Directed by Steve Miner, the director of part 2, Friday the 13th Part III follows the by-now well trodden path of these films, but with the notable difference that this film was part of an early 80’s 3D film fad, and life Jaws 3D and The Amityville Horror 3D uses it’s part 3 moniker to add 3D ‘thrills’. Unfortunately, this is a terrible weakness for the film, with all sorts of objects being awkwardly poked, stabbed or thrown at the camera to make the most of the effect. This ends up being quite jarring, and when viewed in 2D, completely pointless.
Set the day after the events of part 2, this film begins with a pointless and unrelated Jason-kills-people-at-the-beginning scene (including a ludicrous amount of things poking towards the camera), before moving to a lakefront cottage that a group of young people are staying at, where Jason seems to hide out in the nearby barn.
We are introduced the protagonists over a few scenes, and they fit into the traditional roles quite neatly. Chris Higgins (Dana Kimmell) has come to the cottage to come to terms with a traumatic incident in her past (a strange and unexplained encounter with Jason), along with her boyfriend Rick (Paul Kratka), the amorous couple Andy(Jeffrey Rogers) and Debbie(Tracie Savage), the weed smoking hippy couple Chuck(David Katims) and Chili (Rachel Howard), annoying trickster Shelly(Larry Zerner) and the object of his desires Vera (Catherine Parks).
The first half of the film builds slowly, with an encounter between Shelly, Vera and some local motorcycle gang members providing the most tension, although Jason appears occasionally, obscured or in the distance, watching and waiting.
When these gang members follow the youngsters to the cottage and plan some revenge by setting the barn on fire, they encounter Jason to their detriment.
About an hour into the film Shelly attempts to scare Vera while wearing a Detroit Red Wings hockey goalie mask, a prank which doesn’t help Vera’s opinion of him and he heads to the barn to sulk. The next time we see the mask it has it’s more familiar wearer, and it’s as if Jason has finally come into his own, with the rest of the film being a fast-paced series of kills and chases.
Jason himself, played in this entry by trapeze artist Richard Booker, is a much more menacing figure than in part 2. On screen he comes across as a huge, hulking figure, and towards the end of the film becomes much more active, running, hunting, limping when injured. Also, the iconic mask really works as a killer’s ‘face’, far better than the sack-mask in part 2.
Chris is a decent Final Girl, being capable and quick-thinking while being chased, but the rest of the cast are pretty forgettable as Jason’s victims, none of them really engender much sympathy, and are merely there to set up whatever creative way Jason will be stalking or killing them.
Arguably the best of the Friday 13th films up to this point, this is hampered by awkward 3D inclusion, and is already feeling like a generic entry in a franchise that really hasn’t had a high point yet.
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhatten (1989)
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Jason X (2001)
Freddy vs. Jason (2003)