Posted Wed Mar 8, 2017 at 09:00 AM PST by Matthew Hartman
As CES 2017 saw the first year without any new 3-D television sets in development, one may fear that the 3-D Blu-ray format is going the way of the dinosaurs. Many of us took the 3-D plunge and purchased top of the line sets in order to appreciate the eye-popping effects in the comfort of our own home. For the time being, it would appear that 3-D televisions are being phased out, but the good news is that there is plenty of great content out there for fans who love their entertainment in three dimensions. The new big blockbusters all have terrific 3-D releases, but it's important to take a look back at the films that got the 3-D ball rolling.
Here is our list of the classic 3-D Blu-rays every collector should have in their home:
Most people think that 3-D has been around only since the 1950s, but it dates back much further. The first 3-D stereographic footage and exhibition date back all the way to 1915! Amazingly enough, a lot of this footage survives today and the great folks at 3-D Film Archive (You're going to hear a lot about these guys in this article) and Flicker Alley have pulled together a collection of short films shot between 1922 and the 1950s. While some of these shorts are in understandably rough shape, the 3-D effect is impressive, to say the least. Not only is '3-D Rarities' a wonderful exhibition of short films in 3-D, it's also an important history lesson in filmmaking! Where else are you going to see Charlie Chaplin's Tramp (in this case an impersonator) toss a pie in your face in 3-D?
'Bwana Devil' may have been the film to whet audiences' appetites for 3-D movies, but it was this Vincent Price horror classic directed by André De Toth that got the craze rolling in 1953. The film is a study in mood and atmosphere and helped propel Price to leading man status for horror pictures for generations. Terror and thrills leap out of your screen with numerous sight gags that create a terrific 3-D illusion as Price's Professor Jarrod gets revenge on those who wronged him by turning them into wax sculptures in his twisted museum of the macabre. The Blu-ray is terrific with exceptional video and audio. A true 3-D fan's delight that must be a part of your collection.
Another horror classic comes roaring back to life in 3-D! This 1954 monster movie classic directed by the late great Jack Arnold and starring Richard Carlson and Julie Adams features the titular Gillman slaying unsuspecting trespassers in depth of the Amazon. Above water and below, this is a beautiful restoration effort for a black and white monster picture. The first time that fossilized hand protrudes from the screen, you'll want to reach out and try to shake hands! The sequel 'Revenge of the Creature,' has as of yet to be released on 3-D. Fingers crossed we get to see Jon Agar swim around with the Gillman at Sea World in 3-D very soon!
Believe it or not but not every single 3-D film released during the 50s heyday of 3-D was a monster movie or featured a murderous Vincent Price! George Sidney's adaptation Cole Porter's musical broadway show 'Kiss Me Kate' proved to be a perfectly entertaining and musical wonder to behold in three dimensions! Delightfully entertaining and full of numerous out-of-the-screen moments make this an absolute must-own 3-D song and dance wonder. You may think you've seen 'Kiss Me Kate,' but you haven't enjoyed the full effect of the film until you've seen it as it was meant to be seen. Now pull out those glasses and give this colorfully infectious flick a whirl!
Granted, not every single 3-D film produced in the 1950s heyday were science fiction and horror films, but a bunch of them were! Jack Arnold's 'It Came From Outer Space' was one of the best in the group. Not simply a piece of sci-fi B-movie schlock, 'It Came From Outer Space' is a thoughtful contemplation about humanity - while working in some 3-D thrills and chills. Featuring an out of this world restoration by the 3-D Film Archive, the picture and audio quality make for a picture-perfect 3-D experience. Do not pass this one up!
Made a quick year after the break-out hit 'House of Wax,' Vincent Price stars in this pseudo-remake about a wronged magician who dispatches his enemies with his deadly illusions. The plot may be a bit familiar, but this is the film that cemented Vincent Price as the go-to source for horror thrills and chills. Director John Brahm makes smart use of 3-D through inventive camera angles and some impressive tricks to give this black and white thriller a little extra edge. This 3-D Blu-ray delivers all the goods and includes the two hilarious 3-D 3 Stooges shorts 'Pardon My Backfire' and 'Spooks!' making it a terrific three-dimensional package!
The 1950s may have been known for the 3-D craze, but the format never really went away. By the time the 1980s came around, 3-D was in full swing again and 'Jaws 3-D' was front and center. Unrelated to any of the previous sequels, fans were treated to the titular toothy shark terrorizing Sea World (sound familiar?). While this plot shares more than a few similarities to 'Return of the Creature,' the 3-D schlocky images of a shark floating towards the screen or a severed arm is a hilarious delight. Fully restored in 3-D, this Blu-ray is the only way to experience the terror!
A smart and crafty thriller, 'GOG' takes a stab at man's technological advancements where the creations designed to save us could well be our end. Not only is 'GOG' a well-made little science fiction yarn, it sports some impressive 3-D visuals courtesy of the multi-armed robotic monstrosity Magog. This is perhaps one of the finest vintage 3-D restorations to make its way onto 3-D Blu-ray. 3-D Film Archive did an incredible job restoring this film giving it a new life with bright bold colors and and incredible use of the 3-D effects.
This History Channel documentary may not be a thriller or a romantic musical, but what it does do is showcase the importance of 3-D photography during World War II. From Nazi propaganda films to Allied forces invasion preparations, this Blu-ray features some incredible 3-D moments and proves to be an impressive educational experience!
One of Hitchcock's finest thrillers also manages to make a splash in 3-D. Unfortunately, the restoration effort for this presentation isn't quite as good as one would hope - but when those scissors come out, you'll be happy to have those glasses on! Again, it's not ideal, but considering the age of the film and the fact that this was an early release on the format - this is still a worthwhile addition to the collection!
3-D may not be for everyone, but for enthusiasts, it provides a unique and infectious viewing experience. Thankfully there are plenty of great classic 3-D films out there with more on the way. With so many great titles out there, it's hard to keep a list like this to only ten, but these flicks are a great starting point for building an impressive collection of classic 3-D movies on Blu-ray.
The latest news on all things 4K Ultra HD, blu-ray and Gear.