Friday the 13th: Part 3 (US - BD)
Gabe takes eyeballs, yo-yos, broomsticks, and hot pokers in the face.
As I’ve already covered in my reviews of Friday the 13th parts one and two, I’m really only a passing fan of the Friday series (part four and six aside, both of which are awesome), but I am fascinated by their place in film history, and their consistently wacky continuity. Friday the 13th Part 3 isn’t the film that’s going to change any non-fan’s opinion of the series, as taken on its own it’s actually a pretty dull slasher, featuring only a few decent kills (which don’t really work without the 3D enhancement), and an excess of really obnoxious characters. The film features a handful of fun eccentricities, such as the strange couple that Jason takes out at the top of the film, and marks the first time the killer dons his hockey mask, but it’s still, in my opinion, one of the series’ weaker entries.
Director Steve Miner goes a little buck wild with the 3D aspects, which don’t work as well in the pre-polarized world, but can’t be blamed for pushing the gimmick quite literally in his audience’s face. In the absence of a good story the 3D is really the only thing he had to work with. Miner isn’t a particularly talented filmmaker, but the improvement in his direction between films two and three is definitely measurable. Part 3 almost risks being mistaken for a real motion picture with its widescreen scope and creative camera movement, though let’s not pretend for a second Miner holds a candle to the anamorphic lens slasher director, John Carpenter. Most obviously missing from the equation is any semblance of suspense.
But I’d rather focus on what makes the film at least somewhat interesting to me, namely the continued development of the series’ biblically strange continuity. Part of the fun of the series is in Jason looking completely different in every episode, but Friday the 13th 3 features a thematically different monster from the latter films. Continuing the basic mongoloid hick theme set in part two, this film’s Jason features more human traits than his following incarnations. In a shocking flashback it appears that the character attacked and raped a girl while hiding out in the woods, apparently a few years before the poor sap witnessed his mother’s beheading. Carnal desires are not exactly in-keeping with Jason’s later apparent hatred of promiscuity, or his mindless or childlike mindsets seen in the follow-up films. For what it’s worth this Jason is the most ‘realistically’ rendered version of the character, though I’m not so sure that’s what any of us want out of him.
Friday the 13th Part 3 is made infinitely more enjoyable with the inclusion of the film’s original 3D representation. It’s the original red/blue 3D, obviously, since polarized 3D isn’t available on home video (I don’t think it’s possible to transfer old school 3D into polarized 3D anyway), but it works just as well as newer 3D Blu-ray releases. The red/blue transfer doesn’t look much more impressive than the DVD version that was released a few months back (though it does overcome some of the interlacing effects), and in turn the effect doesn’t work much better, but there really is only so much we can expect from the dated system.
The 2D version is more colourful than any of the DVD release, but isn’t going to thrill videophiles at all. Being the only 2.35:1 Friday the 13th, the widescreen alone is worth the VHS upgrade, but shortcomings in the original footage makes for a somewhat unnecessary HD upgrade. The inconsistent focus is a constant problem, likely arising from the 3D to 2D conversion. Deeper blacks and harsher contrast help the definition, but there are long stretches of time where the image is blurred and/or the lines are doubled. The print is also flecked with dirt, most of which appears to be stuck directly to the lens, and there’s more than the usual share of hairs in the gate.
Friday the 13th Part 3 breaks with early series continuity by using scary music during fake-out scares. It’s not a real problem I suppose, but I think it dunks a bit of the series’ loose sense of integrity. The ‘integrity’ is also slightly deferred by the main title disco remix of the original theme. Concerning this new Dolby TrueHD track, the increased frequency of music to silence is welcome, as the music is once again pretty much the only thing the mix has going for it in the stereo and surround channels. The scare stings are pretty remarkably crisp, and the bass inflection is severe enough to give a jump. Factually the music is so gorgeously remixed that it makes the centric dialogue and sound effects sound a flat and out of place. I’m guessing they had masters of the music to work from or something, or Friday 3 was just filmed really cheaply and there’s only so much audio technicians can do with it.
The extras begin with ‘Fresh Cuts: 3D Terror’ (12:50, HD), which runs down the genesis of the series’ third film, including interviews with filmmakers, actors and Friday the 13th expert Peter Bracke. Most of the attention is paid to the technical aspects of the 3D, and how arduous the process was. Bracke’s mention of script and story changes and photos of Stan Winston’s Jason face are the featurette’s biggest pluses.
‘Legacy of the Mask’ (09:30, HD) is a fun little featurette with Peter Bracke and filmmakers discussing the process of building Jason Voorhees into a visual icon, with special emphasis on the use of the hockey mask.
‘Slasher Films: Going for the Jugular’ (07:00, HD) isn’t as exciting as I’d hoped it’d be. The emphasis is almost entirely on the Friday the 13th series because Paramount doesn’t have the rights to footage from other important horror movies. The featurette doesn’t have much on the much more in-depth Going to Pieces documentary, and covers pretty much all the formula stuff horror fans have known for years.
Things come to an end with another episode of The Lost Tales from Camp Blood (04:50, HD), and a trailer. LTfCB: Part III continues the story directly where the last one left off, once again. And by ‘story’, I of course mean ‘random killing’. Like the other episodes, part three is pretty cheap, not particularly bloody for a fan film, and generally not even a little scary.
Friday the 13th Part 3 is made to be seen in 3D, even if the 3D doesn’t work all that well. It’s one of the thematically duller films in the series, and features one of my least favourite versions of the main character. The characters are some of the most unlikable in the series’ history as well, though I suppose there are some genuinely creative kills to hold us over. Fans that bought the recent DVD release with the 3D glasses don’t have a dramatically more impressive video transfer to look forward too, but there are some new extras on this release, and though brief, they aren’t bad.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 16th June 2009
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Mono English, Spanish, and French
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish
Extras: Fresh Cuts: 3D Terror, Legacy of the Mask, Slasher Films: Going for the Jugular, Lost Tales from Camp Blood Part III, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Steve Miner
Cast: Richard Brooker, Gloria Charles, Steve Daskawisz, Anne Gaybis, Rachel Howard
Length: 95 minutes
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