Contributor: Rick McGimpsey
I am not a big fan of 3D movies; even modern ones. They are gimmicky, distracting, and headache-inducing and add only marginal changes to the film viewing experience. And if you wear glasses like I do then you are even in for a more difficult time getting the 3D goggles to fit over your specs.
But in the 1980’s 3D was even worse. The red and blue 3D glasses often blurred the picture and made discerning the film difficult. And many of these films, and Friday the 13th is no exception, employ 3D in gimmicky and juvenile ways that look clumsy and ridiculous when watched in 2D at home. In this movie we have stupid moments like a guy playing with a yo-yo which drops toward the camera in obvious ways, a hippie making popcorn with each kernel popping into closeup shots which look horrible, and there is even a scene where Jason squeezes a man’s head so hard his eye pops out on a wire that the special effects crew failed to disguise. My blu-ray boxset comes with two pairs of 3D glasses and has a 3D option for this movie. I stick with 2D and patiently put up with the idiotic 3D gimmick scenes.
As for the movie itself it is not that bad as far as these kind of movies go. It follows the low-rent slasher formula well and Jason gets his iconic hockey mask. One of his victims is a rather tubby prankster who likes to scare his female friends with masks, fake blood, and prosthetics. In one scene he jumps out and scares a girl he has a crush on wearing a hockey mask and holding a spear gun. I am not sure why he thought hockey masks were scary since the only thing scary about them is the sheer boredom I suffer when I watch a hockey game, but the gag is effective and he successfully scares the girl. She, of course, berates him and he shamefacedly slinks off to the barn to mope. Apparently terrifying a girl shitless is not a good wooing tactic, who knew?
Jason finds him, kills him, and takes a liking to the hockey mask. After shooting the girl in the eye with the spear gun the iconic Jason image is born complete with hockey mask and machete in hand.
There is also a subplot involving these bikers who start harassing the characters staying at Crystal Lake. These are your standard dickhead characters that the viewer roots for the killer eliminating. Not being a biker or well-acquainted with that culture I cannot say how stereotyped these bikers are, but they are still a ton of fun to watch and their demises are creative and memorable.
The main character is a girl named Chris who used to live in a house on Crystal Lake, but left and never came back after a trauma she suffered there a few years ago. While out in the woods at night she was attacked by a hideous man and the effect of the experience had made returning emotionally difficult. It is also subtly implied by the film that Jason also raped her which goes to show that the writers did not have the Jason Voorhees character fully fleshed out yet. Jason is not a rapist and has no such inclinations. His mind is too primitive and underdeveloped to have an sexual urges of any kind. The notion that he ever raped someone is just inappropriate.
Over the course of the film Jason stalks and kills the vacationers one by one this time using his signature machete for the majority of his kills. Like the previous films the last survivor is the main heroine. Chris has a final encounter with Jason in the barn and in a brief moment he is unmasked and she recognises him as the man who assaulted her all those years ago. She ultimately defeats him by taking an ax to his head and he eventually collapses. She goes out in a canoe onto the lake and then has another jumpscare nightmare sequence in which Pamela Voorhees’ corpse rises from the water and pulls her under. She awakes and is taken to safety by the police.
The Pamela Voorhees jumpscare fails to be anywhere near as effective as the one in the first movie and frankly it is really stupid. In the previous films the characters knew who Pamela and Jason Voorhees were. In this movie they identify him only as a masked maniac and later on Chris recognises him as her assailant from years ago. But, none of them know that he is Pamela’s son. So there is no justifiable cause for Chris to have a nightmare about Pamela’s corpse. It makes no sense at all.
But aside from the bad 3D affects I have few complaints about the movie. It’s not Citizen Kane, but it is good Jason movie. There is no overabundance of slow buildup, the kills are creative, and the pacing is entertaining. This is just another Jason movie that delivers what it promises. If you are a fan of the genre this movie will satisfy you just fine.