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Comin at Ya: The Eighties 3-D Movie Craze (circa 1981 – 1983)

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In 2009, 3-D movies roared back to the pop culture forefront with expensive sci-fi epics like Avatar and Star Trek, as well as horror movies such as the remake, My Bloody Valentine.

3-D movie-making is probably here to stay (especially if it is summer-time…), but the 1980s actually saw a similar “burst” of 3-D movie-making, even though the format tends to be associated with the 1950s first and foremost.

Some of these eighties films were in popular franchises (Amityville, Jaws, and Friday the 13th), but almost all were downright terrible.

The low quality of the films (and the poor 3-D effects) may be one reason the form went back into hibernation for another quarter century.

But for those who are nostalgic, here’s a trailer-by-trailer remembrance of the 3-D movies of the early eighties

 

Comin at Ya (1981)

 

Friday the 13th Part III in 3-D (1982)

 

Parasite (1982)

 

Amityville 3-D (1983)

 

Jaws 3-D (1983)

 

Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1983)

 

Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983)

 

Treasure of the Four Crowns (1983)

  • Klaus Gebhard

    Unfortunately, I missed these when they were released in the early 80’s. I did, however, manage to see Friday the Thirteenth part III, in 3-D, at a small theatre in Indianapolis, back in Oct. 2002 for my bachelor party! Also, a few of the local stations in Denver aired 3-D films, in 3-D, back in the summer of 1982 or 1983? You could obtain the special glasses at your nearby 7-11 store. I recall Gorilla at Large, a martial arts film called Dynasty and one of the Creature films (the first one or Revenge of…). I have seen all of these films except for Comin’ at Ya and yes most are pretty bad but I still like them and I still love old-school 3-D! Thanks for the article, Muir! I am currently reading your 1970’s sci-fi film book.

    • John Kenneth Muir

      Klaus: Thank you for the comment, and thank you for reading Science Fiction and Fantasy Films of the 1970s. I hope you enjoy the book. I remember seeing Spacehunter 3-D in theaters back in 1983, and thinking how terrible it was. Without the 3-d, it might actually be a better film, if that’s possible. I have the vaguest of memories regarding the TV showings of older sci-fi films on TV. But I do remember one issue of Starlog in the early 1980s was also in 3-D and came with 3-D glasses. Crazy! All my best, John

      • Klaus Gebhard

        John. Your welcome! I also have your Exploring Space 1999 book. I need a McFarland Press account! I too had the Starlog Fantastic 3-D book though I sold it on ebay many years ago. I still have some 3-D comic books including the 3-Stooges in 3-D, which is a riot! This was a great post and I truly love this site. Thank you!

  • Neal Patterson

    Comin’ At Ya’ was a truly awful film! It was the first of the 3-D movies from that era, so I was eager to see it, but whoo boy! Gruesome, misogynistic violence interrupted by painfully slow pacing. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Then, just before the closing credits, they replayed all the 3-D segments. I could’ve walked in on the last five minutes of the movie and gotten all the 3-D effects without having to sit through this horrible movie! The 3-D movies improved by the time Space Hunter came out, but then they were gone.