In 1982, we were still at the height of the slasher boom period of the horror genre. Bloody murders from boogeymen lurking in the night were commonplace. But Friday The 13th Part 3 wanted to kick things up a notch. For the third installment of the successful Friday the 13th franchise, the producers were looking for a way to keep the slasher fresh, which bore the idea of going 3D, a process that uses a special camera to shoot the film so that certain shots appear to be coming through the screen at the audience.
Released on August 13, 1982, Friday The 13th Part 3 celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, so let’s take a look back at this formative entry into one of the most iconic horror franchises.
Friday The 13th Part 3 was written by Martin Kitrosser (Model Behavior 1982), Carol Watson (Meatballs Part II 1984), and Petru Popescu (Death of an Angel 1985), and was directed by F13 franchise alumni Steve Miner (Halloween H20: 20 Years Later 1998 – our retro review here). It stars Dana Kimmell (Sweet Sixteen 1983) as Chris Higgins and the late Richard Brooker (Deathstalker 1983) as Jason Voorhees. These two characters in particular are important to make this sequel stand out from the others.
Kimmell’s character has a backstory of a previous encounter with Voorhees, which gives this script a bit more connectivity and stakes than the other sequels. Brooker’s version of Jason moves with more measured intelligence and swiftness than others who have dawned the mask, allowing viewers to get inside the stoic character’s head a bit. Someone else who adds heart to the experience is the character of Shelly, played by Larry Zerner (Death House 2017). Shelly is an every-man, a classic prankster who gives the average audience member someone to relate to on screen. This character is looked at as one of the most synonymous with the franchise, because horror fans can see some of themselves in him. He is also the character that introduced the iconic hockey mask that is now embedded into pop culture.
I briefly spoke with Mr. Zerner about the impact of this film, and he talked about the biggest thing that Friday The 13th Part 3 gave to the franchise itself.
“The lasting impact of Part 3 as opposed to the other movies is obviously the introduction of the hockey mask, which has made Jason one of the most iconic horror movie villains ever. The fact that Shelly played a small part in creating film history is really the greatest take away from the film.”
The other truly unique aspect of Friday The 13th Part 3 is the use of all the 3D effects. The close-up shots of the eye-pop, the arrow kill, the yoyo, and many others will go down as some of the most beloved images of the entire franchise. There’s something to be said about making viewers feel like they’re a part of the action, which takes the terror perspective to new heights. The actors often talked about how tedious and frustrating it could be, though. To get those shots correctly, there had to be a level of precision which took a lot of time and repetition to execute. It all proved worth it in the end, as the film grossed $36.7 million domestically, making it the forth most successful entry in the franchise. Unlike most third films in a series, Friday The 13th Part 3 gave us a mask and a man behind it that truly mattered.