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Friday the 13th Part III (3D)

(1982) * 1/2 R
95 min. Paramount Pictures. Director: Steve Miner. Cast: Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Jeffrey Rogers, Catherine Parks, Larry Zerner.

/content/films/3463/1.jpgThe charitable way to put it is to call horror sequel Friday the 13th Part 3 a mixed bag. Filmed in 3D, the movie gets a serious campy boost from its special effects, but the cartoony characters are the lamest to date for the series and the plot remains strictly an unimaginative rehash. Where it really counts for gore-hounds, I suppose, is in the imaginativeness of the "kills," and director Steve Miner's sophomore outing improves on Part 2 in this respect. Gorier and more gleeful, Part 3 doesn't just want you to jump out of your seat; it wants to jump into your seat.

Picking up where the previous year's Part 2 left off, Part 3 proves there's no rest for the wicked. Jason moves from one massacre (at homestead Camp Crystal Lake) to the next, on a lakefront property called Higgins Haven (taking out a couple of townfolk on his way). Screenwriters Martin Kitrosser and Carol Watson should've had a real estate agent show him the property: "We think you're going to love it: it's spacious, with great access to the lake, and plenty of nubile teens to hack."

The woeful characters include the usual batch of pretty, horny couples, a sad sack named Shelly who cries wolf by playing murder victim all the time (uh oh), a middle-aged stoner couple, and a motorcycle gang right out of a Saturday morning cartoon. In the sort of bizarre plot point that took the series further and further from planet Earth, this flick's scream queen Chris (Dana Kimmell) recounts to her boyfriend that she was attacked in nearby woods two years earlier by Jason; she's come back to face her fears. First, why is she alive? Second, coming back: great idea, toots.

But for all its stupidity and amateur-hour acting, Part 3 is fun in spite of itself. Not since Psycho has a movie taken such advantage of the phallic nature of slasher horror (Miner makes a clear if not particularly inspired nod to the Master of Suspense with a shower sequence). I mean, these protuberances really protrude, right out of the screen. Knives, schmives: here everything pole-shaped pops toward you: pitchfork handles, a TV antenna, a baseball bat, a spear fired from a spear gun--you name it. And then there are the non-penis-shaped items, like a yo-yo dropping into the lens and an eyeball popping out of an unfortunate socket. Now that's entertainment.

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Aspect ratios: 2.40:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Dolby Digital 1.0

Street date: 6/25/2009

Distributor: Paramount Home Video

Friday the 13th Part 3 comes to Blu-ray in a special edition that allows the viewer to enjoy the film in 3D or 2D formats (two pairs of 3D glasses come tucked in the case). Naturally the 3D image, which is the preferable way to view the film, doesn't provide the best of hi-def viewing. The 3D process, especially in this 1982 movie, renders color as a pinkish wash and yields some big-time ghosting effects that may give some viewers a headache--still, this is the way to go to get the most enjoyment from the film. The 2D version is not as impressive as the previous entries, but it's a solid rendering that improves on the DVD version. Sound comes in lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and original mono mixes that aren't very sonically impressive but probably make the most of the film's original aural scheme.

In "Fresh Cuts: 3-D Terror" (12:52, HD) Crystal Lake Memories author Peter Bracke gives context about the making of the movie, 3-D supervisor Martin Jay Sadoff recalls how it came to be and how the process was filmed, and cast and crew describe the arduous process, alternate endings, and memories of the movie and its legacy.

Speaking of legacy, "Legacy of the Mask" (9:33, HD) traces the history of the indelible hockey mask look introduced in Part 3.

"Slasher Films: Going For the Jugular" (7:09, HD) considers the slasher formula and its appeal.

"Lost Tales From Camp Blood - Part 3" (4:49, HD) is the third installment of original "Camp Blood" horror short films produced for the new special editions.

Last up is the film's "Theatrical Trailer" (2:09, HD).

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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