You can see our other Friday the 13th lists here. Today, it’s time for Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982), aka, the one where Jason finally gets his signature hockey mask, and for one film only the franchise experimented with 3D.
By the time Friday the 13th Part 2 came around in 1981 theaters had become overrun with low-budget/low-quality slasher fare with titles like The Burning, New Years Eve, Prom Night, Christmas Evil, My Bloody Valentine, Happy Birthday to Me, Graduation Day, Terror Train, and Final Exam. Not surprisingly, slasher film fatigue set in, and Part 2 opened big but ended with a domestic gross barely more than half of what Friday the 13th pulled in a year earlier. It was still hugely profitable thus ensuring a sequel. However, Part 2 left a loose end with Ginny (Amy Steel), and everyone agreed Jason needed a better mask than that stupid pillow case. Plus, after the way Part 2 trailed off at the box office they needed a shot in the arm. They needed a gimmick.
[My sources from this point forward are either the documentary Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th or the companion coffee table book of the same name]
1. Amy Steel could have returned for what they were calling Friday the 13th Meets Cuckoo’s Nest
They learned their lesson after Part 2: don’t kill off your sole survivor in the opening moments of the sequel. This has since turned into a horror movie cliche [see: Nightmare on Elm Street 4, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Halloween: Resurrection, Maniac Cop 2]. As is, we never learn what became of Ginny after Part 2, but it wasn’t by choice. The producers wanted her to be their Jamie Lee Curtis.
Director Steve Miner and Martin Kitrosser, the script supervisor for Parts 1 and 2 and co-writer of Part 3, wanted Ginny to go to a mental institution as a result of her trauma after Part 2. Jason would eventually arrive to settle his vendetta against her, killing any guards, doctors, or patients that got in his way.
Wait, isn’t that just Halloween 2 (1981)? Kind of, except there everything happens immediately after the events of the first Halloween, and it’s just a regular hospital. Halloween 2 came out nearly 6 months to the day after Part 2, but it’s not clear when exactly Miner and Kitrosser thought up their Friday the 13th Meets Cuckoos Nest idea.
They eventually got cold feet, scared fans would reject a Friday the 13th which didn’t follow the established formula (attractive teens at camp, Jason kills ’em, one girl survives, confusing dream sequence ending). Amy Steel helped change their mind for good when she officially declined to come back, thinking her career was on the verge of taking off. She was initially right, landing regular roles on two short-lived TV shows (The Powers of Matthew Star, For Love and Honor) between 1982 and 1984. By 1986, she was again up on screen evading a knife-wielding killer in the sort-of slasher parody April’s Fool Day. Today, Steel says she regrets not coming back for Friday the 13th Part 3.
2. The hockey mask came about mostly due to general laziness and a crew member’s love for hockey
For Part 3, they wanted a mask which wouldn’t cause audience members to snicker, but they didn’t immediately say, “Oh, I know – hockey mask!” Instead, during pre-production Miner requested a make-up test to get an update on what Jason was going to look like and whether or not the 3D was working the way they wanted. However, general laziness kicked in, and the head of effects on the film knew the 3D effects supervisor, Martin Jay Sadoff, kept a bag full of hockey gear with him. So, they just used his Detroit Red Wings goaltender mask to cover the face in the make-up test. Miner liked what he saw, and they then created their own mask which was bigger, featured multiple airholes, and had strategically placed red markings. Miner approved everything, but no one person can claim total ownership over the idea.
3. Why did they decide to do it in 3D?
They needed an advertising gimmick now that audiences had caught on to their storytelling formula, and 2 months after the release of Part 2 a 3D comedy western from Spain called Coming’ At Ya! made a stunning-for-the-time $12 million mostly due to the novelty of its use of 3D. Since Friday the 13th was built around stabbing instruments protruding outward at the screen a 3D version seemed natural. So, Friday the 13th Part 3 became the first Paramount film in 3D since 1956 as well as the first ever 3D film to receive a wide theatrical release from a major Hollywood studio. Why? The scarcity of 3D-equipped theaters in the past demanded 3D films only play on a limited number of screens.
4. They had a new stuntman playing Jason because they were too cheap to pay Jason from Part 2’s airfare to California
For Part 3, they moved production from Connecticut to California where they could be closer to the Hollywood experts needed for a film that was attempting to revitalize 3D. They told the East Coast-based Steve Daskawicz if he wanted to play Jason as he did for most of Part 2 he’d have to pay for his own airfare out to California. He objected, so the part was re-cast with Richard Brooker, a former English trapeze artist who could perform all of his own stunts and appear physically intimidating due to his 6’3″ stature.
5. No one actually says Jason’s name
Part 3 is the only Friday The 13th film in which none of the characters actually say the name Jason. Maybe this is because Part 3 takes place 1 day after Part 2, and Jason’s legendary slasher exploits are effectively still developing over a long-weekend at that point.
6. Was Jason supposed to have raped Dana Kimmell’s character at some point in the past?
Even after Amy Steel declined to return, they just couldn’t completely drop the concept of their lead character having been emotionally traumatized by Jason in the past. So, the new female heroine, Chris Higgins (Dana Kimmell), gained a very ambiguous past encounter with Jason. She recounts a story of having been attacked by Jason several years prior, but she stops short of explaining the nature of the attack. The flashback we see as she monologues mostly entails an unmasked Jason grabbing at her legs in a forest-like environment while she struggles to get away. However, she stops short of describing the altercation any further. Some people on the film claim this ambiguous resolution was always planned since actually outright calling it a rape would be too much for audiences to take whereas others say Dana Kimmell, a devout Mormon, forced their hand, since she was deeply uncomfortable with going so far as calling it rape.
7. Instead of producing Part 3, Frank Mancuso, Jr. could have worked with Robert Evans
At the beginning of Part 2, 21-year-old Mancuso, Jr. was but a lowly production assistant nobody knew, but by the end he had catapulted up to line producer and everyone knew he was the son of the President of Paramount Pictures. Due to that Paramount connection, he had an opportunity after Part 2 to either produce his first film or work as an assistant for former Paramount studio executive Robert Evans, known then for classics like Rosemary’s Baby, Love Story, The Godfather, and Chinatown. Mancuso, Jr. was advised by Part 2 producer Dennis Murphy to say no to Evans, do the movie. That movie? Friday the 13th Part 3, i.e., the one where Mancuso took over as producer and Murphy was not asked back. Murphy had no idea that’s what Mancuso meant.
8. Larry Zerner was “discovered” on a street corner
By Larry Zerner’s own admission, his character in Part 3, the chubby, insecure, afro-sporting Shelly, is both a fan favorite as well as among the most hated in the history of the franchise. However, he’s also one of the most important characters in Friday the 13th history as it is from his cold, dead hands that Jason takes his iconic hockey mask. It’s complete luck that Zerner ended up in the film at all, though. The screenwriters, Martin Kitrosser and his wife Carol Watson, simply spotted Zerner one day handing out fliers for the movie The Road Warrior, and they knew he was perfect for Shelly. Part 3 became his first ever professional gig as an actor.
9. It went under a fake production title, “Crystal Japan,” to evade the attention of various film industry labor unions
Beginning a recurring tradition for all future Friday the 13th films, Part 3’s fake production title was derived from a David Bowie song. The fake title was used to evade the attention of various film industry labor unions who did not like these Friday the 13th movies making so much money for Paramount while employing non-union labor at every level of production.
10. Did you notice the Tom Savini homage?
Debbie’s (Tracie Savage) death in the film via a knife through the throat from below is a clear homage to the infamous death of Kevin Bacon in the first film. In fact, they re-used Tom Savini’s effect from the first film to achieve the shot. So, it’s basically a recreation of the Bacon death scene with the victim’s gender switched and a hammock exchanged for a bed. However, before Debbie dies what magazine is she reading? Fangoria, and not that the audience can definitely tell but it’s an issue of Fangoria whose cover touts an article about Tom Savini. Those sly bastards.
11. One alternate ending involved Jason decapitating Chris
The actual ending of Part 3 features Chris as the sole survivor, being driven away by the cops while she shrieks wildly from the backseat. She has left Jason behind on the floor of the barn with an axe lodged in his head. However, before she departs she suffers a signature Friday the 13th crazy dream sequence, with Jason’s mother emerging from the lake. Sure, it doesn’t make a lick of sense, but since when would they let a little thing like that stop them?
That wasn’t the original plan. There were multiple scripted endings, such as Chris and Ali (Nick Savage) surviving (as opposed to just Chris) but Jason’s body being MIA when the cops arrive. In the first ending they actually filmed, though, Chris dreams she’s in the canoe, hears Rick (Paul Kratka) calling to her from the house, and she races to greet him at the door.
They decided it was too depressing to kill off the sole survivor, even if just in a dream, and that Jason sans mask just looked too monster-like.
12. The 3D was a logistical nightmare
Part 3 was the first production to use the Marks 3-D system, and it was a constant learning process. The earliest scenes they filmed, such as the opening tracking shot and Shelly and the bikers at the convenience store, had to be completely re-shot due to difficulties with the 3D camera. Plus, they had to be careful about which colors to include in costumes, and everything had to be lit far brighter than normal. It took hours to set-up individual shots meaning the actors on the film spent most of their time simply sitting around waiting for the next shot to be set-up, a common on-set experience for actors but just far longer than normal this time.
This focus on 3D spilled over to the actors. Initially, they were asked to learn how to use a paddle ball for a planned 3D sequence. When that was scrapped, they looked for any way the actors could do something that would play well in 3D, like Larry Zerner’s juggling or throwing a wallet straight at the camera, or another actor dropping a jo-yo down toward a camera. Indeed, many of the actors now recall that there was far more focus on finding cool 3D things for them to do than actually bothering with silly little things like character motivation, or, you know, acting.
13. Paramount had to spend millions to equip theaters to be able to show the film in 3D
By some estimates, Paramount was forced to spend between $8 and $10 million to actually get Part 3 into theaters. That’s because they ended up making, supplying, and installing the individual lenses and silver screens required to project Part 3 in all 1,079 theaters which showed the film opening weekend, August 1982. They also had to train the projectionists at theaters, and establish a 24-hour hotline for all of the theaters encountering problems with the 3D.
It wasn’t worth the trouble since Paramount was sued shortly thereafter for antitrust violations related to the work they did to equip all of the theaters for Part 3. They actually lost the case, and recalled all of the lenses they’d installed in the theaters. That, along with the less-than-stellar subsequent box office for Jaws 3D and Amytville Horror 3D, killed the 3D revival until technology advanced far enough for James Cameron to do something like Avatar.
The final damage:
- Body Count: 12
- Box Office: $34.5 million domestic (like $98.2 million at 2014 ticket prices) on $2 million budget. In adjusted dollars, that makes Part 3 the third highest grossing Friday the 13th film in franchise history.
Next Friday, we’ll tell you whether or not everyone on Part 4 hated Corey Feldman.
Use the following links to check out our other “13 Things…” lists: Friday the 13th, Part 2, The Final Chapter, A New Beginning, Jason Lives, New Blood, Jason Takes Manhattan, Jason Goes to Hell, Jason X, Freddy Vs. Jason, and Friday the 13th (2009).