Nostalgia isn’t a strong enough word for those who voraciously consume the horror genre. Yearning dwells deep within all of us for cherished memories of the past, but for fans of Friday the 13th, the foundation for our fascination was laid in the 1980s.
The franchise’s first eight films were released during that decade, and an overwhelming majority of series followers harken back to those films (and portrayals of Jason Voorhees), as the glory days.
It comes as little surprise, then, that thirty-five years after its release, Friday the 13th Part III continues to hold a special place in the hearts of Camp Crystal Lake fanatics the world over. Sentiments that were lovingly pieced together in Smoking Zombie’s Friday the 13th Part 3: The Memoriam Documentary.
Though Memoriam’s run time is a scant 37 minutes, there’s more than enough material to keep a smile on the faces of the most intense Friday fans. Hosted by Paul Kratka (who played Rick in 3D), director Kevin R. Phipps and writer/executive producer Sean Richards guide the audience on a journey complete with composer Harry Manfredini’s score that revisits filming locations, rare behind-the-scenes photography and reflections on the arson that destroyed Higgins Haven; as well as interesting pieces of trivia that won’t exactly qualify as breaking news to fans of the saga, but lend a completest air to the program.
Though Smoking Zombie was unable to secure Dana Kimmell (Chris) for the film, there are a steady stream of familiar faces throughout. From David Katims (Chuck) to Tracie Savage (Debbie) and, of course, Larry Zerner (Shelly), we are exposed to laughs and stories from one of Friday’s most beloved casts.
Aside from occasional framing and microphone issues, the segments allotted to those cast members is one criticism of the doc. Considering its relatively short run time, it would have been nice to spend a few moments more with those actors who brought Part III’s characters to life. To this day, after eight additional films that have spanned three-and-a-half decades, Shelly continues to hover at or near the top of the list when it comes to character popularity, so it would have been nice to focus a bit more on the man whose character provided everybody’s favorite mama’s boy with his iconic mask.
Where Memoriam may have fallen short with Shelly, they possessed a sniper’s accuracy for the heart of the picture. Nestled about the midway point of the documentary, was a focus on Richard Brooker, who left us far too young in April of 2013.
Even for those intimately aware of Mr. Brooker’s life story and contribution to Friday lore, it was fascinating to listen to tales of what friend Caroline Williams (Hatchet III) referred to as Brooker’s “wandering, Bohemian lifestyle” that had found him a director, producer, photographer, trapeze artist and inventor who dabbled in technology, and even won an Emmy Award.
There were tales of Brooker sitting in a makeup chair for six hours as Jason’s deformed skull was fashioned around his own, and walks around the set as he puffed on a pipe, but it was in the recollections of Brooker being “larger than life” that will keep eyes glued to the screen.
Beyond Williams and Katims, Smoking Zombie provided humorous and touching stories from Brooker’s family and friends, as well as C.J. Graham (Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI), Dick Wieand (Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning) and Adrienne King (Friday the 13th). For those who already adore Mr. Brooker, it will be a very satisfying retrospective on a man still considered one of the best to ever don the hock, but for those who may not know as much about the man behind the mask, their adoration is guaranteed to follow.
While the doc handled Brooker’s story with great care, as well as the circumstances surrounding the destruction of Higgins Haven in April of 2006, some fans may feel that the film could and should have ended there. However, Smoking Zombie ponders what might have been had the scenario played out differently. Posing the question as a tongue-in-cheek moment was fine, but in this writer’s estimation, the response provided by the film outstayed its welcome.
Friday the 13th Part 3: The Memoriam Documentary contains an ample supply of those warm fuzzies we look to obtain whenever we toss Part III into the DVD player, and is a wonderful piece of nostalgia that any Camp Crystal Lake fanatic will want to add to their collection in short order.
It was noted in the film that Mr. Brooker was an avid photographer of sunsets, and grateful for each that he was blessed to see, because each sunset was unique.
If fans didn’t already feel that way, chills and perhaps even tears will accompany the audience as they experience gratitude to have had the good fortune to lay eyes on a sunset as breathtaking as Richard Brooker.
Feature image: Courtesy Smoking Zombie