Of all the Friday the 13th films, the third is unabashedly my favorite. Cheesy, gimmicky, but seven different kinds of fun, this is the film that seems to best get what the series was to become. Spectacle. Bloody, base spectacle. Friday the 13th Part 3 (or Part 3-D) was the first and only part of the series to be made in 3-D. This is what makes it great and also what hamstrung it in terms of quality -- it is not a good film by any stretch of the imagination. The second film in the series is solid and delivers, and the first was an undeniable classic that triggered a revolution in slasher filmmaking/copycatting. But the third film? It was all about getting the shot right, story and acting be damned.
But of the entire series, Friday the 13th Part 3 is most representative of what horror in the '80s would become. Not only is it the episode in the series when Jason finally claims his mask, but it is also the one that established a number of tropes that the genre would begin to live by. Here we meet the famed Shelly, the lonely, goofball fifth wheel from whom Jason takes the hockey mask. He set the pattern by which all goofy horror sidekicks would be cut from for nearly a decade. The soundtrack was a ramped up, early '80s dance version of the classic horror riffs, making the first break from the idea of these being series horror films and leaning more toward the aforementioned spectacle. And finally, director Steve Miner, who did a great job with the first sequel, spent so much time with his new 3-D camera that they often took 30+ takes just to get an effect right -- with exhausted actors turning in less than stellar performances, even by slasher film standards.
But the 3-D here is both awesome and stupid silly. There are roughly 30 3-D gimmicks in the film -- outside of the standard 3-D backgrounds. From the first beautiful opening tracking shot out in front of a country general store, we find ourselves walking through laundry flapping in the breeze. The bumbling store owner knocks over one of the poles, and in picking it up, stabs it at the audience for our first in-your-face effect. From there we have wallets, yo-yos, and fists through breaking glass come right at us. And that's all before Jason shows up to start dropping bodies. Once he shows up we get a number of classic 3-D effect shots, up to and including the infamous spear through the eye (on a clearly visible wire) gag. But man, is it fun. And this Blu-ray gets that.
Friday the 13th Part 3 comes fully equipped with beautiful regular and 3-D versions (you click play, then get the choice of which to watch) and comes with two pairs of 3-D glasses with which to watch it (the disc's only downside: It should have come with four pairs of glasses, enough for two couples. Standard horror movie staple, guys, come on.) And while I'm not a big fan of watching pristine movies tinted into red and blue, I had to watch it that way. I mean, it's kind of the point of the movie. This isn't about mood. It's about watching crap fly out at you as people get brutally slaughtered.
On the special features side of things, this disc lives up to the rest of the series. There's a doc on the making of a 3-D film and another on horror films in general and how they treat violence. There's another episode of the humdrum Tales from Camp Blood. And finally, the most interesting of the batch -- Legacy of the Mask, an in-depth look at how the decision to use a hockey mask happened and how the mask evolved over time. The featurettes are all very informative and continue to give a nice amount of new material for fans shelling out for another copy of one of their favorite films.
Friday the 13th Part 3 is available now from Paramount Home Entertainment.