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3D the 1980s 3-D Revival -- revised

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Richard--W, May 8, 2013.

  1. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    Dial M For Murder (WB, 1954) -- re-released February 1980.

    Comin' at Ya! ( Italy / Spain, Filmways Pictures) -- released 21 August, 1981.
    Super Dragon aka Dynasty (Hong Kong 1977, Cinema Shares International) -- 20 October, 1981.

    Revenge of the Shogun Women aka 13 Nuns (Hong Kong 1977, 21st Century Distributors) -- 15 January, 1982.
    Dial M For Murder (WB, 1954) -- re-released February 1982.
    Parasite (Avco Embassy) -- 12 March, 1982.
    Friday the 13th Part 3 3-D (Paramount) -- 13 August, 1982.
    House of Wax (WB, 1953) -- re-released November 1982.
    Rottweiler 3-D aka Dogs of Hell (Earl Owensby) -- four-walled, 1982.

    Treasure of the Four Crowns (Italy / Spain, Cannon Group) -- 21 January, 1983.
    Spacehunter: Adventures In the Forbidden Zone (Columbia) -- 20 May, 1983.
    Jaws 3 (Universal) -- 22 July, 1983.
    The Man Who Wasn't There (Paramount) -- 12 August, 1983.
    Metalstorm: the Destruction of Jared Syn (Universal) -- 19 August, 1983.
    Amityville 3-D (Orion / MGM) -- 18 November, 1983.
    Hit the Road Running (Earl Owensby) -- four-walled, 1983.

    Hot Heir aka The Great Balloon Chase (Earl Owensby) -- four-walled, February 1984.
    Tales of the Third Dimension (Earl Owensby) -- four-walled, April 1984.
    Chain Gang (Earl Owensby) -- four-walled, June 1984.
    Hyperspace (Earl Owensby) -- four-walled, September 1984.
    Silent Madness (independent) -- 26 October 1984.

    Starchaser: the Legend of Orin (South Korea / USA, Atlantic Releasing) -- animated feature -- 22 November, 1985.



    If anyone has additions, corrections, comments, questions, experiences with 3-D you'd like to share, you are invited to post them there.

    Except for the nation-wide re-releases of Dial M For Murder and House of Wax, all the 1980s stereoscopic films were shot with a twin-lens / single-camera system for Polaroid (the word can't be said often enough) viewing. Essentially, the camera was fitted with a twin-lens that placed a left and right eye image over / under on a single strip of 35mm film in what was equivalent to Techniscope. The single-strip films were then projected through a special lens which separated the left and right eyes onto aluminized movie screens for Polaroid viewing. StereoVision International's widescreen-anamorphic system, or its offshoots, was most often used during the 1980s. When Paramount's in-house system failed on the set of Jaws 3, they contracted with StereoVision International to complete principle photography in 3-D.

    Most of the 1980s 3-D films were low-budget, independent productions given studio distribution. The studios never really invested into 3-D films and consequently they all look under-produced. Why weren't there more 3-D films, and why didn't the trend last longer? Part of the problem was in projection. Although theaters were supplied with aluminized screens for the highest luminosity, there were too many projection problems. Brightness had to be adjusted to maximum SMPTE standards for the depth to be perceived, but often the bulbs were turned down to save on electricity (still a widespread problem in the USA) and audiences sat there watching dim images. Often times the twin-lens mounted on the front of the projector was incorrectly calibrated, and just as often the internal polarizers were not replaced with fresh ones. Although 24-hour hotlines were set up for projectionists to call for help, twin-lens projection needed more maintenance than it received in the 1980s. Nevertheless, many 3-D screenings proceeded without any problems whatsoever. However, the choices were limited. With the exception of Dial M For Murder, which was 30 years old and dated, all the 3-D films were horror and sci-fi. The lack of variety meant a limited audience.

    As of this writing, the studios have shown no interest in releasing their 1980s stereoscopic film on 3-D blu-ray for Polaroid (that word again) viewing. The still talk about how problematic distribution and projection were, and don't think past it. New digital tools facilitate the correction of alignment and registration problems. It's a routine and relatively inexpensive step during the transfer process. The films could look better on Blu-ray than they did in theaters, or as close to perfect as the lensmanship and digital technology allow. If only the studios would wake up and realize the value of what they're sitting on.

    Soft-core and hardcore porn films gave 3-D a bad name in the 1970s. Despite the enormous popularity of a House of Wax re-release in 1971 and Universal's double-feature re-release of Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) with It Came From Outer Space (1953) in 1972, the studios didn't want to touch a technology that had fallen into disgrace. I make allowance for two remarkable films that qualify as legitimate drama with excellent production values. I've seen field-sequential transfers on DVD-R of Dynasty and Revenge of the Shogun Women. These outrageous period action-dramas feature an abundance of topless women in equal proportion to dazzling stunt action sequences. Both films were stylishly directed by Mei Chung Chang for Eastern Media Productions in Hong Kong. Although the transfers I saw were of poor quality, derived from field-sequential VHS tapes marketed in Japan, the stereoscopic photography is outstanding and might very well be the best use ever made of StereoVision's patent twin-lens / single-camera system. Very entertaining films. If the boutique labels -- Anchor Bay, Blue Underground, Code Red, Mondo Macabro, MYA, Panik House / Ryko, Raro, Redemption, Severin, Synapse -- wanted to reap the benefits of the lucrative 3-D market on blu-ray for Polaroid viewing, Dynasty and Revenge of the Shogun Women fit right in with their interests.

    On Metalstorm: the Destruction of Jared Syn. a shoestring budget sci-fi action film, the StereoVision technology was supervised by, and the camera frequently operated by, the brilliant stereoscopic engineer John A. Rupkalvis. Whatever criticism one has of the film, the three-dimensional photography is excellent, with every shot boasting optimal depth that's easy on the eyes.

    Earl Owensby had his own stock company and film studio in Shelby, North Carolina where he made six stereoscopic films without any assist from the industry. He bought into StereoVision International and used their system exclusively. A true independent, Owensby produced, directed, wrote, acted in, and self-distributed his own stereoscopic films. Playdates were busiest in the south, but he managed to four-wall nation wide. The only one of his films I've managed to see is Rottweiler on a poor-quality field-sequential DVD-R. The film is not inspired, but the stereoscopic photography is excellent. If the DVD-R had a clearer picture I could enjoy the film for its depth alone. Owensby always took the time and care to make sure the 3-D was technically correct. His six films are ripe for rediscovery on 3-D Blu-ray. The new medium could be a perfect marriage between independent filmmaker and 3-D enthusiasts. Independents like Earl Owensby might want to think about releasing limited edition 3-D Blu-rays if they're that worried about market interest. Personally I would jump at the chance to buy every stereoscopic film Owensby made on 3-D blu-ray.

    During the 1980s there were also a number of short films, experimental films, and special venue theme-park films, in addition to full-length feature 3-D films made in the Soviet Union by Russian filmmakers. If anyone has information on Russian 3-D films, you are invited to post it here -- titles, dates, the system used, posters, synopses etc.


    DialMForMurder-1954.jpg
    CominAtYa-1981.jpg
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  2. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    Don't forget SILENT MADNESS. It was one of the better photographed efforts from the period.
     
  3. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    edit
     
  4. JohnS

    JohnS Well-Known Member

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  5. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    I always forget Silent Madness.

    Perhaps because I've never seen it.

    Inserted.

    Another poster:

    [​IMG]
     
  6. moviepas

    moviepas Well-Known Member

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    When Paramount's in-house system failed on the set of Jaws 3, they contracted with StereoVision International to complete principle photography in 3-D.

    When did Paramount make that one?
     
  7. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    Bob, do you know the exact re-release dates for House of Wax and Dial M For Murder ?
     
  8. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    HOUSE was rushed into theaters as soon as COMIN' AT YA started making lots of money. The first test engagments were at the end of October in Baltimore and San Antonio. The full-scale reissue went out around the country for Thanksgiving 1981.

    Dial M went out in April 1982.
     
  9. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
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    Rottweiler 7.81.jpg
    Stereovison 8.81.jpg
     
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  10. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    Appreciate the industry trade for Rottweiler, Bob. Owensby posters are hard to find. I used to have some scans in the old computer but that hard drive went south.

    Here is Chris Condon's statement on StereoVision in the American Cinematographer Manual, sixth edition 1986, followed by the beginning of Dan Symmes':

    Condon-1.jpg
    Condon-2.jpg
    Condon-3.jpg
     
  11. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    Tony Anthony talks about filming COMIN' AT YA! (1981) in this 2011 interview:

     
  12. pinknik

    pinknik Well-Known Member

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    Only one correction that I can think of (if I missed the reference, I apologize): Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone was shot on a twin camera system. I believe the current home DVD release actually opens up the scope presentation to 1.85:1, as it was shot open matte and cropped for single strip 35mm 3-D release. There may have been some single strip (Stereovision I believe) inserts, when they did a shot where the large 2 camera rig wouldn't fit. If they ever do a blu-ray 3-D release, it has the potential of being the best looking of the 80's revival.
     
  13. GregK

    GregK Well-Known Member

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    The very old VHD 3-D videodisc release of SPACEHUNTER also was shown at 1.85:1

    This September I'll have a chance to talk to a friend who knew many of the people who worked on SPACEHUNTER. IIRC, there were a number of things they were not happy with in the final single strip presentation.

    A number of shots have very inconsistent 3-D. They originally had wanted to do more aligning in post, but didn't have the time to finish. This could still be done properly before a 3-D bluray release if the proper TLC is used.
     
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  14. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    The 3D in Spacehunter, when it worked, was spectacular, according to my 30-year-old memories, which are known to be somewhat unreliable. That being said, there were a handful of 3D set pieces (the opening credits, action scenes) that really stood out for 12 year-old me.
     
  15. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    My thanks to piknik for his input on SPACEHUNTER. According to Hayes, SPACHUNTER was filmed in McNabb 3-D, whatever that is. A dual 35mm camera rig with right and left eyes optically printed over-under on a single-strip for projection at 2.35. I wonder if Columbia used StereoVision projection lenses or a design of their own. Visual effects were filmed with dual Mitchell Mark II cameras, and StereoVision was employed for handheld scenes which I think would be a step-down in quality. The film was released simultaneously in spherical Panavision.

    I watched the flat DVD recently. I didn't notice anything amiss in the 1.85 framing, which is my preferred aspect ratio for composition and screening because it fills the eye(s). But that's beside the point. Photographically it's excellent, and one can see how the film is being staged and lit for depth. Director Lamont Johnson is always mindful of composing a layered frame. Substantial money was spent on sets (in Canada) and locations (Utah). I enjoyed SPACEHUNTER for the B movie it is, but 3-D would really bring it to life.

    Since Twilight Time has an understanding with Columbia they really should work this title up for a 3-D blu-ray.

    SPACEHUNTER.jpg
     
  16. Ejanss

    Ejanss Banned

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    And then there's the mystery of TT hinting--or did hint at one point--that they had an unnamed Columbia 3D release in the works, and everyone just automatically assumed they were talking about Mad Magician or Miss Sadie Thompson...
     
  17. RolandL

    RolandL Well-Known Member

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    What TT said was:

    "For what it's worth, Twilight Time will be releasing a 1950s 3-D film in early 2014".
     

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