its financially successful predecessors and successive sequels, that dastardly, unstoppable killer Jason again prowls the Lake Crystal area (AKA "Camp Blood"), stabbing, slicing and skewering those assorted pesky teenagers with a robotic proficiency. This time around, the mayhem and slaughter occurs at a lakeside cottage and barn in the woods. After the opening credits literally come leaping out at you in 3-D, we are introduced to the eight potential victims, all part of that stereotypical horror movie mainstay of young, carefree vacationers headed to the woods for a weekend of fun but unwittingly thrust into a stalk 'n slash spectacle.
These stupid teen characters exist wholly as interchangeable fodder, just asking for eventual swift dispatching via means as varied as a red hot poker through the torso, a knitting needle through the back of the head and out through the mouth, a spear through the eye, a pitchfork through the neck, a machete through the entire body, and for the especially bloodthirsty, there is a scene of a young man getting the side of his head crushed, causing his eyeball to pop out of its socket and fly toward the camera in campy 3-D. That's right folks, there is plenty of grisly murderin' fun to be had by all here. Who will be left alive by the end of the movie? Will master Voorhees finally be stopped and destroyed once and for all, or will he return for more summer camp shenanigans? Are you kidding, does a Jason spit in the woods?
In Friday the 13th Part 3, the acting and direction are abysmal, the screenplay contains dialogue best described as witless and beyond wooden, logic is non-existent, the pace of the film is plodding and sleep-inducing, and even the blood and gore effects are routine, underwhelming, and unconvincing. Typical of director Steve Miner's (Friday the 13th Part 2, Halloween: H2O, Lake Placid) hack tendencies and base sensibility, there are plenty of killer-point-of-view shots that are utterly inane; this filmmaker regularly forgets that if the killer is standing in the open, the victims too will be able to see him. The screenplay by Martin Kitrosser and Carol Watson is devoid of imagination, offering no true surprises or new revelations about Jason. However, real fans of this particular series do not watch for a semblance of creative verbiage, visual artistic merit, or even an inkling of character development -- -they watch for the systematic assembly-line slaughter by the masked man with a serious mother fixation. To that end, Friday the 13th Part 3 delivers the gory goods, but just barely.
For its DVD release, Paramount presents Friday the 13th Part 3 in its edited, R-rated theatrical version, with only a letterboxed trailer included as the lone extra in the package. Just like the Halloween, Hellraiser, and Nightmare on Elm Street series, the Friday the 13th films have their own rabid fan base and this audience should expect more than just this minimally acceptable DVD version.
Friday the 13th Part 3 is presented in a new 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks rather fine, all things considered. Due to the film's age, there is obviously some grain present. The image is often soft and blurry, lacking a consistent sharpness that can no doubt be traced to the original 3-D processed print. In addition, there are occasional but noticeable scratches that pop up from time to time, but nothing overly intrusive to the overall viewing experience.
On the audio side, Friday the 13th Part 3 is mixed in its original Dolby mono soundtrack. Thus, while the dialogue is acceptably clear and suitably free of any distortion or noticeable hiss, the overall soundscape is subdued and hollow. It's not bad, but it could have been a whole lot better with some discrete channel remastering. No amount of remixing, however, could make the laughably dated disco-boogie slasher-shake opening theme music sound any better though; this melody is more terrifying in its own way than any particular sequence in the film proper.
Well, if the Friday the 13th Part 3 DVD came complete with a separate track that somehow allowed you to alternately view the film in all the glory of its original theatrical 3-D novelty, along with fully restored deleted gore sequences and a remastered DTS sound mix, all packaged in a shiny limited edition metal tin complete with a collector's pair of designer 3-D glasses and a replica mini-Jason goalie mask, then maybe it'd be worth picking up and viewing as a guilty pleasure of the DVD medium. Then reality hits, and you realize this is another bare yet overpriced Paramount release of a dated, dull, derivative mad-slasher time-waster, stripped off all its true gimmicky 3D charms that the theatrical showings provided to audiences way back in the Reagan years. I can recommend this disc only to hardcore Friday the 13th enthusiasts, the ones with a McFarlane Movie Maniac Jason action figure looking down upon them from the tops of their computer monitors, looking to complete their collection. Any aging hipster out there that was a creature of the '80s ("back in my day we didn't need no postmodern, detached irony and social commentary crap in our dead teenager movies...we had Jason and machetes and young naked camp counselors and we liked it, dagnabbit!") who thinks that only today's what-pass-for-horror films like Scream 3 and Urban Legends 2 are beyond bad, well I encourage you to rent Friday the 13th Part 3 right now, and watch your nostalgic bubble of favorably frightening hockey mask memories be suddenly and violently burst open, not unlike the squishy skull of one of Jason's many mindless victims in this horrible film.
There is a definite place for Friday the 13th Part 3, provided that the discerning viewer merely agrees to overlook all the obvious faults of this garbage and accepts the film for what it is...a cheap '80s slasher flick devoid of any sense of style, wit, tension, or technical expertise. It is typical Friday the 13th drivel-doggedly determined to accomplish nothing above and beyond killing more teens, in more 'creative' ways, more gruesomely than any other movie before it. Sometimes, that is good enough.
If the hockey mask doesn't fit, then you must acquit. Jason is free to go, contingent upon his continued participation in rehabilitative community service at Camp Crystal Lake. Paramount, however, is found guilty of releasing yet another minimum-effort, bare-bones DVD, and is sentenced to a long summer stay at Lake Crystal for the remainder of Jason's stint in his court-mandated lakeside clean-up program, where they will be dealt with accordingly.
Review content copyright © 2000 Gary Militzer; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (French)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 1982
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Theatrical Trailer