As pertaining to motion pictures, describes any film that exploits, in its marketing or promotion, the use of stereoscopic (3-dimensional) filmmaking techniques.

This blog is my notepad as I research a nonfiction book spotlighting 3-D genre films of the last century. While the book will focus primarily on films from the 60's, 70's and 80's this blog has no restrictions.

All articles on this blog are copyright 2010-13 of its author,
Jason Pichonsky, unless otherwise stated.

Images are used for information purposes and remain the rights of their respective owners.

Based on a layout by: 16thday

The World Loses 3-D Pioneer

Wow, I can't believe I missed this obit until now.

Chris Condon, producer and cinematographer of The Stewardesses (1969), passed away on Dec 19 in Encino, California after suffering a stroke at the age of 87.

Condon is best known in the 3-D world for designing stereoscopic lenses (through his company StereoVision Entertainment) that could be used with a single camera. The Stewardesses was a phenomenal hit, banking over $25M despite its budget of just $100,000 and its vignette style story telling that was extremely light on plot and heavy on soft core sexploitation. His lenses were used on a number of 70's features including Flesh For Frankenstien (1973) and into the the next decade. He served as a stereoscopic consultant on Owensby's first 3-D film Roitwettler: The Dogs of Hell (1982) and he consulted on many more films through the eighties 3-D boom; Parasite (1982) and Charles Band's empire building film Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared Syn (1983), and the Universal Studios release Jaws 3-D (1983).

Together with Joseph Mascelli the authored the American Cinematography Manual of The American Society of Cinematographers.


Alas Virginia, there is no Santa Claus

…at least not for readers of this blog.

With the holiday season in full swing, I’m just not able to get an informative review of the third segment from Tales From The Third Dimension before Christmas is through.
My hugest apologies.

But I thought I should get something up here as a Christmas treat. A few of us might remember when Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas got the 3-D conversion treatment a few years back. The conversion was adequate but just imagine what it would have been if the film had been shot in 3-D ala Coraline.

Well thanks to Joel Fletcher, an animator on the film, we can. A stereoscopic fan he shot 3 dimensional photographs of a number of scenes in the film. They’ve but up on the web for a while now, but if you missed them grab your anaglyph glasses and check out this link.

 Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

A Halloween Tale from the 3rd Dimension Part III in 3-D


The second segment featured in Tales of the Third Dimension, "The Guardians" is a 19th century period tale of grave-robbing inspired by the works of Poe and Lovecraft.  Things begin with Nigel, a hospitable local graverobber, who returns home fresh from his duties that afternoon, and finds himself entertaining two uninvited vagabonds, Charley and Freddie. After much prompting by the pair, Nigel muses about the people he has buried and the wealth they may have taken to their graves. Quickly after their visit, Charley and Freddie take to robbing that day's newest grave, cutting off the finger of the young dead girl in order to remove a valuable ring.
William Hicks as Nigel, in a performance that channels John Candy's SCTV character Mayor Tommy Shanks.
The next day, Charley, the so-called mastermind of the operation, recalls rumors of secret catacombs hidden under a decrepit church, long since sealed off. The pair return to Nigel and, when coaxing won't work, strong arm him into revealing the entrance’s secret location. After pillaging a few of graves in the catacombs the greedy Charley leaves Freddie for dead, pinned under a gigantic stone that covered a secret chamber. Charley treks deeper into the underground labrinyth and quickly encounters the tomb's guardians.  Rats. More than can be counted.
The "Guardians" is Tales of the Third Dimension's strongest story, though it is not the films most entertaining segment (that is reserved for its last). It is filled with an ambitious visual atmosphere and characters that are as charming as they are dark. Charley in particular is played with devilish flare by Terry Laughlin, while William Hicks’ understated almost non-performance of Nigel services the naive character very well. But the maturity of this segment's direction lies in the hands of E.O. Studios most experienced director, Worth Keeter, a staple at E.O. Studios. Not only did he helm the hillbilly gothic Wolfman (1979) for Owensby (which features an Irish lychanthrope returning to his Carolinian birthplace) but he also had a hand in all of the 3-D productions done at the E.O. studio including its most successful international 3-D project Rottweiler a.k.a The Dogs of Hell (1983). After Owensby’s studios stop producing films he went on to direct a number of straight-to-video features (including 1993’s Snapdragon featuring an early Baywatch Pamela Anderson) finally landing a regular directing gig on the kids TV series Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, overseeing American sequences which were intercut with with the really cool stuff from the Japanese tokusatsu (superhero teams) series of Super Sentai television programs.
Japanese Super Sentai.
The catacombs in "The Guardians" offer ample opportunity to show off depth as the camera tracks past foreground cobwebs and through confined archways filled with skeletal remains. Charley and Freddie must slosh through dank water to enter the bowels of the tomb and past rubber bats on strings (always an entertaining conceit in 3-D films of the era). This is after all a gothic tale on a budget and the rats that eventually devour the greedy Charley are impeccably clean and far less menacing then they should be, despite Keeter's best efforts. But it's not Tales from the Third Dimension's budget shortfalls that keeps "the Guardians" from rising to the showcase segment of the film, as it must have been intended. Indeed it features the movies most grandiose sets and art direction. It's quite simple the story's simple plot and it's all to familiar comeuppance twist ending.

A taste of the 3-D that might exist in the stereoscopic version of the film.

"The Guardians" is a tale well told and finely acted. It must have been a real entertaining treat in 3-D, unfortunately in 2-D it is merely so-so.

Sorry for the Absence

Wow. Has it really been a month and a half since my last post? And I was only a third through my Halloween 3-D picture Tales of the Third Dimension --shame on me for leaving you readers hanging on for so long. But I have a pretty darn good excuse for my extensive absence. Well, that’s only partially true. The truth is I ran out of steam and my full review of the Owensby Studio anthology film still would have spilled past Halloween. The reason for the extensive delay in getting back to business is the birth of my second child. Dirty diapers and the wrangling of a newborn and a two year old have left me pretty exhausted at the end of the day—the result has been very little writing. Not much film going either (it was so much easier with just one child to contend with).

At any rate, I’ll be getting back to the review this week. I owe you two more chapters from the film. It’s not a complete wash though. The last story in the anthology just happens to be a Christmas tale. It seems it could all work out in the end.

For now, why don’t you have a listen to this live musical performance of “Chasin’ Down a Dream” by Mama Said, a song that sings the exploits of Tales of the Third Dimension’s producer Earl Owensby.