Friday the 13th, Part 3 3D
Friday fans finally found what they were looking for when Paramount earlier this year released the second most attended Friday the 13th film, Part 3, in its original 3D presentation. While it was nice to see a familiar face find a new dimension, it still had its share of caveats. The process only kinda worked, with the 3D effect sort of sputtering in lieu of print damage, ghosting and compression artifacting from the MPEG process. There was also that problem of the opening credits, perhaps the finest demonstration of the 3D capabilities of the film, given its use of controlled graphics, and the way they were improperly transferred in 2D. Paramount returns to the property only a few months later, this time on Blu-ray. This version is in both 2D and 3D (unlike the overseas Blu-ray), and it’s got a bunch of extras that the DVD never had. So throw on your glasses and let the comparison begin!
Friday the 13th Part 3 begins with a pretty fitting allusion to the feral/civilized complex that has always made Jason such an interesting character. It begins at a grocery store seemingly in the middle of nowhere, where the owner picks out his pet rabbit from the produce section. Following that, there’s a big jump scare with his caged snake jumping out at the camera. Both these wild animals forced into domestication sort of speak out at the dichotomy Jason as a tragic hero seems stuck between. Loved early as a regular boy but grown up as a beast in the wild, he’s as much an animal as Tarzan. That’s about all the subtext you’re likely to get here, though, evident when a full scene seems intent solely on the owner’s wife adjusting the TV antenna into the screen for added effect in the third dimension. The owner dies in the crapper, and the woman dies by knitting needle – how is that for reinforcing gender stereotypes? Come on, Jason, your mom was so much more than just a housewife.
So after that lengthy prelude, we descend into Friday formula proper. It’s a day or so after the murders in the second film, so logically we can let this next batch of cabin dwellers off the hook. A few things have changed since the first two films, though. No longer are they camp counselors, and no longer are they in Crystal Lake. They’re now at Higgins Haven, which is apparently only a few miles away from Crystal Lake, but if vegetation is any indication, it’s about the distance from New Jersey to California. Gone are those dense, multi-colored forests and in are Hollywood backlots. Hey, Jason was bound to sell out sooner or later, right?
As far as story goes, Chris (Sweet Sixteen’s sleuth, Dana Kimmell) brought a van of wingmen and women to help her rekindle a relationship with old flame Rick (Paul Kratka). A few years prior they had a fling, but it was cut short when some maskless mongoloid (you guessed it) tried to violate her in the woods. Could it be, Jason in love? He’s back once more after, if we are to make any sense of the attempted story continuity here, taking a pit stop across the pond to off the counselors from Part 2. Determined not to blow his second date with Chris, he seeks out to improve his appearance. Lucky for him, chubby goofball Shelly (Larry Zerner) just happens to have a hockey mask packed in with all his gag props (nobody seems to have any luggage, but Shelly’s got fake knives, blood, masks and a harpoon gun, go figure). Jason takes the mask, and before getting to his main coup, does off with a couple pot smokers who, despite being visibly at least 10 years older than these teens, somehow have tagged along for the ride. There are also lovebirds Debbie (Tracie Savage) and Andy (Jeffrey Rogers) to plow through, who manage to do a few series notables, like make love in a hammock, read Fangoria and walk on their hands before finally getting cut in half. Rick’s about to have an eye-popping experience, and Vera (Catherine Parks) is about to learn how Orca felt when she was harpooned by Richard Harris. It’s she with the androgynous name, Chris, who must face off (mask off?) with Jason, but as Rob Zombie taught us with Halloween – love hurts, and in the third dimension it really stings.
I’m of two minds about Friday the 13th, Part 3D. On one hand, it seems a trifle – a side-story, really to the true legacy of Jason Voorhees. It doesn’t happen at Crystal Lake, that whole flashback attack scene in the woods breaks all continuity both with the series and Jason as a character, and plot wise, it doesn’t really add anything of note to the series mythology. Had he not got his mask in this film, which despite its significance with his iconography today, is really arbitrary and without motive, Jason would really have nothing of note to carry over to the next film. The first, naturally, introduces him as a boy and sets up his grudge, and Part 2 shows him as an adult and really works in the mother complex. In The Final Chapter we have Feldman directly addressing Jason’s childhood trauma, a hiker out for revenge from a past murder, and ultimately his death. Even if A New Beginning didn’t even have Jason, it still fleshed out the Tommy Jarvis character as an offset of Jason himself. Jason Lives developed it further and kept with continuity by bringing Jason back from the grave and then putting him back in the lake where he belonged. So on and so forth. Each film depends on the other both for continuity and for the filling out of the Jason Voorhees story. Delete Part 3 from the canon, and really, all you are missing is a mask. That’s it.
In many ways, it’s as if the gimmick of waving objects in front of the screen took precedence over any sort of story. Steve Miner returns after directing Part 2 to perfection, but really brings nothing new but another dimension. Even the ending is a total rehash of the previous two films, making the proceedings seem even less relevant than they already were by the time the credits roll. At this point you can’t really add more to the Jason mythos – he’s been established too long for any sort of change to keep any ground. But in 1982 Jason was only in his second film as a star, and opportunities were ripe to really develop his character. Instead of making him as a subject a fully three dimensional character, they opted instead to do so with the film. From that point on, Jason was what he was, and the other films were sort of locked into trying to build backstory onto an underdeveloped foundation. It’s for that reason, and maybe because of all the weird subplots with the pot smokers, bikers and grocery store owners, that I often hold the third film in contempt.
That’s one side. The other part of me really takes to the characters, fun and overall presentation of the film. This movie gave us Shelly, one of horror’s most lovable doofuses, Rick, whose “but this is the sweat of a worker on my forehead, not a lover” line deserves retroactive inclusion in any book by Karl Marx, Chris, the best looking and best screaming Final Girl of the bunch, and a whole cast of entertaining victims. Nothing against Crispin Glover, Corey Feldman, John Furey or Amy Steel, but the whole cast of campers in Part 3 is without a doubt the best of the series. They don’t have a story to latch on to, but each one is developed with a great deal of humor and even, dare I say it, depth. I love those guys.
Technically, too, the movie is in another league compared to the other films in the series. The scope cinematography, storyboarded compositions and elaborate angles and crane moves all add for what could almost be dubbed epic storytelling. While the first two films have a definitely “from the ground up” camp quality that works wonderfully, the attention to detail visually in this film is something to really be appreciated. Every inch of the frame is being utilized in some manner, whether it’s to provide foreground or background to the three dimensional compositions, or more interestingly, to hide Jason in the corners of the frame that just couldn’t be done in 1.85:1. It may not be in the preferred, recognizable east coast wilderness that gave the first two films such character, but as a beast all its own, Friday the 13th Part 3D looks really great.
What the film doesn’t deliver in story or relevance, it at least delivers in kills. There are some great visual gags here, from the out of the screen needle and eye deaths to the handstand splitter. The deaths have great variety, but the key here is that they evolve out of a natural environment. Too many times in some of the sequels Jason was grabbing at obscure objects just because. The horn in The New Blood, the guitar in Jason Takes Manhattan and even the beloved corkscrew in The Final Chapter. Here, the objects all feel fitting as murder weapons, and the way Jason pulls each one out of context adds to the “anything goes” persona he takes when punishing victims. The damage that’s done to him, from the axe to the face or the rope hanging, are also some notable bits of backlash from the Final Girl and again bits that come naturally from the environment around them.
Okay, so they didn’t think much about the story surrounding Jason. It’s a pretty fault-worthy flaw. That said, though, the filmmakers here really put a lot of effort into most other things in the film, from characterization to cinematography, framing to fatalities. I’ll never be able to appreciate the film as anything but a side-quest in the overall arc of Jason Voorhees, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one fun frolic in the forest. But seriously…Higgins Haven?
Okay. The bad news first. The 3D title sequence is still sadly only in 2D in the 3D version. With that out of the way…wow! Finally seeing the intended 3D effect in the DVD released earlier this year was nice, but at times it was a struggle. The projection debris that would stay on the frame despite a move in the camera was certainly distracting, and it remains so still. What’s changed, though, is that with the added resolution of Blu-ray, the artifacting present around all those bits of print damage are no longer, so tiny flakes and small scratches really don’t ruin the effect as much as they did before on DVD. Adding to that, the added crispness to edges and the detail in the backgrounds really make it easier to join up the double image to make the 3D effect work. This time around, it’s less “yeah, I kind of see it” and more “ahh, so that’s what the effect really looked like”. It’s still accomplished with the lesser red/blue process, but even still, I can say with confidence that this new transfer certainly rivals the theatrical experience, and that’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.
For those who wish to deprive themselves of the amazing 3D effect, the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen film is also presented in its regular 2D. Colors are naturally better here compared to the red and blue, and the edges seem crisper since they aren’t two separate images. That extra resolution and detail is again a marked improvement over the DVD – so much so that even the 2D version looks more three dimensional at times than the DVD’s 3D version. There are several open window moments, where the depth of the frame looks so real it goes beyond two dimensions. The added sharpness and detail to the image may actually be too good, since many of the projectile effects now clearly reveal the string used to pull them off. These were once things masked by the lower resolution of VHS and DVD, but here on Blu-ray you can see even the smallest of wire or object. It’s this new definition of smaller objects that really enhances the 3D version, too, since even the most minute of objects, like falling hay or knitting needles really stand out.
It is always tough to wholeheartedly recommend a Blu-ray upgrade to a DVD that was so recently released, since the transfer is often identical, just with the added resolution and color space afforded by the new format. This time, though, it’s more than just a sharper picture. With Friday the 13th, Part 3, the crispness of Blu-ray turns what was before a serviceable 3D experience into a must see. It really does look fantastic. Don’t believe me? Try on the 3D glasses from the DVD release (they are identical to the two sets included on this Blu-ray) and check the captures out for yourself. The 2D titling sequence is unfortunate, but other than that one repeated mistake, the rest of this presentation is a total treat to behold. Finally, the 3D presentation this film deserves!
The language options, both spoken and subtitled, are the same on this release, and other than the upgrade from English Dolby Digital 5.1 to English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, so too are the audio modes. As noted in the DVD review, the soundtrack is again fully alive in the rear channels, with the action clean, if not spectacular, in the fronts. There still aren’t many, or even any, discrete effects, other than some sound effect spills that quietly bleed from the front speakers to the back. The English mono we all grew up with is included as well, but Paramount has done such a nice job with the 5.1 remixes on these new editions, that even the purists will probably be going 5.1 this time around.
If the added impact of the 3D effect didn’t already sell you on this disc, then the bevy of new extras will. The big flaw with the previous “Deluxe” edition DVD was that, well, outside of the 3D version, there really wasn’t really anything Deluxe about it. Like the Blu-ray overseas, though (which again, does not have the 3D version), this has three new featurettes, another “Lost Tales from Camp Blood” episode and the theatrical trailer – all in HD!
The three extras were newly produced and were not previously included on the former “From Crystal Lake to Manhattan” set like some of the extras from the previous two films. This stuff is all new, and the cast of characters sat down for interview is a pretty diverse bunch. For the first extra, “Fresh Cuts: 3D Terror”, we get a great overview of the third entry. “Crystal Lake Memories” writer Peter Bracke starts us off with a little backstory of the production, and then gets right to the goods. The fabled alternate ending. He sets the record straight about what was intended and what was shot, and other important Friday figures, like Mr. Voorhees Richard Brooker, our Shelly Larry Zerner and effects man Douglas White, all serve up some notable insight about that ending. There’s also talk about Stan Winston’s work on the picture, as well as the other makeup effects, including talk with a new face in the Friday fan universe, Sandi Love, who dealt with costumes (and all the blood soaked into them) on set. Technician Martin Jay Sadhoff is the other notable participant, informatively weighing in on the 3D process used in the film. Quick but hugely informative and entertaining, this piece runs, naturally, 13 minutes.
The next is “Legacy of the Mask”, where the same participants all talk Jason’s hockey mask, what it was like before it, how it came to be, and the impact it’s had on the franchise. Zerner again revels in the fact that he was the man to give Jason his signature facial additive, while Sadhoff postulates on whether his comments during crew member hockey games led to the adopting of the mask. Bracke weighs in for some perspective, mentioning how the release of The Elephant Man a few years prior to Friday the 13th Part 2 sort of forced the series to take Jason in a new direction for fear of unintentional laughs or comparisons. Running 10 minutes, this is another solid piece on the film.
The final featurette is more fluff, but still fun, “Slasher Films: Going for the Jugular”. This one seeks the opinions of the aforementioned, as well as other horror icons like Tony Todd, Tom Savini and, uh, the guy who played Michael Myers in Zombie’s piece of shit remake. Thanks for coming out. Each one, and a few more fellows that were found in previous extras from the first and second films, share their take on the genre, reinacting or just lovingly remembering the affable little genre of death. It runs 7 minutes.
The new “Lost Tales from Camp Blood” murder is probably the best of the bunch, but it’s still no knock out. It’s fun to see a new death with the Manfredini music, but like the previous ones, this is hampered by the fact that the killer clearly isn’t Jason (he’s maskless and not even deformed) and the editing is a little pedestrian compared to the feature films. Still, it’s fun, and this one has our “Jason” trading in his knife for a hammer. Nice.
The last extra is the familiar trailer in HD. It’s as wonderful and nostalgic as always.
It’s too bad there weren’t more actors involved here – especially since so many of them were previously involved on the commentary track included in the “From Crystal Lake to Manhattan” box set. Speaking of that, where is the commentary? It was a great reunion track, and other than licensing issues, there really should be no reason why it isn’t included here. Hopefully down the road when this gets released again we can finally have a Paul Kratka one on one where he dishes out his process of developing character backstory, particularly the bit about the bit about having “the sweat of a worker, not a lover.” Next time!
There are two ways to appreciate Friday the 13th, Part 3 on Blu-ray, thanks to the vastly improved 3D version that really makes the effects stand out, and the sharper, deeper 2D version. There are two ways to look at the film, too. On one hand, it’s a silly trifle that ignores the Jason mythology just when it should have been getting the most interesting, instead infusing it with silly sub-plots, a poor change of scenery and a derivative finale. On the other, though, it’s a fun slasher exercise with some amusing kills, some great scope cinematography and the best cast of campers in the entire canon. The picture quality looks excellent, the sound still just as strong as the previous DVD, and the extras now filled out a little more with three quality featurettes and a newly shot death scene.
Not including the commentary from the box set release and not fixing the 2D titles on the 3D version of the film are silly mistakes, but the improvement in the image and extra departments are more than enough to recommend the upgrade, even for those who just bought the DVD. Until the clear glass anaglyph process hits the mass market, this is the closest the film is going to get to the full 3D experience at home. It’s yo-yo flinging, popcorn popping, ball juggling, bale hauling, window smashing, axe to the head 3D fun.
very nive review can't wait to get this on blu-ray
Great review Rhett!!
On the US version of the "Legacy of the Mask" featurette, does Douglas White reveal how the mask was made? And, how Shelly's was a different/smaller mask that had to be molded & enlarged to fit Jason's make-up? His interview was the most valuable part of the UK version of the supplement. Did they cut out these parts?
S I I I I C C C K K K ! ! !
Wicked review, rhett! This is definitely one of my least fav of the series (and is rather dull), but DAMN I think I'll have to pick it up now! The commentary on the boxset was interesting, but it was so poorly recorded. I don't think I'd ever listen to it again, so for me it isn't a huge loss. Everything else on this blu-ray looks awesome though. I'm definitely gonna grab this!
Nice, Gonna get rid of my UK Blu and go with this one me thinks :)
WooHoo! Can't wait to get me some Blu! Thanks for the review rhett - nice work.
"this is the closest the film is going to get to the full 3D experience at home"
Unfortunately no, it's not. The stereoscopic versions are much better.
Look them up... It utilizes a converter box and electronic glasses. It preserves the color of the film and adds more depth than anaglyph can do (red/blu).
Polarized (clear) cannot be done with home theater equipment at this time, but shutter or stereoscopic equipment emulates it fairly well.
I'm aware of the stereoscopic process, but it isn't really practical at the regular consumer level, and I'd say even the red/blue Blu-ray would have a greater 3D effect than stereoscopic in standard def. It looks that good.
Meh...the stereoscopic versions are nothing impressive. Really. They're actually kinda shit, and they don't work on HDTVs.
GOt my part 3 blu today--wathced it tonight...WOW!!!! This is night and day from the dvd--I feel like there is more at play here then just the enhanced resolution form bluray...the "registration" issues between the red and blue are massively improved...I had virtually no ghosting problems, only the obvious color issues inherent in the red/blue prcoess but overall I'd say the part 3d blu ray experience was so good that it almost makes up for all the prior mishandling of the series!!!
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