Friday the 13th Part III: 3D
Dir. Steve Miner (1982)
Yet more teens decide to put themselves in Jason's path as they once again decide to summer by Camp Crystal Lake.
The 3D craze is one that seemingly every horror franchise eventually explores, and its 80's iteration was kicked off with 1982's Friday the 13th Part III: 3D. Inexplicably using the roman numeral instead of its Arabic equation like the previous sequel did, F13 3 makes full use of the third dimension by sending everything on-screen possible out at its audience, from random poles to hockey sticks, snakes to eyeballs. It's egregious and unwarranted, but it's hard to blame them for trying something that had never been done before in a slasher film. It is, however, an incredibly dated technique that looks all the worse 40 years later.
Part III is really not that bad of a slasher. It follows the formula pretty well and has a lot gnarlier kills than the second entry in the franchise. We've got a speargun to the eyeball, a machete through the throat (from the back!), a head squeezed so hard an eyeball pops out, and numerous other slashings and stabbings. Of course, this is also the first film where Jason wears his iconic hockey mask, a much better look than the nondescript sackcloth from the previous film. Jason climbing through a window with a hockey mask and a hatchet is truly terrifying, and F13 III does a great job of balancing a dumb, fun slasher with some great jumpscares and more than enough gore.
While the gore is entertaining, it is much less realistic than in the first installment, limited as it may have been. Part of its issues stem from insisting practically every kill is infused with unrealistic 3D imaging, and part is just a sign of the times. The 80's effects were rarely good, especially without Savini at the helm, but Rick Baker did some of the ones for this film before he had to drop out, and even those are a little subpar compared to his usual work. It's an entertaining enough film, though, and Part 3 helps to establish the over-the-top, ridiculous fun that the series would soon become known for.
The main gripe is definitely the excessive 3D use, because many of the other things the series is known for become increasingly present in this film. Jason as the unkillable entity, the increasingly ridiculous kills, and an ever-raising bodycount help to establish Friday the 13th Part III as the first essential F13 film. It fails to capture the magic of the original, but it's a fun, dumb slasher that works perfectly for an audience that was clamoring to see more guts and gore in the early 80's. While it's certainly not a filmic masterpiece, it is everything that the drive-ins, and later the home video VHS market, were looking for.
Who this movie is for: Slasher lovers, Jason Voorhees stans, Lake enthusiasts
Bottom line: Friday the 13th Part III is the first film in the series that feels like a F13 movie. It's dumb, over-the-top, and reinforces the unstoppable beastly killing machine that came to personify the series. While this may be a strike against other franchises, Friday the 13th embraces these qualities with open arms. The 3D doesn't hold up at all and the film certainly wasn't in the running for an Oscar, but you didn't expect it to be anyway. If you want to see Jason in his original hockey mask form, this is where you're going to find it.