The following is a transcript of the introduction to the last Fright Club screening, the wonderfully fun Friday The 13th Part 3 3D. You don’t need your anaglyph red and blue glasses to read this article but it does help!
Friday the 13th Part 3 3D
Good evening and welcome to tonight’s Fright Club screening of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3.
Over the decades, whenever cinema has felt threatened – by the emergence of television in the early 50s, by home video in the 80s, and by HD, DVD, blu-ray and downloading during recent years – it has always turned to the same solution to try to win audiences and get couch potatoes out of their living rooms and into movie theatres where they really belong. And that solution, of course, has been three dimensional motion pictures.
There had been experiments in projecting 3D images during the 1920s, 30s and 40s, but 1953 was the year the format exploded. Arch Oboler’s cheapo jungle adventure BWANA DEVIL promised audiences “a lion in your lap”, and delivered on the poster’s promise, and the major studios grabbed their chance for a slice of the 3D action. Within a year, titles like CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, HOUSE OF WAX and DIAL M FOR MURDER had thrilled audiences, but by mid-1954 the novelty wore off and the format went dormant.
There were sporadic reappearances in the intervening years, most notably with Oboler’s entertaining science fiction movie THE BUBBLE in the mid 60s and Paul Morrissey’s gory and outrageous FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN in the 70s, but it was another independent title, the 1981 western COMIN’ AT YA, which launched the second boom in third dimensional thrills as cinema attendance figures were put under threat by the arrival of VHS and Betamax tape for home viewing.
Again the major studios were quick to jump in, with original sci-fi films like SPACEHUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE and METALSTORM: THE DESTRUCTION OF JARED SYN, and sequels to previous flat screen hits, the abysmal JAWS 3D and the rather good AMITYVILLE 3D among them.
Another unexpected movie phenomenon affecting the box office in the early 80s was the rise of the slasher movie, cheap and cheerful romps with teenage guys and girls being hacked to pieces by masked maniacs wielding knives, axes, hatchets, and power tools. One of the hits of the genre had been Sean Cunningham’s summer camp exploitation classic, FRIDAY THE 13TH, a box office smash which had taken Hollywood by surprise and which led to a hasty follow up. By 1983 the time was right for the franchise to burst right out of the screen, and so FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 3D went into production.
Now you’ve already paid for your tickets, and we’re locking the doors, so as a captive audience I don’t mind telling you that FRIDAY part three isn’t exactly the best of the Friday series! However, it has plenty going for it. It encapsulates the 1980s as well as any other film of the decade, and if there are several reasons why it ought to be shut up in a capsule and fired into outer space, then one of the more constructive and positive of these would be to preserve evidence of eighties fashions, clothes, hair, and attitudes. It features some inventive and imaginative kills, which fans of slasher movies will groove on for sure. It uses 3D better than just about any of its 80s contemporaries, with two or three iconic moments arising from its visual gimmickry – and, above all, it claims its place as a vital cog in the machine of late twentieth century art and culture, since, yes, this is the movie in which Jason Voorhees first acquires the hockey mask which was to become his facial wear of choice for the ensuing series entries.
The mutant features seen at the end of FRIDAY THE 13TH and the Elephant Man-like potato sack on head of part two give way to the white hockey goalkeeper’s protection here and evermore – perhaps suggesting that from this movie onwards, Jason sees his murderous quest as a sport, perhaps that he sees his role in life as being that of some warped, deranged defender, or perhaps he just knows, like the rest of us, that the mask looks damn cool.
There’s a British connection with FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3. We can be proud that an Englishman, 6 foot 3 stuntman Richard Brooker, was cast as Jason in the movie. Brooker asked director Steve Miner if they could have a scene where they show his face briefly, so his mum would believe that he was actually in the film! The director said no, but next day he brought in a t-shirt with the words I Played the monster in Friday the 13TH, and said “wear this when you go back to see your mum”! Brooker said that because the movie was made in 3D, filming some of the close-up effects was an absolute nightmare, with take after take having to be filmed. He told an interviewer that in a scene where he kills actress Rachel Howard with a poker, the shot took 36 takes. Brooker said “I’m standing in front of these hot lights with all this makeup on, wearing these heavy clothes, dripping with sweat, and all I keep hearing is “do it again”. I was there until two o’clock in the morning poking this girl!”
When FRIDAY THE 13TH 3 premiered, it received a somewhat mixed reaction from its cast. Actor David Katims even had the balls to tell the producer and director “this is crap!”. Their response? Producer Frank Mancuso Jr simply said “you know what? This is FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 and it’s in 3D. Those two things are going to make this a hit”. A $33 million box office return on a $2.6 million budget proved him right. Friday opened in the same week as the cult Californian teen classic FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, which hit number 7 at the US box office while FRIDAY made it all the way to number one in its first weekend. FRIDAY actor Larry Zerner commented “for a week, Sean Penn was worried, and for a couple of months, I was famous”!
So, it’s time for you to put on your anaglyph glasses, settle back in your seats, whisk yourselves back to the summer of 1983, and throw yourselves into this wonderfully, terrifyingly immersive experience. It’s FRIDAY. It’s the 13th. It’s 3D. It doesn’t get much more entertaining. Watch out – Jason’s coming for you…
Up next month is the voted by the users of the Fright Club Facebook Group and is the borderline Horror classic by John Carpenter THEY LIVE starring Rowdy Roddy Piper star of our March screening HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN.