Gateway Film Center, Columbus, Ohio – Friday, October 13, 2017*
To celebrate the most recent Friday the 13th falling in October, Columbus, Ohio’s Gateway Film Center pulled off a wonderful idea in high style: a back-to-back screening of the first four Friday the 13th films – known colloquially by many fans as “the good ones” – starting at 7:00 on the night itself and ending in Saturday the 14th’s wee hours, just like Friday the 13th Part 3 technically began. Naturally, I was second row aisle for all the carnage, and what follow are breathless, fragmented field reports from the scene, covering all the scenes that I saw fit. Read on if you’re maybe not above a little trespassing on condemned property, definitely not afraid of 3-D yo-yos, if you instinctively shrug off obscure talk downtown of a “death curse”, and know enough to come in out of the rain. We’re gonna party like Ted (Part 2) was bringing the booze and Ted (Part 4) was picking the entertainment…
*Obviously embellished after the screening, much as Kiss’ “Alive!” was later augmented (allegedly) with studio tricks – increased and/or focused crowd noise and the like. No way was I going to further disturb my already disturbed fellow patrons by whipping out my cell phone, or deny myself the pleasure of absorbing “Friday the 13th” on the big screen. I did, however, jot down big ticket items in between showings, and made sure to take copious mental notes throughout. It was a blast.
11:10 PM (approximately) – I mentioned during the beginning of Part 2 that the plan by GFC had been to also present this movie on 35-millimeter film…well, as it turned out, that was both misleading and burying the lede. Friday the 13th Part 3 is arguably the standard-bearer of the 3-D craze of the early 1980s, marching shoulder to shoulder with infamous popcorn stuffers like Jaws 3-D and Amityville 3-D. So what better way to put the evening over the top than making Part 3 into Part 3-D? Despite at least a dozen dedicated views in my lifetime, as well as having received two pair of the old red eye/blue eye 3-D glasses with my series blu-ray box set, I’d still purposely never seen Part 3 in all its original audience-attacking splendor. I work in IT and stare at computer monitors and/or laptops all day, and approaching two decades of that kind of day job has done predictable wonders for my eyesight. I even generally steer clear of modern 3-D movies, and the technology they employ is pretty damned impressive. I’ve always thought of it as a gimmick with little redeeming value, Gravity and U2 3-D aside. I had no reason as a kid to believe 3-D had much evolved from Creature From the Black Lagoon decades earlier, and, as an adult, I found it too difficult to suspend disbelief in the best of 3-D circumstances, surrounded by black in front of a screen the size of a hockey arena. I made an easy decision as a result, that I wouldn’t see Part 3 in 3-D until the planets aligned enough for it to be shown in an honest-to-god movie theater. For approximately thirty years the clouds stubbornly refused to part, but now, here we go…
11:11 PM – Reflective of the comparative storytelling laziness that runs roughshod throughout Part 3 is the decision to make its pre-title sequence an almost note-for-note reheating of Part 2’s climax – Chez Jason, the mummified head, Ginny as Pammy, Betsy Palmer’s hallucinatory cameo, “Jason, mother is talking to you!”, “Jenny!”, the intra-shoulder machete holster, all of it – though it does stop short of advancing to that weird, muddled excuse for a final jump scare with Paul, Ginny, Muffin, and bagless Jason, which is probably where the film itself should’ve ended. Instead, we see the first new footage of Part 2 at its five-minute mark, with a surprisingly moving insert shot of the wounded killer inching his way along the floor toward his mother’s altar, before cutting to a gradual zoom in on what remains the least lifelike SFX cast of Betsy Palmer’s head possible…
11:16 PM – Jason lives, and, miraculously, so does disco! Holy crap, is this main title theme ever an eight-cheese delight, with its spooky keyboard wailings and stingers as the cast and crew information “jumped” off the screen at a no doubt dumbstruck audience. It’s not bad, or at least not merely bad, but, rather, so unironically misguided that the end product is damn near sublime. In terms of radical departures from well-established norms, this is the Trump presidency of Friday the 13th main title sequences. And such a catchy tune to boot. This movie should’ve been sponsored by Velveeta.
11:18 PM – The ground doesn’t get any more level once the movie starts in earnest. At least when Part 2 decided to severely pad its sub-90-minute running time, it had the decency to hitch its wagon to the returning, though soon to be departing, Alice, the only star left to the series at the time with both face and name recognition. Here, instead, we get a surreal, unappetizing one-act study in domestic monotony set in a produce market on the periphery of Crystal Lake, starring a stereotypical fat, dim-witted slob and his stereotypical housecoat and curlers harridan of a wife. They waddle around dodging various 3-D gimmicks, pausing periodically to eat or yell, until Jason finally offs them with what feels like the arbitrary satisfaction of some court-ordered community service. I’m sorry…there are some halfway decent gags hiding in this interminable sequence, and Steve Miner certainly grew as a director in the just under a year from his first opening day to this one, but it doesn’t make Harold and Edna any easier to take.
11:19 PM – Miner actually cameos as the newscaster on Edna’s television, describing as breaking news the Crystal Lake massacre while Harold struggles to (1) resituate the hanging laundry outside in as 3-D a manner as possible. (Clever?: uh, sure! Effective?: surprisingly) Those seven words represent the film’s mantra, by the way, and will be repeated here as an incantation of sorts, as many times as is necessary for me to fend off encroaching madness. Brace/prepare yourself for a running theme.
11:19:30 PM – Behold, the (2) adjusting of rabbit ears on top of an old-timey black and white TV in as 3-D a manner as possible! (Clever: yes?; Effective?: neutral)
11:20 PM – What telephone repairman did the Farmer Jason of Part 2 apparently kill offscreen in the last 15 minutes to transform into this more cosmopolitan version, with his dark gray workshirt and lighter gray slacks? “Head-to-toe deviant makeovers,” next time on The View!
11:20:30 PM – How the hell are you supposed to instinctively know which way to put on an old school pair of blue and red cellophane 3-D glasses? I’ve already flipped them over once. The red lens is oppressively dark, and takes a lot of getting used to. Obviously, nothing looks the least bit natural. Ten minutes in, and I’m already worried I may never get there.
11:22 PM – I have no problem whatsoever imagining Harold as a character who would eat fish food containing day fly eggs as a normal afternoon snack. His pet bunny is cute though.
11:23 PM – Behold, the (3) striking of a venomous snake that springs from an open cage and then just hangs in the air at the end of its trajectory (like snakes do) in as 3-D a manner as possible! (Clever?: uh, no; Effective?: hell no)
11:25 PM – Lest you think I’m ever arguing vociferously for the artistic merit of these movies, I’m now forced to type the following sentence: If, for a reason known only on high, they were going to go to the trouble of showing Harold on the toilet, he at least should’ve been killed there too. *long, mournful sigh*
11:26 PM – Behold, in dizzying succession, a (4) rat crawling toward the camera along some disconnected piece of shelving (Clever?: um, sure? Effective?: yes, if you hate rats), a (5) knitting needle used as a stabbing implement (Clever?: nah. Effective?: too hard to see), and, after Edna’s blessed death and a quick transition to daylight, a (6) streetball kid holding his bat on the backswing so it protrudes directly into the camera’s field of vision in as 3-D a manner as possible! (Clever?: yes; Effective?: yeah, kinda)
11:27 PM – I don’t even know where to start with Part 3’s resident oddball, walking cry for attention (however much I sometimes grudgingly sympathize) Shelley, the crown prince of sad sacks everywhere. I will say that in a movie loaded with blank ammunition otherwise, he and “final girl” Chris save its characterization from outright oblivion. More pressing at the moment: what self-respecting Halloween shop even sells a clear plastic cypher mask like the one he’s wearing in his introduction (I always have to remind myself that the afro is Shelley’s actual hair and not part of the mask)? We already know no self-respecting consumer buys one.
11:28 PM – So I guess Shelley’s unwitting “date”, the cute, level-headed Vera, is the series’ first (and, to my knowledge, only) prominent hispanic character of note. Since the movie makes her the focus of at least two racially charged cliches before trying to turn her into just another soap operatic plot device, her inclusion here doesn’t necessarily constitute progress.
11:29 PM – The less said about the two giggling stoners in the back of Chris’ van, the better. Probably appropriate too, since the movie largely treats them as afterthoughts, except, of course, for the shot of (7) a joint being passed from the back of the van to the front seat in as 3-D a manner as possible! (Clever?: if you’re stoned; Effective?: fairly)
11:29:30 PM – Shelley’s entire DIY makeup effects/party icebreakers kit, at which Vera sensibly scoffs, does indeed fit neatly into a travel satchel the size of the small metal lockbox in which my mother keeps important papers – birth certificates, car deeds, and such. It apparently also contains hidden compartments sufficient to store a small axe, a man’s full wetsuit, a spear-gun the size of an AR-15, and a hockey mask, so that’s what we get for prejudging.
11:29:45 PM – Also, there really is no practical reason for Chris’ friend, Debbie, one half of Part 3’s designated conjugal couple, to be pregnant, unless it’s simply to up the gnarly-factor for all the impressionable teenagers watching at home.
11:30 PM – Peels of laughter from the audience at the set piece where, convinced the Mystery Machine is being pulled over, our sub-Scooby Gang embarks on a mad quest to “destroy the evidence” by eating all their pot stash – “You’re always hungry, Shelley…come on!” – only for the pursuing cops to eventually speed right by them on their way to mop up the crime scene at Harold and Edna’s. Vera’s marble-mouthed reaction is pretty great on its own. This is probably too specific a funny anecdote to not have in some way been based on a true story.
11:32 PM – So the doomsaying Rip Van Winkle drifter with the (8) prophetic eyeball presented in as 3-D a manner as possible! (Clever?: wildly, though ugh; Effective?: strangely enough) was obviously an homage to Crazy Ralph, right? I chuckled a little at Shelley yelling, “don’t touch him! You don’t know where he’s been!” I do wonder if he was intended to assume Ralph’s mantle going forward, presumably before a square like Final Chapter director Joseph Zito, who came in with previous, off-lake slasher experience, made the salient point that each successive movie didn’t have to duplicate the series’ formula down to the last detail each and every time.
11:33 PM – As we pull into “Higgins Haven”, a pleasant, pond-adjacent (non-Camp Crystal Lake) country farmhouse, another brief word about presentation. When I mentioned “burying the lede” a little earlier, it was just to say that, upon reviewing the 35-mm film print they’d received of Part 3, GFC made the last minute executive decision to change the presentation to digital. Some film is just not in any condition to be viewed, and I, for one, am thrilled they went that direction. While intact, tonight’s Part 2 print was so scratched up that, at times, it looked like a swarm of locusts descending on the action, and that’s the print they used. I can’t imagine having to visually process 3-D effects on film stock so compromised that it might as well have been an archeological find.
(cont.) The jury’s coming back, and, as I’d feared, the 3-D really is too distracting here to be of serious benefit to the movie, which, when you consider just how hard Part 3 pushes the gimmick at almost every possible second – I’m keeping a running tally, for heaven’s sake – is disconcerting news indeed. I’ve already flipped the glasses over a third time by this point, and have decided to stick with my current config for the long haul. The only effect I’ve found truly convincing so far is the conviction that I will leave the theater tonight with semi-permanent double vision.
11:34 PM – “Is it my imagination or did it just get dumb in here?” Chris’ boyfriend, Rick, is, however good-natured, a horny, corny bag of hammers. Let me assure you there is actually no limit to the number of cold showers you can take. Stay vigilant, Chris.
11:35 PM – The others said, “they were going to skinny dipping”, explains Shelley, who immediately determined he, “wasn’t skinny enough”. Okay, that’s rough, dude. Legitimate pathos in one scene, even as, in the next, the conjugal couple first contemplates the logistics of having sex in a hammock. As if parsing an armada of 3-D effects wasn’t sufficient mental activity, viewers also sometimes have to negotiate mild tonal whiplash just to get from one scene to another. The first two movies were ghostwritten by David Mamet and touched up by Aaron Sorkin compared to this.
11:37 PM – The fairly charming scene where Chris and Rick discuss missing horses, better offers, and “their needs” while he hauls a bale of hay via rope and pulley up into the top of the Higgins Haven barn is a prime example of both the pitfalls and possibilities of low-budget filmmaking. At some point, you’re stuck with the locations you’re able to secure, and if your main set happens to be something strikingly odd, like a farmhouse flanked by a huge barn, you’d better improvise an explanation, and quick, and then, better yet, turn the incidental set into a set piece. Interesting that the most natural dialogue scene in the movie should be born of a combination of artificial restrictions and practical need.
(cont.) Since there’s no horse, and never has been, does Rick haul a grand total of one bale per year, just for tradition’s/old time’s sake? Otherwise, that loft would be full to bursting.
11:38 PM – Hard to gauge Shelley’s intentions when he lurches out of the wardrobe with an axe apparently buried in his forehead and scares the vinegar out of an already, as it turns out, post-traumatic Chris. Any attention is good attention, goes a certain axiom favored by morons, but I wouldn’t be so sure. She definitely shoots him a hemlock-tipped glare before leaving.
11:41 PM – Nervous tittering in the theater behind me when the gas station cashier tells Vera they, “don’t accept no food stamps”. This bout of casual racism sets the stage for Shelley to throw (9) his wallet (to her) directly at the camera in as 3-D a manner as possible! (Clever?: yep; Effective?: nope) In that snap of a wisp of an interim, a terrifying three-person biker gang materializes to play the intimidation game with Hollywood’s newest “it” couple. Predictably, Shelley proves the easier mark than does Vera. He is imminently bullyable, though there’s a weird, barely perceptible twinkle in his eye that suggests business might be about to pick up.
(cont.) Even as a small town kid, I got the essential incongruity of the three-man biker gang. It’s just a bad look. Must really not take any muscle whatsoever to hold down a spot like Crystal Lake. Although they do boast a female as an apparently full member in good standing…so it’s a weirdly progressive three-man biker gang. As their names are “Ali”, “Loco”, and “Fox”, I’ll heroically resist the temptation to call the gang Team ALF.
11:43 PM – For a guy named “Ali” I always thought it a cute touch how much the head biker looks like Marvelous Marvin Hagler. He also has a disarming, genuinely nice, 100-watt smile, and can (10) punch right through a driver’s side window (in as 3-D a manner as possible!) with little to no difficulty. (Clever?: well, unexpected; Effective?: not remotely) So, yeah, it all checks out. That is Ali as in “Muhammad”, by the way, not Ali as in “Larter”, or “Wong”, or “McGraw”.
11:44 PM – The whole move of running over Three Man Band’s motorcycles in retribution may seem implausibly out of character for a pacifist non-entity like Shelley, but all I’ll say is never underestimate the power of adrenaline, or the lengths to which a man will go to impress a pretty girl. As for Ali, last seen flipping increasingly impotent birds at the fleeing couple, something tells me this aggression will not stand, man.
11:44:30 PM – Back at camp, it turns out that young Andy, Shelley’s longest tenured well-wisher and the male half of Part 3’s conjugal couple, is one hell of a yo-yo slinger, expert not so much at doing tricks as (11) deploying yo-yos directly into our field of vision in as 3-D a manner as possible! (Clever?: I admit it; Effective?: surprisingly) His better half, Chris’ friend Debbie, is notable chiefly for being pregnant and for looking objectively spectacular both in and out of a bikini top. Actress Tracie Savage, who played her, would later find success as a newswoman, anchoring local coverage of the O.J. Simpson murders, chase, and subsequent trial on local SoCal television.
11:45 PM – Hopefully, Rick has comprehensive insurance on his car, because his front and driver’s side windows have seen better days. Given the circumstances, I can’t blame him for wanting to get away with Chris for a while, nor her for wanting to join him, really. These weren’t his friends to begin with, and, in an admittedly impressive span of 17 minutes of screen time, they’ve proven to be not only annoying but destructive. Just wait ‘til a certain quasimodo-ish interloper currently skulking around the barn finally decides to crash the party.
11:48 PM – The Trio of Terror’s plan was apparently to burn the barn at Higgins Haven down in retribution for Shelley performing impromptu body work on their bikes back in the gas station parking lot. This business in and around the barn, as Ali and Loco siphon gas out of Chris’ van in an eventually plot-significant way while Fox goes off to explore and Jason watches her in the background, is probably the best extended sequence of the movie outside of the climactic cat-and-mouse game between Jason and Chris.
11:50 PM – Fox, Loco, and Ali – Dopey, Sleepy, and Doc are members of another dwarf charter – are classic outsiders, wild cards in the grander scheme, and as the only folks in the movie with a motive beyond getting high, getting laid, or getting clear of the past, there’s real interest in how they’re stalked and how they’re finally dispatched. After a stumbling close encounter with a stationary pitchfork (foreshadowing!), at least Fox has a great time riding Rick’s hay pulley like a second story tire swing right before she meets her ignominious end. The moment where she’s suddenly gone but the rope is still swinging is pretty chilling.
11:52 PM – Pitchforks galore at the Peter, Paul, and Mary “Vengeance Tour” wrap party, with (12) one serving to nail the slowly cooling Fox to an overhead beam, and (13) another sticking out of Loco’s belly as he staggers around toward the finish line, the wooden handles of both protruding uncomfortably into our field of view in as 3-D a manner as possible! (Clever?: pretty damn; Effective?: yep, especially Fox)
11:53 PM – They missed a real opportunity not having Loco’s body fall onto Ali from the hayloft directly into the camera, though I admit I don’t know how the hell you’d shoot that. Ali’s “demise” is also pretty affecting, as he grabs an errant machete, making sure to (14) point it directly into the camera in as 3-D a manner as possible! (Clever?: as a throwaway gag; Effective?: not really), and goes off hunting for bear. I loved his reaction of “SHIT!” when he finally gets a look at Jason. At least the dude goes down swinging.
11:56 PM – Night falls on Crystal Lake, and, inside Higgins Haven, an already off the hook party is fast approaching critical mass. Thrill to shots of dozing stoners and a (15) two-man juggling competition, shot from overhead in as 3-D a manner as possible! (Clever?: undoubtedly; Effective?: unfortunately, no) The line where Debbie turns the duet into a solo act by telling Andy, in passing, that she, “can think of much better things he could be doing with his hands” is the funniest thing in the movie. Soon after, alone at last (technically), Shelley finally makes his awkward but heartfelt move on Vera, only to be immediately shot down. She’s not wholly without compassion in her response, so his eventual retort, perhaps you’ll agree, seems to me a mild to significant overreaction.
11:58 PM – I just find Chris inherently likeable, which I guess is itself a point of mild controversy. She’s good-natured with a dash of sass. She has great taste in separates and cares about her friends. Sure, she gets overly dramatic when describing her mysterious motivating incident – that “thing that happened at the lake two years ago” – to Rick, but I find that any woman earnestly, emotionally recounting the trauma of (hopefully only) attempted rape by a homicidal gargoyle built to play defensive end for the Bengals can be expected to sometimes fluctuate in the tone and timbre of her voice. Why, oh why did the film have to go there, if only for a lukewarm, poorly shot minute (blurry, gimmicky flashbacks especially don’t work in old school 3-D)? I mean, why even allude to it, let alone spell it out?
12:02 AM – In a final act of indignity, the battery of Rick’s Volkswagen bug (a car that has already been through the ringer today), dies. In addition to being another neat bit of foreshadowing, it forces the couple to walk home, which provides plenty of time for hostilities to be joined and then escalate back at the farm.
12:03 AM – I’m all for knowing your audience, but is there any reason besides, “ooh, spooky!” or “ooh, edgy!” for stoner Chuck to visit an outhouse when it will soon be established the house has indoor plumbing sufficient to power at least one fully working bathroom?
12:06 AM – Stoners Chuck and Marie are convinced Shelley is playing tricks and run off to the barn to confront him in a fairly atmospheric sequence rendered somewhat less so by the actors participating therein. Meanwhile, across camp, Vera receives a shocking surprise when a hand reaches out of the pond to grab her dangling ankle. From the murky shallows arises Shelley – who, it should be said, having changed for this prank into an arresting, if random, wetsuit/speargun/hockey mask ensemble and swum underwater to a spot where, unseen, he could spring for maximum impact – is never content to half-ass anything. Another argument ensues – yay for the winning combination of significant emotional complexity with absolutely no social skills – and Shelley storms off in a huff. This is terribly unfair to Vera, who would probably like to make some sort of amends, and leaves Shelley just another misunderstood dreamer sitting, crestfallen and dripping wet, in a scuba suit with a speargun and a hockey mask in his lap, desperately awaiting a destiny that won’t come for at least another minute or so, probably in the nearby barn. We’ve all been there, I think.
12:09 AM – It’s not as though the sequence of Vera thumbing through Shelley’s wallet and encountering the picture of he and his mother was the movie’s first attempt to humanize him, or even its tenth. Outside of Ginny in Part 2 or Jimmy in The Final Chapter – and, in the latter’s case, for many of the same reasons – I’d argue that Chris and especially Shelley are the closest the series comes to portrayals of authentic flesh and blood people. Credit to actress Catherine Parks, who vacillates between pitying him and seething over him and finally seems to decide that Vera kinda likes Shelley against her own better instincts, thus sealing her doom when the wallet slips out of her hand and into the pond, and she makes the fateful decision to go in after it.
12:10 AM – The (16) spear gun kill to Vera’s eye (in as 3-D a manner as possible!) was pretty damned spectacular, uncomfortably close, and mercilessly on point. (Clever?: you bet; Effective?: Oh baby) Almost worth the whole movie. Note also the weirdly casual way Jason strolls out of the barn, tosses aside the spent spear gun, and lopes his way up toward the house. The late Richard Brooker’s hulking incarnation of Jason is also the innately coolest.
12:12 AM – Nice stealth homage to Psycho here, with Andy introducing his ability to walk on his hands by sneaking up on Debbie in the shower. Go with that, kid. See where it takes you.
12:13 AM – I was hoping for a bit more out of Yo-Yo Ma’s handstand bisection kill. Instead, it’s pretty much exactly as cool in 3-D in a theater as it was on 2-D video, only bigger. One thing you can’t deny about this movie: it goes the extra mile to make its victims surface-level memorable – yo-yos, juggling, hand-walking – almost as if Jason got unleashed during a live taping of the two-hour season finale of America’s Got Talent.
12:15 AM – And Debbie’s death by hunting knife from beneath the hammock is an obvious homage to Kevin Bacon’s demise in Part 1, just without quite the same insane degree of difficulty. Don’t work hard, work smart: one thing Jason didn’t learn from his mother.
12:15:30 AM – The munchies wait for no man, and so, behold, (17) overhead shots of popping popcorn presented in as 3-D a manner as possible! (Clever?: undeniably; Effective?: hit and miss) This last-ditch attempt to make the stoners interesting can only end in tears. I personally think Chuck should go investigate the power outage that’s due to hit the cabin at any minute.
12:18 AM – Shelley’s final appearance, as a red herring with a legitimately (and grisly) slit throat, does not move the overly credulous Marie, and, in so doing, brings his character neatly full circle. Seriously, say what you want, but no other character in the series has close to this complete an arc, except for perhaps Tommy Jarvis, and that took three movies.
12:18:30 AM – In the meantime, Chuck fixes the fuse box, only for Jason to appear behind him when the lights come up. I’d never fully realized before how much of this movie Jason spends stalking his prey close up, not merely watching them POV from behind a tree but standing in the same room behind them, ala Michael Myers in the original Halloween. It’s not a convention the series used heavily before, and it certainly never would be again, but for the most part I applaud its not-too-terribly-out-of-the-box thinking, which adds to the overall atmosphere in a tangible way.
12:19 AM – How can a death by (18) red hot fireplace poker be the least bit underwhelming? Possibly because it was not quite presented in as 3-D a manner as possible! (Clever?: sure; Effective?: sadly, no) Nobody needs a side view of that trash, Steve Miner. Best get your head back in the game, for the climax fast approacheth.
12:21 AM – Rick? Wait, Rick! She wants to come with you! Those were even her exact words.
12:22 AM – Rick’s demise was certainly eye-popping, eh? Almost worth the whole movie, Part 2. I’m in love with the setup as well, with Chris calling into the storm from the Higgins porch as the camera pans just a few feet away and into the shadows to show Rick struggling in the vice-like clutches of Goalie Jason. Guess everything wasn’t all right after all. The Great Bumpkin might have been narrative dead weight, but he accomplished more on his way out, having (19) his head crushed until his left eye literally jumps out at the audience – in as 3-D a manner as possible! – (Clever?: the pinnacle; Effective?: legendary), than he did in thirty-some minutes of screen time beforehand. Bravo.
12:25 AM – These old log cabin joints, as Chris discovers, are incredibly drafty during horror movie climaxes, all blowing hinges and flapping doors and conspicuously large windows through which a madman might dramatically heave your former boyfriend. Jason cuts an unbelievably menacing figure, climbing through the decimated window frame. He’s worthy of a scream and then some, and Dana Kimmell belts ’em out heroically for the film’s remaining runtime.
12:26 AM – Behold, a (20) large shelf of books on the upstairs catwalk, tipped over and onto Jason’s head/into our lap in as 3-D a manner as possible! (Clever?: how about brilliant?; Effective?: sadly, underwhelming)
12:27 AM – No longer content to merely crib from the best and shrug cheekily about it later, Part 3 features a scene lifted almost beat for beat from Halloween, as Chris physically locks herself inside an upstairs closet, Goalie Jason doggedly splinters his way in, at which point she stabs him in desperation with an implement found inside the closet (or, in this case, inside her friend inside the closet) and stumbles away. The only big difference is Jason’s recovery time, as he’s back in a flash and hurling (21) the knife back at her head – in as 3-D a manner as possible! – with such force that, even as it misses, embeds itself in the wall upon impact. (Clever?: not the idea so much as the deployment; Effective: fairly)
12:30 AM – Three Dog Night’s abbreviated campaign of sabotage still left Chris’ van with only enough gas to sputter to a stop while crossing the wooden bridge. Quick thinking as she rolls up the driver’s side window to temporarily incapacitate Jason’s grasping hands and escape. Quick thinking in return when he frees himself by using the instantly iconic hockey mask to headbutt the offending window glass into splintery submission. Scary or not, Goalie Jason runs like my maternal grandfather shooing varmints out of his garden.
12:33 AM – I can’t even say anything cute about how Chris, having somehow shimmied her way out onto and now hanging from a ceiling support beam, decides to make the most of her rapidly diminishing grip, and (22) falls directly onto an unsuspecting Jason below in as 3-D a manner as possible! (Clever?: I sure wouldn’t have thought of it; Effective: totally)
12:34 AM – As the series progressed, each subsequent cat-and-mouse game between the killer and the “final girl” became a refinement of what had come before – from Alice and Pamela’s epic slap fight, to Ginny’s unexpected chainsaw attack on Farmer Jason, to Chris here fitting a groggy Goalie Jason with a homemade noose and then pushing him out of the goddamned hayloft, to Trish crowning him but good with a television to the skull in Part 4. Part of why Part 3’s endgame remains my favorite of the series is the variety and sense of back-and-forth it contains. Jason’s (23) ad hoc hanging – in as 3-D a manner as possible! – (Clever?: ingenious; Effective?: rock solid) is a jarring, sickeningly terrific coup de grace, or would be if we still didn’t have his unmasking and various other bits of housekeeping ahead of us.
12:36 AM – As I implied earlier, and as every boxing fan knows without having to be told, Ali is exceptionally hard to bring down. Even one-handed and bleeding like a sieve, he’s the very picture of defiance.
12:36:30 AM – ‘Twas Chris’ axe that made the long, iconic scar that would remain just above the hockey mask’s left eye, but it’s the way its (24) long handle protrudes directly into the space between our own eyes – in as 3-D a manner as possible! – (Clever?: absolutely; Effective: saved the best for last), paired with his outstretched, grasping hands, that so effectively unsettles. A couple sub-Frankenstein lurches forward and Jason finally collapses into the dust. I’ve seen Chris’ comingled look of horror and exasperation before; what she needs is obviously some relaxing me-time alone, chilling in a oarless canoe out on the nearby pond-lake.
12:40 AM – Oh, the climactic Mrs. Voorhees throwback switcheroo dream sequence is just eighteen shades of wretched, a transparent and insulting attempt to recapture the magic of Jason springing out of the lake to drag Alice to her watery grave. I especially love how the poor script supervisor they shanghaied into playing the somehow re-headed, decomposing Mrs. V looks absolutely nothing like her (though, to be fair, she shares a passing resemblance to the anonymous head on the shrine at Chez Jason). You cannot bottle lightning, nor can you go home again. No, no, no, no, NO.
12:41 AM – Chris is a fractured, giggly wreck as she is walked to the police car, and it’s, frankly, an intense and uncomfortable sequence, albeit one that’s probably as likely to elicit laughter from a crowd that sometimes has difficulty interpreting things in any other way. Whether you like Chris or not, Dana Kimmell sure committed to the part and ended up making her memorable in a way that little else about Part 3 was outside the realm of the purely technical.
12:44 AM – From the sound of the end credits, disco might even outlive Jason Voorhees. Sorry if there seemed little to talk about here other than how the 3-D was deployed, and how it served to at least make the deaths more creative…and if cataloguing the 3-D effects out of amusement actually made me more long-winded than usual. Strange things are surely afoot at Crystal Lake. Part 3 is generally undercooked and, yes, one-dimensional, though at least its exceptional (non-dream) climax gives the pre-title sequence of Part 4 something hot to work with.
Last up: 1:10 AM (approximately), and Friday the 13th Part 4…so I’ve heard it’s the final chapter, but don’t quote me on that.
For more fun at camp, 1980-style, click HERE.
If you still remember the summer of ’81, click HERE.
For my worthless but considered previous opinions on the Friday the 13th series as a whole, pack a lunch and then click HERE.