Celebrating its 40th Anniversary, Paramount Home Video has awarded Friday the 13th Part III a solo SteelBook release. Presented in 2D only, this disc is exactly the same as the one offered in Paramount’s recent 8-film sets. The image is decent enough and the audio is fantastic with a fine assortment of bonus features. However, if you already have the Scream Factory Collection release, you’re in good hands. The only reason to purchase this release is for the SteelBook packaging replicating the original poster art - For Fans Only
Having just crashed through a window with a machete to the shoulder, Jason Voorhees (now played by Richard Brooker) continues his murderous rampage on another unsuspecting group of nature-bound coeds visiting Crystal Lake. Following a traumatic incident, Chris (Dana Kimmell) hasn’t been home in years. Now with a group of friends, she hopes to reunite with her old boyfriend Rick (Paul Kratka) and put that incident behind her. But when Jason starts picking off her friends one by one, Chris will come face-to-face with the origin of her terror.
After the first two realatively cheaply produced films of the Friday the 13th franchise churned out the big bucks, Paramount decided to upgrade the series and ride the wave of 80s 3-D for a fittingly titled Friday the 13th Part 3-D. All obvious three-dimensional gimmickry aside, this is a fun entry in the series. The kills are appropriately gnarly and intense thanks to makeup work by the legendary Stan Winston. The stalk and slash plot mechanics of the franchse were already well established and this sequel doesn’t buck the trend. Jason picks his moments to deliver the final machete whack when he easily could kill the whole lot in one go. But where’s the fun in that, right? On that level Richard Brooker made a pretty terrific Jason and in the pantheon of actors and stuntmen to don the mask, he ranks near the top.
In terms of adding anything to the lore and mythology of the Friday the 13th franchise, this entry is the one that established Jason’s iconic hockey mask eschewing the one-eyed sack and overalls established in Part II. That mask will go through all sorts of hell throughout the franchise, but this is the one that started it all and on that level we should be grateful for this entry. All in all, it’s a fun flick. But it is one best enjoyed in 3-D considering all of the prolonged shots of various objects moving towards or for one particular eyeball - flying at the screen.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Paramount Home Video gives Friday the 13th Part III its own special SteelBook Blu-ray release to celebrate the film’s 40th Anniversary. This is the same BD-50 disc that was included in the previous two 8-Film sets from Paramount. So if you’ve already got either of those sets, you don’t need to feel any pressure to add this to the collection unless you really want that SteelBook.
Hot off the relatively recent restoration efforts exhibited by Shout Factory’s fantastic box set collection, Paramount utilizes the same master for this disc sans the restored 3-D option. And that’s really the shame of these Paramount releases of this third film. I know 3-D isn’t everyone’s sack of blood, but since this film was shot with the over/under single strip 3-D system and the film’s obvious framing for that viewing experience, it just looks odd in 2-D. Again, because of the way it was shot fine details only sporadically come to life. Closeups generally look pretty good but medium and wide shots tend to be overly soft because it’s giving more attention to the pitchfork, clothesline pole, ax handle, or eyeball that’s about to protrude out of the screen. That isn’t to say this is a terrible transfer, it’s simply a case of “it is what it is.”
And again, this release of Friday the 13th Part III arrives with the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 track that’s decent enough but not wholly remarkable either. There’s enough surround activity to keep the channels engaged but it’s not exactly anything anyone should call immersive either. Dialog is clear and the iconic score from Harry Mandfredini sounds terrific. Overall it’s a fine track and gets job done, but don’t expect it to blow your hair back.
Friday the 13th Part III isn’t the best - nor is it the worst - entry in the franchise. It largely just recycles bits and pieces of things we’ve already seen. With that - the film’s lasting contribution to the franchise is the iconic hockey mask that’s been synonymous with Jason Vorhees ever since. This new SteelBook release timed to celebrate the film’s 40th Anniversary recycles everything we’ve already had from Paramount, just in a really cool SteelBook. The A/V presentation is decent considering the source but this film is meant for 3-D and it’s not an option here. Ultimately this SteelBook release is 100% For Fans Only and then those fans (sadly the ones like me) that need this SteelBook packaging on their shelves.