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FRIDAY THE 13th PART 3 (1982)
|"Relax! Enjoy the weekend! Nothing’s going to happen when we’re all here together."|
Director: Steve Miner
Starring: Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Richard Brooker, Catherine Parks, Larry Zerner, Tracie Savage, Jeffrey Rogers, David Katims, Rachel Howard, Gloria Charles, Nick Savage, Kevin O’Brien
Screenplay: Martin Kitrosser and Carol Watson
Synopsis: After hearing a news report about a massacre at a lakeside camp, a middle-aged couple is brutally murdered by a mysterious stranger…. Preparing for a weekend in the country, Chris (Dana Kimmell), Debbie (Tracie Savage) and Andy (Jeffrey Rogers) collect their friends Vera (Catherine Parks) and Shelly (Larry Zerner). Shelly, an aspiring actor, annoys the other kids with his practical jokes. On the way to the farm owned by Chris’s parents, the kids smoke dope supplied by Chuck (David Katims) and Chili (Rachel Howard) – only to panic at the sound of a police siren. However, the cops are on their way to the scene of the previous day’s killings. Distracted by the sight of a body being placed in an ambulance, Chris nearly runs over a man lying in the road. The kids jump out to see if he is all right, but flee in horror when he shows them what he is holding: a human eyeball. At the farm, Chris takes her bag inside as the others run to the lake. Someone grabs her suddenly and she cries out, but it is only her former boyfriend, Rick (Paul Kratka). After showing the others their rooms, Chris joins Rick at the barn, where he works at hauling hay into the loft. The two tentatively discuss their former relationship until they are interrupted by a scream from the house. Chris runs inside and upstairs, shrieking in horror as Shelly’s bloody corpse falls from a cupboard. The other kids come running – and Andy reveals that it is all a joke by tickling the "corpse". Disgusted and angry, the others storm off, with Shelly left trying to apologise. Vera borrows Rick’s car to go into town, and Shelly begs to be allowed to go with her. She finally agrees. In town, the two have an ugly encounter with three bikers, which ends with the car’s windscreen being smashed. Shelly retaliates by running over the gang leader’s motorcycle. The three track the kids to the farm, where they drain the petrol from their van and plan to torch the barn in revenge. Fox (Gloria Charles) enters the barn. Shortly afterwards, Loco (Kevin O’Brien) goes looking for her – and finds her hanging from a wooden beam with a pitchfork through her throat. An instant later, a second pitchfork is thrust through Loco’s chest. Entering the barn, Ali (Nick Savage) finds the bodies, then finds himself confronted by the killer. They struggle, and Ali is knocked to the ground and struck repeatedly in the head…. As Chris remains nervous and unresponsive to his overtures, Rick becomes impatient with her. Finally, Chris tells him the truth: that she came back home to test herself; that two years earlier, when she fled the farm without warning, she had had been attacked in the woods by a grotesque, inhuman-looking man armed with a knife – an encounter from which she barely escaped with her life….
Comments: You know what I like best about slasher films? I mean, other than their ruthless Darwinism? They’re short. And even better, they’re so lacking in substance that they are really easy to review. And so last weekend and this, I’ve been able to dash off a few pages of writing, catch up my e-mail, do a little housework and mess around in the garden, and yet still have enough time left over to nick down into the basement and tinker with my secret army of remote-controlled, flesh-eating zombies, with which, one of these days, when the time is ripe, I’m going to----
But I’ve said too much already.
Even as the laws of the Bad Film Universe dictate that any film bearing the suffix "Part 4" shall be further subtitled In Space, there was a brief period of time during the early eighties when the those same laws obliged the third part of any franchise to be released in 3-D. Granted, this phase only lasted for about ten minutes; but that was long enough for Friday The 13th Part 3, Jaws 3-D, and Amityville 3-D to be loosed upon an unsuspecting public. Ooh! and then there was Rottweiler! Remember Rottweiler? Look upon my works, oh ye Bad Movie Watchers, and tremble! As with most 3-D films, the action in Friday The 13th Part 3 is structured primarily around finding as many objects to toss towards the camera, and hence the audience, as is physically possible. And again as with most 3-D films, just about everything that isn’t concerned with something travelling camera-wards is bland, uninteresting and sloppily put together. While Friday The 13th had the benefit of being the first of its kind, as well as bonuses in the shape of Tom Savini’s effects and the identity of its killer, and Part 2 had an interesting Final Girl, a memorable "showdown" scene and a rare un-irritating cast, Part 3 is notable only for sheer idiocy of most of its 3-D effects, and for the presence of a particular item of sporting wear. Mention this film to just about any horror watcher, and the odds are the response you get will be, "Oh, that’s the one where Jason gets his hockey mask!" (As I understand it, Jason’s mask was meant largely as a joke, one perpetrated by a couple of hockey-mad Canadian crew-members. That such a throwaway gesture should have come to sum up the Friday The 13th franchise as a whole strikes me as oddly appropriate.) What they won’t say, I imagine, is "Oh, that’s the one with the great acting – the clever plot – the dazzling special effects – the unexpected twist ending!" And there’s a very good reason for that. It’s because – in a word – this film reeks.
Part 3 opens as Part 2 did, with a replay of the ending of the previous installment. This is a Good Thing, as we get to see Ginny again. Yay, Ginny! The pre-credit sequence runs almost as long here as it did in Part 2, taking us from Ginny’s discovery of Jason’s shack, through the "Mommy" sequence and the slow motion machete action that should have ended the series, and concluding with Paul helping Ginny from the shack. What we don’t see is that idiotic false scare ending – I guess even Steve Miner finally recognised its inherent dumbness. Instead, as Paul and Ginny limp away, we cut back inside the shack to where Jason is lying on the floor, machete in, hood off. He begins to stir….
We then cut to the credits which, again as per the norm, consist of red block letters zooming towards the audience. Less usual is the music that accompanies them. It’s Friday The 13th Part 3, where disco lives forever! Oh, yes indeed: someone decided that it would be a good idea to release a dance version of the franchise’s famous score! After all, what could better set the mood for a terrifying horror movie than two minutes of off-cuts from the soundtrack of Thank God It’s Friday? That’s right – nothing. So, all together now! – whomp whomp boom boom whacka whacka chick chick----
Now that we’re all good and terrified – and having wasted five and a half minutes of the film’s running time recapitulating Part 2 – the film-makers proceed to waste a further eight and a half minutes (the film only runs ninety-six!) with The Adventures Of Harold And Edna, a thoroughly uninteresting middle-aged couple (she nags, he’s henpecked, ho, ho, ho!) who have the misfortune to live in the vicinity of Camp Crystal Lake. This is where the 3-D effects kick in, and the first example doesn’t exactly inspire us with confidence. As Edna screeches out the window at him, Harold replaces the laundry pole he has inadvertently knocked down – with the end of the pole thrust into the camera in the process. Wow! – a laundry pole! (Pardon my sarcasm. I’ll come clean: a have a natural grudge against 3-D, being sufficiently visually impaired never to have had the opportunity of actually experiencing it. [Of course, once I take my glasses off and shake out my hair, I morph into a statuesque brunette with twenty-twenty vision – but that’s another story….] For future reference, all 3-D effects will be noted in this review as a square parenthetical interjection – thus: [laundry pole!].) We then cut inside to where Edna is watching the news, and we learn that this is the same day that the final scene of Part 2 occurred upon. As we see footage of Ginny – yay, Ginny! – being loaded into an ambulance (a good trick, as there were no cameramen present in that scene in the previous film), a helpful voiceover fills us in. "The quiet little community of Crystal Lake" – ah! – so that’s what that town is called! – "was shocked today with reports of a grisly mass murder. Eight corpses have already been discovered in what is being called the most brutal and heinous crime in local history." Well, yeah – except for that little incident five years earlier, which they seem to have forgotten about. We further learn that survivor Ginny is suffering "multiple stab wounds and severe hysterical shock" and hear Jason Voorhees (who, by the way, is not called by name at any point in this film) described as the "axe-wielding killer"! – odd, since of all the weapons used by Jason so far, the axe has been conspicuously absent. Meanwhile, Harold is pottering about the couple’s general store, giving us a protracted "potential victim behaves with ironic normalcy" scene. We learn that Henpecked Harold consoles himself for the shortcomings of his marriage by collecting cuddly animals. This scene contains a truly remarkable rabbit: whether it’s actually dead, or merely heavily sedated, I’m not sure. Tragically, however, Harold’s other pets have come to a sticky end, and we learn the reason why when a [rattlesnake!] launches from their cage. Harold has barely recovered from the shock when the audience hears an ominous chh chh chh chh sound; and an instant later Harold gets a meat cleaver in the chest, his [dead body!] falling towards the camera. We’ve already seen Edna hunting for her missing knitting needle. Moments later, she finds it somewhat abruptly as the [knitting needle!] is thrust through her body. End time-wasting opening sequence.
We cut now to the story proper, such as it is, and I find myself obliged to make a confession. Regular readers will know that I have upon numerous occasions complained about the total lack of characterisation to be found in slasher films; that we rarely know anything about the potential victims other than their names – and sometimes not even that. Well, Part 3 is different. It gives us backstories to flesh out not one but two of its characters – and to be perfectly honest, I found it unbearably irritating – much more so than the earlier installments’ lack of backstory. I’m forced to conclude that one of the reasons that slasher-makers refrain from including characterisation in their scripts is that they’re really, really bad at it. In short – I learnt a valuable lesson today; and you will never again hear me whinging about the absence of character detail in a film of this type.
Backstory #1 concerns Chris, who automatically becomes Final Girl. (She is not otherwise qualified. Oh – except that she has an androgynous name. But she’s called "Chrissie" most of the time, so I don’t think it’s significant.) Her companions, Debbie and Andy, spend most of their time snogging (and are thus Not Long For This World), and Chris reacts to this with a kind of nervous laughter. When Andy asks, "What would a weekend in the country be without sex?" (oh, you are so dead!), Debbie elbows him in the ribs to indicate he’s said something tactless. Chris, however, immediately insists that, "What happened to me at the lake happened a long time ago. I’m fine now, really." (This is what I meant about them being really bad at backstory – because that line seems to me to indicate something that is nothing like what actually happened.) As this conversation is taking place, we see a knife-wielding maniac stalk up to them and sink his weapon into Andy’s back. But – yuck, yuck, yuck! – it’s just Shelly, Andy’s roommate. In Shelly (Backstory #2) we have a cliché strangely absent from the franchise up to this point: The Loser. Expressing a personal philosophy of "it’s better to be a jerk than to be nothing", and convinced that no-one could like him for himself (and he’s not far wrong, to be honest), Shelly indulges in a series of pranks meant to "get attention". Most of these involve faking his own death. (If you think you see where this might be heading, you’re quite right – and it’s one of the few scenes worth watching.)
Since Shelly is by definition single, the other kids have felt obliged to rope in "a date" for him. The lucky girl is Vera, who I hoped against all the available evidence would turn out to be Final Girl, as I liked her a lot better than anyone else in the film (thus damning her with faint praise). More potential victims are introduced when the kids see clouds of smoke billowing from their van and run across to put out "the fire" – only to discover that the source of the smoke is Chuck and Chili, who are in the back of the van puffing away on their bongs. These two are easily twice as old as anyone else in the cast; and I can only imagine they were included because the film-makers realised that the other thing missing in the franchise to this point was "drug humour". Sigh. The drug humour in question is present in quantity rather than quality. Copious amounts of marijuana are observed, and [a joint!] is passed around. Significantly, Chris is the only one who doesn’t indulge. Suddenly, a police siren is heard, and the kids (now using the term loosely) panic, trying to dispose of the stash by swallowing it in handfuls. Yuck, yuck, yuck! (None of them show any after-effects of this, BTW.) But the police car zooms by them and pulls into the campsite where previous day’s (and previous film’s) massacre took place. The main building is now considerably closer to the road than it was the night before, so Chris gets a really good look at a body-bagged corpse being lifted into an ambulance. Seeing her friend gazing at this grisly sight, Debbie advises, "Don’t let your imagination run away with you." Oh, yeah – it’s her imagination that she just saw a body being loaded into a meat wagon. Now, let’s examine this scenario, shall we? Not only do none of the kids seem to know what happened the night before (or at least, we assume not - granted, the characters in these things are rarely a bunch of budding Einsteins, but still, you’d hope they’d have enough of a purely animalistic sense of self-preservation not to wander into a psycho killer’s hunting ground voluntarily), but a mass murder has just taken place, the mass murderer is still on the loose, yet the area is wide open, not a roadblock in sight, and only half a dozen cops are on the scene! When a film has to strain credibility this far just to get its set-up in place, it bodes very, very ill for the "story" to follow.
I should have mentioned that when the kids drove into the town to pick up Vera, a boy was swinging a [baseball bat!] in the street. Now as they travel towards their destination, we see a [fly-blown dead rabbit!] by the road. Ah, the wonders of cinema! Chris is still preoccupied with what she saw at the campsite, and nearly runs over an old coot who is, naturally enough, lying in the road. The kids all pile out to see if he’s okay, and we soon gather that we are in the presence of Crazy Ralph’s replacement. Not only does the individual ("Abel" – he’s not verbally named) start spouting doom-laden warnings, but he waves something at both the kids and the audience, causing Shelly to exclaim, "That’s an [eyeball!]" (And just as well he told us, too, since what this brilliant "effect" most resembles is a used Kleenex.) Horrified, the kids pile back into the van and speed away, seeing no need whatsoever to report this incident to the police back down the road….
The kids arrive at their destination, a farm called "Higgins Haven", which they enter by crossing a rickety wooden bridge that is given a meaningful close-up. When they pull up, everyone but Chris goes running to the lake, while she carries her bag inside. This isolates her to set up a false scare as someone grabs her. It’s her former boyfriend, Rick, who having frightened her half to death, starts kissing her, then acts surprised when she shoves him away and is clearly ticked off with him. Of course, having been made justifiably angry, Chris (being A Girl) then apologises for it, excusing her behaviour with a few more hints about her backstory. Rick takes this as a come-on and tries to kiss her again, to which Chris responds with a plea for him to "slow down!" "Well, okay," Rick replies, "but I can only take so many cold showers!" I mean, jeez! – they’ve been together almost five minutes and they haven’t had sex yet! How long does she expect a guy to wait? After a brief interlude in which Chris shows Debbie and Andy their room, we cross to the barn, where Rick is hauling [bales of hay!] into the loft. He accompanies his actions with a panting speech about how much he’d like to have sex right now, it being almost ten minutes, yada-yada. This is (thankfully) broken up by an agonised scream from the house. Chris goes rushing inside and upstairs, the others converging in her wake; and hearing A Mysterious Noise from a closet, she pulls open the doors – and [Shelly!] falls out, a hatchet buried in his forehead. For a moment there is mass panic, until Andy, well-versed in the ways of Shelly, destroys the illusion by tickling the "corpse". Shelly then stands there dumbfounded by the discovery that the other kids don’t find his attempt at humour hysterically funny. Various opprobrious terms are tossed around, before Vera asks to borrow Rick’s car, announcing her intention of going into town for supplies. As she sets out, Shelly dashes after her, begging to be allowed to go with her - and away from his justly irate companions. Vera ignores this request and drives off – only to take pity on him and stop the car a moment later. Vera, you see, is a nice person. That her niceness ultimately stands her in no good stead whatsoever is less, I think, an intended commentary on the unjustness of the world than it is an illustration of the fundamentally misanthropic nature of the slasher film.
In town, Vera goes to pay for her purchases, only to be told "no food stamps". This stops her in her tracks (!?), and she has to ask Shelly for his wallet, which he tosses to her. It is intercepted, however, by one of three members of a motorcycle gang who just happen to be in the store. These three are in the story for no reason other than to pad out the running time a bit more, and to provide some more cannon fodder. If we excuse this painfully blatant demonstration of hack film-making at all, it is only because two of the three are, unexpectedly, black – including the gang leader. Let’s face it: slasher films on the whole are embarrassingly whitebread. This mystifying convention is well illustrated by the first two franchise entries. Friday The 13th is 100% Caucasian; while Part 2 gives us Token Black Guy and Token Asian Girl, but does not include them amongst the victims. What is this about? Some kind of weird, reverse discrimination? There’s no actual reason why black people – or Asian people – or people who are pink with purple polka-dots – or Mark, the paraplegic character from Part 2, for that matter - shouldn’t die at the hands of a cinematic psycho killer, but they hardly ever do. By including these two characters in such an offhand manner, the makers of Part 3 almost manage to do something interesting. Almost. Unfortunately, the gang members are even more stereotyped than the kids. The two men monster Shelly, while the woman withholds the wallet from Vera until she makes her "say please". When she and Shelly finally escape, Vera is so angry and upset that she asks Shelly to drive. He responds by backing over the gang members’ motorcycles. This leads to some more "effects" (and the discovery that Rick’s car has ordinary glass in its windows) as a chain is smashed through [the windshield!] and [a window!]. Shelly drives off in a panic, then decides he’s been a coward long enough and deliberately runs over the gang leader’s motorcycle. And if you think this action might have Consequences, go to the head of the class.
Back at the farm, Andy is playing with a [yo-yo!] when Shelly and Vera drive up. As Rick stares in dismay, Shelly chooses to brag about his exploit, and Vera good-naturedly backs him up. Rick is about to storm off in a huff, but Chris convinces him to stay with her. The two drive off somewhere or other. Debbie and Andy go swimming. Through these scenes, we get numerous POV shots and chh chh chh chh stings, but this is a cheat, as the lurkers are the gang members. Seeing the coast clear, they drain the petrol from the van and prepare to torch the barn with it. Fox (the woman) goes in first, looking around until she trips and almost lands on a [five-pronged pitchfork!]. Someone throws hay on Fox from the loft, and she [climbs up the ladder!] to see who it is…. Shortly afterwards, Loco (the Token White Guy) goes looking for Fox. He finds her, all right: she’s dangling from a wooden strut with a pitchfork through her throat, the [handle!] jutting forward. Loco has no chance to react. Our killer is nearby, armed with a second pitchfork which, in a distinctly Andy Milligan-like moment, he thrusts through Loco’s chest and [out the other side!]. (Also Milligan-esque is the fact that Jason’s pitchfork has five prongs on the way in, but only four on the way out!!) Loco stands there for a while with the [pitchfork handle!] waving around, then finally collapses. Completing the ritual, Ali (the Main Man) goes looking for his minions, only to be jumped and – in a moment that seems completely out of place in a slasher film – bashed repeatedly in the head.
Elsewhere (Rick’s place?), Rick and Chris are having a D&M. Rick complains about the state of their relationship. After all, it is now almost one hour, yada-yada. "You’ve put this barrier up between us!" Rick grumps. Uh, I think they’re called "underpants". Back at the farm, Andy and Shelly are having a competition juggling [apples!] and [oranges!]. Bored, Debbie breaks it up by suggesting to Andy that there are other things he could be doing with his hands. The two depart. Vera pokes the fire, giving a good view of [her butt!] to both Shelly and the audience. Shelly observes that the two of them have "gotten to know each other" and that he "really likes her", so he was wondering if…? "I don’t think so," replies Vera without hesitation, although not unkindly. She then escapes the awkward moment by "getting some air". Meanwhile, Debbie and Andy are figuring out how to have sex in a hammock. (Oh, you are so-oo-oo dead!)
Finally, Chris gets around to telling Rick her Tragic Story. (An observation: on two or three occasions, Chris has complained to Debbie that "Rick doesn’t understand" how she feels about coming back to the farm, that he’s not being "sympathetic" enough. We now discover that the reason he doesn’t "understand" is that she hasn’t told him what happened!! Yikes, girl - !) It turns out that two years earlier, Chris got home late after a date with Rick and had a huge fight with her parents, which ended with her mother slapping her face. Chris’s response was to run away into the woods, intending to spend the night there and worry her parents sick. (Nice girl.) But suddenly – he was there! A man – "grotesque, almost inhuman" – armed with a knife. He attacked her, and as she was being dragged away, she blacked out – only to wake up in her own bed, with no idea of how she came to be there. (No, and nor has anyone else – least of all Martin Kitrosser and Carol Watson.) Her parents behaved as if it never happened – "but it did! It did!" Yes, but what did? Again, the inference here is one of sexual assault, but they never actually say so; and such an act would be distinctly out of character for your common or garden slasher film psycho. Anyway – Chris’s tale is cut short when the car lights that have been illuminating the scene die. Sure enough, Rick finds the car battery dead and tells Chris they’ll have to walk, reassuring her that he knows a short-cut. This "short-cut" turns out to be of extraordinary length, as this is the film-makers’ way of getting their Final Girl out of the firing-line while the killings proper start. We then waste several minutes with Chuck and Chili (who have been comatose since arrival, and are no more interesting once awake) before we cut to Vera, still "getting some air" on the end of the dock. Suddenly, someone in the water grabs her ankle. Some screaming and struggling later, the "attacker" is revealed to be Shelly (surprise!), who emerges from the water wearing a wet-suit (!) and a hockey mask (!!) and carrying a spear-gun (!!!). He is also roaring with laughter at his "joke". Vera finally loses her temper with him and explains that if he wants people to actually like him, he should probably consider NOT ACTING LIKE A COMPLETE DICKHEAD. You know – just occasionally. Shelly has a fit of whimpering (this is the "being a jerk" vs "being nothing" scene), and the amazingly kind and patient Vera tries to boost the little creep’s self-esteem. (She’s a better woman than I am. If he’d done that to me, I’d’ve stuck him with his own spear-gun.) However, any consolatory speech from a girl to a guy that doesn’t include the line "Yes, I will have sex with you" is obviously destined for failure; and Shelly stalks off in a fit of the sulks that lasts until he hears a Mysterious Noise from the barn and goes to investigate…. Back on the dock, Vera realises that she still has Shelly’s wallet from that afternoon. She opens it, and looks thoughtfully at the picture of Shelly and his mother. (Let’s see – only child – elderly mother – no father present – jeez, could they possibly have carried this stereotype any further!?) Overcome by a compassionate impulse (Vera, no!!), Vera gets up and turns towards the house (NOOO!!!!), but accidentally drops the wallet in the water. Circling around the shore to get the wallet back, Vera stops when she sees a hockey-masked figure lurking in the distance. (And cinematic history is made….) Recognising after a moment that this time it isn’t Shelly, Vera demands to know who it is. Jason’s response is to raise the spear-gun and fire. The [spear!] hits Vera in the eye and she falls back into the water, dead.
Well, I’ve gotta say it: Vera has been saved from A Fate Worse Than Death….
Jason – now masked for perpetuity – looks thoughtfully up at the house. A light shows in a single window – that of the room where Debbie and Andy have just had sex….
This entire film is horribly slow-paced and draggy, but nowhere is this more evident than in the following sequence, where it takes about four times as long to dispose of Debbie and Andy than it should. I’ll try to be brief. After Doing It, Andy celebrates the occasion by walking around on his hands, a feat he demonstrated for us earlier. While he’s doing so, Debbie takes a shower and gives patient viewers a look at her boobs. We get a couple of false scares, and finally a real one. As Andy hand-walks down the corridor, Jason looms up, lifts his machete, and strikes downwards. Yeeeeooowwwwwcccchhhh!!!! Andy’s [partially bisected body!] then falls towards the camera, how explicitly varying from print to print. (Mine was fairly discreet.) Naturally, all of a room away, Debbie hears nothing unusual (and I must say, Andy displays remarkable stoicism – not one peep out of him!). She continues to talk to Andy, but upon getting no response, thinks nothing of it. Robed up, she finally leaves the bathroom and hops back into the hammock. Here we get a brief scene that’s actually enjoyable, as Debbie flicks through an issue of Fangoria, passing over an article on "Tom Savini, New Master Of Magical Makeup" for one on "Twenty-Five Years With Godzilla". Attagirl! Suddenly, blood (very watery blood) drips onto the magazine. Astonishingly, Debbie’s reaction is not a legitimate shriek or a dash from the room, but a mildly irritated, "Where’s that coming from?" The next moment, she is grabbed from beneath the hammock and run through with a knife; while a pan up shows us Andy’s body lying in the overhead rafters.
Why, yes! – now that you mention it, that entire sequence is logistically impossible! Just like the total absence of spilt blood (and stray viscera) in the area between the corridor and the rafters. And then there’s the little matter of how a rather large, hockey-masked psycho killer could possibly hide under a hammock!!??
In the kitchen, Chuck is making [popcorn!] when the lights go out. Chili sends him into the basement, telling him there’s nothing to be afraid of. (That’s what she thinks! – chh chh chh chh….) As Chuck leaves, the side door swings open and Shelly staggers in with his throat cut. In a moment that almost makes this film worth watching, Chili deadpans "Nice makeup job" and goes back to minding the popcorn, leaving Shelly to bleed to death. Yes!! Meanwhile, after a bit more time-wasting (including a Spring-Loaded Stuffed Skunk), Chuck ends up getting shoved into the fuse-box and electrocuted. Eventually, Chili realises that Shelly is, in fact, dead and goes tearing upstairs screaming for Andy and Debbie. She finds them too (offscreen), and rushes back downstairs to encounter a [red-hot poker!], which is plunged sizzling through her body.
All of the minor characters thus disposed of, Chris and Rick (remember them?) stagger out of their "short-cut". What timing! They find something blocking the door, and Chris smells something burning. (An "eeww!!" opportunity is lost when these two phenomena turn out to be caused by a chair and Chuck’s popcorn, respectively.) They force their way in and Rick comments that, "The lights aren’t working." Which is odd, since they clearly were when the two walked up to the house. When no-one answers their calls, Rick – in time-honoured tradition – decides to "go out and look around". Chris, of course, responds with "Wait! I’m coming with you!" but by the time she’s lit her lamp and stepped outside, Rick has disappeared. In fact, he’s just around the corner, pinioned and silenced by Jason, who proceeds to take Rick’s head in his hands and crush his skull – with the result that his [eyeball!] is popped directly into the camera.
You know, I’m usually quite susceptible to eye violence – but that’s just silly….
The film’s final phase starts rather slowly, with Chris discovering an overflowing bathtub full of bloody clothing. She dashes outside, and the white biker’s body drops from a tree on cue. (How do they do that!?) So she runs back in, and as the inevitable storm builds, spends what feels like ten minutes shutting doors and windows (one of which is obviously being opened and closed by a hidden crew-member). But someone is outside….and suddenly Rick’s body is tossed through a window. Jason follows it, axe in hand (ah!), and at last it is the Final Girl sequence. And I’m obliged to lighten up a bit, since it is actually pretty good, if totally lacking the psychological interest of Part 2’s ending. Chris runs upstairs (of course) and tips a bookcase over, the [books!] hitting Jason. She locks herself in a closet which – surprise! – contains Debbie’s body. As Jason hacks his way in (a ridiculously protracted scene, since the "door" is patently balsa and cardboard!), Chris steels herself and pulls the knife from her friend’s corpse. As Jason sticks a hand through to unlock the door (why didn’t he just break the lock?), Chris stabs him, provoking a howl of pain from the formally mute psycho. As Jason backs away, Chris goes on the attack, slashing at him wildly (she misses, but at least she’s trying), and finally stabs him in the thigh. And then, having both disarmed and severely injured him – she runs away AND leaves the knife there! Aaarrgghh!! (I suppose you’d call it the Psycho Killer’s Death Battle Exemption.)
Not surprisingly, Jason comes after Chris with that very knife, and she is obliged to smash a window and climb out. Jason grabs her but her jacket rips. Deciding to fight, Chris picks up an enormous (papier-mâché) hunk of wood and when Jason emerges, knocks him down with it. So – does she hit him again and stave his head in? She does not. (PKDBE #2) She runs for the van and tries to get away. In the film’s one display of actual plotting, the van runs out of gas on the rickety bridge (the bikers drained it, remember?). Chris hits the emergency supply switch and the van starts again – only to have its back wheel plunge through the bridge. Jason then attacks, grabbing Chris through an open window. She manages to wind up the window, trapping Jason by both arms, and escapes out the other door. Jason frees himself by [headbutting the glass!] and pursues her to the barn. As he does so, we notice that his leg injury seems to have inexplicably disappeared.
Chris did bar the door, but Jason merely tugs it open a little from outside and lifts the bar aside. Once inside, however, he really bars it. Unable to locate Chris, who is hanging from a beam above him, Jason bad-temperedly smashes and knocks things over, finally standing directly below Chris who [drops onto him!]. Chris runs for the door but can’t move the bar, and makes a dash up into the hayloft as Jason comes after her with a machete. Arming herself with a shovel, Chris hides until the last moment, then again clobbers Jason in the head. As he lies unconscious, does she split his skull with the shovel? Or cleave him with his own machete? She does not. (Nowhere do we get a clearer illustration than here of the law that dictates that psychos may only be killed actively if they are attacking.) Instead, Chris wraps the ropes of the pulley system around Jason’s neck and pushes him off the edge of the loft, hanging him. She then makes her weary way to the door and bashes it open – only to find Jason on the other side!! WHAT THE %$&#!!!???
Look – I’m not going to even try to figure that one out, okay?
As Chris backs away in horrified disbelief (as well she might), Jason lifts his mask to give her a brief look at his face, revealing that (duh!) he was the "grotesque, inhuman" person who attacked her two years earlier. As Jason closes in with his [machete!] – the supposedly dead gang leader suddenly appears! (So that’s why he was only bashed in the skull a dozen times! If slasher films have taught us anything, it’s that that kind of thing simply doesn’t work!) Ali intervenes on Chris’s behalf, and gets his [hand lopped off!] for his trouble. Jason then finishes him off, properly this time, by hacking him to pieces. While he’s preoccupied, Chris takes possession of a handy axe. Does she hit Jason in the back of the head? She does not. She waits until he turns – and then sinks the axe into his forehead. Seemingly unperturbed, Jason still closes in on Chris, the [axe handle!] waving about – and eventually collapses….
This time Chris does get away and, driven by some mysterious Final Girl instinct, wanders down to the lake, climbs into a canoe, and drifts away. The night passes, and Chris wakes with a cry in broad daylight. Suddenly, the canoe hits something – but it’s just a log. Then something flies past – but it’s just a duck. Chris looks back at the house – and sees Jason, sans mask, watching her from a window. She shrieks, and the next instant sees him at the doors. Paddling frantically away, Chris glances back and finds the house just as it was before. She sits there, frightened and confused, until – to the surprise of no-one who has suffered this far into the franchise – a hideous figure launches itself from the lake and drags Chris into the water. From the pullover, we gather that this is intended to be Pamela Voorhees, even though her head is back on her shoulders. Given the total lack of connection between the two women – the name "Voorhees" hasn’t even been mentioned here, remember – I can only say again - WHAT THE %$&#!!!???
We get the usual fade to white, and come back from it to find one cop observing to another, "Looks like she’s the only survivor." The other replies, "What was that about a lady in the lake?" (You know, somehow I have a hard time believing that anyone connected with this film has even heard of Raymond Chandler – let alone Alfred Tennyson.) Chris is then led from the house to a police car, and from her condition we surmise that she is on her way to The Nut Hatch. As the car drives away, there is a pan to the barn, and we find Jason lying just where Chris left him the night before. The camera moves in, and we wait for something – a movement – a twitch. But no. Not this time. Not yet….
Whew! Well, I can only hope that this review isn’t as dreary to read as it was to write! This is really a terrible movie. Granted, I didn’t do it any favours by watching it back to back with Part 2, a film which in contrast I found to be a surprisingly painless experience; nor by making it the third slasher film I've watched in the last month (putting me about three films over my usual yearly quota), which just highlighted Part 3's numbingly formulaic nature even further. Even so--- That I didn’t find Part 2 all that difficult to watch perhaps proves that it takes only a small sign of effort – a dash of imagination, an original character touch – to make me think kindly of even the least promising of films. This, however, was a struggle right from the opening credits. Unlike its predecessor, Part 3 is filled with unlikeable characters (except for Vera – poor Vera!). And it’s so slow – and there is so much padding! – minutes and minutes of it at a time! This film is only ten minutes longer than Part 2, but it feels almost twice as long. The 3-D effects are wholly uninspiring, particularly in light of the time spent in setting them up (they may have worked on the big screen, of course); and the presence of so many blatantly unnecessary, cannon fodder characters – whose presence they don’t even try to justify - is thoroughly annoying. The film’s continuity – internal and external – is also shocking. Hairstyles change from shot to shot; objects move by themselves; jewellery appears and disappears. Most noticeable of all, the injuries dished out to Jason by Chris vanish only minutes after their infliction! And speaking of Jason – he’s played by a different actor here, so perhaps it’s not surprising that he changes height and weight between films; but that his hair seems have fallen out overnight is a bit of a worry! Another Jason-based error is his wardrobe: when Chris flashes back to "two years ago", he is wearing exactly what we see him in throughout the story proper. (Also, he has no hair there, and should have.) And then there’s the big one: although Ginny dealt a blow with a machete at the end of Part 2 that almost severed Jason’s left arm, by Part 3 – that is, the next day – the wound has miraculously healed.
Perhaps the most puzzling thing about Part 3 is the Chris/Jason backstory, which fails to make sense on any level. It is hard to know what the inclusion of this subplot was intended to achieve. It is not, after all, as if Chris emerges from the traumatic encounter with any knowledge of Jason that she can later use as a weapon. Nor does she "escape" from him (at least, not actively), which might have provoked Jason into hunting her down at another time. When the two encounter each other, it is as accidental the second time as it was the first. There’s no resonance to any of it. The only thing that this plot thread ultimately adds to the film, with Chris repeatedly almost telling her story, and then actually telling it, is still more padding.
Part 3’s most distinguishing feature, however, is its total dearth of imagination. Even at this early stage in the franchise, the film-makers had clearly run out of ideas (not that there were all that many to start with). Once again, a group of teenagers is stranded in the country on a dark and stormy night. Complete murders – the post-coital blade from beneath, the spear through the eye – are lifted from the earlier films and replayed in their entirety; while it’s hard to imagine that by this time there was anyone who didn’t see the "lake shock" scene coming. The only thing at all "original" about any of this is that they keep managing to come up with a final scene "scare" that is even dumber and more inexplicable than the one in the film before. Looked at from one angle, the cynicism inherent in all of this is simply staggering. And yet--- The film cost $4 million; it made over $36 million – and that’s just in the US cinemas. In the face of figures such as these, it is not surprising that horror film fans are so often treated with contempt. When dross is this profitable, why would anyone bother to put the necessary time and effort into making a quality product? The problem is that horror fans are eternally loyal, and eternally optimistic. While it’s true that some of them probably wouldn’t recognise a good film if it leapt out of their popcorn and bisected them with a machete, the rest of us, against all the odds, keep waiting…and hoping….and watching….and – paying our money….
Want a second opinion of Friday The 13th Part 3? Visit 1000 Misspent Hours - And Counting.
Footnote: A skeleton of sorts…. I’m told that Tracie Savage (Debbie) is now an LA-based, award-winning TV reporter (hmm….wonder if they showed clips of this at the presentation ceremonies?), who has gained a degree of notoriety in recent years by testifying at both the Heidi Fleiss and O. J. Simpson trials.