Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A New Dimension In Terror

Over at Shock Till You Drop, the latest Retro Shock Theater is up, this column taking a fond look back at Friday the 13th Part 3. Since this summer began, marking the thirtieth anniversary of the hallowed Summer Of '82, tributes to the landmark films of that summer have rolled out across the internet and even though Friday the 13th Part 3 may be no Blade Runner or The Thing, it's still a classic of its kind.

This movie, of course, is when Jason really became a slasher superstar. He wasn't in the first movie at all save for in flashbacks and in Alice's dream and in the second, the character had some fashion issues. This movie, though, gave Jason the most successful style makeover of any movie monster ever. True, they didn't radically alter Jason but dumping that sack for the hockey mask was the change that made all the difference (ditching the overalls was a smart move, too). Now he was iconic, an instantly identifiable pop culture figure. Plus, it helped that actor Richard Brooker was much more physically imposing than Part 2's Steve Dash and he carried himself with almost a swagger. The scene where Jason steps out along the dock - the moment when we first see him in the hockey mask - there's a real laconic quality to the way Brooker walks in this scene and it's like we're seeing the character for the very first time.

Mostly what I think about when I rewatch these old Fridays is how younger viewers probably can't even concieve of the fact that these films were considered scary in their day. There's probably a few jump scares that would still work for new viewers but, in general, I think they come across as pretty mild - which is just mind-blowing to me, someone who vividly remembers how notorious this series once was. Back in the day, the public outcry over the violence in the Friday the 13th films was enough to make the MPAA crack down on splatter for the duration of the '80s.

Now these films carry an odd sense of innocence about them and could practically pass for PG-13 today (well, not really - but they're nothing anyone would even blink an eye at). We live in much more jaded times now and given that it's nice, in a bittersweet way, to revisit films like Friday the 13th Part 3 that represent a time where our cultural threshold for violence was much lower.

Plus, who doesn't love the rad disco remix of the Friday theme?


Wings1295 said...

Great post! As cheesy as it may seem to new viewers or teens today, it was something back in its day. I remember feeling a sense of taboo when I would see it in the old cable guide, like it was something I shouldn't be turning on. Memories.

Jeff Allard said...

Yes, like many fans I also have great memories of sneaking my way into watching the early Fridays and other slasher films of the time. They were definitely taboo material then - even if they seem a little lightweight by today's standards!

Jack Thursby said...

Yeah, I know what you mean about them feeling quite tame by today's standards. Bought the 3D DVD of this but it doesn't really work that well.

Still, that shot of Jason at the window freaks me out even now.

Mummbles said...

Great blog, nice to see you back sir. Did the creators ever say why the chose a hockey mask?

Jeff Allard said...

Jack, that shot of Jason coming through the window always struck me as being especially freaky, too. The menace factor for Jason was really bumped up this time around.

Mummbles, no real reason has ever been given as far as I've read. I think they just needed a mask of some kind as the sack from Part 2 wasn't going to cut it a second time around and a hockey mask was used as a placeholder until another option came around but the hockey mask made the right impression.