However it was the goalie mask version of the Crystal Lake butcher, unveiled for the first time here, that captured the public’s attention, catapulting the character to the very top echelon of horror film iconography.
Part III has a madman-on-the-loose, talky, suspense-filled slow burn as its first half. That’s followed by more camp than a 1000 Crystal Lakes second, complete with an extremely silly biker gang shoehorned in to up the body count.
However it’s the latter part that also features the three things we’ve come to expect from the Friday the 13th series:
- The infamous goalie mask, which changed horror, Halloween and pop culture forever.
- The upping of the indestructibility ante. The newly masked Jason became (and continues to be) a Timex Jason*: he takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’. Here, a hatchet, shovel, chunk of firewood, knife to the hand and knee, and a hanging prove ineffective.
- Galileo may have discovered the mathematical formulation for the Law of Falling Bodies, but in Friday, it’s put into practice with dead victims flopping down onto people trying to get away. How the killer times these just right is anybody’s guess.
*with fewer people wearing a watch these days, this is a dated reference indeed.
Friday the 13th Part III also features all the horror folks we’ve come to know and love vacationing in the woods. There’s the butcher, baker and candlestick maker of horror – here the hotties, the jock, the joker/fatty and the stoner.
He’s the one pulling the pranks, donning a wet suit to emerge from the lake after dark and burying a prop hatchet in his own head. And Shelly is the one jump-scaring everyone with a Jacques Plante goalie mask from the early 60s that the killer would later don.
Part III doesn’t quite come together as a cohesive whole. The subtle Hitchcockian suspense of the start is jettisoned in favor of over-the-top kills and silliness. However, a few of these kills are bona fide classics, including the harpoon eye-piercing. And you can’t beat the Manfredini score and the hat-trick that is the Jason mask.
*** (out of 5)
CHECK OUT OUR DISCUSSION OF FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 ON THE REALLY AWFUL MOVIES PODCAST!!!!