Without the 3-D gimmick, Friday the 13th Part 3 is, in my opinion, the nadir of the Friday the 13th series. It's cheap, ugly, terribly acted and scripted, and just a miserable excuse for a movie from start to finish. What's worse is that this film has been available on home video in one form or another for more than twenty years, and, up until Paramount released the deluxe edition DVD earlier in 2009, lacked the only thing that made it watchable; the 3-D element! Even with the 3-D, it's a rubbish flick, but at least now all of that crap poking out at you doesn't look so damned silly.
Friday the 13th Part 3 opens up where part 2 left off. It's a sort of "morning after" for Jason, and he's off looking for more people to kill. Meanwhile, a group of nubile teens (and some inexplicably old hippie friends) are heading up to Crystal Lake for a weekend at Chris's (Dana Kimmell - for my money, the cutest girl Jason's ever stalked) family's lake house. Chris doesn't like going there all that much, seeing as how she had a traumatic run in with some sort of mutant mongoloid in the woods the year before (any guesses of who that may be?), but she's going to face her fears with the help of her friends, which include sort-of boyfriend Rick (Paul Kratka), annoying prankster Shelly (Larry Zerner), and a host of other sacrificial lambs begging to be hacked to bits. To up the body count, some local bikers (with colorful names like Fox, Loco, and...oh, I dunno...Sneezy) are brought into the fray as part of a lame subplot involving Shelly and his attempts to impress a girl.
Jason soon arrives, and, as quick as you can say "machete to the head", starts offing Chris' friends with amazing efficiency and expediency. People are chopped in half, impaled by all manner of farming implements, and even get their eyes squeezed out of their heads. It's a bloodbath in glorious (well, more like passable) 3-D .
When I saw this film in theaters way back in 1983 , it was a gas. Then again, I was eleven years old, and pretty much anything that involved leaving the house was fun. Later on, though, while revisiting Friday the 13th Part 3 on VHS and DVD sans the 3-D, the film was revealed for the half-baked turd it really was.
Director Steve Miner, who did such a splendid job with Friday the 13th Part 2, took a giant step back, here, although it wouldn't be fair to place all of the blame on him. The cast is simply abysmal - easily the worst of the series - made all the worse by a cliché-ridden script (even by Friday standards), and extra cheesy visual effects catered to the 3-D gimmick. This whole movie is built around reasons to have characters poke you in the eye with things! There's a yo-yo POKIN IN YER EYE! Watch out, Jason's got a spear gun POKIN IN YOUR EYE! OH NO! He's got a hot poker and guess what? It's POKIN IN YER MUTHA FUCKIN' EYE!!
Making sandwhiches, throwing frisbees, combing hair....if Miner could find a way to poke you in the eye with it, he tried it. And this stuff is great fun in 3-D! But in 2-D it's not only laughable, it's damned annoying! Finally getting a chance to see the film in proper 3-D again (and on Blu-ray, no less), doesn't make it a better movie, but it does make it a helluva lot more fun to watch!
As with My Bloody Valentine 3-D, Friday the 13th Part 3 won't wow anyone with stunning levels of depth and clarity, but it looks pretty damned good all things considered. The 3-D version of the film sports a clean and solid image, and the higher resolution of the image makes the 3-D much more effective and less blurry than that seen on the deluxe DVD version. There's still a lot of ghosting and blur, but for a 3-D movie that's over a quarter century old, I'm going to cut it some slack.
The 2-D version of the film, however, looks as atrocious as always. Sure, it's cleaner and there's a little more depth and dimension, but it still has that foggy/smeared quality that always bugged the hell out of me, and no amount of cleanup can get rid of that. Now that I have a decent copy of the film in 3-D, I'll never watch the 2-D version again, anyway, so its inclusion here is neither a bonus or a detriment; I'm just going to pretend it's not there.
The Dolby 5.1 TrueHD soundtrack is really flat and rather lifeless, with the majority of the action coming from the front of the house. There's an occasional discrete effect thrown around the rears, but, otherwise, this may as well be a stereo track. It's clean and crisp, though, with nicely articulated dialogue, and the film's cheezeball synth score gives the subwoofer a nice workout during the opening credits. It's nothing special, but neither is the movie.
Paramount throws in a surprisingly good collection of extras, here, all in HD, and all very fun and entertaining if not a bit on the short side. Bonus features include:
Fresh Cuts: 3-D Terror: This short featurette offers interviews with Crystal Lake Memories scribe, Peter Bracke, as well as various cast and crew members where they discuss the making of the film, offer some insight into the production, and look at its legacy. Bracke's also featured on the Friday the 13th Part 2 DVD and Blu-ray, and I'm hoping Paramount keeps going to this particular well for future supplements as he's always entertaining and informative.
Legacy of the Mask looks at Jason's iconic hockey mask - which he first donned in Part 3 - and how it's gone on to define the character.
Slasher Films: Going For the Jugular is a general look at slasher flicks, with the Friday the 13th franchise serving as the primary example. It offers theories as to why the films are so popular, why people are drawn to blood and guts, and how the Friday films have impacted the genre.
Lost Tales From Camp Blood -- Part III is the third entry in the original, shot-for-Blu-ray series. I've got to admit, I skipped over this one, as parts I and II really didn't do it for me.
Rounding out the extras is the film's trailer (HD).
As 2-D entertainment, Friday the 13th Part 3 is still my least favorite entry in the series (and, when one considers said series includes stinkers like Jason Takes Manhattan, that's saying a lot), but seeing it in 3-D kicks it up a couple of notches and makes for a nice night of goofy fun. Paramount's Blu-ray presentation is solid if not unspectacular, but the abundance of HD goodies are a welcome bonus.