The early 1980s saw a surprise resurgence in 3-D movies, a gimmick which hadn’t been as consistently popular since the early 1950s. From cornball efforts like METALSTORM: THE DESTRUCTION OF JARED-SYN and SPACEHUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE to Spaghetti imports such as COMIN' AT YA! and TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS, you certainly had your pick during this era. But before Universal released their third JAWS feature in the resurging process, and before Orion did the same with the second sequel to THE AMYTIVILLE HORROR, Paramount ingeniously marketed their third “Friday the 13th” picture as a 3-D extravaganza, but it would have still raked in the cash even without the additional ballyhoo.
After the tragic events of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 (most of the climax of which is shown here before the credits), the hideous serial murderer Jason Voorhees (here played by Richard Brooker) is alive and well and on the prowl. Meanwhile, a pretty young girl named Chris (Dana Kimmell, SWEET SIXTEEN) – years earlier, assaulted by a disfigured maniac who unbeknownst to her, was Jason – returns with a van full of nutty friends to visit her boyfriend on his farm property, not far from the location of Camp Crystal Lake. As Chris tries hard to forget about her traumatic, mysterious encounter, the maskless Jason is hiding in a barn and with no lack of bodies to hack up and no lack of farms tools at hand, he’s once again doing his thing.
As with PART 2, Steve Minor is in the director’s chair, repeating the same formula as the first two, something moviegoers just couldn’t get enough of. If anything, PART 3 is the film that establishes Jason as unstoppable killing machine and it's also the first in which he hides his appalling mug with a goalie’s hockey mask. The gore (this time by Martin Becker) is still pretty gruesome, even if it does seem to take a back seat to the nifty 3-D effects, and the majority of the murders are downright vicious and nasty. As brainless as it all may be, PART 3 is actually more fun than its predecessors and appears fully aware of its audience (partly evidenced by one character reading an issue of Fangoria, and another obsessed with bloody make-up effects). The young characters are still stereotypical and disposable (even a trio of MAD MAX wannabe bikers are tossed into the mix), but obviously not meant to be taken too seriously (one hippie throwback and his girlfriend are constantly abusing any substance they can get their hands on). Unlike parts 1 and 2, this one attempts to flesh out the characters more – including the homely outcast Shelly (Larry Zerner) vying for attention through a series of disagreeable pranks, setting up some of the film’s numerous “cheat” scares.
Though violence is always prevalent, the 3-D gimmick makes the proceedings more comic book than Grand Guignol, and it features some the best on-screen 3-D antics of the early 1980s renaissance. Almost every shot in the film is designed to exploit the process (why else would two dudes be juggling fruit, or a pot of Jiffy Pop be bursting upwards?), so watching it in 2-D makes much of it pointless and causes it to resemble a spoof ala Dr. Tongue on SCTV. A spear gun is pointed towards the camera with the spear ending up in a poor girl’s eye, a knitting needle through the back of someone’s head ends ups through the mouth, and (in the most over the top 3-D effect of the film) Jason crushes a young man’s head, causing his eyeball to pop out of its socket and land right towards the camera. From a TV antenna to a broomstick handle, the film uses every opportunity to thrust practically anything towards the lens, and it works extremely well as a popcorn movie when properly viewed in 3-D.
This new DVD of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 finally gives fans the opportunity to watch the film in 3-D in their living rooms, which will be a treat for those who haven’t seen it that way since its theatrical release, and especially for those who have only seen the flat version. Maintaining its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement, the Anaglyph 3-D process comes off fairly well, especially if you have a larger screen. Most of the impresive effects come across the way they’re supposed to, though what sometimes happens with Anaglyph (red/cyan) type of 3-D, the picture isn’t totally sharp and images tend to get that dizzying “double vision” effect. The standard 2-D version is also included in widescreen anamorphic, and looks pretty good considering it’s coming off the original 3-D processed negative, making the image soft or grainy at times. A new Dolby Digital 5.1 English audio track is quite vibrant, and the original English mono track is also present, along with mono track in French and Spanish. Optional English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles are included. The disc comes with two pairs of cardboard 3-D glasses (so you don’t have to watch it alone) which have the film’s logo on it, and the visor is designed like Jason’s hockey mask. The only extra is the original trailer. (George R. Reis)
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