Donning the Mask: Friday the 13th Part III and Jason’s Iconic Makeover

Friday the 13th Part 3 is a new a chapter in the life of everyone’s favorite mass murderer Jason Voorhees. Not only is this the first (and so far only) Friday the 13th to be shot in 3D, it is also the very first time Jason puts on his now iconic hockey mask. They say that clothes make the man and our boy Jason is stylin’ and profilin’ like the Nature Boy Ric Flair in his new facial accessory. Our most fashionable serial killer is once again after those horny teenagers who dare to fornicate at Camp Crystal Lake. But wait, there’s more. For a limited time only Jason will not only hack and slash his way through those randy teens but he will also take on an entire gang of bikers who just happen to be in the area to get revenge on the punk kids that wrecked their bikes. Bodies cut in half, pitchforks to the gut, eyeballs popping out of heads are just a small taste of the carnage created by the man himself, Jason Voorhees.

Part III picks up immediately after its predecessor, with a wounded Jason seeking refuge at a lakefront home. Before long he is back to his murderous ways, offing vacationing teens in increasingly gory fashion. But one killing yields a pivotal souvenir—the hockey mask taken off a doomed prankster that becomes Jason’s signature look.

It was a random on-set decision that spawned the enduring image. The prop was merely meant to cover facial deformities, but struck director Steve Miner as a perfect encapsulation of Jason’s intimidating presence. After some customizing, a pop culture legend was born.

Beyond the mask, Part III also introduced 3D to the series, with Miner capitalizing on the technology’s resurgence. While the 3D effects prompt some novelty moments, they fail to mask the largely redundant plot. Yet the film managed to score at the box office, topping $36 million.

For a franchise centered on repetition, Part III perhaps best typifies the “more of the same” sequel formula—rehashing the usual kills but upping the gore factor. Yet its lasting legacy was born more from a killer makeover than anything else. The hockey mask may have begun as a convenient prop, but it left Jason permanently disfigured in the shape of an icon.

In all seriousness, this definitely wasn’t the best in the series. It wasn’t the worst; that would be a tie between part 5 and part 8. I think what really hurt this film were the 3D effects. They just aren’t that good and they really do nothing but get in the way of the story. Jason doesn’t need trickery to appear larger than life. A guy in a hockey mask carrying a machete is going to be noticed, trust me. The acting is cheesy as hell also, but this is Friday the 13th, not The King’s Speech. Another thing that bugged me about the story is where Dana Kimmell’s character Chris recounts via flashback her first meeting with Jason. To me, it looked more like Jason was not so much trying to catch her to kill her, but maybe to rape her. It’s strange to think of Jason in that light and I’m glad none of the later films expanded on it. So, with all that I will mention that I gave the first two films three blood drops apiece. This one gets 2 and a half blood drops for bad 3D effects and a flashback that just doesn’t fit in.

Dana Kimmell as Chris Higgins

Paul Kratka as Rick

Richard Brooker as Jason Voorhees

Directed by Steve Miner

Written by Martin Kitrosser and Carol Watson (Screenplay) and Victor Miller and Ron Kurz (Characters)