Starring: Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Larry Zerner, Richard Brooker
“Is that all you’re gonna do this weekend? Smoke dope?” (Shelly, Friday The 13th Part III)
After the second Friday The 13th movie ended with the doors left wide open for a sequel, that inevitable follow-up sauntered through said doors just one year later in the shape of the imaginatively titled Friday The 13th Part III.
The second film concluded with the survivor conveniently blacking out and having no idea where Jason had gone, so the third begins just one day later as a still very-much alive Jason heads to a lakefront property called Higgins Haven, where he takes solace in a nearby farmhouse to rest his wounds.
As Jason’s luck would have it, yet another group of sexually active teens are on their way to spend the week at Higgins Haven, blissfully unaware one of the horror genre’s most notorious slashers is camping out in the building next door.
You really don’t need me to tell you what happens next, but suffice to say the result leads to what’s probably a nifty overtime bonus for the county coroner. In all, Part III ends with a total of eleven deaths, the most in the series at that point.
What sets Part III apart from its two predecessors and umpteen successors is that it was originally shown in cinemas in 3D. Not your typical red and blue affair either, but the proper clear, polarised glasses effort.
I had the good fortune to see a rare screening of the 3D version in Edinburgh many years ago (there aren’t many prints left, not to mention cinemas with old-school screens suitable for projecting that type of image onto) and it was sensational.
As a 3D film from the ’80s Part III naturally spends much of its time thrusting things into the camera to make the audience lose their shit. Throughout its 95 minutes viewers are constantly ducking as a baseball bat, a mouse, a snake, a yo-yo, a joint, a harpoon and two different eyeballs are among the items shoved towards them.
The 3D effect – as it was originally intended, at least – is unexpectedly effective given the film’s low budget and the technical complexities still involved in shooting in 3D in the 1980s.
Some of the aforementioned close-ups are slightly misaligned, so when Jason squeezes a poor chap’s head so hard his eyeball pops out there’s a minor ‘double vision’ effect when it comes towards you.
Surprisingly, then, the most impressive instances are during the less exciting scenes, where you’re allowed to just soak in the detail. A scene near the start where we see sheets hanging out to dry in a garden is a highlight, as is the film’s final shot of a serene lake.
Watching in 2D, as the vast majority of today’s viewers do, the removal of Part III’s gimmick relegates it to the status of just another slasher film continuing the tried and tested Friday The 13th formula.
In terms of quality it’s on a par with its predecessors, though its teens are slightly more appealing: in particular Shelly, a hopeless nerd who just can’t get the ladies to love him.
In fact, it’s Shelly who’s responsible for the introduction of Friday The 13th’s most iconic item – Jason’s hockey mask – when it emerges he’s brought it along to try and scare people as a prank. When Shelly pegs it later, Jason nicks his mask and keeps hold of it for the next eight films.
If you can, watch Friday The 13th Part III in 3D as it was originally intended (see below to find out how). In 2D it’s little more than yet another entry in the series, albeit one with some memorable death scenes and the debut of Jason’s famous mask.
In 3D though, even with coloured glasses as opposed to the proper polarised method, it’s cheesy fun.
HOW CAN I SEE IT?
Friday The 13th Part III is available on both DVD and Blu-ray in the UK, but both versions only contain the 2D version of the film. In the US, both the DVD and Blu-ray include the 2D version and a 3D version (with two pairs of red and blue glasses included, as opposed to the polarised version shown in cinemas). The 3D in the DVD version is slightly ropey, but it’s much better in the Blu-ray version.
If you’re looking for a box set, in the UK your only main option is this DVD box set, which contains DVD versions of Friday The 13th Parts 1-8. Once again, Part III isn’t in 3D. This same DVD box set is also available in the US (again, with only the 2D version of Part III), though by far the best option is the recently released Friday The 13th: The Complete Collection Blu-ray set. This is only available in America but I can confirm it’s region-free. This set contains all twelve movies in one box for the first time, including Freddy Vs Jason and the 2009 reboot. What’s more, Part III is both 2D and 3D, with two pairs of red and blue glasses included.
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