I wrote in my review of 1981's 'Friday the 13th Part 2' that I thought it was, arguably, the best of the 'Friday the 13th' sequels. 1982's 'Friday the 13th Part 3,' however, remains my favorite. It's hard to argue that it is the best of the slasher saga, as its filled with repetitive stalking sequences, dragged down by slow pacing, and possessing some of the dumbest dialogue in any of the 'Friday flicks (and that's saying a lot). But particularly when viewed in its original 3-D dimensions, it's just so much darn, goofy fun -- at least if, like I do, you never tire of corny shots of sharp instruments being stuck into the camera.
The plot regurgitates the first two 'Friday' flicks, save for a change in locale. With Jason (and his mom) having slaughtered two summer's worth of counselors, finally no one is stupid enough to venture back to Camp Crystal Lake. Instead, with the authorities hot on his trail, Jason high-tails it to the surrounding countryside. After a bloody detour to a local convenience store (where he dons new duds and, apparently, finds time for a haircut and body-building regime), he plops himself down at Higgins Haven, the summer home of one Chris Higgins (Dana Kimmell). Of course, she doesn't watch the news, so she invites her friends out for a weekend of carefree partying and cheap sex. One by one, Jason picks them off in predictable (if always creative) fashion, only this time, the gimmick is 3-D.
No, there is absolutely nothing new in 'Friday the 13th Part 3' aside from its extra dimension. But what I've always liked about 'Part 3' is the same thing many find fault for in the film: the combination of unknowing teens who are not proactive, combined with a deliberately slow pace. What always bugged me about later 'Friday' flicks (and most slasher films in general) is that they so overtorqued the editing and kills that there was little time for build-up, mood, or stalking. 'Part 3,' however, is so darn slow that all Jason seems to do for most of the first hour of the film is walk around and stare. Director Steve Miner (returning from 'Part 2') swipes even more from John Carpenter's 'Halloween' playbook, and constantly places the hulking, shadowy Jason in the foreground and/or background of shots, as stupid teens wander about, blissfully unaware that they are about to be killed. Unlike later 'Fridays,' where everyone was uber-smart and already knew Jason was out there, allowing the filmmakers to turn the flicks into action movies (see 'Jason X' for a perfect example), here the characters are still largely unaware of what is going on. I find slasher movies much scarier when the threat is unknown and largely unseen -- and unexpected -- so the old-school approach of 'Part 3' has always worked for me.
'Friday the 13th Part 3' also gives us a new, scarier looking Jason. This is the one that would introduce the world to the now-iconic hockey mask, and as played by former circus performer Richard Brooker (who has a unique slouch and arm movement), there is a creepy, deranged bent to Jason in 'Part 3' that is unsettling. Watch how he goes berserk near the film's climax, when he is unable to find the hiding Kimmell in a barn. I like when actors are able to give Jason enough recognizable human dimension to make him more than just a lumbering piece of meat, as well as avoid turning him into a MTV-ready, posing superstar. Brooker does that quite well in 'Part 3,' and for my money, along with the Jasons in 'Part 2' and 'The Final Chapter,' he was never scarier than he was here.
None of this, of course, will convince anyone that 'Part 3' is actually a good movie. It's a predictable, exploitative, poorly written, and sometimes even worse acted, slice of '80s slasher camp. Indeed, much of 'Part 3' is now simply hilarious (love that bad-ass biker gang!) Add to that the over-the-top 3-D (which is even goofier in 2-D), and you may spend as much time laughing during 'Part 3' as being scared. Yet, with its deliberate mood, a kick-ass Jason, and legitimately suspenseful third-act chase sequence, 'Part 3' is totally entertaining, quintessentially vintage 'Friday the 13th.' I admit to seeing the film entirely through nostalgic eyes, but that doesn't make me heart it any less.
Paramount unleashes 'Friday the 13th Part 3' on Blu-ray as a BD-50 dual-layer disc, featuring both 2-D and 3-D versions. The 3-D is anaglyph red/blue only (two pairs of glasses are included), which is not my favorite dimensional process. I find the colorization distracting, and there are times when the extreme foreground and backgrounds blur out. The effect is sometimes sharp (particularly night scenes with high-contrast), but I personally find it a struggle to sit through red/blue 3-D transfers on video for more than 20 or 30 minutes. (That said, I still applaud Paramount for including a 3-D version at all.)
As for the 2-D version, it boasts a fresh 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (2.39:1). Unfortunately, 'Part 3' benefits the least from the upgrade to high-def of any of the 'Friday' flicks released thus far on Blu-ray. It's just not a great-looking movie. The color palette is largely brownish and muddy, with little in the way of truly vibrant, distinct primaries. Hues are certainly better saturated and cleaner than any previous video version, but that's hardly a huge compliment. The transfer is also generally soft, and there remain a few instances of dirt and blemishes on the print (though it's largely clean). Grain is also way more pronounced, so I suspect some may still prefer the old DVD. Blacks are fine, with contrast fairly robust but lacking in the kind of pop of even the average '80s catalog release. The encode is clean, with no noticeable artifacts. Despite any minor improvements, 'Part 3' rarely looks like high-def at all.
Jason also gets a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround make-over (48kHz/16-bit) on 'Friday the 13th Part 3.' It's an OK remix, but like all of the early 'Friday' flicks on Blu-ray, there isn't much that can be done with a limited mono source.
The 'Friday' flicks are really all about the scores by Harry Manfredini. I like his work on 'Part 3' the best, as it's less shriek-y than most of the others, and makes nice, ominous use of lower bass tones and strings. The sound is fairly pleasing with less brittle highs that either 'Friday the 13th' or 'Friday the 13th Part 2.' I wouldn't call low-end "robust," but it's OK. Dialogue still sounds cheap and looped, and there is little in the way of aggressive sound use. Any supposed discrete sound to the rears feels processed, likewise any creative deployment of score. It's marginally better than a flat stereo mix. Considering the limited nature of the early 'Friday' soundtracks, 'Part 3' sounds fine enough.
When Paramount re-issued 'Friday the 13th Part 3' on standard DVD earlier this year, they elected to include only a 3-D version, sans any bonus materials. However, some fresh supplements did appear on an overseas version, so technically, the content included here on this first-ever Blu-ray is not truly exclusive. Hence, I'm covering it here in the standard supplements section. It's a decent set, though likely not nearly all fans would have wanted.
'Friday the 13th Part 3' holds a special place in my heart. I saw it at the height of my youth and during the golden age of the '80s slasher boom. It has many problems (slow pace, some bad acting, dumb script), but it remains wildly entertaining (especially in 3-D) and has a cool-looking Jason. This Blu-ray is pretty good -- both 2-D and 3-D versions are provided, the video and audio have been remastered (though not spectacularly) and Paramount has included extras not found on the standard DVD version. Worth a pick-up for 'Friday the 13th' fans, though all others may wonder what the attraction is.