FX WORKSHOP: Flying Eyeball (Friday the 13th Part 3)

Friday the 13th Part 3 would continue the tradition of the Grand Guignol-style theatrics that fans had grown accustomed to but and would feature some of the most graphic murders of the franchise, although as a combination of both the added 3-D effects and strict MPAA regulations, each set piece would ultimately be relatively blood-free. Despite this, throughout the duration of its ninety-five minute running time, the victims of the movie would be sliced in half whilst performing handstands, having hands severed and spears fired directly through the eyes. Perhaps the most outrageous of all, however, was reserved for Paul Kratka, whose head would be crushed to the point that his eyeballs literally burst out of his skull.

Director Steve Miner had taken every possible opportunity to have objects of all kinds reach out to his audience in groundbreaking 3-D, ranging from joints to yo-yos, but Kratka’s somewhat unlikely demise would prove the most memorable. The task of providing an array of gruesome gags would fall to Douglas White and his team at Make-up Effects Lab, whose prior experience with 3-D was Charles Band’s low budget feature Parasite. In keeping with not only the Friday the 13th series but the slasher genre as a whole, Kratka’s character, Rick, would put up little fight against the movie’s villain, Jason Voorhees, and would be dispatched with little effort. Although the filmmakers had set him up as the hero (alongside Dana Kimmell’s ‘final girl’), he would prove to be as incompetent and vulnerable as the other males and authority figures.

Two months before principal photography was set to commence at the Valuzet Movie Ranch in Saugus, California, Kratka was brought to the special effects workshop, where his upper body and head was covered in plaster and silicon. The experience would prove somewhat unpleasant for the twenty-six year old actor, whose only method of breathing was through two small straws that had been inserted into his nostrils. The effects team then used an electric saw to cut away the mould cast from around Kratka’s face and from there created a life-size replica of his head and torso. This would be the most demanding effect for White and his team, although the realism of having to perform the gag in 3-D would prove to be even more difficult.

With Rick surviving throughout most of the movie, Kratka’s death scene would be shot near the end of the production, when filming had moved to nighttime. By 3am, Miner was ready to shoot the scene and Kratka had performed his contribution, in which Jason grabs him from behind and lifts him up off the ground by his head. White then brought out the dummy and Kratka took a step back to watch his own death unfold before his eyes. The key to the gag was that White had created a collapsible head for the dummy, which actor Richard Brooker, in the role of Jason, would be able to crush relatively easy. This was designed using fiberglass that could be expanded back to its original form for multiple takes, something which Miner feared would be necessary due to the demands of 3-D.

White’s most difficult challenge was figuring out how the eyeball would burst out of the head and fly directly towards the audience. After discussing possibilities with his crew he had three solutions; one was to fire the eyeball out of the skull using compressed air, but the main concern with this technique was that they would be unable to guide it towards the camera, whilst the dual 3-D lenses meant that it had to hit a very specific target. Another suggestion was to run a rod through the back of the head that the eyeball could be led through, but this would prove impossible to hide from the camera. Eventually, it was decided that a wire would be be required in order to move the eyeball discretely, whilst also being able to control which direction it would run from.

Using a monofilament wire, which is so strong-yet-thin it would remain invisible to the camera, White ran a jerkline through the socket to the back of the eyeball. As Brooker began to crush the head, White pulled on a lever which caused the skull to collapse. At that exact moment, effects artist Martin Becker (who would ultimately work on the subsequent five sequels) pulled the eyeball from the socket using the wire and sent it directly to the target between the dual lenses which, given the angle, would keep the wire hidden from the camera. Miner would later express regret with the sequence, admitting that the effect by today’s standard looks less than impressive, but audiences who saw the film in 3-D back in 1982 gave the appropriate response.

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About the Author

Christian Sellers

Christian Sellers is a film critic for various horror magazines, he owns and runs horror site Dr. Gore's Funhouse.com and music site Love-It-Loud.com and is the author of The Complete History of the Return of the Living Dead. Email: christian.sellers@fridaythe13thfilms.com

18 Responses to “ FX WORKSHOP: Flying Eyeball (Friday the 13th Part 3) ”

  1. Well there you go, you can see the monofilament.

  2. Yeah it does make me laugh at, after all the hard work that went into it, you can still see the wire. But that’s all part of the charm of pre-CGI effects.

  3. Has anyone ever noticed Rick is wearing a sweater similiar to Mrs. Voorhees, or am I mistaken?

  4. That’s an interesting point.

  5. Ahh a truly classic scene indeed. I didnt get the privalage of seeing FT13th pt 3 in 3-D in the theatre. So when I first saw Ricks death on VHS, I thought it was cheesy and cool at the same time. But I think its cool mostly because Jason didnt do that much head crushing until Jason Lives. In the first 4 films for some reason, Rick is the only victim to receive that kind of kill.

  6. Several off-topic comments have been removed. The comments section is for writers to get feedback on their articles or for the topic at hand to be discussed. If anyone has any problems with this simple respectful policy, email me on f13admin@gmail.com

  7. Noted and understood.

    Getting back on topic…I did not like the character of Rick but the actor sure was funny in interviews. He seems to be a sport about it all.

  8. I’d blame the script rather than the actor who didn’t get a chance to shine, but Rick is the biggest piece of wood I’ve ever seen in the series, confirmed by his death scene where his face pops open like a Mahogany closet.

  9. The script is one of main issues with Part 3, aside from the acting. The filmmakers seemed too preoccupied with the 3d to care about anything else.

  10. it was scary when Chris was calling for Rick and Jason had Rick pinned with his hand over his mouth. It was a smooth artful transistion from gagging Rick to crushing his head!

  11. Yeah i see the wire now! Ohh well, it doesnt show when you watch the kill in full motion!! Love it!!!

  12. I love that scene! I agree that the shot of Jason holding him with his hand over his mouth is chilling! How about the scene earlier with the snake jumping out? You can really see the wire there!

  13. As cheesy as the film and Rick’s death are, it’s still one of my top three favorites of the series. I love the chilling atmosphere invoked by the cinematography, especially during the night sequence. I love how ominously the wind blows as things start to really pick up, leading to the exciting chase between Chris and Jason. Richard Brooker made for an excellant Jason, one of my top three favorites. He realy carried himself as Jason, and his performance still creeps me out to this day. The movie itself has an almost timeless feel with few early ’80s cliches, save for certian fashion (and hair style) faux paus. But I think the most telling aspect of the movie is the feeling of utter isolation and dread implied by Higgins Haven’s secluded location. It felt like the most (at least for me) out-of-the-way place in the whole series–except maybe “The Final Chapter”, as the Jarvis house was pretty remote.

    Unlike Paul (from Part 2), we know for sure this “dumb country boy” didn’t make it, and his end was pretty cheesy/brutal all the same. Too bad, as he might have had a shot with Chris, who is one of my favorite final girls.

    Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film is a single brutal truth: wearing Mrs. Voorhees’ sweater may only protect you in the video game. Sorry, Rick, should’ve stuck with the Mary Jo Conrad. ;p

  14. This scene is so cheesy it is just awesome. Like the decade that spawned it. Nuff said. And yes. They decided it was going to be 3-D long before they had a script, or even a director I think. I remember reading about it in Fangoria, or it might have been Starlog… I can’t remember. I haven’t seen those mags in years. In any case it’s another gem in the collection of gems. All gems have some flaws, and that is what makes them special. Just one Jason fans opinion.

  15. This film deserves a 3D bluray rel in the release.
    I watched the film in the theater when I was youner and it blew me away.
    Here is hoping for a 3D release.

  16. Always loved this kill and this scene. One of my faves. When I was a kid back in ’82, I remember how this scene and kill got a great reaction from the audience.

  17. I have a couple thoughts about the scene. First off, cool article and great kill. The thing that sticks out for me is how Jason restrains Rick and conceals the struggling vitim from Chris. Had J come that close to being caught in the act before? It show Js’ intelligence level I think. Rather than using pure brute force, his stalker mentality is showcased several times in this movie, as he waits until the perfect moment before striking each time.
    In regards to this specific kill, I expected Rick to be more capable to defend himself, but much like the other men in the series, he goes down easy. Part 2 Jason would have had a harder time against Rick.

  18. In full motion, and especially in 3D, the wire wasn’t a problem at all. It wasn’t until the home release that the wires became more visible. If it was really a problem in the first place, it could’ve just been airbrushed out.

    Now, about the scene itself, it’s nothing short of creative. The setup is probably the best, when it’s revealed that Jason’s holding Rick behind the house. The death itself was great for laughs, but for a more gruesome effect, a better head cast would help. Kratka’s faces when Jason starts to crush him look real, but then we cut to a dummy with mildy-surprised face. Putting Kratka’s hands in the shot, attempting to fight back, would also sell it better. Blood coming out of the socket would also be nasty, but I’m guessing censors would have that taken care of (do you think they filmed an uncut version?).

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