Version reviewed: the Region 1 "From Crystal Lake to Manhattan" boxset.
The one where Jason first wears a hockey mask and is suddenly ten times larger than he was in the last film. Also this is the one in 3D, but not anywhere but it's first theatrical release and the newest DVD, so all that means is that lots of things are thrown towards the camera in an (inevitably unsuccessful) attempt to make you jump.
"Friday the 13th Part 3" is one of the very first horror films I saw. You'd think that I'd have some kind of special attachment to it as a result, but I barely remember what happens in it. When I think of it's violent climax in the hay-covered barn, I only remember the iconic axe hit to the face, and everything else blurs indefinetely with the ending of "Friday the 13th Part V: Let's pretend we weren't lying with Part 4 and make another one without Jason".
Despite this, "Part 3" has a lot going for it, if you're in the market for this type of thing. It was the first 'Friday' to be filmed in California as opposed to the woods of New Jersey. Being a more "Hollywood" production, the film is more polished and well put together than the first two entries. However, the woods are no longer as dusty and dark as they were in the 'grittier' first two films in the series, so it's not all good. However, the film is also the first 'Friday' to be shot 2:35:1 Cinemascope and as a result it looks better than the vast majority of films in this series. In fact, unless you count "Freddy VS Jason", it's the only Friday film in anamorphic widescreen.
'Final girl' Chris (Dana Kimmell) is, for my money, a lot more attractive than the previous women in this series (Alice, Ginnie) and pretty much all of the ones afterwards too ('cept Jensen Dagget, in part 8, and the heroine of Jason X). She's pretty good, especially in terms of Friday the 13th actors, which just makes it a shame her screentime wasn't in more interesting scenes and not just wrestling with an artificial romance with that guy she wants so bad. Catherine Parks was also pretty sexy back in 1982 and her character, who has to politely tell the fat guy Shelley she's not interested after all signs in the movie seemed to indicate she was going to pair off with him, is actually interesting. As for Kimmell, she never did any more acting for cinema and told campblood.com:
"I'm not a big fan of R-rated movies," she says. "I believe movies should be doing a better job of standing up for good values and morals. I'm also not too fond of onscreen sex."
Good job taking a role in Friday the 13th Part 3.
"I was being mercenary," admits Kimmell as to why she took the plunge in Friday the 13th's second sequel. 'It was a matter of paycheck."
Ahhh that explains it.
"Friday the 13th Part 3" presented the earliest true incarnation of Jason Voorhees - for the first time, he is a hulking mongaloid in a hockey mask. Also, unlike the weird hillbilly in part 2, this Jason looks a little more like Sloth from "The Goonies". In a weird, wraparound way, this movie having the first real Jason makes "Friday the 13th Part 3" almost as influential as part 1 - the image of Jason Voorhees with machete and hockey mask has been parodied and imitated so many times, it's become one of the most recognisable and satirised images of the 1980s. And all it took was to rip off Halloween a little closer than the first two did.
Overall, "Friday the 13th Part 3" is an impressive first-wave slasher film with some of the series most memorable characters (for what that's worth). If you're only going to see one in this series, this is probably the one you should see - it typifies the series while providing a superior example of it, it has a great look and it's very, very eighties.
It's just a shame everything is in not-3D, with everything being thrown your way. Even the poster is 3D - look, the logo is flyin' at ya in wooden shrapnel, like the log cabins in the movie fucking exploded.