Friday The 13th Part 3 Sparked A Debate Over Jason's Famous Hockey Mask

"Friday the 13th Part III" holds a special place in many a horror fan's heart. Not only is it the only disco-themed 3D entry of the extensive franchise, it's the first to depict slasher king Jason Voorhees in the hockey mask that would become his trademark, as recognizable as Freddy Krueger's bladed glove or Michael Myers' Shatner mask.

Steve Miner's 1982 horror sequel built upon the lore of Voorhees, who began his reign of terror in "Part 2" wearing a plain burlap sack over his head (not dissimilar from the Phantom's bag-mask in Charles B. Pierce's '76 horror picture "The Town That Dreaded Sundown"). "Part 3" sees the introduction of fresh blood at Camp Crystal Lake, a new group of young people staying near the cursed place for a weekend. Among them is Shelly (Larry Zerner), a prankster who brings along theatrical blood, trick props, and a hockey mask (originally molded from a Detroit Red Wings goalie mask). After poor Shelly's bloody departure from the plot, Jason upgrades his look and a horror icon emerges.

The extensive documentary "Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th" offers over six hours of insight into the franchise (twelve films, a TV series, books, and video games are a lot to cover). Therein, producer Frank Mancuso Jr. chronicles the first appearance of the mask and why a new look was needed:

"I was never a huge fan of the sack, because I just felt like it didn't have any real substance to it. And we wanted something that would mask Jason, but at the same time, it had to have a level of menace to it."

Horror FX maestro Stan Winston designed a latex mask for Jason actor Richard Brooker, but it was deemed too monstrous to work. Enter the hockey mask.

Success has many fathers

Speculating on the mask and its genre legacy, "Part 3" star Dana Kimmell calls its inclusion in the film "a fluke." Cast and crew have differing opinions as to who even brought the mask to set. Some say Frank Manusco, Jr. brought it, while others credit director Steve Miner. 3D supervisor Martin Jay Sadoff also claims to have first put the mask on Jason himself. There seems to be an equal amount of unawareness among those involved regarding how special the mask would be in the years to come. In "Crystal Lake Memories," Kimmell explains how she didn't realize the importance of that prop in the moment:

"I don't think at the time it really struck me, when I saw the hockey mask, that this was just going to go on and on until 'Friday the 13th part 11' and so on, but I can see why."

Frank Manusco Jr., however, knew they had struck gold with the mask, and that the Crystal Lake menace now had a fully realized, fully terrifying look:

"Once we had the mask, we said, 'This is it. This is our signature piece. It's part of the iconography of what this movie is.' So I wanted to make sure that we held onto that."

Manusco Jr. ensured that Jason's appearance, particularly the mask, stayed as constant as possible when the next sequel came, and the one after that. The look would change incrementally over subsequent entries; the mask of "Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning" ditched the red triangles in favor of inverted blue ones, and the mask deteriorated with each new film as its wearer was stabbed, burned alive, blown up, and melted by various final girls (and needed a complete overhaul by the time he went into space). But as Haddonfield residents already know, you can't kill the boogeyman -– or his aesthetic.