Friday the 13th, Part 3 3-D – Blu-ray Review

With the release of the abysmal JAWS 3D in 1983, the short-lived 3D fad of the early ’80s had finally burned itself out with a whimper. But the previous year had given us perhaps the best 3D film of the era: a romp of special effects and atmosphere that proved why horror is still the first, best choice for a 3D production – FRIDAY THE 13th PART 3 – 3-D. Put into production less than a year after Part 2 had wrapped, it’s unknown (at least to us) when it was decided to incorporate 3D into the picture, but it was a likely factor in retaining Steve Miner for the director’s chair, as it no doubt helped to smooth over a technically difficult shoot. Even under luxurious circumstances, making a 3D picture is a complex, and technically tedious process; necessitating a Kubrickian number of takes of even the simplest actions. But working with only a few million dollars (large by the franchise’s standard, certainly) made the shoot a grueling experience – not just for the crew, but for actors who felt neglected while the bulk of attention went to the technical aspects. The resulting film looked completely different than previous FRIDAY THE 13TH films, not just because of the 3D, but because the show was the only film in the series to be shot in an anamorphic 2:35 aspect ratio, giving it a distinctly cinematic feel.
Friday the 13th, Part 3 picks up literally moments after the end of Friday the 13th, Part 2, with the first reports of the latest massacre at Crystal Lake going out over the local news. The show is being watched by a middle-aged couple who appear to run a local convenience store, and quickly give us a good indication of the lack of attention given to performance. The hideously abrasive duo represents the typical Hollywood idea of rural folk: filthy, unshaven cussaoholics that spit dime store abuse at each other like short-bus Tennessee Williams characters. The direction given the actors clearly stopped at “act gross” and they proceed, as if to curry favor with a director that was likely unconcerned with their actions, to bury the needle in the red. Perhaps we’re overreacting, but there’s just something so dismaying low-rent and lazy about this level of stereotyping (and Miner had shown just the previous year that he could be better that that sort of back-row pandering).
Fortunately, this sequence, like the rest of Friday the 13th, Part 3, is saved by the superb use of 3D; nearly every shot – from incidental camera movements to laundry poles right in your lap – conveys both a depth of field and a sense of fun. Unfortunately, characterization doesn’t get much better once we get to the main group of teens; abandoning the notion of camp counselors, we have a party hosted by Chris (Dana Kimmell) at her family’s cabin. Other guests along for the weekend include the hunky Rick (Paul Kratka); a spare, disposable couple, Debbie and Andy (Tracie Savage and Jeffrey Rogers); sad, overweight prankster, Shelly (Larry Zerner); the lets-have-one-more-girl-in-the-cast Vera (Catherine Parks); and a pair of aging, dope-addled hippies (Rachel Howard and David Katims), who appear straight out of a Groove Tube sketch. For variety sake we also get a trio of trouble-making bikers (Crystal Lake is getting worse than Gary, Indiana) as grist for the killing wheel.
The evidence on screen points to a group of young, hungry actors who were given brief character notes and then left largely to their own devices. In some cases, this results in utter blandness; Chris, Vera, and Debbie are utterly interchangeable, and the only defining trait given to poor Andy is the ability to walk on his hands (which does, however, result in the film’s best kill). Too often this results in a replay of the hayseed couple from the opening, with stereotyping as broad as an L.A. freeway and just as unpleasant to encounter. Chubby loser Shelly (not the fault of Zerner) wears out his welcome almost instantly, constantly faking his own murder with homemade SFX makeup from an enormous kit (which he refers to as “my life”) and telegraphing his own demise so forcefully that there’s no surprise when it finally happens. There’s just no way that any of the other characters would be hanging out with this guy, much less the High Times centerfold couple, who seem to be along for the ride because Paramount counted up their Cheech and Chong’s Nice Dreams receipts and decided that America’s love affair with aging hippie dopers was still going strong.
On home video – without the novelty of Friday the 13th, Part 3 became notable only for containing the moment when Jason first dons his trademark hockey mask – iconic, for sure, but a slender thread on which to hang an entire movie.
Paramount has gone a long way towards restoring the film’s reputation with next week’s Blu-Ray release, however. As with Lionsgate’s Blu-Ray edition of My Bloody Valentine 3D, the disc contains both the 3D and flat versions of the film (2 sets of 3D glasses are included, and don’t make the same mistake we did and think you can just use the glasses that came with My Bloody Valentine 3-D – the red and blue lenses are reversed.) The flat transfer is superior to previous home video editions, but not as demonstrably so as the Friday the 13th, Part 2 Blu-Ray release.
The print appears to have weaker colors and somewhat more dirt and print damage than the other titles in the series, though this could easily be a side effect of the 3D photography that more technical savvy people might be able to confirm. It’s not a quite a bad transfer, but if the 3D version were not included it would be difficult to recommend an upgrade from the standard DVD edition.
The 3D version actually has a reasonably stable image that is easily comparable to My Bloody Valentine 3-D; unfortunately, the polarized-lens gasses that made the theatrical experience so special have been subbed out for the inferior anaglyph type for home viewing. Fortunately, the effects translate decently to home viewing, and we found the image less headache-inducing than most 3D films on disc.
Don’t throw out Paramount’s old box set, as the cast commentary track hasn’t been ported over to this release; as with Friday the 13th, Part 2, a Steve Miner commentary track is sorely missed, but there’s still plenty to chew on:

  • Fresh Cuts: 3D Terror (HD) features the affable Larry Zerner and gives an entertaining overview of the difficult shoot.
  • Legacy of the Mask (HD) is devoted to the iconic hockey mask and its almost immediate resonance with the public.
  • Slasher Films: Going for the Jugular is a bit of a ramshackle look at the genre that is too slight to make much of a ripple.
  • Lost Tales from Camp Blood – Part 3 (HD) is yet another chapter in the apparently endless series of loosely connected, fan-made tribute shorts that simply have no business being here while older extras are being left off.

The original theatrical trailer is also included (HD). Paramount has righted numerous past wrongs with this release, establishing a standard to which other major studios should be looking to when it comes to genre releases on Blu-Ray.
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Pieces (1982) – Film & DVD Review

This oddball artifact from the ’80s is so bizarre it almost demands to be seen, whether it is any good or not: it’s a Spanish production that combines elements of American slasher films and the Italian giallo genre while offering more than enough sleazy graphic violence to qualify as one of the world’s all-time outrageous works of Euro-trash cinema. As a mystery-thriller, the scenario is ridiculous to the point of being amateurish, but the sick premise (a psycho-killer creating a replacement corpse in the image of his mother, assembled from the severed body parts of young female victims like the pieces of a puzzle) offers its own kind of demented fascination: you know you shouldn’t be watching this crap, but you just can’t look away. Fortunately, the gore is so far over-the-top (and in many cases so unconvincing) that PIECES achieves a sort of campy critical mass that makes it entertaining almost in spite of itself.
Set in Boston, the story begins with a young boy being chastised by his mother for assembling a puzzle picturing a naked woman; he responds by chainsawing mom into pieces, then gets away with murder by blaming an unknown assailant. Decades later, for reasons never quite explained,* a masked psycho-killer begins carving up young women on a college campus, using the pieces to recreate the image of his mother. The police arrest a suspect but the murders continue; assigning an undercover female officer also proves useless. But a young male student, initially a suspect, helps identify the killer just in time to prevent his next murder…
One unfortunately weak element of giallo cinema is the lackadaisical approach to the police procedural elements; PIECES takes this to new levels of idiocy previously unseen outside of an outright comedy; in fact, things get so bad you may find yourself suspecting that you really are watching a deliberate comedy. Here are just some of the “highlights”:

  • Although students are being slaughtered on campus with alarming regularity, the police want to keep things quiet, in order to avoid panic. The result is that no one knows there is a killer on the loose, so women keep walking alone after dark, making themselves easy targets.
  • After the chainsaw-wielding gardener (Paul Smith) is apprehended almost literally red-handed, Detective Bracken (Christopher George) laments that he has no leads. as if having a suspect in custody counts for nothing. This is before the killer strikes again, at a time when Bracken has no reason to think he has arrested the wrong man.
  • For no reason more than some vague kind of gut instinct, Detective Bracken exonerates another potential suspect, a male student named Kendall (Ian Sera), and invites him to help out with the investigation. (The script offers no good rational for this. Presumably, two years after DRESSED TO KILL, it was considered a good idea to have geeky young nerd heroes who solve the crime faster than the police.)
  • It is a good thing Kendall is available to help because the Boston police department is so short of manpower that only three officers have been assigned to the case, including a female desk jockey given her first undercover assignment named Mary Riggs (Lynda Day George). Considering the low priority assigned to this case, one wonders what other, even more heinous crimes are getting all the attention in Boston.
  • Although Riggs’ assignment is putting her life at risk (she is being used as bait to lure the killer), Detective Bracken immediately blows her cover by revealing her identity to Kendall – who by all rights should be a suspect.
  • Even if Bracken had not blown Riggs’ cover, it is doubtful she could have fooled anyone; she is ostensibly hired as a tennis coach, but the one match we see proves she is too amateurish on the court to teach anything to anybody.
  • While walking the campus at night, Riggs (who apparently received little training at the police academy) is surprised by a kung-fu assailant who passes out after disarming her. He turns out not to be the killer or even an accomplice but a martial arts instructor who had some “bad chop suey.”
  • After seeing the bloody corpse of one victim, Riggs – supposedly professional policewoman – reacts like any typical hysterical female character, shouting “Bastard!” at the top of her lungs three times. (The over-acting seems part and parcel of PIECES’ giallo heritage – those Europeans sure love melodrama.)
  • When the killer’s identify is finally revealed, Bracken takes Kendall along to help make the arrest. By this point the amateur’s involvement in the case is so great that you almost expect Bracken to give him a gun and deputize him on the spot.
  • Eventually, Bracken’s incompetence becomes so prounced that it almost works as a red herring: he seems to be deliberately sabotaging the investigation, possibly setting up Kendall to take the fall, so you start to suspect Bracken is the killer.

As if this were not enough, wait until you see the sublimely non-sensical ending, in which the assembled corpse’s hand grabs the young hero’s crotch as if emasculating him. There is also plenty of ridiculous dialogue, often delivered in hysterically bad dubbing. Christopher George (who provides his own voice in the English version) does his gruff macho thing well enough, and Purdum manages to be professional, but the supporting cast is hardly worthy of a high school stage play (check out the police officers’ reaction to findinda head in a closet – funny stuff). Even the usuallly reliable Paul Smith does little better than squinting in a way that screams, “You’re supposed to suspect me, but I’m too suspicious to really be the killer.”
Added all up, PIECES is one unintentionally hilarious movie, but it does deliver the horror; every time you think it’s going to drown in a sea of laughter, another murder takes place: heads roll, limbers are severed, and in at least one case we get a lovely lingering shot of a chainsaw carving its way through a woman’s torso. Most of the action is too silly to be taken seriously (even squeamish viewers – if they appreciate camp – can probably stomach some of the stomach-churning scenes, but every once in a while the violence hits its mark: the flash of chainsaw slicing of an arm in an elevator is shocking, and the briefly glimpsed aftermath of one victim, cut off at the waist and left in a bloody toilet stall, is effectively sickening. Gore-hounds, rejoice!
There are even a few moments whose effectiveness is not based entirely on gore (e.g., a slow-motion attack on a water-bed, while bloody, is also weirdly surreal). Also, the script follows its demented premise with a certain twisted logic, aided by editing that draws the parallel between assembling the nude puzzle and assembling the composite corpse. The film almost seems to be making some kind of statement about male sexist attitudes (e.g., depersonalizing women into nothing but an assemblage of body parts), but ultimately it is exploiting the concept rather than examining it.
Fortunately, PIECES is one of those films in which the myriad flaws become part of the entertainment value: the ludicrous plot and melodramatic acting take the edge off the misogynistic Euro-sleaze violence, and the film can be a reel hoot when viewed by an appreciate group of camp-film enthusiasts (knocking back a few rounds during the film can only increase the boisterous joy of the viewing experience). In short, PIECES is nowhere near being good, but it sure is fun.

DVD DETAILS

Grindhouse has released PIECES as a two-disc deluxe edition DVD. As with their recent deluxe edition of THE BEYOND, this one comes in a clear plastic clam-shell case, so that the back of the wrap-around cover is visible through the clear plastic when the case is open, revealing a frame grab of one of the film’s most notoriously gory moments. There is a nice insert that folds out to reveal a copy of the American poster art (“You don’t have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre”); it also features the original Spanish poster art, a list of chapter stops illustrated with an image of the assembled corpse, and two pages of notes from Chas. Balun. Balun’s hyperbolic raving, which approximates the enthusiasm of a revivalist preacher, captures the tone of the film; however, although he acknowledges its flaws, he soft-pedals the essential fact that PIECES is fun because it is so bad.
The DVD menus cleverly use computer graphics of a slashing chainsaw for the transitions, along with such colorful imagery as a severed hand spurting blood, while short loops of the film’s bloody action play in the background.
DISC ONE offers a solid transfer of the uncut film, a trailer, some interesting audio options, optional English subtitles, and a couple Easter eggs.
There are three different soundtracks available.

  1. You can view the film in English with library music (supplied by “CAM”) that echoes motifs from the Italian rock group Goblin’s score for DAWN OF THE DEAD (yet another link between PIECES and the Italian giallo tradition, as Goblin was best known for scoring Dario Argento films like DEEP RED).
  2. You can watch the film with its original mono Spanish soundtrack, which features original music by Librado Pastor. This acoustic score has a certain haunting quality suggestive of the “horror of personality” genre; it’s not bad but it somewhat takes the edge off the sleazy Euro-trash feel, which is part of the film’s appeal. (The English subtitled translations of the Spanish dialogue offer several distinctions from the English dub. For example, the Spanish version tells us that the murderous little boy’s father “died in Europe” in World War II; the English dub says that dad is “away in Europe, with the air force.”)
  3. The most unusual audio option is a 5.1 surround sound mix recording live at the Vine Theatre in Hollywood on August 24, 2002, which allows you to experience the thrill of seeing the film with a crowd full of ecstatic horror hounds. As funny as this sounds, the idea soon wears thin, as the mumbling and rustling obscures the movie’s real soundtrack, which sounds tiny – like what you used to hear out of a cheap speaker at a drive-in. On the plus side, the enthusiastic audience responses go a long way toward redeeming some of the more ridiculous moments – especially the incongruous intrusion of the martial arts instructor, whose brief walk-on prompts rounds of applause from viewers impressed with the idiocy of the scene.

There is an option that allows you to watch the Spanish version of the opening prologue, with the original title (Mil Gritos Tiene La Noche) and credits, which are interspersed throughout the sequence instead of stockpiled into one group just before the action shifts to modern day. After the prologue, the DVD shifts seamlessly to showing the rest of the Spanish-language version of the film.
There are two Easter eggs on the disc:

  1. With “Play Movie” highlighted on the main menu, click the Up button and a chainsaw icon will appear. Clicking it takes you to a video, shot before a screening at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles, of Eli Roth telling the audience not to talk back to the film because (he believes) they cannot possibly top the brilliance of the absurdity on screen. After Roth finishes citing some of running down some of his favorite illogical moments from PIECES and noting how it influenced his work, actor Clu Gulager (FEAST) shows up for a moment to express his admiration for the film’s unflinching gore.
  2. On the menu for the Vine Theatre Experience, clicking the dot of the letter “i” in “Vine” reveals a chainsaw icon that starts a trailer loaded with graphic gore from the film. This is totally different from the official trailer, from the 1983 theatrical release, available elsewhere on the disc. That trailer consists mostly of ominous narration warning about all the horrible things that cannot be shown, illustrated with only a few seconds of footage from the film.

DISC TWO contains the bonus features (video interviews, photos galleries, cast and crew bios), plus a dozen or so trailers for other Grindhouse Releasing DVDs (e.g. CAT IN THE BRAIN, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, CANNIBAL FEROX).
The two video interviews are with director Juan Piquer and with actor Paul Smith. Both are wide-ranging, covering  their entire careers, but with a fair amount of time spent on PIECES.

  • The Piquer interview (shot with the director sitting in a theatre with a skeleton a couple rows behind him) drags a bit as her recalls his early years, growing up, watching movies, and dreaming of becoming a filmmaker. Interest picks up when discussion turns to PIECES: Piquer recalls that he thought the premise was so crazy, it would be a challenge to make it even moderately believable.
  • The Paul Smith interview is the highlight of the bonus features. Smith is a lively and lovable talker, whose bright eyes and cheerful demeanor belie his threatening on-screen presence. He talks at length about his career, from  MIDNIGHT EXPRESS to POPEYE to DUNE (and more), filling the conversation with plenty of amusing behind-the-scenes anecdotes.

The four galleries consist of Production Stills (behind the scenes), Pieces Publicity (theatrical posters from around the world), Video Releases (home video artwork), and Juan Piquer’s slide show. The later is actually a video interview, with Piquer commenting on some of the artwork for the film. The production stills contain some images of the graphic mayhem, including disturbing shots of a dead pig trussed up athletic shorts (matching those worn by the female victim on screen) for a shot of the chainsaw slicing into flesh.
The Cast & Crew entries are more interesting than most seen on DVDs. Besides biographies and filmographies, several of the titles contain links to access trailers or, in some cases, further interview snippets from Piquer and Smith, talking about specific films. This is one case where you will want to go through each entry carefully, so as not to overlook any of the goodies.
PIECES hardly seems like the kind of film worthy of a “deluxe edition,” but the Grindhouse double-disc DVD is surprisingly entertaining, even for someone not particularly enamored of splatter films. It presents the movie in all its gory glory, along with some good bonus features, particularly the Paul Smith interview, which is worth watching whether or not you are a fan of the actor’s work.
PIECES (a.k.a. Mil Gritos Tiene La Noche[“The Night Has a Thousand Screams”], 1982). Directed by Juan Piquer Simon. Written by Dick Randall and “John Shadow” (Joe D’Amato). Cast: Christopher George, Lynda Day George, Frank Bana, Edmund Purdom, Ian Sera, Paul Smith, Jack Taylor, Gerard Tichy, May Heatherly, Hilda Fuchs, Isabel Luque.
FOOTNOTE:

  • The closest we get to an explanation is a scene of the first victim riding her skateboard into a collision with a mirror – which apparently reminds the killer of the mirror his mother smashed while scolding him.

Friday the 13th, Part 3 in 3-D – Retrospective Review

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If FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 is the A SHOT IN THE DARK of the franchise, then this second sequel is the GOLDFINGER – the one that established the template for the rest of the series. Serial killer Jason transforms from furtive figure striking mostly from the shadows into an unstoppable killing machine unafraid to show his face…er, mask. Speaking of which, this is the film in which he first donned the hockey mask that became his trademark for the rest of the series. Thus a horror icon came to fruition.
The movie itself shows severe signs of creative desperation. After the first FRIDAY THE 13TH (which revealed Mrs. Voorhees as the killer) and PART 2 (which passed the machete to her son, Jason), there was not much more to do except think up some new excuse to get another gang of horny, drug-smoking teenagers into the woods around Crystal Lake. PART 3 is a rehash with a vengeance, relying heavily on the 3-D effect to lend some novelty to the proceedings.
Even by the lax standards of slasher films in general, and FRIDAY THE 13TH films in particular, the screenplay is almost plotless. Some ultra-lame characters arrive in a cabin, smoke pot, have sex, and die one by one, only belatedly realizing what is happening. To fill up the running time and provide more deaths, a bad-ass biker gang is on hand to threaten the dweebs and then get killed by Jason.
The closest thing to a plot development involves this installment’s Final Girl, Chris (Dana Kimmell), who has memories of being assaulted by a deformed man in the woods two years ago. This unpleasant recollection from her past makes her afraid of the woods, but if you think FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 is going to waste time on unraveling her psychological trauma and showing her overcome her fear (a la Roy Scheider’s fear of the water in JAWS), you’re watching the wrong movie, baby.
The funny thing is: as lame as the story and characters are, the movie actually works as a crowd-pleasing piece of junk entertainment. We don’t care about any of the victims, so audience identification shifts to Jason, and we get a kick out of watching him perpetrate graphic atrocities on all these idiots. Even if you have a distaste for violence, you will find the film too absurd to take the gore seriously, which makes it enjoyable in a camp kind of way. Highlights include popping an eyeball out of someone’s head and (apparently) slitting some guy in half through the crotch as he walks upside down on his hands.
One should also acknowledge that, as predictable as FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 is, it occasionally works as a genuinely scary horror film. The long opening sequence, in which a camera follows a woman as she takes the laundry down from the clothes line, will put you on edge no matter how hard you try to resist. Those sheets, blowing in the wind, flap marvelous in 3-D; their rustling in the dark creates an unnerving sense that Jason could attack at any minute. Likewise, the last-minute CARRIE-rip-off dream sequence, in which the body of Mrs. Voorhees leaps out of Crystal Lake (an inversion of the first film’s ending, which had Jason leaping out of the lake), is an effective shocker, even though you see it coming a mile away.
The 3-D effect is about standard for its era – which is to say, effective but flawed. The camera is able to create the illusion of depth and of objects projecting out of the screen, but the phtography is often dark and dingy, and the overlapped left and right images (one for each eye) are never fully integrated; the result makes you feel cross-eyed, leading to eyestrain and/or headaches.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 is not a good movie by any reasonable standard, but the weak story, bad dialogue, and silly characters all become part of the experience. Call it camp or call it a guilty pleasure, but this sequel provides more entertainment value than either of its predecessors.

TRIVIA

Actress Tracy Savage, who plays the victim named Debbie (the one who gets impaled from beneath the hammock), left acting and became a successful television news reporter in the Los Angeles area.
Shelly (Larry Zerner), the obnoxiously unfunny comic comic relief character, is one Jason’s few victims to die off-screen. The reason for this is to set up a “surprise” – which likely will fool no one. Shelly is a prankster, one of whose jokes consists of putting on a hockey mask  and scaring someone. Shortly thereafter, we see a figure in a hockey mask walking toward another victim, who thinks she is seeing Shelly pull another prank. Presumably, the audience is also supposed to be fooled (why else hide the fact that Shelly has been killed?), but the difference in body size is too obvious, clearly telegraphing that it is now Jason behind the mask. This also means that we never see the moment when Jason decides to don the mask for the first time, cheating the audience of seeing a significant mment in the character’s development.
3-D supervisor Martin Sadoff explained the origin of the hockey mask in a cast and crew reunion at the 2007 Screamfest in Hollywood:

I’m from Buffalo, New York, and [producer] Frank Mancuso Jr. is my neighbor, and we’re hockey fanatics. The day of the makeup test, we didn’t really know what Jason should really look like, but we had to come up with some kind of makeup test in 3D. I had a hockey mask there, and I said, ‘Why don’t we put it on and see what it looks like?”

Jason reveals the reason he likes to hide his face behind a mask.

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 IN 3-D(1982). Directed by Steve Miner. Screenplay by Martin Kitrosser, based on characters created by Victor Miller and Ron Kurz. Cast: Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Nick Savage, Rachel Howard, David Katims, Larry zerner, Tracie Savage, Jeffrey Rogers, Richard Brooker.
[serialposts]

Tenebre (1982) – Horror Film DVD Review

tenebre-1980-movie-poster1.jpgItalian maestro of horror Dario Argento reaches his peak with this modern thriller about a mystery author whose latest book is serving as inspiration for a series of brutal murders that take place while he is on a promotional tour in Rome. The film synthesizes all the familiar Argento motifs (psycho killers, bloody violence, convoluted plot twists, pulse pounding music) into an almost perfect symphony of fear that overcomes many of his traditional shortcomings (credibility and characterization). The truly impressive achievement of this movie is that it is not just a collection of outrageous set pieces, tied together by an off-the-wall plot; it is a compact, tightly structured unit that attacks the viewer’s comfort zone with all the precision of a deftly wielded scalpel.
The film begins with a brief pre-credits prologue of a black-gloved figure reading from Peter Neal’s novel (titled, with intentional self-reference, “Tenebre”) – a disturbing passage describing a maniac’s joy at realizing he can sweep away the obstacles in his life through the simple act of murder. The story then follows Neal, who embarks on a plane trip to Italy. In the airport we see him stalked by a beautiful woman, and when he arrives, he finds his luggage has been vandalized. Meanwhile, a seductive kleptomaniac is stalked and killed in Rome, the pages of “Tenebre” stuffed into her mouth. During interviews about his book, Neal is surprised to find himself under attack from a former student, now a journalist, who accuses him of writing macho, misogynistic bullshit that exploits women as victims of violence; the journalist and her lesbian lover are later brutally murdered. Neal then finds himself on the end of a disturbing series of messages from the killer, who claims he wants to eliminate “deviants” from society. The police make little headway, prompting Neal – in the great tradition of amateur detectives – to match wits with them. His prime suspect is a fussy interviewer whose questions sounded suspiciously similar to the killer’s statements, but that theory seems to die a bloody death when the interviewer is dispatched by a hatchet to the head. Afraid he may be the next victim, Neal decides to leave Rome, but the murders continue; the victims include Neal’s ex-fiancé Jane (the beautiful woman who trashed his luggage at the airport) and his agent (John Saxon), who have been having an affair behind his back.
SPOILER Police Detective Germani (Giuliano Gemma) finally figures out the truth: the interviewer was the murderer, but Neal killed him and took his place, killing his agent and his former fiancé, so that the deaths would be blamed on the serial killer. Confronted by Germani, Neal slices his own throat, but moments later, his body is gone, and Germani realizes he has been fooled by a fake razor blade. The realization comes too late to save his life: Neal axes him to death from behind. Neal then waits for his next victim, Ann (Dario Nicolodi), who has been waiting outside for Germani, but when she opens the door, she knocks over an abstract heavy metal sculpture, a sharp cone piercing Neal’s chest and pinning him to the wall, where he struggles like a pinned bug, his bloody hands trying to pull himself free but slipping uselessly on the smooth metallic surface, until he expires. Shocked to stupefaction by the bloody horror surrounding her, Ann raises her head and screams as the film fades to black… END SPOILER
This synopsis probably does a poor job of conveying the film’s greatness. The relatively strong plot (at least by Argento’s standards) is at first deceptively traditional; then it bends, twists, and ultimately breaks, undermining audience expectations in a disarming way. With its mystery author trying to solve an actual murder, the story is deliberately working within the mold of a classic who-done-it, in which amateur detectives inevitably outwit their professional competition (think of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple or the television series MURDER, SHE WROTE). The message of this kind of fiction is that the world makes sense in a rational way. No matter how strange the crime, no matter how mysterious the murder, it will all make sense when the detective brings his acumen to bear upon the evidence, piecing the puzzle together until it leads him inevitably to the truth.
The script for TENEBRAE deliberately invokes this comparison by quoting Sherlock Holmes’ most famous dictum: “When you have eliminated everything else as impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” But having evoked the spirit of the great sleuth and all he stands for, the film then proceeds to demolish the logical worldview with a series of extravagant set pieces that deliberately undermine our rational understanding of what’s happening.
The first is a long, almost gratuitous sequence in which a girl who works at the hotel where Peter is staying is left stranded during a date, then chased by an angry Doberman, and forced to take refuge in a house – which turns out to belong to the killer. She is not his usual kind of target, but he must kill her anyway to preserve his secret. In other words, even his rigid, psychotic pattern of behavior is undermined by the chaos and coincidence of the world at large.
This idea is complimented by a series of flashbacks that purport to reveal some insight into the murderer’s motives: We see four young men, their faces concealed, pursuing a seductive woman on the beach. Three of them find favor in her eyes, but she turns thumbs down on the fourth – who, in a fit of sexual frustration, slaps her face. In revenge, the other three boys pin the fourth one to the ground while the young woman forces her red stiletto heel into his mouth and down his throat. This excellently constructed sequence (filmed entirely without dialogue) conveys a sense of submerged seething rage that explodes past all rational boundaries. It doesn’t literally “explain” the subsequent murders, but it does make us feel the madness lurking within the murderer. Inevitably, we realize that when someone is working on his level, the chaos of the world has become internalized, and trying to sort it out logically may be a hopeless exercise in futility.
This proves to be the case for the police. Rational motives like robbery don’t apply to either of the film’s two killers. Neal may seem to be acting out of revenge, but his revenge makes little sense (he’s already split with Jane so why should he care if she’s having an affair?) – unless one realizes that he is really acting out his anger toward the young seductress seen in flashbacks (a fact underlined when Jane receives a pair of red high-heeled shoes shortly before she is targeted for death – the same red shoes that the nameless seductress used to force her heel down Neal’s throat).
Always a master of the visual flourish, Argento serves up the murders with a gusto that will make your skin crawl. The imagery is justifiably renowned; at times, it’s almost insane in its brilliance, as when the police inspector bends down to pick up a piece of evidence and the killer is revealed standing directly behind him — where he could not possibly be, in any logical scheme of things. (The nightmarish effectiveness of this shot was copped by Brian DePalma, to less effect, for the end of RAISING CAIN.) Equally brilliant is the film’s famous Louma crane shot, which conveys the menacing presence of the unseen killer by prowling up one side of a building, across the roof, and down the other side, accompanied to nerve-wracking music by Claudio Simonetti, Fabio Pignatelli, and Massimo Morante. (As part of the rock group Goblin, they had scored Argento’s DEEP RED and SUSPIRIA. Here, they provide one of their most effective, pulse-pounding soundtracks – sinister, demented, and exciting.)
Even more excessive is the death of Jane, whose severed arm sprays a vibrant slash of red against the white wall of her kitchen – a sick visual joke the deliberately evokes the splattery artistic effect of paintings by Jackson Pollack. It’s Argento’s way of insisting that his violent films are artistically valid in their own shocking way. (In an audio commentary recorded for the old Anchor Bay laserdisc release, Argento comments, “She’s painting. But no one ever says, ‘Dario, is art.’ They say, ‘Dario, is too bloody — you must cut.’”)
Despite these eruptions of Grand Guignol bloodshed, Argento shows he is a master of more than just gore. His handling of the exposition scenes is deft, and he stages the brief bits of police action like a sharply handled episode of MIAMIC VICE. One of the film’s highlights is actually a clever homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW, a long static sequence in which Peter Neal’s agent (deftly played by John Saxon) sits on a bench in a public square, waiting to meet Jane.
The film has clued us in to expect a murderous attack, and Argento strings us along for as long as humanly possible, milking suspense out of practically no on-screen action at all. Saxon sits and stares, his gaze shifting to people around him as he eavesdrops on their lives from a distance (as Jimmy Stewart’s wheelchair-bound character did in the Hitchcock film). Every new angle, every reaction shot, leaves us peering into the corner of the frame, looking for something dreadful. By the end of the sequence, simple actions like turning to watch a child retrieving his ball, or bumping into a passerby, are fraught with menace – all based on our anticipation that the killer will strike at any second.
What makes this scene even more remarkable is that it is set in the least likely place for a horror sequence: a brightly lit, wide-open plaza, seemingly devoid of menace. But that’s all part of Argento’s plan to overturn conventions and startle us with the unexpected. This is probably the greatest horror film ever made with the lights on, so to speak; it’s a perfect companion piece and contrast to DEEP RED, abandoning the shadowy historical architecture and night-time settings of the earlier film, in exchange for a bright, modernistic approach filled with gleaming buildings of concrete and steel. Although both films are set in Rome, TENEBRAE has not a single shot of a historical monument: the horrors here do not hide in the shadows of decaying mansions; they stride boldly in the daylight.
More importantly, the film is genuinely unsettling (in a way that his much more popular SUSPIRIA never was). It’s true target is not the on-screen victims but the viewers themselves, who are told in no uncertain terms that their worst fears about the horror genre are all true: the people who create it and those who enjoy it are equally crazy partners in a homicidal ballet. In one of the film’s sick jokes, we’re made to resent a woman reporter who questions the misogynistic content of the genre–who is then killed off by a crazed fan, her violent death thus (inadvertently) proving the point she was trying to make.
Lastly, star Anthony Franciosa deserves special mention for his performance as mystery writer Peter Neal. It is no newsflash to state that viewers traditionally do not go to Dario Argento films expecting great characterization and performances; however, Franciosa delivers a strong performance that anchors the film, giving it a level of credibility sometimes lacking in Argento’s other work. The script does not give the character enough depth and shading to compete with genre icons like Norman Bates, but Franciosa (as Max Von Sydow would later do in SLEEPLESS) works with the material, making Neal believable and sympathetic, while also managing a few nice touches of comic relief (e.g., his startled reaction when his traumatized assistant runs a red light without even noticing). Thanks to Franciosa, what could have been just an arbitrary, mechanical twist at the end of the story, turns instead into a startling dramatic development.

TRIVIA

The dialogue misattributes Sherlock Holmes’ famous dictum (“When you have eliminated everything else as impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”) to the novel “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” The famous sleuth first made a variation of this remark in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s second Holmes novel “The Sign of the Four.” He expressed similar sentiments in subsequent short stories, but not in “Hound of the Baskervilles.”
After the international success of SUPSPIRIA, Dario Argento followed up with the excellent INFERNO, the second of his uncompleted “Three Mothers Trilogy” (about three ancient beings, each sequestered in a different old mansion around the world). However, the sequel never got the wide release it deserved from 20th Century Fox (which had made a ton of money on the first film, under a subsidiary label). Consequently, Argento abandoned plans trilogy of supernatural terror and returned to the giallo format with this, probably his greatest film. Perhaps not coincidentally, Aria Pieroni (who appeared briefly as the “Third Mother” in INFERNO) is killed off early in TENEBRAE, presumably signaling Argento’s intent to kill of the Three Mothers trilogy before it was completed.
TENEBRE is part of a long tradition of “giallo” thrillers in Italy. The word, which literally means “yellow,” refers to the color of the cheap pulp paper on which mystery thriller novels were printed. Usually inspired by Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, most Italian giallo thrillers deal with masked madmen stalking and killing beautiful women, often employing a visual style inspired by film noir, using lots of darkness and shadows. Some Italian film critics have objected to this noir style, on the grounds that Italy is a Mediterranean country noted for its sunshine. To a large extent, TENEBRAE is an ironic joke on this criticism; despite the title’s literal meaning (“darkness”), the film has few shadows, takes place largely in daylight, and features brightly lit modern architecture even when the setting is night.
The word “Tenebrae” also refers to a ceremony in the Catholic Church, wherein the lights are extinguished.
Although an Italian film, TENEBRE was shot in English to increase its export value, then dubbed into Italian for domestic constumption.
For English-language prints, the voice of Ann (Daria Nicolodi) was dubbed by actress Therese Russell.
Eva Robbins, who plays the seductive woman on the dunes seen in flashbacks, is actually a man.
In the U.S., the screenplay is credited as a collaboration between Dario Argento and George Kemp, but some sources credit the screenplay solely to Argento, suggesting that Kemp is a pseudonym created by the American distributor to make the film sound less Italian.
When the film was originally released in the U.S. (direct to video), the title was changed to UNSANE, and several minutes were cut out, including much of the violence and the famous Louma crane shot.

DVD DETAILS

Anchor Bay’s 1999 DVD of TENEBRAE recreates the features of their previous laserdisc release: a trailer, an audio commentary, and a version of the closing credits with alternate music (a bad pop song, instead of the main title theme by Morante-Simonetti-Pignatelli). The DVD also added two behind-the-scenes segements. Although billed as “uncut,” the film is actually missing a few insignificant shots; due to print damage, an absolutely complete version was not available. In 2001, this DVD was combined with Argento’s previous giallo effort DEEP RED on a double-bill DVD; both 1999 and 2001 DVDs are out of print, but TENEBRE was reissued by Starz/Anchor Bay in 2008 as a single disc, in conjunction with the Dario Argento Box Set.
The audio commentary, which features director Dario Argento, composer Claudio Simonetti, and journalist Loirs Curci, is mostly entertaining and informative, but it is marred by Curci’s attempts to get Argento to explain every detail of the film – even plot points that should be obvious to anyone watching the film. For example, he asks the director to explain why he uses repeated close-ups of the red shoes worn by the killer’s first victim (seen in flashback), when the reason should be obvious: those are the same shoes the woman used to humiliate the killer in an earlier flashback, forcing her stiletto heel down his throat, so of course the killer would be obsessed with them. To be fair, one cannot really blame Curci for prompting Argento for details: the director seems a bit unwilling to talk at length about the movie, and the audio commentary frequently drops out entirely, in spite of Simonetti’s lively attempts to fill us in on details of the soundtrack.
TENEBRE (a.k.a. “Tenebrae,” 1982). Directed by Dario Argento. Written by Dario Argento & George Kemp. Cast: Anthony Franciosa, Daria Nicolodi, John Saxon, Christian Borromeo, Veronica Lario, Eva Robbins, John Steiner, Guilliano Gemma.

Cat People (1982) on HD-DVD

With Universal likely to be the last oar-rower on the HD-DVD lifeboat, their choice of releases on the format becomes that much more interesting. Other than Warner Bros, who recently abandoned ship in favor of the greener pastures of Blu-ray exclusivity, Universal was the only studio keeping up a steady stream of catalog title releases. Many fondly remembered films from the ’80s: THE THING, DUNE, and even THE LAST STARFIGHTER have found their way onto HD-DVD, leaving one to wonder just exactly what kind of wonderful madman was put in charge of title selection. But even with a track record as eclectic as this, the arrival of 1982’s CAT PEOPLE left many dumbfounded. Certainly there had to be better candidates than this? Even keeping to that same era and studio, CONAN THE BARBARIAN would have had much stronger sales, and FLASH GORDON (just re-released on DVD) would have been better suited to HD, with its eye candy sets and costumes. But, wishing and $2 will get you on the subway – CAT PEOPLE is what we were given, so CAT PEOPLE is what we’re going to talk about. But first, back to 1942.
RKO Pictures, looking for a profitable line of low budget horror pictures, imports Val Lewton from MGM; giving him a good deal of autonomy so long as his projects were kept short (double bills, please!) and made cheap (under $150,000, far less than Universal was laying out per-picture in the studio’s classic monster heyday). CAT PEOPLE , directed by Jacques Tourneur, would be Lewton’s first RKO production. The story centers on Irena Dubrovna (Simone Simon, forming the notion of “mysterious European beauty” for decades to come) born in Serbia but fully ‘Americanized’ and living in NYC. While visiting a zoo she meets Oliver Reed (it would take several decades before the notion of an average American named Oliver Reed would be funny), they fall in love and marry in very short order. Wedded bliss is short lived, however, because Irena believes herself to be descended from a race of people who transform into leopards during moments of passion. As Oliver’s frustration builds, he begins to be attracted to co-worker Alice, and Irena finds that lust isn’t the only emotion that triggers her curse. The film went on to be a box office smash – the first in a series of successful pictures made by Lewton at RKO that handled horror in a similarly restrained fashion.
Swish pan to four decades later; Universal Studios, working with RKO Pictures (essentially a letterhead incarnation of the original studio that held the rights to most titles in the RKO library) prepares a remake, and attracts the attention of Paul Schrader. The result is a veritable walking tour of what was both right and wrong with modern horror – and the wisdom of “updating” classic films.



This time out, we join young Irena Gallier (Nastassja Kinski), traveling to New Orleans to live with her brother, Paul (Malcolm McDowell, with Manson lamps set on ‘high beam’). Sparks fly when she meets Oliver Yates (John Heard), a curator at the New Orleans zoo. Matters are complicated when Paul informs his sister that consummating her relationship with Oliver will be difficult because in their family, the throws of passion stirs something ancient in their blood that turns them into a leopard, savagely killing the human mate – but sex with him will work out just fine, thanks. Paul, you see, has been building up quite a body count while waiting for his sister to fulfill his needs, and after the mauling of a prostitute (cult favorite Lynn Lowry, whose own facial features are more cat-like than either co-star) Paul, still in leopard form, is captured by Oliver and taken to the zoo. After seeing Irena and Oliver together (and savagely mauling Ed Begley Jr.) Paul changes back into human form and escapes, leaving Irena to deal with a trail of leopard maulings that lead right to her doorstep and a growing attraction to Oliver that may well result in his death – and very, very messy sheets.
It’s interesting that at a time when he could have probably gotten almost any movie made that Paul Schrader would have chosen CAT PEOPLE. A blazing hot screenwriter after TAXI DRIVER and RAGING BULL, and a coveted director after AMERICAN GIGOLO became a critical hit, one can’t help but wonder at the selection. In the disc’s fabulously frank commentary track – one of the new disc’s major pluses – Schrader admits that he was looking for ‘hired gun’ work that he didn’t have a strong personal attachment to. CAT PEOPLE would certainly have fit the bill; that is until he fell hard for star Kinski during filming. Schrader discusses his affair with Kinski and what we presume to be an acrimonious break-up (according to Schrader, just prior to release she appealed to a Universal executive for her nude scenes to be removed, claiming she felt manipulated).
Schrader’s obsession with his star did produce some of the most flattering photography of a single actress in recent memory, and for the film’s first half, that’s almost enough to sustain interest. But through an unexplained plot contrivance, Irena is taken by brother Paul on a tour of their ancestors wind swept, cyan-toned ancient world – glimpsed in the film’s opening scene – where we watch leopards (or panthers, anyway they’re big and scary looking) mate with young women brought to them as human sacrifices by villagers. This occurs nearly at the halfway mark, and the picture never recovers from it.
Nastassja Kinski in cat transformation makeupWhile nobody expected the film to adhere to the original’s sense of inference and suggestion over explicit depictions of violence or sexuality, it was turning the abstract concept of a race of inbred cat people into a physiological reality that would be the film’s true undoing. In 1982, advances in the art of practical make-up effects were making celebrities out of Rick Baker and Tom Savini, and it was becoming routine in films like AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, THE HOWLING and THE THING for the show to come to a complete stop in order to show off the latest in latex moldings and inflatable bladders. When the lovely Ms. Kinski is subjected to these make-up efforts, the heretofore suspended disbelief comes crashing down like a bag of cat litter, and the show is steered from erotic thriller to monster movie – a genre in which Schrader shows little proclivity (cough – EXORCIST prequel – cough).
SPOILER ALERT:
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Even Schrader admits that the autopsy scene of leopard-Paul, where the cat is cut open to reveal an intact human hand, doesn’t work. It’s worse than that; it’s laughable, and that’s something genre films can’t afford.
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END SPOILER.
And once the 1942 figurative became 1982 literal, all that’s left is to see how hard the filmmakers intend to push the ‘R’ rating. Though screenwriting credit goes to Alan Ormsby, the kinky sexuality has Schrader written all over it. Bondage, incest, and even zoophilia abound, but without the religious or psychological underpinnings of Schrader’s better work. And though the gore content probably isn’t enough to shock an audience today, the amount of nudity on display is rather startling. With her gamine haircut and lithe body, Ms. Kinski is pure joy to behold on-screen – and behold her you will, for several extended sessions of nude bayou wandering (if Ms. Kinski had been successful in having her nude scenes removed, the film could have been reclassified as a short subject).
As an embodiment of feline eroticism, Kinski’s performance is quite good; but she simply can’t pull off Irena’s transformation from victim to stalker, particularly in a restaging of the original’s famous indoor pool scene. Beyond giving Annette O’Toole her own bit of obligatory nudity – and if it seems as though I’m complaining, remember please that I have my critic hat on – it reminds us how easily little Simone Simon could convey menace and mystery. And since we’re already in the gutter, it may be worth noting that poor Lynn Lowry’s bra snap-away surely ranks among the most gratuitous nude shots of the decade – and that’s a huge statement.
Universal’s HD-DVD is a direct port of their 2002 DVD: the special features are identical, and the same HD master was used. The HD-DVD has also been a bit controversial in terms of image quality. Though the image does feature some unfortunate edge enhancement (a process used by studios to give the image an artificially sharper look), I found the image more than acceptable – this presentation is the first time that the desert-set sacrificial scenes, with their heavy use of a red/cyan palette, have actually looked halfway decent on home video.

The desert-set fantasy-flashback scenes finally look good on HD-DVD 

As previously mentioned, the showpiece extra is the feature length commentary by Schrader. It’s an amazingly honest track, with Schrader giving the credit for the film’s visual bravura to the amazing sets and design work of Bertolucci-collaborator Fernando Scarfiotti, credited as “visual consultant” due to union regulations. Other supplements include an equally candid video interview with Schrader filmed for the 2002 release which dovetails nicely with a shot-on-set interview filmed during production where Schrader comes off as an insufferable intellectual. Also on hand is a video interview with Robert Wise on the production of the 1942 version, which has little to do with the subject at hand, but is interesting nonetheless; a featurette on Tom Burman’s make-up EFX; a reel of the gorgeous matte paintings; production photos, and a trailer that looks its age.
REVIEW FLASHBACK: Read Cinefantastique’s original review of CAT PEOPLE by Kyle Counts.

Friday the 13th reunion at Screamfest – with video


After launching with the West Coast premiere of George A. Romero’s DIARY OF THE DEAD on Friday, Screamfest continued on Saturday with a series of short subjects, followed by a violent German murder-mystery titled DEAD IN 3 DAYS. The big event of the day did not arrive until late in the evening: two back-to-back 25th anniversary screenings of 1982’s FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III – in 3D! Thanks to the film’s 3D supervisor, Martin Jay Sadhoff, lucky patrons got to see the film in its original Sirius-Scope process, complete with the souvenir glasses with artwork designed to suggest Jason’s trademark hockey mask (which he wears for the first time in this film). Personally, I would have preferred a complete hockey mask with the polarized 3D lenses embedded in the eye sockets, but I guess you take what you can get.
I was never a big fan of Jason or FRIDAY THE 13TH. I think he ranks as the slasher movie equivalent of the Mummy; somehow he’s earned a reputation as a classic horror character, but he’s really just a big, ugly, slow-moving guy. In fact, PART III was the first film in the series that I bothered to see in a theatre, just because I was a 3D fan. I was not particulary impressed with the movie, but I did have to admit that it was sometimes effective (those sheets on the clothesline, ruffling in the wind, were really spooky thanks to the 3D enhancement, which had you expecting Jason’s appearance at any second).
Consequently, I had my doubts about the value of sitting through the movie again, but the lure of 3D won me over, and the the screening turned out to be a cult-audience experience not to be missed. The battered print (from the 1982 release) jumped and crackled like a trailer for GRINDHOUSE, and time has not been kind to the movie in other ways as well – the execrable dialogue and wooden performances are even more painfully obvious than they were back in the day. But the audience took it all in stride: they laughed at the contrived 3D tricks (which include antennas, baseball bats, and rattlesnakes aimed at your eyeballs); they moaned in mock sympathy whenever nerdy Shelly had another speech about how pathetic he was; and of course they applauded with wild enthusiasm for each of Jason’s kills. It wasn’t quite THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, but it was close.
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After the first screening, there was a question-and-answer session with select members from the cast and crew: Larry Zerner, who played Shelly; Tracie Savage, who played Debbie, the obligatory girl who has sex and dies; Paul Kratka, who played Rick, the male lead whose eye pops out in 3D; David Katims, who played the pot-smoking Chuck; Harry Manfredini, who composed the score; Martin Jay Sadhoff.
Unfortunately, time was short (the show was running late, and a crowd outside was waiting to see the second screening of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III), so each guest had time to answer only one question. You can view the video or read excerpts from a transcript.
MARTIN SADHOFF ON THE HOCKEY MASK:

The real story about how the hockey mask came about… I’m from Buffalo, New York, and [producer] Frank Mancuso Jr. is my neighbor, and we’re hockey fanatics. The day of the makeup test, we didn’t really know what Jason should really look like, but we had to come up with some kind of makeup test in 3D. I had a hockey mask there, and I said, ‘Why don’t we put it on and see what it looks like?’I only wish I had registered the hockey mask [as a trademark] because every Halloween, that’s all I see!

LARRY ZERNER ON BEING CAST AS SHELLY:

I was standing on a street corner handing out tickets to THE ROAD WARRIOR, and these people came up to me and said, ‘Are you an actor?’ I was a struggling actor like everyone else in this town, so I said, ‘Yeah,’ and they said, ‘We wrote this movie, and we think you’d be perfect for it.’ I auditioned and got the role. That was the beginning and end of my acting career. Now I’m an entertainment attorney.

TRACIE SAVAGE ON HER CASTING AND HER DEATH SCENE:

I haven’t seen this movie in 25 years. I can’t imagine why I gave up my acting career! [heavy irony] I had so much potential! I come from a showbiz family and had done my first commercial at 2. My mom was my agent and said they were casting this movie. I said, “No, I’m done; I’m in college. Well, I went and I got it, and it was so much fun. It was really the last thing I did. I went to college, got a degree in broadcast journalism, and have been a journalist ever since.
[My death scene] was amazing. First they had to make a replica of my upper torso – that was bizarre! Because it was 3D it took hours to film that one little three-second shot – hours to set up the makeup and the lighting, because they didn’t want the seam to show where the fake torso joined my neck.

PAUL KRATKA ON RICK’S FLIGHT THROUGH A WINDOW:

The night they were shooting the scene, I was very glad I was not a stunt man. My character had to be projected through the window, so they had this air ramp that would launch a person. They pulled the window out of the frame so it was open, but the guy kept hitting high, hitting low. They could not have paid me [to do that!] Whatever they paid that guy wasn’t enough!

DAVID KATIMS ON WHAT HE WAS REALLY SMOKING:

This is pre-crack, so… I’m actually not a cigarette smoker. The first night, it was cigarettes I was really smoking. I couldn’t handle it, so I sent them over to a health food store and had them get barley. I smoked barley; that’s also what I ate!

RICHARD BROOKER ON THE HELP HE RECEIVED FROM THE DIRECTOR:

Steve Miner told me absolutely nothing. He said, ‘Never come up to me and ask your motivation for the scene. You have no motivation. You are just a senseless killer. You are like Jaws. You have no feelings, no nothing. You just go out and kill people.’ Seriously, that’s what he told me. Studying acting most of my life, I didn’t necessarily buy that. I tried to put a meaning to the character. I honestly believe that you don’t have to talk to be an actor; you can walk and you can move. I think that’s what I brought to the role, and I think that’s what made Jason Jason. After all the episodes since then, people still come up to me and say, ‘FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III was the scariest ever!’ We’re sitting her 25 years later, so we must have done something right.

HARRY MANFREDINI ON THE DISCO VERSION OF THE FRIDAY THE 13TH THEME:

At the time Steve [Miner] called me, I was working on a musical that closed after two weeks and a day; otherwise I probably wouldn’t be here. This is actually the first time I’ve seen this movie. I saw the parts I scored, but I only had a couple of days so we used music from the old film. So I finally got to see the whole film tonight, and I thought the 3D was spectacular! I had a ball. So who came up with the disco idea? Back then that was really hot. A guy named Michael Zager, a good friend of mine who was really into this, said, ‘We should do this.’ So I went over to Michael Zager’s house and played him various pieces of the FRIDAY THE 13TH score. I told him, ‘You need to use these three chords and this tune.’ I said, ‘When you come to the right part, just call me. I’ll come in and go… [Manfredini whispers the famous Jason echo motif].

[NOTE: Before the panel departed, there was mention that there are extremely tentative plans for a revamped 3D release of the film.]
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