About two years ago, a local horror convention had a Friday The 13th Part 3 reunion panel and screening. Up until that point, I had never really given the film the proper attention it deserved, letting it play in the background or watching it while half paying attention. It’s an important entry in the series that deserved better than that, since it’s here that Jason finally gets his hockey mask, but also because it moved into 3D territory, thus making it the best comedy in the series by default. I’m sure they were just looking to change it up in some fashion, since the same basic stalk-and-slash formula that dominated the first two films – and every sequel after – would still be key in Part III, and although I’m sure some of the comedy is pretty intentional, I don’t think anyone knew at the time how hard we’d be laughing at, well, pretty much everything about it.
Right from the opening credits scene, you can tell Part III is a bit more tongue-in-cheek than the other installments that came before it with the brilliant early 80s disco-party theme. After a brief scene at a general store, which actually contains some of the best 3D footage in the film (the sheets out on the clothesline really give the film some depth – I’m being completely serious here), we’re introduced to our group of fearless vacationers on their way to Crystal Lake, of which Chris (Dana Kimmell) intends to face her fears about the area after being chased through the woods by a disfigured man a few years prior. Little do they know Jason is actually hiding out in their barn, waiting to bestow a new dimension of terror upon them.
I always found Shelly (Larry Zerner) to be the most entertaining of the bunch, even more so after seeing the film with a crowd. Everything he says is overly cheesy and melodramatic and often inspires an “awwww” after he gets rejected and yelled at by Vera (Catherine Parks) and his friends. And between Shelly, the desperate 3D gags – of which the yo-yo is the most famous – and eye-roll worthy jokes about doing it in a hammock, Part III clearly is the best candidate for the MST3K treatment. It’s corny and the exact opposite of frightening and suspenseful, but it definitely gets my vote for the most fun film in the franchise.
When Paramount released their 3D DVD earlier this year, which fans had been waiting for since the first 2D DVD came out, many people cried foul. The 3D effects didn’t really work and the film transfer was shoddy looking. The image on the Blu-Ray certainly does look better on the 3D version, though it still isn’t as crisp or clear as other recent 3D Blu-Rays such as My Bloody Valentine. As expecting, ghosting issues occur throughout and a pink hue lingers throughout the whole movie, though occasionally shades of real color creep through. For some reason, Paramount chose not to remaster the Part II prologue and didn’t format the opening credit sequence for 3D, which is a shame. The 2D looks like it received less attention during the remastering but still looks better than the older DVD releases. The TrueHD 5.1 track is completely average sounding, with no huge problems, but it never really impresses. What really bothers me about this release is the lack of the commentary track featured in the box set. It’s not like the scant bonus features and tremendous picture and sound encoding took up so much room that they couldn’t fit it on a 50 GB disc.
Although The Final Chapter still remains my favorite entry in the series, Friday The 13th Part III comes in at a close second. It’s fairly stupid and doesn’t really do anything new, but it’s a great watch that’s only made better by having a few friends over and a cooler full of beer at your disposal.
Fresh Cuts: 3D Terror (12:52) – After a brief introduction from Peter Bracke, who should just start his own M.A. program in Jasonology already, 3D supervisor Martin Jay Sadoff talks about the technology used to bring a new dimension to Jason’s reign of terror. Larry Zerner, who played Shelly, also chimes in about the difficulty of perfecting the scenes and aiming objects directly in the camera and Bracke mentions some interesting trivia during his short time on camera, including the original concept for the third film which would’ve had Ginny return as the heroine.
Legacy Of The Mask (9:33) – Friday the 13th Part III is always going to be fondly remembered for giving Jason his trademark mask (and also for the amazingly bad (read: good) dialogue and 3D effects) and in this featurette, different cast and crew members talk about the mask’s history and how it changed over the course of the series.
Slasher Films: Going For The Jugular (7:10) – I find it amazing how many different ways Paramount can package the same info over and over again on every Friday release. It’s stunning. Basically, a bunch of cast and crew members get together, talk about how the series and the boogeyman archetype influenced horror. Yada, yada, yada. What I thought was kind of cool was that they actually have Tony Todd and Tony Moran talk about their perspective on the series and the genre, which was a nice surprise considering you don’t normally get people from other franchises talking up something else.
Lost Tales From Camp Blood: Part III (4:49) – This short is still as bad as the others in the series but at least they’re consistently terrible and actually have continuity.