There was a time, long before CGI (and modern 3D techniques), where placing a piece of red cellophane in front of your left eye and a piece of blue cellophane in front of your right eye was the zenith of stereoscopic technology. And that methodology stuck for over 50 years. Seriously – that was it, man.
I remember being 7 years old and seeing Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare in the theater. The film was released in 3D – well, parts of the film were in 3D – but going into the movie you got these cool little cardboard glasses. Whenever one of the 3D parts was about to happen, there would be a little dialogue at the bottom of the screen that said, “Please put on your glasses now”. I was so afraid that if I wore the glasses during parts that weren’t 3D, I’d damage my eyes, just screw ’em up beyond repair. That was one of the most thrilling moviegoing experiences of my life.
Looking back now, as a jaded adult – sure, the movie kinda stinks. And being excited by that type of technology now would be like freaking out over a flip-book. But at the time, in 1991, it was a goddamn epiphany.
But the early days of 3D film were no treat. In order to pull off the effect, two prints had to be projected simultaneously – and be perfectly in sync. Otherwise, audiences would just see a blurry haze of colors and shapes. Due to its time consuming and cost-ineffective nature, the golden age of 3D films (the 50s and early 60s) was brief.
However, come 1981, 3D films became the craze once again. In fact, 20 3D films were released in a 3-year period. And horror took full advantage.
Originally, producers hadn’t planned to do Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3D. Instead, they did what they’d been doing from the beginning and decided to rip-off another film for inspiration, this time Halloween II, which had come out the previous year. The third installment of the Friday series was supposed to take place in a mental hospital, where Ginny – the final girl from Part 2 – was holed up. Jason would hack down any doctors or orderlies that got in his way until the final showdown between he and Ginny. Funny enough, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (which would be released 5 years later), did take place in a mental hospital. I do love the tenuous strings that connect all these films together!
Interestingly, there was initial discussion of filming Halloween II in 3D; (producer Debra) Hill said:
“We investigated a number of 3D processes … but they were far too expensive for this particular project. Also, most of the projects we do involve a lot of night shooting—evil lurks at night. It’s hard to do that in 3D.”
That anecdote is coincidental because, just last year, there was talks of a third installment to the Halloween reboot – and producers wanted to do it in 3D. While news surrounding the sequel has been scant, there’s reason to believe the 3D plans have since been quashed.
But back to Friday the 13th Part 3: once the Friday producers saw how much Comin’ At Ya! – the first 3D film of the 80s – made at the box office, they knew what they had to do.
Friday the 13th Part 3 was apparently a pain to make – blocking, setting up cameras, harsh lighting, multiple takes – all due to the 3D cameras they were using. It also cost a fortune just get into theaters, as Paramount had to pay to equip them with the extra prints and projectors. That one hang-up alone cost an estimated $8 to $10 million extra dollars. Of course, it made all that money back and then some.
But Friday the 13th Part 3 is historic for reasons other than being filmed in 3D: it’s the first time Jason wears his iconic hockey mask.
At the end of Part 2, Jason’s bag (which he wore over his head) had been torn up and was therefore no good. So for the entire first half of Part 3, Jason walks around without a mask.
Enter afro-ed merry prankster Shelly Finklestein (sounds a bit like ‘Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’, no?). Shelly has at his disposal an endless supply of goofs and gags that he uses to torment his friends with. Things like fake knives, meat cleavers, and scary masks. His friends think he’s a jerk, but as Shelly puts it, “Being a jerk is better than being a nothing.” Oddly, he also has a hockey mask stashed in his bag of pranks. After Shelly is killed, Jason takes the mask – and the look would become synonymous with the name ‘Jason Voorhees’ for the rest of the series.
Now, producers claim their inspiration for Jason’s masked look came from when they were doing make-ups tests: they were lazy and didn’t wanna apply the make-up to the actor playing Jason, so instead just threw a hockey mask on him, and boom, a legend was born. But I call bullstuff.
A hockey masked killer would show up twice before Friday the 13th Part 3 – one as early as 1974. That film was Act of Vengeance:
The next time it popped up was when Part 3 was being filmed, in the movie Alone in the Dark:
I explored this obsessively in another article (actual, two articles), but I’m saying here and now: considering how blatantly derivative the F13 series is, I ain’t buyin’ their mask story. But I reluctantly digress. At least Part 3 had that kickass opening disco tune.
The ending of Friday the 13th Part 3 was supposed be just that: the end. There were no intentions of making a fourth film. In fact, the end of Part 3 mirrored the end of the original film exactly – with corpse popping out of the lake and grabbing our final girl, only to have it turn out to all be a dream. But just as they couldn’t help themselves that first time around, producers decided yet another sequel was necessary, and thus Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter was released.
So convinced that this was actually, really, truly going to be the final Friday film, original special effects artist Tom Savini agreed to come back just to kill off the monster he’d help create. Producer Frank Mancuso Jr. saw that the slasher craze was starting to settle down, and he didn’t want to be pigeonholed as simply a ‘horror producer’, so with financiers and even Paramount Pictures having his back, Mancuso Jr. decided to finally send Jason to Hell. Yeah, right.
Look, as I mentioned in the intro, I saw Freddy Krueger get killed off for good, too. (And in 3D, to boot!) The movie was called Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, for Pete’s sake (sorry, Pete). I’ve seen the book closed on all the big ones. I watched an underground bunker collapse on Leatherface, sealing his fate. He didn’t make a peep for years. And I saw Michael Myers perish in a hospital fire.
When asked in a 1982 interview – after the release of Halloween III: Season of the Witch – what happened to Halloween main characters Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis, John Carpenter answered:
“The Shape is dead. Pleasence’s character is dead, too, unfortunately.”
But money talks, baby. It screams. And when you can make a profit of $30M off a little a slice-and-dice, it’s kind of a no-brainer.
Also Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter introduced Tommy Jarvis. And he was just gettin’ started!
Join me tomorrow for my next installment, “Shemps, Tommy Jarvis, and the Modern Prometheus”!