The defining film of the 1980s attempt to reignite the 3D medium, the 1982 sequel Friday the 13th, Part 3, represents both the best and the worst in the 3D genre. It’s a film completely unapologetic about its three-ring circus of 3D gimmicks, yet in providing a hundred ways to throw something at the audience it stands by itself for trying things no other movie has tried. Want to see an eyeball pop out of someone’s head and come right at you? This is your movie. If that doesn’t sound all that appealing, never fear, this is 1980s horror, so there is more to laugh at than truly be grossed out.
But let’s talk about the current options first. You can watch Friday the 13th, Part 3 a few different ways. As part of its October Halloween schedule (previewed at borg.com here) AMC is featuring a few showings of the Friday the 13th movie series October 20-22, 2014, including showings of Part 3. You can also pick up a DVD Deluxe Edition version here or updated Blu-ray with features here from Amazon.com. It’s not available on streaming but is a rental option from Netflix. Certain versions, like the Deluxe Edition, come with a blue-red 3D glasses and the standard 2D version. For this review we chose the standard version with the 3D TV upconvert option with Extreme 3D.
For some perspective, the film came out in the year of classic hits like E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, Tron, Poltergeist, The Dark Crystal, Blade Runner, The Thing, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Friday the 13th, Part 3 begins with a complete recap of the climax of the prior sequel. The disfigured Jason Voorhees, who we actually get to see in this film, returns to Crystal Lake, to torment young camp counselor Chris Higgins (Dana Kimmell), one of his targets who slipped away years ago.
As story goes, it’s what you’d expect or worse. People you don’t care about or empathize with, doing stupid things. But for an ending that actually picks up the pace and pulls itself together to deliver some suspense and action, the only reason to dust off a copy of this film are those crazy 3D effects. Kimmell is the only performer in the show with any acting talent and if there is any reason horror fans re-watch this it’s for her and the fact that Jason first dons his iconic hockey mask here (an afterthought addition because the camera man couldn’t get Jason’s lighting right).
It says a lot about the time this was released that such a film would do so well at the box office–Friday the 13th, and Friday the 13th, Part 2 did well enough to get viewers back one more time, before the endless franchise churned out 12 films so far. Friday the 13th is considered Paramount’s #2 cash cow franchise, behind Star Trek.
You’ll have plenty coming at you: meat cleavers, pitchforks, knitting needles, juggling balls, a yo-yo, a dart from a dart gun, bodies, poles and other things plunged into bodies courtesy of Jason, marijuana joints, a baseball bat, a pipe wrench, a machete, more bodies, and axe handles. Oh, and more than one eyeball. Compared to modern TV and movies, none of the gore effects look all that real. The fun of a group viewing will be to see who jumps the most, as the disco soundtrack keeps the film moving along and a better than average soundtrack full of teased suspense queues leading up to that real jolt, keeps this ahead of the rest of the franchise’s sequels and most horror sequels that come after the number 3. Keep an eye out for some really bad opening titles meant to get the audience ready for the 3D features.
What was it with all those summer camp movies: Friday the 13th, Meatballs, Little Darlings, Bless the Beasts and Children?
Note: If you’re a Jason fan don’t forget to get your hands on the new retro Kenner-style action figure now available here from Entertainment Earth.