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3-D OR NOT 3-D

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016

EDITOR’S NOTE: In March of 2013, I wrote a column that included this little reminiscence, which seems timely since ‘Comin’ At Ya!’ has just been released on 3-D Blu-ray for the first time (see my 1981 of the film review on this page).

(My review of ‘V.I. Warshawski” being misquoted to sound like a rave on the Blu-ray and DVD covers) reminded me of the first time a review I wrote was misused this way.

And in that case, it was in service of a movie that I really didn’t like.

Way back in 1981 there was a 3-D spaghetti Western titled “Comin’ At Ya!” and it made so much money that it is today credited with single-handedly bringing back a brief early-1980s revival in 3-D movies as it was quickly followed by “Friday the 13th, Part III,” “Jaws 3-D,” “Amityville 3-D” and the filmed-in-southern Utah “Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone,” among others.

Even Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 “Dial M for Murder,” which was filmed in 3-D but never shown that way, earned its first 3-D release in 1982.

  

In its second week of release, an ad appeared in the paper that quoted my review: “ ‘Comin’ At Ya!’ is different ... however it’s worth it. There is a certain thrill as flaming arrows and shooting spears seem to fly off the screen and into your lap … this new 3D system is a great success.”

In context, this is what my 1981 review said: “I gave up on spaghetti westerns years ago when I finally realized no one could duplicate Sergio Leone’s style and flair, though many tried. But ‘Comin’ At Ya!’ is different. Oh, it’s a very standard spaghetti western, but ‘Comin’ At Ya!’ is really just a come-on.”

After describing the 1950s 3-D process and the inconvenience of the glasses back then, the review continued: “With the 1981 process, however, the glasses are still cumbersome, if you tilt your head the picture still goes out of focus — and it still takes awhile to get used to it and settle into the film. In some ways, however, it’s worth it. There is a certain thrill as flaming arrows and shooting spears seem to fly off the screen and into your lap. And to that extent, this new 3-D system is a great success.”

   

Of course, very early in the review it also says: “As 3-D it’s not too bad, but the movie stinks.”

Way back in 1981, in just my second year as a full-time movie critic, I was flattered. After all, the person who put the ad together could have misquoted some major movie critic from New York or L.A. or Chicago, but instead he chose me.

After the ad showed up I wrote a story about it and referred to it as my baptism of fire: “Now I feel like a real movie critic.”