Friday the 13th Part 3 (3D) (Blu-ray)
Directed by Steve Miner
While Jason finally dons the infamous hockey mask for the first time, the abandonment of any and all drive-in Hitchcock aspirations sends this third slasher party into a ho-hum state of gore for gore’s sake.
So, sit back, relax and enjoy all the popcorn popping, blood dripping, apple juggling, eyeball shooting, knife wielding, body dropping and linen drying in not-entirely-fabulous 3D.
Jason in his now infamous hockey mask
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the shower...
Photos: Paramount Pictures
It must be said there’s something quaint about this second sequel. The movie begins with a title card addressed to “Ladies and Gentlemen,” informing the audience the first few minutes do not require the special 3D glasses. That’s because, as with Part 2, the opening scenes are a recap of the previous movie’s climax. A quickly pureed recut of Part 2’s already choppy finale, it’s a fairly short segment so the movie can get into its 3D theatrics.
And they begin with a cheesy opening credits sequence that dumps the static black-and-white titles of the first two movies. Now they’re red and zing out like the titles of Superman the Movie, although Supe’s titles were cooler, even without 3D. They’re also accompanied by super-kitschy theme music by Harry Manfredini and Michael Zager.
The action then picks up directly after the events of Part 2, with a TV newscaster reporting on the recent horrors.
What follows is a series of 3D effects that help explain why the resurgence of 3D back in the ‘80s was a short-lived phenomenon. The bulk of the effects involve the equivalent of a poke in the eye. There’s the replacement of a laundry line pole, with the pole jabbed out into the audience before getting put back in its place; there’s also, quite literally, an eyeball handed out to the audience and there’s also that timeless classic: the passing of a joint into the crowd.
This Blu-ray incarnation of the 3D experience is by no means ideal, but it is a decent novelty for a little amusement. Those wishing to concentrate on the finer aspects of the film, such as characterizations and plot points, can do so with the accompanying 2D presentation. Rest assured a far more high-tech take on 3D for home presentation is in the works, seeking to take advantage of the increased popularity of the once-again resurgent theatrical 3D presentation.
Take Back the Knife
As for the “characterizations and plot points,” they’re few and far between.
The story this time around is pretty silly and, as already mentioned, any Hitchcockian inspirations and aspirations exhibited in the first two movies have been totally abandoned this time around.
Instead of focusing on stupid, over-sexed teenagers, Jason’s got a more varied selection of – uniformly obnoxious – characters to slay. There’s a ridiculously goofy subplot involving a thoroughly menace-free trio of motorcyclists who are, allegedly, members of a “biker gang.” There’s also a stoner couple and a trailer trash couple who run a convenience store.
But this episode will forever be remembered as the one that features a really annoying kid named Shelly (Larry Zerner) with severe self-esteem issues. He’s stupid enough to think he’ll win friends and influence people by scaring them with the cheesy collection of Halloween makeup tricks in his suitcase. But, more importantly, it’s his hockey mask that Jason adopts as his own. Following in the modus operandi of the prior two movies, not every murder is shown on screen; there’s a certain amount of delicious taste on display when one scene shows Shelly and the next shows Jason in his hockey mask.
While Part 2 toned down the gore (thanks to MPAA pressure) and ratcheted up the sex, this one tones down the sex (aside from one extremely gratuitous shower scene), amps the gore back up a notch, and serves up a lot more drugs.
Released in 1982, hot on the heels of Part 2 in 1981 and Friday the 13th in 1980, Part 3 quickly stepped into the self-reverential and self-referential. At one point a character picks up an issue of Fangoria and skims through the horror magazine. There’s a feature story about Tom Savini, the makeup guru on the first movie, and another about… well, it’s about Godzilla. But then blood drops from the rafters, right on to the magazine.
Yeah, that is a nice touch. But, unfortunately, the characters are all so disposable, there’s no real vested interested in seeing any of them survive. Or, to rephrase things, there’s no real interest in seeing Jason let any of them slip away. As the victims become more and more disparate, this series of slasher gore also steers clear of the psychological underpinnings that gave the first two movies a bit of “real-world” edginess.
With Jason finding himself in one lame situation after another, most notably getting his arms caught in a van window, but then smashing the entire window with his masked head, the fun house aspects nose dive into a not-so-fun realm of extremely poor storytelling.
That aimless drift is fully on display as the conclusion strains to play off the creepy finales of its predecessors. It doesn’t matter how many dimensions it’s in, the ending this time is totally lame.
While the overall supplemental content is a little thinner for Part 3, the bright side is all of the supplements are presented in HD.
Fresh Cuts: 3D Terror (13 minutes) boldly calls Part 3 “the most arduous shoot” while so much attention was paid to the production’s technical aspects and the multiples of takes required to get the 3D effects just right. It’s a good collection of memories about getting the movie made, including a description of an alternate ending that was filmed but not included here as a supplemental feature.
It’s worth pointing out that some of the comments are seemingly glazed over with the halcyon buzz from one of Part 3’s joints. Martin Jay Sadoff, a 3D supervisor on Part 3, makes a grandiose claim that Part 3 opened to $28 million back in 1982 and, in comparison, throughout 2008 movies had opening weekend box office in the neighborhood of $7 million. Well, let’s factor in inflation. The actual opening weekend for Part 3, according to Box Office Mojo, was $9.4 million and the movie’s entire box office cume was $34.6 million (failing to out-gross the original installment, at least in terms of box office dollars if not gore). Furthermore, while certainly any number of movies might have had a $7 million first weekend take in 2008, they would tend to be off-season or middling releases and the flip side is releases like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and The Dark Knight blazed past $100 million in their opening sessions.
More apples to apples, this year the remake of Friday the 13th opened to $40.5 million.
Let’s keep it real, in 3D or otherwise.
Legacy of the Mask (10 minutes); the title says it all. This is Shelly’s moment to shine.
Lost Tales from Camp Blood Part III (5 minutes) continues the home video series of shorts. It’s becoming a little more clear now that the individual segments are telling one over-arching “story,” but it’s still an allegory with the “alle.”
Slasher Films: Going for the Jugular (7 minutes) is a collection of comments about the horror genre, featuring comments from Tony Todd (Candyman), Tony Moran (Halloween), Harry Manfredini (Friday the 13th‘s score composer), Richard Booker (one of the Jasons), Ari Lehman (yeah, aaagaaaaain, this time basically stating the series is free of any and all sub-context), Robbi Morgan (the first victim in Friday the 13th) and Del Howison (a horror book store owner who interviewed Peter Bracke on the Part 2 supplements). Howison offers up the most interesting take, that the horror films of the ‘80s were the cinematic response to a movement of dissent that started in the ’60s and ‘70s.
There’s also the original theatrical trailer, which describes “a new dimension in terror” and boasts “it will scare you… count on it.”
While all of the supplements are presented in HD, there are no Blu-ray exclusives.
Picture and Sound
Don the classic red & blue 3D glasses, in this case niftily styled after Jason’s hockey mask, and be sure to sit with a direct, head-on view of the TV screen for the best 3D results. Side views come across as more like a rather flat View-Master reel.
There is certainly some technical genius at play here. The first shots in 3D provide a nice dose of atmosphere, with sheets blowing in a gentle summer breeze on an outdoor laundry line. That’s cool. But then the eye-jabbing effects take center stage and serve as a reminder as to why 3D has repeatedly been a fad and has enjoyed only short spurts of life.
Strictly in terms of picture quality, both the 3D and 2D versions (both in a nice 2.35:1 aspect ratio) have some minor, but persistent artifact issues with scratches in the early going and toward the end.
As with Part 2, the English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD is decent enough, although not overwhelming. It’s once again front-end heavy, but serviceable for the 1982 flick. Also on board are English, French and Spanish monaural tracks.
Subtitles are available in English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
How to Use This Disc
Watch the movie in 3D until you can’t stand it, then switch over to the 2D presentation. After surviving Jason’s latest murder spree, pop over to Fresh Cuts: 3D Terror for a trip down 3D memory lane.
• Originally published at MovieHabit.com.