This is one of the best of the series to benefit from the high definition Blu-ray release. You might recall that I had some serious reservations about the 3D work on the last DVD release. That kind of 3D depends entirely on a completely true color reproduction. With unstable reds and blues or greens, the effect becomes somewhat difficult to appreciate and more than a little bit of a strain on the eyes. This release offers you for the first time what was only promised on the DVD. You finally get a print clean and detailed enough to make the effect worth checking out in your own home theater. It still doesn’t fix the fact that most of the effects were obvious and quite gimmicky. Still, it’s the best chance you’re ever going to get in this technology to experience HD at home. There is progress being made on potential 3D capable monitors and a newer process, but let’s be honest. Ralph Kramden was waiting for 3D television for 60 years. There’s still some time to wait, but this release is an inch closer to that reality. So put those campy paper glasses on (2 are included with the disc) and have a little fun with Jason and his Camp Crystal Lake playmates.
It didn’t take the Friday The 13th film series long to reach down into the gimmick bag. The sad thing is that the franchise didn’t really need a gimmick. Steve Miner returned to the director’s chair, and he delivered an important, if not great, entry into the franchise’s history. Jason would, for the first time, don the hockey mask that would make his image the iconic horror visage it remains today. This was also an important film because a young makeup artist from this staff would break out to become one of the best in the business. Stan Winston was an uncredited artist on this film. Of course, I have no way of knowing what was his, but can there be any doubt that he left his mark throughout the film? Winston didn’t often talk about the film at all. It’s almost as if he never considered it a part of his resume, but he’s likely the biggest thing to come out of the movie.
There’s nothing new at all in the story. A fresh group of teens converge on another section of the banks of Crystal Lake. This time we’re on a farm that just so happens to border the bloody lake. Jason sets about doing what Jason does, and soon there are less and less of the teens going around. In 2D the film looks silly at times. There are so many obvious scenes intended strictly for the quick 3D effect. These moments include a wash pole, an eyeball in the hands of a Crazy Ralph clone, a snake, and a passed joint. Unfortunately these stretches make this the slowest of the Jason films. Still, there’s plenty of killing to go around, and while the effects don’t quite catch up to Tom Savini’s work in the first film, there are more creative moments here than in the second film. With a new system in place, the MPAA didn’t feel the need to go crazy in chopping the film, so it benefits from a smoother edit than the second film had.
You get the chance to see the film in 3D for the first time since the movie’s original release. The package includes 2 sets of glasses. Unfortunately it doesn’t work very well. I honestly could not get through more than 10 or 15 minutes before the eye strain kicked in. I was hoping for one of those switchable presentations like the recent colorization films have been. With those you can switch back and forth seamlessly between the color and black & white versions. No such luck here. Once you decide you can’t take the strain, you need to reset the film in order to enjoy the 2D version. It was a nice touch, and I think it would have worked better in HD. You will need to really calibrate your color to make sure this works. This was the days of red and green/blue 3D process. Monitors vary considerably, and that’s why the effect has never really worked as well at home. The newer polarization process has far better chance of succeeding. I tried this years ago when the Nightmare On Elm Street box set arrived. You could watch one 3D scene there as well. Again, it never really worked correctly. For what it’s worth, you can get the 3D effect to work, but it will strain your eyes. Maybe I’m just getting too dang old. Unfortunately, the film does lose a lot in translation to 2D.
Friday The 13th Part 3 is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. In the DVD review I reserved my comments for the 2D version. Here I’ll say I was able to watch the 3D version through without hurting my eyes. What a difference high definition detail and color makes. You’ll be pretty impressed with the results. It will likely depend on your monitor, but my Samsung series 7 LCD presented a solid enough picture to experience the 3D experience. I have to say that the f/x are much better here. Unfortunately, the print isn’t really much better, and specks are still very much a problem. There are incredibly large black spots or blotches on the film throughout. This has to be the dirtiest print I’ve reviewed in years. There’s hair and scratches galore.
The Dolby Digital True-HD 5.1 track is pretty much everything you can expect. It definitely places you there at the scene. Manfredini’s score whisks about you like a phantom all of its own, inviting you to immerse yourself in this terrifying experience. In fact, the score is so bright and clear I never before realized how much he ripped off from Psycho. Except in the score there is only the most subtle of surrounds, but they play very well into the atmosphere. This was not a surround film originally, and I was glad that it wasn’t overly tampered with. You will hear the dialog and all of those screams of horror just fine.
The DVD release didn’t come with extras because of the two versions of the film on 1 disc. This one not only has extras, but they are all in HD.
You get 2 pair of 3D glasses.
Fresh Cuts – 3D Terror: (12:52) While the focus here is on the 3D technology, cast and crew talk about everything from casting, to killer f/x, and the amount of fake blood used.
Legacy Of The Mask: (9:33) When you consider that this is the film where Jason gets his mask, it’s a good place for cast and crew to talk about the evolution of Jason’s look.
Slasher Films – Going For The Jugular: (7:09) An eclectic panel talks about the appeal of the slasher genre.
Lost Tails From Camp Blood Part III: (4:48) Another installment of this worthless series.
This was a time of the resurgence of 3D. It was actually getting to be quite common for the 3rd entry in a film franchise to use the gimmick. Some of those films were quite good in their own right, like The Amityville Horror 3D. Some of them were sacrilegious nightmares, and none more so than Jaws 3D. Like the same trend in the 1950’s, it was gone almost as soon as it had come into our lives. We all got some cheap thrills, but mostly had to watch some bad movies. This one was somewhere in between. Sure, it’s hokey and not as scary as other Jason films, but it had its moments. Like all genre fans, all I want from a film like this is that they “give me something to scream about”.