By Ray Schwetz
Paramount, $29.95, Widescreen
At the pinnacle of the early eighties 3-D craze, the third chapter of the Friday films was released. "Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3-D" became the most successful 3-D film of all time. I guess "Jaws 3-D" and "Amityville 3-D" weren't much competition. Although Part 3 is, like Part 2, merely a rehash of the stalk'n'slash formula established in the first film, it is the first (and only) scope "Friday" film. It also marks the first time Jason dons that infamous goalie mask, forever changing the gorehound's view of hockey. Other than that, the film is pretty much a retread.
PLOT: Chris Higgins returns to her family's cabin (one year after being attacked by a deformed madman in the woods) for a weekend of fun with oversexed friends. They are first stalked by a biker gang (three thugs headed by a low rent Lou Gossett, Jr. lookalike, who, by the way, is my favorite character) and then by our mentally challenged anti-hero Jason. One by one they die...yadda, yadda, yadda.
I have a love/hate relationship with the "Friday the 13th" films. As a young lad, I was truly terrified by Jason and thrilled by each of his cinematic exploits. However, I now see my favorite genre was corrupted by an overabundance of "Friday" and "Halloween" knockoffs. At the same time, I enjoyed quite a few of those knockoffs (i.e. "Happy Birthday To Me," "Hell Night"). So, all I can do is come to terms with the fact that there will always be a spot on the palate reserved for pure cinema trash. The horror genre will survive.
For "Friday" fans, this entry has the best end chase sequence. Dana Kimmel is engaging, but she?o Jamie Lee Curtis. Hell, she's no Amy Steel. She definitely has the girl next door appeal and the required fresh-faced look of the "virgin survivor," but she's not quite tough enough to be a formidable opponent for Jason. The killings in the film are brutal enough to satisfy the gore fans and you get the obligatory shower scene, although the nudity is more reserved than parts 2 or 4.
Since the DVD is not in 3-D, the many shots of character shoving things towards the cameras become annoying, although less so in this letterboxed release than in previous pan and scan incarnation. Which brings us to the impressive video presentation Paramount has bestowed upon us. It's a real shame that Paramount didn't even attempt to put a 3-D transfer on the other side of the DVD. With Rhino's recent 3-D DVD release of "Comin' At Ya!" we can see that 3-D effect does work, albeit in a limited fashion, for the home theatre. This fairly major quibble aside, the anamorphic widescreen transfer is excellent. The letterboxed version restores some fairly effective camera work by director Steve Miner.
The colors are rich and vivid and the picture is quite sharp. Black levels, for the most part, are also quite good. There is some grain, but due to the source this is expected. The sound is Dolby Digital mono. It's serviceable, but I would've loved to hear that cheesy "Friday the 13th" disco music in 5.1! Oh, well. No extras. Except the trailer. It's a fun trailer, highlighting the 3-D effects that you can't experience on the DVD. Paramount, you tease.
Anyway, I'll close by saying "Friday" fans can't do without this disc. I've also heard that there are companies out there in cyberspace that do offer equipment to view TV 3-D, and that a special version of Friday the 13th Part 3 can be viewed in 3-D on these systems. However, this is probably costly and this site cannot recommend seeking out bootlegs because that would be wrong. So "Friday" fans, plunk down $29.95 for a non-special edition, non 3-D version of "Friday the 13th Part 3" with an otherwise great transfer, just like I did (actually $16.99 at buy.com).