Directed by Steve Miner [Other horror films: Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), House (1985), Warlock (1989), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), Lake Placid (1999), Day of the Dead (2008)]
Following the first two great movies, the third film in this franchise, while still solid, doesn’t stand out quite as much, leaving us with few characters to really remember and maybe just a handful of actually memorable kills.
Throwing Jason a hockey mask halfway through the film, giving him his most classic look, was a nice touch (though I do sort of miss Part 2 Jason), as was starting the film off with the final minutes of the second film, but much of this film just does what you’d expect from a Friday the 13th movie, and like I said, I don’t think it really stands out near as well.
Chris, played by Dana Kimmell, was a decent lead (though nowhere near as good as Amy Steel’s Ginny), though her whole flashback story just felt out of place. So once, after an argument with her parents, she runs out into the woods, runs into Jason, fights him a bit, blacks out, and Jason doesn’t kill her?
Actually, somewhat interesting fact here: Jason is never once referenced by name, so whether or not these people even know this is Jason is in question. Because of this, the fact that Chris has a dream-like experience with Jason’s mother at the end leads me to think that it more likely than not actually happened.
Regardless, the whole “I met this creepy, disfigured guy before, and now he’s killing my friends because he didn’t kill me when he had a perfect chance” thing always felt really, really off to me, especially because Jason seems to realize it’s the same girl (that scene where he pulls his mask down to show her his face displays that). The whole thing’s odd.
I also wish that Vera (Catherine Parks) had more of a role in this one. She doesn’t really amount to much, but I sort of wonder if she wouldn’t have been a better final girl than Kimmell, if for nothing else to throw the audience a loop. Otherwise, aside from Shelly (played by Larry Zerner, himself a shadow of Mark Nelson’s goofball Ned from the first movie), who else here really stands out? Paul Kratka? Nick Savage? As far as memorable characters go, these people are pretty weak.
The kills aren’t that bad, though. I mean, like I said, I don’t think that many stand out, but all of them are pretty serviceable. I liked that upside-down machete slash, along with the pitchfork scene, the harpoon gun, and the guy getting his hand cut off. Heck, the knife going through someone’s throat was solid also. Still, compared to the first two movies, I don’t think there’s too many stand-out deaths here.
Finale-wise was somewhat interesting too, actually. Instead of a rather chaotic rainstorm, we’re instead treated to strong winds. I don’t like it quite as much, but the scene with Chris running into the cabin and trying to seal the wind-swept windows was decently compelling. The fight in the barn was decent, and it was fun seeing Jason sent over the edge of the barn, but the first films certainly have more memorable finales.
Of the first four movies, Part III is probably the weakest. It’s not helped by the gimmicky 3-D (and to be fair, while I started watching the 3-D version on my DVD copy, I switched to the 2-D version before too long), but what hurts it more is the utterly unremarkable characters and kills. It’s still a solid slasher, and I still, if for no reason other than nostalgia, find it above average, but I definitely think the first, second, and fourth movies are better.
This film has also been covered by Fight Evil’s podcast – listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this on in detail beyond imagination.
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