Friday, March 13, 2020

Friday the 13th: Part III Japanese Bootleg and 3D Glasses

Nowadays 3D has completely permeated the entertainment industry. Just about any big film release has a 3D option at the theatre and with 3D HD TVs you can watch more and more 3D content in the comfort of your home.

In the '90s and early 2000s 3D movies had been something played out at least a decade ago; a technology that managed to kick out a few theatrical releases and went the way of the dodo. The last remnants were VHS and DVD releases of films littered with the hokey detritus of what once was. Movies like Amityville 3-D, Jaws 3-D, and even a few minutes of 1991's Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare.

Being a big Friday the 13th fan, however, the film that always piqued my interest was of course Friday the 13th: Part III. Oft loved by horror fans for the portrayal of Jason and simultaneously reviled for the acting, one thing that everyone could agree on was that the kills, although interesting, were clearly setups for the 3D effect that no longer added to the scenes, but left them standing out like a sore thumb.

In 2004, after picking up the From Crystal Lake to Manhattan box set I became more and more enamoured with the Friday the 13th films. Previously I would rent the VHS tapes from my local video store, but now I had them to watch as much as I desired. After viewing some special features about my favourite of the lot I became obsessed with the idea of seeing Friday the 13th: Part III the way it had been intended - in full 3D.

Thankfully, eBay was a thing and after some searching I came across a little device that could potentially make my dreams come true! It doesn't look like much, but by hooking up this little doodad to your rear-projection TV (I think it may only work with CRT sets, but I've never tried it on an LCD) it would cast a signal to the shutter glasses, which would cause them to essentially blink in the watcher's eyes.

If you coupled these glasses with the right kind of VHS or DVD it would create the 3D effect I was looking for! But how to find a copy of Friday the 13th: Part III in this format? It didn't exist, right?

Well, let's head to Japan!

After some browsing on a Japanese Yahoo auction site I eventually managed to find just the release I needed. The bootleg's box art is patterned after an official Victor VHD 3D release of the film, but I'm not sure if it's a dub of that VHD or if it's from a completely different release that just used the box art. Either way, the 3D black magic reportedly worked on it, so I purchased the bootleg and waited impatiently for the many weeks it took to arrive on my little island in Atlantic Canada.

I can still remember hooking it all up and trying it out for the first time. I had a small TV that had seen countless hours of video games and X-Files that would do just the trick. After messing around with the cables and getting the right batteries for the shutter glasses, I was ready to experience the film anew.

And it did not disappoint!

Now, before you get all excited let me be real with you; this isn't like the 3D films you're used to since Avatar. However, it beats watching the film in the old red and blue anaglyph 3D, which is actually an option if you picked up the Paramount Blu-ray release from '09.

Would I want to watch the movie like this every time? Nah, not really. It's fun now-and-then to throw on this version and see those old kitschy gore effects the way they were really meant to be seen, but watching the movie through the shutter glasses isn't exactly a treat and the bootleg I have is a little dark and not the best quality.

That said, it meant a lot to me to get to see the film this way back in '04 and even today. I'm doubtful we'll get a real, proper 3D release of the movie that would work on modern 3D TV sets. Heck, I don't even know if that sort of thing is possible! So other than a super rare opportunity to see the film in stereoscopic in theatre we'll be left laughing when Abel dangles that eyeball at the teenagers or when the snake attacks Harold on the toilet, wishing we were in on the gag.