To celebrate Friday the 13th by watching Friday the 13th, I wanted to take a look back at my favorite Friday, “Friday the 13th Part III.” It’s like watching “Die Hard” at Christmas at my house.
Part III, how do I love thee? Lemme count. Number one, there’s the sweet 80’s main theme that I like to call Disco Jason. Such a party track. Number two, Part III is in 3D, and many copies you can buy even come with old school 3D glasses. (And, mercifully, the option to watch in 2D.) But number three and most importantly, this is the first Friday where Jason is the Jason we know, love, and make action figures of, the man in the mask Alice Cooper belted about in part VI. I mean, everyone knows Mrs. Voorhees is the killer in part one, and in II, Jason’s rocking a flour sack and not truly at full Jason – although, in fairness, he is mourning his crazy mama. Part III is Jason moving on, out of the shack with mama’s severed head, out of the camp setting entirely, and while he’s still pretty human looking around the edges, we do get the hockey masked, immortal/undead/zombie/whatever the hell he is killing machine of legend and box art in this movie.

Part III opens with the end of part II, just in case you were afraid you’d be lost in the mythology. Ginny, the Final Girl of II, pretends to be Jason’s mama and then machetes him real good in the shoulder. When the coast is clear though, we see wounded Jason scoot away into the darkness. Then we rock out with Disco Jason and 3D movie credits invade our personal space.
But the movie really starts with a bickering couple, presumably middle-aged, although I think the wife is actually pretty young and they put her in a bathrobe and curlers to make her insta-45. Bickering couple are just chilling out at their combination crappy home/crappy rural grocery, when the wife listens to local news recount the aftermath of part II, so of course, Jason’s ears are burning. It’s OK; bickering couple were just the appetizer.
After we’ve established that Jason’s on the loose and his stabbing arm is all warmed up, we get to meet our crew of nubile young victims. And they’re in a van. They even have a pair of stoners in the van. I’m just glad they didn’t have a dog, because I cannot stand violence against animals.

OK, so roll call: we’ve got Chris, the Final Girl – we know this because she’s a pretty, but serious girl, kinda turned off of sex, and she both owns the van and has a boy’s name. We have Shelly, who attempts to make up for his lack of traditional good looks with gory practical jokes and pouting about how no one likes him; the stoner couple; Deb the pregnant girl and her innocuous boyfriend Andy; and finally, Vera, a cool Latina who was conned into being Shelly’s date. Pretty good selection for Jason to run through. Despite happening upon a crazy old man who warns them, um…pretty much just to be warned, he’s not very specific, the kids continue to Chris’s family farm, which is also convenient to Camp Blood.

When they arrive, Chris meets up with Rick, an old boyfriend, and she starts to get emo and ominous about not being back to the place for two years. I would like to take a moment and point out that despite not seeing each other for an undefined amount of time or being in a current relationship, Rick instantly begins pressuring Chris to get snuggly and never, ever stops. I realize inviting a guy to spend a weekend with you strongly implies receptivity to snuggling, but let her finish a sentence, you horndog. Rick’s painted as a good guy, driving a VW Beetle and everything, but really, he’s a jerk. Jason will make it better, I’m sure.

Back to the plot. I need to introduce a few more victims. Our other variety of jerk (bigus fatus jerkus), Shelly, goes with Vera to a local grocery for supplies. This grocery, however, is being menaced by a three-person biker gang. They don’t do much though besides threaten the kids a little bit, and you have to wonder exactly how much tough biker ganging there is to be done in a brightly-lit country store too small to even have aisles. Shelly manages to back over one of their bikes as they leave though, and in so doing unwittingly adds three more to Jason’s kill list, because you know the gang’s going to have to follow them and try to get revenge.

All the dominoes are now set up, and it’s fun to see how Jason knocks them down. 3D filming techniques will assist where possible. He’s less creative than he will be in the future, of course, but I believe he does innovate the fuse box kill here, and while there are some callbacks – Kevin Bacon’s death in the first “Friday the 13th” is a good one – they’re well repurposed.
It all comes down to Jason and Chris though, and we learn through torturous, onion peeling dialogue scenes that this is not her first rodeo with a deformed psycho killer. In fact…it was at this very place on the lake… Sigh. Chris, you’re an idiot, aren’t you?

I will give Chris credit for being a pretty effective Final Girl, using things in her environment as diverse and innocuous as hay bales and manual car windows to her advantage and executing traps with minimal whimpering. I wouldn’t be able to go close enough to Jason to loop a noose around his neck, uh-uh, no way. She may not be Kirsty Cotton or Laurie Strode, but she’s pretty tough stuff. Not as tough as Jason, but hey, who is? Jason’s basically jerky to start with.

roadside attractions

  • Brand-new crazy old man to warn the kids about Jason
  • Jason finds his signature look
  • Central casting stoners
  • Central casting bikers
  • Fried hippie
  • Not practicing speargun safety
  • Not practicing hammock safety
  • Red-hot poker action
  • The Boy Who Cried Psycho Killer
  • I am crushing your head




A little dated and heavy on the eyeballs for my taste, but Jason shows real enthusiasm for this kind of work.




Fleeting exposure in a pretty self-conscious shower scene.



BEASTS Jason will get hulkier, maggotier, and more inventive in later sequels, but there wouldn’t have been a Jason X without Disco Jason.

8 OVERALL There’s a purity to Part III I enjoy. The formula is solid by this point without being overdone, and it’s happy to just be what it is: a big dumb fun slasher movie for Reagan’s America.

Watch the trailer to “Friday the 13th: Part III”