Ranking ‘Friday the 13th’ Movies

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As a child, my mother would tell me all sorts of superstitions and myths but the one that stuck with me the most was about Friday the 13th. Today is one of the days in the year that brings people bad luck. Of course, at the time I believed her and it led to being afraid of watching any of the Friday the 13th films.  As I grew older, I stopped believing in those superstitions and got the courage to watch the first film.

By that time, the franchise had already established itself and had become one of the most prominent horror franchises of all time. Since my first viewing, it has become one of my favorite horror film series of all time. So, to celebrate today along with doing a marathon of all the films, I wanted to rank all 12 in the franchise from my least to my most favorite. I want to put an emphasis on the fact that this is my opinion. Feel free to disagree in the comments and get a conversation going.

For this ranking, I’ll be looking at a few things to make my final decision: the kills, how entertaining it is, whether or not it still holds up in present time, and how the film was made. By the way, major spoilers up ahead. I will also assume that anyone who is looking at this article has seen the films.

12. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)

Summary: Still haunted by his past, Tommy Jarvis – who, as a child, killed Jason Voorhees – wonders if the serial killer is connected to a series of brutal murders occurring in and around the secluded halfway house where he now lives. – IMDb

Review: Even though I said this was one of my favorite horror film series, A New Beginning still upsets me. One of the main reasons for this is that Jason isn’t the killer. This shouldn’t have been that bad since Part 1 had Pamela Voorhees as the killer. However, the killer is revealed to be Dick Wieand‘s character Roy Burns and it was extremely lackluster. One of the first kills that happens on screen is when Vic. Known for his short temper, he kills one of the halfway house occupants named Joey (Dominick Brascia) with an ax. It’s revealed at the end that Joey was actually Roy’s son. Roy wanted revenge on everyone who was responsible for the death of his son. However, his motive doesn’t make a lot of sense, since it’s unclear whether or not that he knew his son was at the camp. It also wasn’t specified if anyone in that small town knew that he was his son.

I’m also shocked that they couldn’t come up with something more original than reusing the plot of Part 1. Switching the location from Camp Crystal Lake to the Pinehurst Halfway House was a good idea, but they made it feel exactly like the camp. So much for originality, I guess. All of the kills are done with close-ups that look weird. And the camera lingers on the topless women for way too long. However, they made Tommy such a badass and one of the kids named Reggie gives out a fantastic scream. Now that I think about it, that might be the only thing I enjoy whenever I rewatch the film.

Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

Summary: Having revived from his wound, Jason Voorhees takes refuge at a cabin near Crystal Lake. As a group of co-eds arrives for their vacation, Jason continues his killing spree. – IMDb

Review: Although the later films are far worse than this one, I’m just going to give Part 3 the #11 spot. Already having established itself as a great series, you’d expect the third film to bring some sort of originality. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. It seems like a clone of the first two films and it copies the ending of the original.

The inclusion of 3D technology did not help this film. It’s almost as if they wanted to have a 3D shot in every scene to scare the audience. It worked on me when I was younger and knew nothing about film, but now I can’t watch these shots without laughing. I mean, they made a fake head for Jason to squeeze, which would cause the eyes to pop out and lunge towards the audience. That is by far the worst looking fake head I’ve ever seen.

However, this film is iconic since it’s where Jason gets his hockey mask. It also has some pretty amazing kills, like when Jason kills Andy by splitting him in half. Still, these two factors do not save the film from its rehashed story, extremely slow pace, and one of the worst displays of acting that I’ve ever seen. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

10. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

Summary: The graduating class of the local high school is going on a luxury cruise with Jason Voorhees as a stowaway. The heroine Rennie Wickham believes she was almost drowned by Jason as a child. Jason eventually sinks the boat and kills many of the students on it, but many of them escape to Manhattan. A long battle with Jason ensues until Jason is washed away in the New York sewers by a midnight flooding of toxic waste. – IMDb

Review: Not really sure why they decided to go with Jason Takes Manhattan as the title, since it implies that he’ll take over Manhattan, or at least someone named Manhattan. That would’ve been such an amazing story! Anyway, the movie takes place on that ship for over an hour because of budget restraints and I would’ve loved to see Jason roaming the streets of Manhattan more. A lot of the kills in this movie were toned down a bit, which seemed like an odd thing to happen in this franchise.

Having a younger Jason – who has hair by the way – appear as a ghost that haunts our lead protagonist didn’t make much sense. It easily could’ve been left out of the film. The way that they made Jason look under the mask in this film looks awful. No one thought of saying anything about this during filming? However, this did bring something new to the series rather than going back to Camp Crystal Lake.

Once they reach New York, there is an incredible shot of Jason standing right in the middle of Times Square. And who could forget that amazing fight between Julius (Vincent Craig Dupree) and Jason? If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a treat.

9. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)

Summary: The secret of Jason’s evil is revealed. It is up to the last remaining descendant of the Voorhees family to stop Jason before he becomes immortal and unstoppable. This is the final battle to end Jason’s reign of terror forever. – IMDb

Review: The amount of gore in this movie scared me the first time I watched this, but now it’s one of my favorite things. The gore is also why I didn’t rank this film lower. The movie’s gore level went above and beyond a lot of the other movies in the series and for that it deserves respect.That being said, this still couldn’t save it from a horrendous story.

It also gave us the fantastic and badass characters of Steven Freeman (John D. LeMayand Creighton Duke (Steven Williams). It also tried to do something different and explain the lore behind Jason, but they took things in the wrong direction. The plot that Jason is now this slug-like creature that needs another Voorhees to live is outrageous. I’m positive that not even Ridley Scott would use that plot in the Alien movies.

The rest of the new mythology about Jason the film builds made no sense, especially since they waited to do this in the 9th movie. Having Jason possess people took away a lot of the admiration that I had for the character as a slasher villain. It also wasn’t as frightening to see possessed people kill other people. There is a scene where Jason is shot and you can audibly hear him grunting. Not sure if Jason made any vocal noises at any point in the previous movies. All this being said, this movie took away some of the factors that made Jason menacing.

8. Freddy vs Jason (2003)

Summary: It’s been nearly ten years since Freddy Krueger terrorized people in the dreams, and the townsfolk want to keep him erased from their memory. Freddy still has one more plan on getting back to Elm Street. He resurrects Jason Voorhees and sends him off to kill. The more bodies which fall to the ground, the stronger in which Freddy becomes. This is until, Freddy realizes that Jason isn’t going to step aside easily, and must be taken down himself. – IMDb

Review: Part 9’s end scene had Freddy thrust his hand from below ground and take Jason’s mask to hell. That was supposed to be an iconic cross-over event between two horror film icons. However, that film was in development for years until finally being released in 2003. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the hype. There were some strange decisions about camera work, especially during the party scene. Any time a person was killed, they would fly 10 ft in the air. I know that Jason is strong but for him to be able to do something like that? I don’t think so.

The only saving grace that this film had were the times that showed Jason and Freddy fighting. I honestly expected that they would just be going at it for over 90 minutes. This movie was supposed to revolutionize horror but both the main characters only fought for less than 30 minutes. I mean, just look at how extreme the marketing campaign was.

7. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

Summary: Months after Alice beheaded psycho killer/mother Pamela Voorhees at Camp Crystal Lake, survivor Alice is still traumatized because of the murders. But there is one problem. Mrs. Voorhee’s son Jason never drowned and died.So he saw Alice behead Mrs. Voorhees. Jason finds Alice soon and murders her. Five years later a camp counselor in training program begins at Campanack Lodge. Right near Jason’s home.Camp Crystal Lake. As teenagers in the program start snooping around Camp Crystal Lake, they start getting killed violently one by one. – IMDb

Review: I know, “how could you rank this film at #7?” Just hold on, keep reading. Now, this film marked the debut of Jason Voorhees and his quest to avenge his mother’s death. While it was shocking that they killed off Alice, the lead protagonist and final girl from Part 1, it was basically the same story as the previous movie. It had the same amount of murders, gore, and overall feeling. The character of Jason shows no real development throughout the film, which is definitely something that I wanted to see. One of the best things to come out of the film was its final girl Ginny (Amy Steel). She is the only character to fight off against Jason using both physical and mental tactics. Another character, Mark (Tom McBride), is also memorable, specifically  for his death scene. He falls down a flight of stairs while in his wheelchair after being stabbed by Jason.

6. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

Summary: Lying dormant at the bottom of Camp Crystal Lake, Jason Voorhees is released from his watery grave by a telekinetic girl. And so the killing begins again. Can she use her powers to stop Jason, or is he back for good? – IMDb

Review: This marks the start of Kane Hodder playing Jason Voorhees. To me, he’s the one who cared the most about playing the character, especially with the stunts that he had to pull off in this film. This is also the only time that the unmasking of Jason scared me. The way his face looks and how the majority of his upper back has been exposed to the bone show the audience just how much he’s endured. This is also one of the few films that made me root for Jason since the majority of these characters are easily forgettable.

Well, all except for one character, Tina (Lar Park-Lincoln). Like it said in the summary, she has telekinetic powers. She’s also the reason why some people call this film Jason vs Carrie. Still, their last encounter is awesome to watch even after all this time. This is mainly due to the fact that she’s one of the few people to fight off Jason. Sure, it sounds silly but it’s way better than Jason being a slug-like creature, just saying. Most of the kills are censored, which definitely takes away the horror element. I won’t even talk about the ending…It’s probably one of the worst endings to any horror film. Ever.

5. Friday the 13th (1980)

Summary: One summer at Camp Crystal Lake, a group of young counselors begin to get ready to lead campers. Unfortunately for the former, someone isn’t happy about what’s going on in the camp and enjoys playing kill the counselor. As bodies fall to the ground in the camp, no one is safe. – IMDb

Review: “Oh wow, he put the original at #5! How could he?” Just hear me out. The original film is held to such a high regard, but I really do think a few of the sequels are far better than the original. I appreciate the impact that the film had for the horror genre and the fact that it was one of the few films at the time to have a female character as the killer.

It was also able to pull everything off with a low budget and an unknown cast. However, it’s clearly a copy of Halloween, which takes away its sense of originality from the beginning. Also, there’s nothing really special about the kids at the camp other than that they’re going to die. However, Adrienne King’s portrayal of Alice added another great example of a final girl. The film set out to be a typical slasher film and it did just that.

4. Friday the 13th (2009 – Reboot)

Summary: A group of young adults discover a boarded up Camp Crystal Lake, where they soon encounter Jason Voorhees and his deadly intentions. – IMDb

Review: Normally no one ever likes reboots of classic films. Or at least no one ever says that the reboot is better than the original. The original film had mystery behind it from the beginning since the audience didn’t know who the killer was. The reboot shows us an agile Jason who is just relentless and displays how he tortures his victims. I’m more of a fan of horror films who do these sorts of things. It shows me that they’re willing to put effort into scaring me, rather than adding 1000 jump scares throughout the film.

I mean, seeing Jason roast someone alive by hanging their sleeping bag with them inside is just horrendous, but that’s also what I love about the film. The fact that he sets up traps for his victims makes it more realistic rather than wandering all throughout the camp without anyone seeing him. The nudity in the film is a little extreme and a few of the characters are forgettable, but a few of them stand out. The comedic relief caused by Lawrence (Arlen Escarpeta) and Chewie (Aaron Yoo) isn’t forced and the central relationship to the plot is between Clay (Jared Padalecki) and Whitney (Amanda Righetti), who are siblings. Which makes these characters well done compared some of the rest in the franchise.

3. Jason X (2001)

Summary: Set way in the future, Earth is no longer inhabitable, so humans have colonized in outer space. One colony receives two cryogenically frozen bodies, and when they defrost them, one of the bodies turns out to be…..who else? Jason Voorhees. No longer in the forest or Camp Crystal Lake, Jason stalks the colonists in a whole new environment. – IMDB

Review: Ha-ha, now that I think about it, the plot of this film sounds like it could be a rip-off of the series. Now, I know A LOT of people hate this movie, and with good reason. But I look at this movie from a nostalgic lens. Space fascinated me as a child, so when I watched this film I was hooked right from the start. I’m not sure where they got this idea from, but in some weird way, I like it.

This is one of two films where Jason isn’t running around Camp Crystal Lake killing teenagers. It has badass women like Kay-Em 14 (Lisa Ryder) kicking ass all throughout the film. She is by far my favorite character in the entire franchise. The performances of the actors are great, since they managed to grab hold of the ridiculousness that this film was and ran with it. This movie also has one of my favorite kills and I never thought that kill I would involve liquid nitrogen.

The ability to surprise its viewers definitely has to be one of the great things this series has done. The way the kill Jason is really amazing. I won’t spoil it but I highly recommend you check it out.

2. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

Summary: Tommy Jarvis goes to the graveyard to get rid of Jason Voorhees’ body once and for all, but inadvertently brings him back to life instead. The newly revived killer once again seeks revenge, and Tommy may be the only one who can defeat him. – IMDb

Review: This movie had a much different tone, although it still is Jason going around and killing teens. It broke the fourth wall, made its characters self-aware about horror movies, and managed to include some silly gags. Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews)returns as a protagonist that you actually want to root for and they added another character, Megan Garris (Jennifer Cooke). She is by far one of the most capable final girls in the series. It had some pretty cool action scenes, like when Jason stands on top of the RV that’s in flames. The kills are a bit lackluster at times but I think the film plants its roots as one of the most unique and confident entries of the series.

1. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

Summary: Thought to be killed by the sole survivor of the last massacre at Camp Crystal Lake, Jason Voorhees kills his way back to the camp to once again murder its inhabitants. This time, has Jason met his match in the little boy Tommy Jarvis? – IMDb

Review:  It’s a lot similar to the original 3 films but it sets itself up as what the three movies were trying to accomplish. Jason is in his hockey mask the entire time and the characters, like in a lot of the other films, are just there to die. However, Crispin Glover does has some pretty sweet dance moves. Or at least what would pass off as sweet dance moves in the 80’s. The central focus is a sibling relationship between Trish (Kimberly Beck) and Tommy Jarvis.

Tommy is one of the most beloved characters in the franchise other than Jason. Trish shows that she really loves her brother and fights off Jason with that specific goal in mind. Tom Savini, who worked on the first film, makes a return as the makeup and prop artist, which means the kills were excellent. This is the perfect movie that shows Jason killing running around and killing teens. It will forever hold a special place in my heart.

 

 

That’s my list. Although a lot of the later films take a turn from what was originally intended, the series is beloved by many horror fans and is considered a classic slasher film series.