Thursday, December 18, 2014

Friday the 13th Part III (Steve Miner, 1982)

Just a second, I want to listen to the theme song from this movie one more time before I begin. And... done. As usual, I was in a foul mood before I sat down to watch Friday the 13th Part III, the third film in the inexplicably popular horror franchise about a... well, you know what. And the opening scene, an extended recap detailing the events that occurred at the end of Part II, did nothing but exacerbate the foul nature of my mood (the most annoying thing about watching the Friday the 13th movies in reverse is the recap scenes pretty much ruin the endings of the previous chapters). Mildly irritated over the fact that yet another ending of a Friday the 13th was spoiled, I tried to put on a brave face as I prepared myself for the mediocrity that was surely to follow. To my surprise, however, this one unleashes the disco-tinged awesomeness that is this movies' theme music. Playing over the opening and closing credits (it's also heard briefly during the grocery store scene), the theme, by composer Harry Manfredini, managed to lift my spirits.

I know, you're thinking to yourself: Sure, the music that bookends the film is great and all, but there's still ninety-something minutes of "movie" to endure. In other words, I don't care how amazing the film's theme is, you're still going to have wade through what looks like a pretty formulaic teens in peril slasher movie.

You might be right, it does look like a "formulaic teens in peril slasher movie." But let's get one thing straight: There's nothing formulaic, or teenage, for that matter, about Cheri Maugans' knees.

(Most people when talking about Friday the 13th Part III will usually mention the fact this is the film where Jason Voorhees first dons his famous hockey mask, or the fact that this chapter is in 3-D before they inevitably start talking about Cheri Maugans' knees, but you played the Cheri Maugans knee card right away.)

First of all, I didn't play the Cheri Maugans knee card right away. As you can clearly see, I talked about the dangers of watching the Friday the 13th movies in reverse and Harry Manfredini's theme music before I breathed a perverted breath about Cheri Maugans' knees.

And secondly, who in their right mind wouldn't talk about Cheri Maugans' knees before all that other junk? Unless, of course, you have an aversion to sexy babes with agreeable knees. And judging by the cut of most of your jibs, I'd say you're totally down with the trajectory this review is currently taking.

Don't worry, I'll get to the foursome of slinky brunettes who vie for our attention during the bulk of this film's running time. I just want to bask in the sonic bouquet that is Harry Manfredini's theme music and revel in the irregular attractiveness that is Cheri Maugans a little while longer before I'm dragged–no doubt kicking and screaming–back into the ho-hum realm that is this uninspired franchise.

Since the aforementioned slinky brunettes and their male companions can't be killed by Jason right away, the film introduces what I like to call "bit part machete fodder." Characters, usually non-teens, who are introduced merely to be murdered in order to keep the audience's bloodlust satisfied until the second act mayhem gets underway.

Most of the time, the machete fodder aren't that interesting as far as characters goes. But sometimes the bit part machete fodder can surprise us. And that's exactly what Cheri Maugans does as "Edna," a woman who runs a market with her husband Harold (Steve Susskind). Now, the average Friday the 13th fan will take one look at Edna and think: "What a hosebeast." Not me, I saw Edna as a forthright go-getter with, yes, terrific gams.

Constantly nagging her husband to be less of a fuck up, Edna hurls a barrage of emasculating put-downs at him while bringing in the laundry (she can multitask like nobody's business). It's at around this time that Edna learns about the slaughter that took place nearby in the previous film on the news. Even though she's disturbed by what she hears, that doesn't stop her from berating Harold, who she finds trying to find solace with a bunny rabbit in the snack cake aisle.

The cool thing about the demise of Edna and Harold is that they're stalked and killed by a mask-less Jason; no hood either.

It's true, I was sad to see Edna go, but she served her purpose. If I ever do a Top 10 Friday the 13th Hotties list, I won't forget you Edna.

Arriving right on time, a van filled with slinky brunettes and their male companions appears onscreen. But wait, I thought there were four slinky brunettes, I only see three. What gives? Never mind, they're picking up the fourth slinky brunette at her house as we speak.

Don't get me wrong, I love slinky brunettes. But don't you think having four onscreen at the same time will confuse the audience? You would think that having one of the slinky brunettes, Vera Sanchez (Catherine Parks), be Latino would help alleviate some of the confusion. But it doesn't, as she's not that Latino, if you know what I mean. No, we're pretty much stuck with four dark-haired white chicks with indistinguishable personalities. *sigh*

It would seem that SCTV's parody of 3-D wasn't that far off in terms of accuracy, as Chili (Rachel Howard), the stoner brunette, just shoved a lit joint toward the camera, giving us our first taste of 3-D. Other items shoved in our faces over the course of the film include: Yo-yo's, eyeballs, spears, pitchforks and blood.

Okay, let's see, so far I've mentioned Vera, the Latino brunette, and Chili, the stoner brunette, who am I forgetting?  All right, so, there's Chris Higgins (Dana Kimmell) and Debbie (Tracie Savage). Now, how should I sum up their characters? Well, Debbie's easy, she's obviously the blue bikini brunette, as she famously dons a blue bikini shortly after the teen arrive at "Higgins Haven." But what about Chris? How 'bout, the brunette brunette? Nah. The buzzkill brunette? That's a bit better. The axe-wielding brunette?

How do you denote someone a brunette-themed nickname based on their appearance or persona when they don't give you anything to work with?

Anyway, when we notice that Shelly (Larry Zerner), the group's resident prankster, has brought along with him a bag filled with horror props, we can't help but wonder if he has an old-timey hockey goalie mask tucked away somewhere in there. But before we can find out, Shelly and Vera must contend with a trio of unruly bikers. And just like Edna and Harold, the bikers, Ali (Nick Savage), Fox (Gloria Charles) and Loco (Kevin O'Brien), are nothing but bit part machete fodder. Though, at least they're somewhat interesting to look at; except for Debbie's blue bikini, none of the teens bring anything to the table in terms of fashion.

When Jason (Richard Brooker) finally does get around to targeting the film's leads, I had lost all interest in finding out who will live and who will die. And the prospect of watching one ratings board neutered kill after another wasn't that appealing either. The only things make Friday the 13th Part III worth watching are Cheri Maugans as Edna (putting rollers in her hair and having her wear a ratty-looking housecoat can't undermine her innate sex appeal), the film's theme song, and the 3-D spear-gun kill (a definite candidate for the best kill of the entire series).

1 comment:

  1. My name is Matt Frame, director of 'Camp Death III in 2D!'

    Enjoyed your Friday the 13th Part III review and thought my film might be up your alley.

    It's a comedy/horror parody of 'Friday the 13th Part III 3D.'

    We just completed the film and are about to launch our festival run.

    We'd be honored if you would consider watching the first 5 minutes of the film and/or the trailer.

    If you dig what you see then feel free to watch further.

    Let me know if I can send you a password for our online screener.

    Many thanks!