Since movies began filmmakers have been trying to scare the pants off us.
First with a train, then with a gun pointed directly at the camera, and later with a young man or woman pitted against a larger than life monster. As these movies play out, people die, people fall in love, then die, and a hero arises, and maybe dies. With main characters dropping left and right, producers quickly realized, people are coming more for the bad guy than the good and then… Great horror icons are born!
Through the years we’ve seen many villains come and go, yet, only a select few never fade away. One in particular has steadily walked his way into nearly all forms of mass media. After twelve movies, twenty some books, a TV series, countless comic book appearances, and one hugely anticipated video game, Jason Voorhees has sliced and diced his way into the hearts of millions of fans. No matter how many different places Jason slaughters those pesky teenagers, movies are where he shines brightest. Not all are masterpieces, one or two might be horrible, but they all have something special, something new to offer. So I present to you, my ranking of the Friday the 13th franchise.
12. Friday the 13th part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
Woof this is a rough ride. I’ve seen this one the least, it’s borderline unwatchable. Due to a lower than expected budget most of the film had to be shot in locations that are clearly not New York. Big problem when your film is titled “Jason Takes Manhattan.” Then again “Jason takes a very long, very boring, ride on a potato boat to Manhattan,” might have managed to sell even less tickets… Writer/Director Rob Hedden also had to deal with the ever crushing MPAA on their violence/sex/nudity, which left an already horrible movie cut off at the knees. What ended up on screen was a mess, and after the promise of seeing Jason take on New York, a very upsetting mess. It’s better to just watch the first trailer and let your own imagination take Jason to Manhattan
Wait who was in this movie!?! : Kelly Hu
Best Kill: Boxing scene, Head. Punched. Off.
11. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday
I know there is a huge fan base for this movie, and I’ve heard the hard to find Director’s Cut (which I haven’t seen) fixes many problems with it. There was even a recent online petition to get it re-released. I get it, people like it, but still… yuck… There is only one reason this is listed better than Manhattan, this one promised nothing. Thank the lord for that, because boy-oh-boy does it keep its promise. The movie was clearly supposed to be the end of the franchise, and usually that means pull out all the stops and go nuts! Instead we got an extremely boring movie with the weirdest plot device ever, Jason is a black goopy worm that is transferred person to person by puking in their mouths. WHAT. THE. ACTUAL. FUCK?
How did this pitch session go?
Writer : Boom! Opening scene Jason dies! What to do with his body? City morgue of course! And at that city morgue, the coroner will eat Jason’s heart for reasons and start slashing shit up!
(An understandably confused investor raises his hand.)
Investor: But that man is mortal, what happens if he dies?
Writer: Easy! He will puke a black goopy snake thing into another person’s mouth and they will become Jason.
Investor: Can you figure out a way to jam a reference to Nightmare on Elm Street in there?
Writer: ALREADY PLANNING ON IT!
(Writer puts on shades, high fives himself, and moon walks out of the room)
Wait who was in this movie!?! : Leslie Jordan
Best Kill : Spear through the chest that then cuts the poor lady in half. Woof.
10. Friday the 13th part V: A New Beginning
Similar to Hell, lots of fans for this one. But it’s never worked for me. I see what they were trying to do, have the Friday the 13th franchise survive without Jason. It makes some sense, after all he isn’t in the first movie really. This felt like it was trying to be a transition movie, ending with Tommy Jarvis becoming the villain. But it turns out we fans don’t want Tommy as the villain and this turned into a skippable option in the franchise. This is also the first movie where you can really see the MPAA tightening their grip, as most of the violence is obviously cut out of the film. Not the worst movie, but pretty bland for my tastes. It did give another option for fans who like variety in their hockey masks, one bonus.
Best Kill : Belt around the eyes, crushing a dude’s skull.
9. Friday the 13th Part II
Jason enters the killing floor! This is easily the best idea for a horror sequel. The fake murder boy at the bottom of the lake from the last movie is real! And really mad at kids for having sex near his lake!! Sadly beyond the hook, this movie is kind of a snore.
The actors all do a good job with what they have (Amy Steel is my second favorite final girl of the whole series), but what they have is pretty much the exact same thing as last time. While I don’t think any of the movies are particularly scary, this one suffers the most from “been there done that.” Nothing in this movie really shocks the audience, with the exception of the first kill, poor Alice never saw it coming, But hey, fair is fair, she chopped off his mom’s head. Now let’s not mention that stupid potato sack on Jason’s head the whole movie. (what is with this franchise and potatoes?)
Best Kill : First kill of the movie, poor, poor Alice, screw driver to the temple, nice and slow…. Also machete to the face of the guy in the wheelchair, and then his chair goes down a ton of steps, classic!
8. Friday the 13th (2009)
Hoo-boy I was excited to see this reboot, even with Michael Bay attached. Jason is alive alive again, so he can actually move. The director was clearly a fan of the series and they finally went back to Crystal Lake! (first time since part 7). The opening was amazing, you are introduced to all these, wholly unlikeable characters, then one by one THEY ALL DIE. Awesome!
The movie felt like a perfect reboot, for about 45 of the 90 minutes, and then it falls apart. I could go on and on about all the problems in the second half, but I’ll just say the biggest problem, Jason takes prisoners. That alone just rings so false for the character it ruined the whole experience for me. I don’t know what goes on at Platinum Dunes, but I feel like all of their remakes have the issue where they get close to the mark but miss just enough to make the movie sub par.
Wait who is in this movie!?! : Danielle Panabaker of The Flash.
Best Kill : Last kill of the movie, the girl you thought was the final girl, boom, machete through the chest! Sorry Killer Frost…
7. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
This is probably the most underrated of the bunch. It really has nothing that makes it stand out, but there is no denying it’s a solid slasher film. Here we get the beginning of Zombie Jason (ZJ) when he is brought back to life via lightning strike. ZJ stays an undying, murder machine for the rest of the series, how most people think of him to this day. This closes out the Tommy Jarvis trilogy, and he shines. Completely ignoring the idea that he became a murderer in the last film, he becomes the hero in this.
Part 6 is the only one of the franchise where you get to see Camp Crystal Lake (Forrest Green in this, name changed due to all the murders at the old camp) up and running. That brings a whole new element to the series we never knew we wanted. That and a final showdown between Tommy Jarvis and Jason on the boat at the end, makes this a really fun entry. I just wish that it was a little bigger and bolder and maybe people would have remembered it more fondly.
Wait who was in this!?! Days of Our Lives star Renee Jones
Best Kill : Triple decapitation! That’s what you get for playing paintball!
6. Jason X
This is far and away my most guilty pleasure Jason movie. I fucking love this movie. But is it a good movie? Oh no, not at all, NO. It’s just so much damn fun! Jason in space is a movie you can’t take serious, luckily no one expected you too. This is a love letter to fans of the franchise and in the best way. Tied with part 9 for the most kills, the movie holds nothing back. The difference between the two films is creativity. Jason X has the best kills of the franchise, ala freeze face smash! I will always love it! Sure the plot is awful, the acting is a joke, Jason gets fused with nanobots and becomes UBER-JASON at the end… but doesn’t that all sound like a ton of fun? YOU’RE GODDAMN RIGHT IT DOES!!!
On a sadder note, this was the last time Kane Hodder wore the mask… Bye bye Kane, you will always be my Jason.
Wait who was in this!?! : David Cronenberg (yes that David Cronenberg)
Best Kill(s) : TIE between Frozen face smash and a call back to part 7, A girl in sleeping bag is used as weapon to kill a different girl in a sleeping bag… then she is smashed against a tree.
5. Freddy vs. Jason
I know people will hate that I have this one so high on my list, but this movie works for me. Sean S. Cunningham wanted the crossover for YEARS, and I’m so glad he got it. Robert Englund was great as Freddy, especially when you think of how bad his arthritis was in his stabbing hand. This was his last appearance as Freddy, and its shame he had to go out on a big ole embarrassing loss to the greatest horror killer of all time. I love how well this film keeps with both the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street’s personal styles. Mixing so much better than I ever thought they would or could. End result is a blast and a celebration of what has kept us all coming back for all these years. I honestly think the whole movie works, but if I had to nitpick, you are waiting for the real big fight to start for awhile, and that was a bit of a drag. However, when the two titans finally do face off, magic is in the air! That final showdown is brutal, fun, and gory as all hell.
Wait who was in this!?! : Jason Ritter
Best Kill : The dick bag boyfriend in beginning, stabbed a bunch with a machete then folded in half! Awesome!! (I really wanted to say, Freddy getting his head chopped off because Jason is the best, but the boyfriend wins)
4. Friday the 13th Part III IN 3-D!
It’s hard to believe that the iconic Jason mask wasn’t a thing till part three of the franchise! But I am so happy they took away that Stooopid sack. Such a blessing in disguise that Amy Steele decided not to come back after part two. Great as she was, it would have been a straight up rip off of Halloween 2 and would have soured many people on the franchise. As far as the movie goes, it’s pretty much paint by numbers, camp counselors vs Jason… Jason wins. But this movie has a charm that makes every rewatch a joy. And that charm is 3D!! I wish I was kidding, but every time something juts out of the frame, I giggle with joy. I really love this movie.
Best Kill – Head squished, eye pops out… IN 3D!!
3. Friday the 13th Part IV – The Final Chapter
Little did they know, claiming this as the last in the bunch, would lead to success!! The way this movie comes together is just amazing. First off we get the start of the Tommy Jarvis trilogy, played by Corey Feldman of all people. Then we are introduced to some of the most unlikeable teens of the whole series. Perfect for Jason’s machete!! And that’s what this movie is all about. Set up for murders, then murder murder murder! This is one of the few that actually gives me a couple of jumps and makes me a little uneasy, a smidge. Coupled with Tommy Jarvis taking on Jason, one on one, chopping his head to bits with his own machete, this film is easily one of the best of the franchise. I’d go so far to say one of the best all around horror slashers.
And let’s all just forgive that this one is technically Saturday the 14th…
Wait who was in this!?! Everyone knows Corey Feldman… how about CRISPIN GLOVER!
Best Kill – so many to choose from… I’ll go with CRISPIN GLOVER. He screams “Where the hell is the corkscrew?” Then wham! Corkscrew through the hand, followed by meat cleaver to the face!
2. Friday the 13th
Where legends are born! Clearly cashing in on the popularity of Halloween (the opening is a complete rip off), Sean S. Cunningham threw this movie together fast. Recently having produced Last House on the Left, Cunningham wanted this one to be more of a fun movie, while still being scary. They knocked it out of the park. Love the cast in this film. They did a great job casting unknowns, people who felt real and relatable. You almost feel sorry for them as Jason’s mom starts ripping them to pieces, almost.
What did this movie do better than all the rest? Fear of the unknown. You honestly have no idea who is killing these people till no one is left! The real primal fear sets in watching the late great Betsy Palmer stalk Alice around the camp, muttering “kill her mommy! Kill Her! Kill Her!”. Out right freaky. This movie is the reason I love horror movies, a tried and true classic.
Wait who is in this!?! Kevin Bacon of course!
Best Kill The poor girl who hitches a ride from Mrs. Voorhees. It’s the kill that always stays with me. She is so likeable and you really root for her as she runs away in the woods. Alas… she is too slow… throat slash!
1. Friday the 13th Part VII The New Blood
I know I know, how could part 7 of a franchise be the best one? After praising the original so much, how does this rank above it?
There is something truly amazing about this film and I don’t know how best to describe it. Oh wait……….KANE FUCKING HODDER! For a Jason fan there is no one greater behind the mask than Kane Hodder. Kane has a certain visceral nature to him that no one else has been able to capture. With him all the kills feel more violent, Jason is a real tangible danger the whole movie. All the best that this is the only movie where someone can actually fight him! (not counting FVJ of course)
Lar Park Lincoln is perfect as Tina, the tortured psychic who accidentally brings Jason back to life. The pitch for the movie was supposedly Jason vs Carrie, and I think that works out great! Their fight at the end is just fantastic, up until she blows Jason’s mask off, then I’m uncomfortable because the design of Jason’s face is a thing of nightmares.
When it’s all said and done I’m more satisfied at the end than any of the other movies. My favorite thing about it (beyond Kane) is the end, Tina doesn’t win! Yes she gets him back in the lake, but he still a lurking threat.
This movie is a blast, campy when it needs to be, scary where it counts, and has a cast of real likable people. With Kane Hodder and the best design for Jason in/out of the mask, this movie captures everything I want a Friday the 13th movie to be.
Wait who was in this!?! Terry Kiser AKA Bernie from Weekend at Bernie’s!
Best kill – SLEEPING BAG! A girl is asking her boy toy to come have his way with her, but nope! Jason has other plans! That include balling her up in her sleeping bag then smashing it against a tree! FUCKING AMAZING!
There you have it! A way to in detail break down of my favorite horror movie franchise. I’m very excited for the game, and cautiously optimistic for the new movie. But no matter how they turn out I will always love Jason and his murdering ways!
For all you TL;DR people out there : 7, 1, 4, 3, 11, 10, 6, 12, 2, 5, 9, 8!
Bryan is the Host and Producer of After the Hype. He loves talking. About everything. But mostly Batman, Star Wars and Green Lantern.
He also lives in Los Angeles and works in TV Post Production