FRIDAY THE 13th PART III should be subtitled: HOW JASON GOT HIS HOCKEY MASK, because really, that’s what it’s best known for. Otherwise, it’s just a standard exercise in 80s cheese horror. Which isn’t entirely a bad thing. Upping the cheese factor is the fact that this was originally released in 3D. Now, I haven’t seen it in its 3D glory, and apparently it’s a blast. As it stands now, it’s basically exactly the film you’d expect it to be, but unfortunately not anything really beyond that.
The 95 minutes of the film are bolstered by the fact that the first 10 minutes are literally the final 10 minutes of PART II repeated. Why? Because apparently FRIDAY THE 13th movies have such an intricate back-story that we need to be carefully reminded about who Jason is. Like it matters? He’s a dude who won’t die and kills people, the back-story does little to change that fact. Anyhow, flash forward to the present, a bunch of teenagers are going to Camp Crystal Lake. Of course, one of them has had a bad experience in those woods with Jason, but that wouldn’t stop her from returning, would it? No, of course not.
It’s your usual crew of horny teens, although making things a bit different this time around is the presence of Shelly (Larry Zerner), a nebbishy guy sporting a major Jerry-Curl. Shelly is a nerd who has no luck with the ladies, so in order to get their attention, he thinks he needs to stage elaborate fake deaths. A convenient device in order to misdirect the audience over and over? Perhaps, but at least they gave him a reason for doing it, albeit a thin one.
Things proceed as you’d imagine. In order to add some variety to the deaths, the filmmakers invent the presence of an 80s punk band/motorcycle gang who somehow find a way to each individually sneak around an empty farmhouse and get whacked by Jason. The deaths are pretty good, in particular when someone gets speared from behind and gets his eye popped out (must have been great in 3D). There is also the famous arrow-through-the-eye shot in which the victim suddenly turns into a mannequin (watch carefully).
The end gets a little convoluted with dream sequences and with Jason making numerous last-minute appearances. But at least we get a good look at his face. And of course, the real reason this movie is famous: the hockey mask. Many don’t realize that Jason didn’t don the infamous mask until PART III. I wonder if they had any idea what a cultural touchstone that would be. Given the relatively slipshod execution of the rest of this film, I doubt that. FRIDAY THE 13th PART III is a perfectly acceptable entry in the teen slasher series, but really no more than that.
RATING: ** and a half (out of four)