OCTOBER 13, 2007
I’ve only seen one proper Friday film in theaters – Jason Goes To Hell (I don’t count Freddy vs. Jason). This would have been remedied 2 years ago, when the original film was celebrating its 25 year anniversary with a gala event/screening at Screamfest LA. This occurred when I was planning my move to LA, and I tried desperately to get there in time to attend it. But I was a few days late, and in turn, I missed getting back to Boston (to get my furniture) in time to attend a rare 3D screening of Friday the 13th Part 3. Double bummer! So it was sort of nice that this year’s Screamfest was honoring part 3’s own 25 year anniversary with a big screening, because if there’s one Friday film that deserves to be seen properly, it’s 3.
Why, you might ask (I wouldn't)? Well, apart from being the only film in the franchise to be shot with a 2.35:1 ratio, the film was shot specifically for 3D. And I mean specifically, there’s about 20 minutes’ worth of the film that has no reason to exist unless you’re watching it with the headache inducing polarized glasses. People drop yo-yos, juggle, pop popcorn, stick baseball bats and laundry poles, etc, all directly into the camera. Watching the film without 3D is a bit excruciating at times, because they’re taking time away from the kills in order to show off the technology you’re not actually benefiting from.
As a Friday film, it’s about middle of the road. The characters aren’t as annoying as in some of the later sequels, though the main girl is pretty worthless (and the girl playing her is terrible). And there’s a few scenes of genuine suspense (Harold walking around with his bunny and bad arteries), which give the film a bit of class. However, the script suffers from some really lazy plotting. One of the girls reveals that she’s pregnant early on, and then it’s barely ever addressed ever again (she doesn’t even get stabbed in her stomach, which would give the movie some extra nastiness). Hell, she even asks for a beer at one point, and sleeps in a decidedly un-back friendly hammock. There isn’t much for memorable gore (basically, the eyeball and the knife through the throat), and Harry Manfredini’s music is starting to show its limits (though it makes sense; he admitted in the post Q&A that it was the first time he ever watched the film. How do you score a movie you haven’t seen???).
Of course, this is the one where Jason got his hockey mask, and it’s actually kind of interesting in hindsight how anticlimactic a moment it is when he first appears with it. Had they known that someday the mask would be as iconic as The Phantom’s, I am sure that Steve Miner would have presented it differently, instead of just having him walk out with it in the background, as another character mistakes him for the guy who brought the mask in the first place.
That guy is one of the series’ most memorable characters: Shelly (why not just go all out and call him Susan?). His self-deprecating manner is borderline psychotic (when introduced to his blind date, he says simply “Sorry” in regards to his appearance), and he has a Velcro wallet. He also has a magic box that, despite being about the size of an Xbox package, somehow contains a few masks, a wetsuit, several fake knifes and accompanying latex appliances, and a spear gun. Why he didn’t just pull a car out of there and leave is beyond me.
Being a revival screening, the crowd was filled with folks who had all seen the film several times, giving a sort of Rocky Horror feel to the proceedings. Lines were said back and/or responded to, MST3k style comments were greeted with laughter instead of a “Shut the fuck up!”, etc. And you haven’t lived until you’ve heard that disco theme with the credits coming off the screen. And afterwards, you wouldn’t want to.
What say you?