by Mel Valentin
"Friday the 13th: Part 3," the inevitable sequel to "Friday the 13th: Part 2" (with another eight profitable sequels to follow), is, sadly to report, the only film in the series filmed in 3-D. Films shot in 3-D, of course, promises more jump scares than its flat, two-dimensional alternative. The only problem, however, is in ensuring that a 3-D film is shown as intended, theatrically with 3-D glasses. Seen without the benefit of the 3-D experience, "Friday the 13th: Part 3 (in 3-D)" is, of course, far from memorable (e.g., directing, acting, storyline, etc.), except for diehard fans of the "Friday the 13th" series. Luckily, this review covers the 3-D theatrical version (seen at a midnight showing, with a surprisingly large, highly appreciative crowd), and not the 2-D version available on video or DVD, which will likely remain unwatched.After reprising the last several minutes from Friday the 13th Part 2 (the first film to actually feature Jason Voorhees hacking and slashing his way into the hearts of horror fans everywhere), the second sequel segues into Jason's latest murder spree, first targeting a local convenience store owner, Harold Hatcher (Steve Susskind) and his shrewish wife, Edna (Cheri Maugans). Since the last film, Jason seems to have developed a keener fashion sense, exchanging the denim overalls and white canvas sack he used to cover his head with khaki pants and an untucked dress shirt (the audience doesn't see Jason's deformed face until late in the film, well after he's acquired his trademark hockey mask. Jason's encounter with Harold and Edna sets the tone for the remainder of the film: the characters are separated and hunted down, dispatched only after multiple fake outs meant to increase suspense and deliver the knockout blow when it's least expected (well, not really).
"Eye-popping fun for the whole family (well, not really)."
Cue a 70s-era van full of 20-something actors pretending to be teenagers on vacation. Despite passing the convenience store and eyeing two body bags (surprisingly, with a killer on the loose, the local police seem to be oblivious to the idea of setting up roadblocks and attempting to ensure the safety of the local residents or vacationers), the teenage vacationers continue on their way to their lakeside, summer cabin. The cast of mostly disposable characters includes the obvious heroine (and "last girl"), Chris Higgins (Dana Kimmell), her one-time boyfriend interested in obtaining exactly one thing from her, Rick (Paul Kratka, 10-15 years too old for the role of the sex-obsessed boyfriend), Debbie (Tracie Savage) and Andy (Jeffrey Rogers), the obligatory horny couple fated for grisly ends, Shelly (Larry Zerner), a sadsack prankster who enjoys faking his own death, his date for the weekend, the bland Vera Sanchez (Catherine Parks), and a stoner couple, Chili (Rachel Howard) and Chuck (David Katims), straight out of a Cheech and Chong flick. It’s also hard to imagine how the other straight-edge types would end up hanging out with stoners in the first place.
The central characters also have to contend with a local motorcycle gang (actually, only three members are seen) that seems to have wandered in from a local production of West Side Story. The "gang" led by the tough-talking, chain-wielding Ali (Nick Savage) and his two mates, Loco (Kevin O'Brien), and the spandex- and bandana-wearing Fox (Gloria Charles). Each, in turn, finds himself/herself in a barn near the summer cabin. They're just that more fodder for Jason Voorhees (played here by Richard Brooker), the nearly indestructible serial killer whose murderous sprees seem to be motivated primarily by proximity to his victims or, of course, any who engage in or think about sex. Given Jason's deformed physical appearance, his reaction to something he's obviously never going to get isn't surprising.
The storyline then follows the otherwise generic formula familiar to fans of the series (and slasher flicks in general), initial “kills” followed by languid, deliberate pacing for the next hour, an interloper or two dispatched by Jason to quicken the pace, with Jason finally turning on the disposable characters in the last half hour, (hopefully) dispatching the characters with some flair or inventiveness (and gratuitous gore). Eventually, of course, only one or two characters remain to take Jason on in a bloody fight to the death (not for Jason, of course). If any characters survive, it’s due to a combination of ingenuity and sheer luck (Jason also becomes all thumbs in pursuing his last victim, and given that Jason never jogs or runs, the last character standing has an above-average chance of surviving through the final fadeout). And yes, this third entry in the series marks the first time Jason dons a hockey mask (how Jason gets the mask, though, can be only described as a major disappointment).Given the 3-D in the title, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that director Steve Miner throws everything (well, almost everything) at the camera, including poles, various household and farming implements, and one that’s better left for viewers to experience for themselves. Miner and his writer, though, seem to have no problem pilfering a “kill” and a late jump scare involving a canoe on the water from the first film (a pattern, apparently, that holds for the remainder of the series), lowering the entertainment value a notch. On their own, the “kills” aren’t particularly inventive and, if the “Fangoria” magazine one character picks up late in the film is any indication, self-parody was already in place from the second sequel forward. Still, genre fans fortunate enough to see "Friday the 13th: Part 3 (in 3-D)" on the big screen will be delighted. Seen with a large, interactive crowd (i.e., crowds willing to talk back to the screen), the overall experience will be that much more enjoyable. Now, if only we could convince the producers of the (rumored) "Freddy vs. Jason" sequel to film it in 3-D. Horror fans can dream, can't they?
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originally posted: 10/08/05 21:07:24