I’ve been itching to watch Friday the 13th Part III for years, but I’ve refused to watch it in anything less than 3 Dimensions. Originally released in 3D, Friday the 13th Part III didn’t have a 3D Blu-Ray release until Scream Factory’s enormous Friday the 13th Blu-ray box set hit shelves in 2020. My wife must have been itching to see it just as much as I, because we both bought each other copies for Christmas that year ensuring we’d be able to enjoy Jason’s 2nd rampage in all its schlocky 3D glory.
She returned her copy to Amazon while we kept the other hermetically sealed until October 1st this year, when it was finally time to watch Friday the 13th Part III. I love 3D movies. When we lost our 55” 3D TV in the great 7.1 magnitude earthquake of 2018 we didn’t just buy a 10” bigger replacement 3D TV off Facebook marketplace, oh no, we bought that and another 86” 3D TV. We turned our bedroom into a ‘theater room’ and moved our bed to the closet downstairs where it is to this day. Is sleeping 2 people and 3 dogs in a 40 ft² room uncomfortable? Yes. Was it worth it to watch 3D movies in 4K on a screen the size of most bedroom walls? Yes! That brings us back to Friday the 13th Part III.
There’s a ton of stuff you could read about how the Friday the 13th franchise changed horror and influenced the future of filmmaking but I don’t want to talk about that, I want to talk about the 3D. Friday the 13th Part III makes great use of the format by giving you a nauseatingly corny assortment of gimmicky shots. One of the earliest is just a guy kinda pointing a stick at the screen (thrilling), later a popcorn popping shot with kernels exploding towards the camera makes you feel like you’re really in the… popcorn machine? The best gratuitous 3Dsploitation shot is simply some dude playing with a yo-yo towards the lens. It’s so wonderfully boring! Don’t get me wrong, there’re plenty of horrific 3D effects but it’s the ordinary effects that really… stick out. I’d like to think the filmmakers filled the movie with these benign effects because they presumed the audience expected violent and gory images extending from the screen and what better way to unsettle an audience expecting to be frightened than to pacify them with something dreadfully boring like popcorn. If it’s trolling then it’s brilliant, if it’s the best effects they could imagine then it’s stupid.
Besides it’s unusually conventional use of 3D, Friday the 13th Part III is an unremarkable cut and paste horror film barely building on the previous installment’s lore. Jason is the only recurrent character and the newly introduced ‘final girl’ has a mid-film flashback that retcons her previous encounter with Jason a year earlier. That’s just the tip of the machetes-of-awkwardness in Friday the 13th Part III. There’s a character who carries around a lockbox he refuses to open and never does, another character announces her pregnancy early in the film but it doesn’t pay off, and then there’s the guy who spends a significant portion of his screen time walking on his hands… that one kinda pays off when he looks up from a handstand to see Jason just before getting a knife to the gut. That one kinda ruled. I hoped the pregnant girl might be immune to the vengeful-juggernaut-of-Christian-morality that is Jason Voorhees… but no. Apparently it’s more important to punish her premarital fornication than protect the life of her unborn bastard because she dies like every other sinner in these films.
I didn’t watch a ton of horror movies as a kid and missed out on establishing a connection to the big three horror icons of the 80s and 90s. I’m grateful for the unprecedented easy access to movies we enjoy in our modern times. I’m excited to explore the back-catalog of horror franchises I’ve missed and discover if it warrants the hype.