Summer Shocks 1982: Friday the 13th: Part 3

ON

Ryan’s a happy camper talking about this 3-D sequel

No one trick or treats on the last day of school, no one carves jack o’ lanterns on July 4th, or goes on haunted hayrides in August.

When it comes to beloved macabre traditions, the fall is the season that gets all the attention. Thanks to the celebration of Halloween, the autumn months have always been indelibly associated with all things frightful. Summer, on the other hand, is ostensibly all that horror isn’t about – a golden time of warm weather, trips to the beach, fireworks, road trips and family picnics.

For those movie buffs that prefer the inside of their neighborhood cinemas (or, for some, the nighttime chill of drive-in theaters) to the blistering heat, however, the summer is the real witching season. Some believe that horror vacations in summer, waiting for fall to arrive, but box office history tells a different story.

Starting in 1975 when Jaws invented the modern blockbuster by teaching a generation to be afraid of the ocean, summer has been the best time of year to be scared. The fall can keep Halloween. It can keep the costumes, the candy, the Great Pumpkin, all of it – because summer has always had the better movies.

This is where Jason Voorhees gets his hockey mask. The end.

Actually, not the end. But try to get anyone to say anything further about Friday the 13th: Part III and they might give you, “Well, it was in 3-D.” Needless to say, Steve Miner’s second sequel in the franchise, and his sophomore outing in the director’s chair, is not the most embraced chapter in the series. It is also perhaps the most overlooked entry when push comes to shove during arguments about the rules of Jason. The masked one doesn’t make a sound, you say? He vocalizes the pain he suffers on a number of occasions when scrapping with his prey. He always kills? Apparently, that’s wrong as this film implies. And what’s this about Jason running? Well, call it a struggled loping. I guarantee you though, if he didn’t have a bum leg after being stabbed, that staggering would be a damn sprint…

Paramount released Friday the 13th: Part III on August 13, 1982, a Friday naturally and the tail-end of a summer that gave us E.T., Poltergeist, The Thing, Tron, The Road Warrior, Blade Runner and Rocky III. It was also the summer of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, a sequel my father favored over allowing me to watch Voorhees continue his massacre at Crystal Lake. The studio, notably Frank Mancuso, was feeling good about Voorhees at the time. They unleashed him against Fast Times at Ridgemont High and a re-release of Star Wars (you know, because 20th Century Fox had to make the summer of ’82 that much cooler). So you had, in the wake of those aforementioned titles, Paramount peddling sleaze cinema with a 3-D Friday – a major studio jumping into a rather “feel good summer” with a sequel featuring stoners, bikers, bums, geeks, bare butt cheeks, vans and, it goes without saying, the vicious slaughter of innocents at the hands of a maniac.

Friday the 13th: Part III may have been a cut ‘n paste job, but credit goes to screenwriters Martin Kitrosser (Quentin Tarantino’s script supervisor since Reservoir Dogs and the director of Silent Night, Deadly Night 5) and Carol Watson (credited for the South Park episode “Pink Eye”) for keeping it lively.

Picking up hours after Friday the 13th: Part 2 left off, Jason somehow found the time to shave that mongoloid facial hair that made him look like a cross between Peter Jackson and Sloth from The Goonies. He also hit the gym, bulked up and cleaned up his wardrobe, somewhere along the way donning a nice clean button up shirt and khakis. Perhaps a bit jaded about Amy Steele’s Ginny getting the best of him, Jason wastes no time f**king around and annihilates a shlub of a store keeper named Harold and his nagging wife, both of whom would have spent their days pilfering from their store shelves and getting on each other’s nerves until their old age anyway. Unless, of course, Harold buried a hatchet in his old lady’s skull first out of frustration.

This post-opening credits (set to a super groovy and spiffied up Friday the 13th theme) double murder devours a good chunk of screen time while Miner – making a cameo as news anchor – tidies up the loose ends from part 2. A news report tells us Ginny is just fine and the police are looking for a killer. This doesn’t mean shit to Chris (Dana Kimmell) who’s got her courage in check and her cool personalized van stocked with pot, goodies and good friends. They venture off to Chris’ family summer home that features a barn of doom (people go in, but they don’t come out alive) and, over the following 24 hours, get picked off one by one, with the exception of Chris whose mind has been turned to mush over her second traumatizing encounter with Jason.

Second encounter? Yes, sir. Kitrosser and Watson write in a sordid back story for Chris. From her account, as told to strapping leading man – the plaid-wearing Paul Kratka, we learn the last time Chris was at her summer home she was chased through the woods by a deformed lunatic. Miner presents a surreal, clumsily choreographed flashback that’s a tad unsettling especially considering Chris says she blacked out during the attack. And when she woke up, she was back in bed and her parents wanted to say nothing about what happened. Uh-oh.

As a kid, my mind didn’t immediately jump to this conclusion, but all signs point to Chris being raped by Jason. This is fortified near the end of the picture when Jason lifts his hockey mask in an almost leering, perverse fashion, as if getting off on the unveiling. “I had you once and I’m gonna have you again!” says his eyes while Chris backs away disbelieving her luck. And that’s only the first bit of nastiness Friday the 13th: Part III has to offer. It’s also mentioned twice in the van ride that Debbie (Tracie Savage) is pregnant. So, when she’s killed in her hammock reading “Fangoria” magazine, in a method echoing shades of Kevin Bacon’s murder in Friday the 13th, there’s more credence to her death.

Whether he knew it at the time or not, Miner created one mean lil’ movie. The 3-D probably blinded him to the rape and fetus assassination.

Reports from the cast say Miner wasn’t quite the “actor’s director” and was more often than not tied up in the technical end of the production. And gosh, who can blame him? Without the 3-D we wouldn’t get…a clothesline pole to the face! A swinging bail of hay…to the face! A joint…in my face! Okay, in all seriousness, Miner’s 3-D kills are decent – and Andy “the jack-ass who can walk on his hands” has a death that goes down in history. Furthermore, I love the stocky goon that Jason (Richard Brooker) becomes in this film. He cuts an imposing figure that’s complimented by the hockey mask (thanks to dork-o supreme, Shelly). The man is a lumbering behemoth who is almost Karloff/Frankenstein-esque in stature and movement. Jason’s also physically vulnerable, going down when he’s stabbed by Chris or “pummeled with knowledge” when she tips a shelf on the second floor sending books to rain down on his malformed noggin’, incapacitating him momentarily.

Strangely enough, through this film’s cruelty, Miner paints the biker characters – Fox, Loco and Ali – as the nice guys in some respects. In spite of the shit they give Shelly (Larry Zerner) and Vera (Catherine Parks) at the convenience store, Ali assures Fox later on, when they arrive at Chris’ summer home to “even the score,” that no one is going to get hurt. Well, that’s unexpected.

As run-of-the-mill the structure is, as unruly as its tone wants to be and as soft as the photography looks when you’re not watching it in 3-D, I embrace Friday the 13th: Part III fondly for its eccentricities and dirty appeal. Next to Friday part six and part four, it’s one of my favorite sequels and it doesn’t deserve being dismissed.

Click here for Jeff’s thoughts on Poltergeist!

Other horror films released in the summer of ’82:

The House Where Evil Dwells (May 7th)

Visiting Hours (May 28th)

The Thing (June 25th)

Jekyll and Hyde…Together Again (August 27th)

SUMMER OF 1979:

The Amityville Horror (Jeff Allard)

Phantasm (Ryan Turek)

SUMMER OF 1980:

Friday the 13th (Jeff Allard)

SUMMER OF 1981:

Deadly Blessing (Jeff Allard)

Wolfen (Ryan Turek)






Source: Ryan Turek, Managing Editor