It All Happens In The Dark

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The Third Kind

Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

Part III opens with a recap of Part II’s ending – the wonderful Amy Steel as Ginny finds herself in Jason’s little hut, and discovering his mother’s severed head, puts her psychology courses to good use. Poor Jason just wants his mama and Ginny pretends to be the deceased Mrs. Voorhees in order to trick Jason and lay a machete into him – well it doesn’t exactly work out quite like that, but in “the end” Jason is “vanquished.”

God, I love Betsy Palmer. Did you see her in Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film? She is so awesome – and utterly hilarious as she talks about playing Mrs. Voorhees and the back story she came up with for the character. She is just stupendous and I want her to be my best friend.

Part II is in my mind the best Friday the 13th film and Part III doesn’t even try to be as good – but it doesn’t matter because it is ludicrously fun. (Incidentally, Part II and Part III are both directed by Steve Miner.) I adore all of the Friday films – except for the mostly Jason-less Goes To Hell, the totally Jason-less A New Beginning and the how-clever! in space! installment. This was the first slasher series that I ever watched – one of the films in this series was probably the first slasher film I EVER saw – and so I have a great fondness for the franchise. Even if they are of questionable taste and quality, I enjoy them, and I think they get a bad rap. No, they are not art and do not try to be, but they are not as vile and worthless as some would claim either. Well, OK, A New Beginning is.

Part III supplies us with an uber-rad disco theme and credits “in 3D” that fly right out of the TV. Not really, but it was originally released in 3D, which means now we get a lot of shots of things pointed at the camera or flying at the screen – baseball bats, yo-yo’s, popcorn, an eyeball. That is unless of course you got yourself the 3D deluxe edition that was released in 2009 and came with two of your very own pairs of 3D glasses. I have not seen the film in its full 3D splendor, so I cannot discuss the merits or drawbacks of the film in that regard.

The opening of Part 3 proper, has always creeped me out. I don’t know what I found most frightening – the Sandy Dennis looking wife named Edna in curlers berating her husband Harold or Harold feeding his goldfish and deciding to taste the fish flakes or Harold sampling peanuts and orange juice and a chocolate donut (to go with the day fly eggs) from the shelves of the general store he runs with Edna and then putting them back OR Jason sneaking around sans his mask among the sheets outside. Sheets blowing in the wind are creepy!

According to some the actress Dana Kimmell who plays our final girl Chris here – felt the script contained too much sex and violence and tried to convince director Steve Miner to trim out much of it. If she was really in favor of “decency” why didn’t she get him to eliminate the truly awful scene of Harold taking a noisy shit?

Jason takes care of the troubled couple, and now we meet our main victims. Dana plays good girl Chris – and there is also Andy (Jeffrey Rogers) his pregnant girlfriend Debbie (Tracie Savage) and sad sack prankster Shelly (Larry Zerner). They’re all in Chris’ van going to pick up Vera (Catherine Parks) the date that Andy has set up to come along for Shelly and then they’re off to Chris’ parents cabin were they will be spending the weekend.

Aw, look at the customization on Chris’ van. How could Jason attack her after seeing that?

She also has Bruce Springsteen and “I ♥ Skiing” bumper stickers.

And she is really down on sex – Andy starts talking about it and Chris is all “sex, sex, sex! How boring!”

Shelly the prankster likes to pull gags like sneaking up on people and pretending to stab them while wearing a mask, or making it seem as though he has been murdered by an ax to the head. Shelly says it is “acting” and the poor guy really has low self esteem. At Vera’s house, her mother answers the door, and she sure doesn’t want Vera going on this trip – we hear a lot of yelling in Spanish and then Vera appears, and says she’s ready. She wants to know who her date is. Now, Vera is a very typical Friday the 13th female character – she’s a babe. She isn’t too thrilled that Shelly is her date, but she’s nice about it. If only Shelly had survived this film! I think he would have really hit it off with Maddy from The New Blood. What do you think?

I’ve always wondered why are these kids – especially Miss Priss Chris – are hanging out with two older stoners – Chuck (David Katims) and Chili (Rachel Howard)? How did they meet them? What is the story?

As they’re driving to the cabin, some cops pull up behind the van lights flashing and sirens wailing and everyone panics because Chuck and Chili – being stoners – are not only at the moment smoking up but also have tons of weed in the van. So to hide the evidence the kids decide to EAT the pot. The big sillies, the cops are just going to poor old Edna and Harold’s place.

Chris almost runs over some old bum asleep in the road and the bum says the kids are so “kind and generous” just because they didn’t make Mincemeat out of him. He shows them an eyeball he found (Edna’s? Harold’s? Who knows, the woods are probably full of body parts around there) – he’s crazy Ralph version 2.0 and he warns them to look upon the eye as an omen “to go back from whence ye came.” They get back in the car and continue on their way but the old bum says: “I” (or does he mean “eye”?) “have warned thee.”

They arrive at the cabin and everyone goes down to the lake except curmudgeon Chris who wants to take her bags inside and look around. She enters the cabin and is promptly grabbed – but it is just Rick (Paul Kratka) the guy she used to see who still wants to get into her pants. “Did I do something wrong?” he asks. “Did I? When I grabbed you by the throat and shoved you against the wall and tried to kiss you and you weren’t expecting anyone to be in the house – was that wrong?”

Shelly pulls another bloody stunt and Chris – who as I’ve already said is an old wet blanket – gets angry and storms off. Debbie follows after her and tries to calm her down. Chris keeps saying things like “It’s been two years since I have been here” and “Maybe I shouldn’t have come back so soon” and “He doesn’t know what happened” – oh, there’s some back story here! Betsy Palmer would be pleased.

Vera and Shelly decide to go into town and take Rick’s Volkswagen to the store where they promptly piss off a motorcycle gang and end up with the windshield and driver side windows of the car busted out. Rick is distressed to see the state of his car when they return and says he’s going to leave but Chris wants him to stay with her. He’s says OK, let’s go for a ride – “That’s right, just sit there on that broken glass.”

To even the score the motorcycle gang shows up at the cabin and decides to siphon all of the gas out of Chris’ van and use it to burn down the barn. Well, the barn is where Jason has been hanging out so guess how that goes. There is one interesting scene when Fox (Gloria Charles) goes by herself into the barn and seems mystified and extremely happy – she kicks over a bale of hay and runs her hands along a saddle, and examines an old canteen with pure joy and a smile on her face – she may be in a motorcycle gang but she has the secret heart of a cowgirl.

One thing these original Friday the 13th films really got right was the sound of the woods – we hear crickets, the lapping of water, things howling and chirping and echoing – a small touch, but one I always notice and appreciate and something that was especially missing from the remake.

Now Chris and Rick have found a place to park and Chris shares the tale of what happened to her two years ago. She and Rick had been out, and he brought her home late, and when she went went back inside the cabin her parents were none too happy and they got into a huge fight. Chris decided to hide out in the woods TO SHOW THEM and fell asleep under a tree. She woke up when she heard someone approaching and it was Jason, who attacked her, and they struggled and she blacked out and doesn’t know what went on after that. When she came to she was in her own bed and her parents never said anything about it.

Just then the battery in Rick’s car dies, and it looks like the two will be walking back.

Why is Chili wearing a blue boot on a key chain as a necklace? Just curious…

Stupid Shelly and his tricks. He puts on a wet suit and a hockey mask and grabs a harpoon and hides under the dock where Vera is sitting and grabs her leg. She gets angry and doesn’t understand why Shelly has to be so stupid all the time.

Yes, this is the film where Jason first dons the hockey mask.

Andy and Debbie have just finished having sex – sorry, I mean making love – in a hammock and Debbie goes to take a shower. Andy asks her if she wants a beer and she says yeah. TSK, TSK, pregnant girl drinking beer – what was that I was saying before about these films not being that bad? BUT WAIT! She changes her mind – see! She doesn’t want it anymore. She gets out of the shower and decides to read an issue of Fangoria instead. But it is never safe at Crystal Lake – not even to read!

Those stoners sure say MAN a lot. “Stop fooling around MAN.” “Be a man MAN.”

When Chris and Rick return to the cabin there’s popcorn burning on the stove, the lights aren’t working, and they can’t find anyone. You can’t leave this bunch alone for a minute! Not even to recount a past Jason trauma to your hard-up boyfriend.

Since everyone is gone and it is dark Rick decides to go outside and look around. I’ll leave you to theorize just what fate befalls him.

Chris goes looking for Rick and discovers one of the members of the motorcycle gang who has been strung in a tree. She runs back inside and uses a floor lamp to barricade the door. In her defense, it does look like a very heavy floor lamp. These homes near Crystal Lake – and especially the summer camp cabins themselves – need panic rooms. Or I guess they would be called “Jason Rooms.”

Chris and Jason have their final showdown in the barn, Jason reveals to Chris that he is the goon who attacked her those years before (he wasn’t wearing a sack over his head then) and it all seems to be over, finally. Chris decides to do an Alice and gets herself into a canoe and goes out onto the lake where she falls asleep.

When she wakes up the next morning she’s a chocolate mess and thinks she sees Jason in a window, and then running towards her… but it was just a delusion… wasn’t it? Mrs. Voorhees comes jumping up out of the water, grabs her and pulls her in. Now, how did Mrs. Voorhees get in the lake? How did she get her head back on? If it was a hallucination then Chris must have known of the existence of Mrs. Voorhees, right? Oh, me and my questions.

Later, the police have arrived and as they load Chris her into a car we see she has gone totally around the bend – laughing and screaming – she is broken. This bitch won’t be able to look at a potted plant without losing it. No more woods for her.

So, yeah – this isn’t a good movie – but it is amusing, it pays homage to the original, there is quite a bit of gore, if that is your thing – and I like it. Isn’t that enough? C+

 

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