FRIDAY THE 13TH: 3-D
Review by Gordon Justesen
Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Richard Brooker
Director: Steve Miner
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: See Review
Length: 95 Minutes
Release Date: June 16, 2009
“No! You CAN’T be alive!”
Film *** (On the 3D and cheese scale)
The year was 1982, and the Friday the 13th series was quickly becoming the most popular horror movie franchise of its time. The first two movies were made on the cheap and raked in millions at the box office, despite not being entirely different in terms of story. I think even the makers of these movies became aware of how similar they were and thus came up with a way to make the third movie a little bit different…by releasing it in 3D!
3D had made a brief comeback in the early 80s, in particular with third installments in expanding horror movie series. Not only was Jason getting the treatment, but Amityville 3 and Jaws 3 would also be released in the three dimensional format. I kind of wished I had been old enough to get caught up in the 3D craze back then.
But 3D has made a surprising surface in both the DVD and Blu-ray market, thanks to such recent fare as Journey to the Center of the Earth and Hannah Montana: Best of Both Worlds. So why not try and do the same for the 3D releases of the past? As a result, Friday the 13th Part III can now be experienced in its original theatrical 3D format by a new generation of viewers.
Though the 3D itself is nowhere near the revolutionary digital form I experienced with such movies as Beowulf and Monster House, it’s about as good as we’re ever going to get with an early 80s release like Friday the 13th Part III. The DVD comes with one pair of retro-style glasses, and from what I’ve gathered the absolute best way to view it in 3D is on a television with HD capabilities. Just to compare the quality I tested it on my laptop, and it was a lot less impressive than what my widescreen Toshiba provided.
And boy is the 3D ever an important ingredient in the overall enjoyment of this movie. If you read my co-hort Mike’s review of Journey to the Center of the Earth, he mentioned that without the 3D advantage his rating would be lowered by one star. I have the same opinion of this 3D endeavor, though to be honest I’d probably lower this movie by half a star simply because it’s a bit more entertaining than Part 2.
I saw the movie on VHS many years ago, and the parts made specifically for 3D were so easy to spot, which in a weird sort of way made it a fun view in a so-bad-it’s-good kind of way. In one scene Jason kills a guy by squeezing his head so hard, one of his eyes pops out at the screen. You could only imagine the reaction that scene gets in a 2D version on an old videocassette version.
In 3D, though, that scene gets a totally different reaction, as do a good number of the kills in this movie. In addition, the three dimensional aspects come into effect in the simplest scenes, right down to the amount of visible space between a character and the background surroundings. You just may have to focus a little harder with the glasses supplied, as well as try to ignore the visible outlines on a character’s movements.
The movie itself…not so spectacular. We get the same formula as seen in the first two, only this time it’s all too clear that filmmakers weren’t even trying to inject anything different, with the exception of a hilariously bad, synthesized, disco-esque music score. I kept expecting Jason himself to come on the screen and bust some Tony Monero-style moves. Now that would be scary, wouldn’t it?
The good thing is, you get some great laughs as a result. The best example is the random introduction of three biker characters, who try to intimidate two of the campers at a nearby convenience store only to be made fools of. To get revenge, they track them down at Camp Crystal Lake…only to have a run in with you know who.
Even without the 3D advantage, Part III does serve as an important installment in the series. It’s the first one to showcase Jason in all his hockey masked glory. It’s definitely more frightening a look than the hooded cloth he was saddled with in Part 2, and it’s a look that would help solidify Jason as one of the true icons of the slasher movie.
In short, experiencing Friday the 13th Part III in 3D was an absolute blast. When I wasn’t being dazzled by the retro 3D effects, I was having a good laugh at the hilariously bad parts and getting a true kick out of the bloody good kills. The 3D element promises to make this a real hot seller, and I’m hoping that future 3D releases of other movies from the era get made as a result. Yes, I’ll even revisit Jaws III if it means seeing it in three dimensions!
The DVD release earlier this year was my first 3D experience on a home theater system. Despite some noticeable flaws in the image, I was floored by the presentation nonetheless. On Blu-ray, the overall experience has definitely been improved. The 3D element is quite effective throughout the movie (with the exception of the pre-credit sequence, which as the opening title card indicates is NOT in 3D). As I mentioned earlier, those who have HDTV capabilities are likely to get the best results. It will also help, I think, to watch it with the lights turned off as if you were in a movie theater in order to get the full effect. The regular 2D version is also included.
The newly issued Dolby TrueHD mix does a most serviceable job. Music playback is very well handled (even the cheesy theme music sounds pretty good), as are several set pieces in sequences leading up to some slicing and dicing. Dialogue delivery is clear and succinct throughout, as well.
Barely any extras were included on the recent DVD, which was labeled as a Deluxe Edition release. Not the case with the Blu-ray edition, which includes two pairs of 3D glasses in addition to three neat featurettes; “Fresh Cuts: 3D Terror”, “Legacy Of The Mask” and “Slasher Films: Going For the Jugular”. Also included is the short, “Lost Tales From Camp Blood - Part 3” and a Theatrical Trailer.
If you were unable to experience it when it hit theaters back in 1982, Friday the 13th Part III is finally available in its original 3D glory, and on Blu-ray it’s even more exciting! It’s kind of a unique release in that you can get a glimpse of what a 3D movie was like at the time. And the results are not as cheap as you might expect!