It was time for the second horror movie marathon, and what other option did I have but to review Friday the 13th for Friday the 13th? This was the most familiar series to me, just because how engrained into pop culture Jason is, so I was really looking forward to these movies. Let’s take a look at the 11 films in the Friday the 13th franchise, and rank them from worst to best! –George Heftler
12. Jason Goes to Hell
This. Is. Bad. At the end of the movie, all you’re left with are questions. Questions like:
How did Jason come back?
Why did that guy eat Jason’s heart?
Why does everyone know about Jason all of a sudden?
Who is this bounty hunter and why is he so familiar with Jason?
Why is there a magic dagger and where did it come from and why does this bounty hunter have it?
What is that Bizarre Jason-Baby thing?
What are those giant Muppet hands pulling them to hell?
Honestly, I’d skip this one. Not even particularly good kills… just boring all the way through, and very little of actual Jason.
11. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
The kills vary between super unimaginative (literally just choking out) and some of the best so far (upper-cutting a boxer’s head off and into a dumpster, weighing someone down/melting their chest with a sauna rock). That said, they’re stuck on a boat that magically transfers them from a lake to the water outside Manhattan for 70% of the movie, the ending sucks, and the dialogue is dismal. Worth watching if you’re marathoning, but pretty skippable.
10. Friday the 13th (Reboot)
I’ve seen worse reboots… even just last week with Nightmare on Elm Street. I like that they kind of started with the original plot already having taken place, and he starts as Baghead Jason like he is in Part 2. There’s also some cool kills, like hanging someone in a sleeping bag over a fire to roast them. That said, the victims are pretty boring (even with Jared Padalecki and Danielle Panabaker in it) and Jason himself just seems more human, less force of nature. This is not a bad movie, it’s just not amazing. I thought it took too much from 2 and 7, and didn’t do enough to differentiate itself from the originals.
9. Freddy Vs. Jason
I went pretty in depth on this movie in the Nightmare on Elm Street article so I won’t completely break it down again, but rather, look at how it compares as a Jason movie as opposed to a Freddy movie.
Whereas this movie was a breath of fresh air compared to the “pussyfooting around with his prey” that Freddy is known for in his franchise, this is a pretty weak Jason movie. The cool scenes are still cool, but Jason has done a lot more and had more interesting stories. I still wouldn’t say it’s “bad” compared to the movies further down on this list, but because this franchise is honestly pretty consistent, it’s much lower than it was when compared to the entirety of Nightmare on Elm Street.
8. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
This movie has me conflicted. The design of Jason is top-notch and he has some really awesome kills, including the iconic sleeping bag kill and literally bending a guy in half. Conversely, the characters are actively terrible, making this is really the first time that I was really rooting for Jason. On top of that, random telekinesis never really did it for me… so…. Meh?
7. Jason X
Ok, I have to be up-front and mention that this movie is not scary in the slightest. You might think that would drop it down the list, BUT it is delightful. David Cronenberg has a fun cameo! Jason freezes a lady’s head and smashes it! Jason Mortal Kombats a guy onto some spikes! Jason recreates the sleeping bag kill in a hilarious way! There’s a crazy robot fight scene! Jason has a real flair for the dramatic in this one, and I truly enjoy it. The best of the “bad” iterations and is goofy as heck.
6. Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter
I know this is a lot of people’s favorite one, but it didn’t really do much for me. I liked it ok, but not as much as the preceding or following movies. I do wish I didn’t know going into it that Tommy Jarvis was the protagonist of the next two movies, because I liked the ambiguous ending. It’s not all bad though… There’s some pretty ok kills, it kicks off a cool plotline, and Crispin Glover is, as always, a delightful oddball. Keep an eye out for his sweet dance moves.
5. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
A lot of people hate this one, but I thought it was pretty fun. It’s a little on the goofy side, there’s plenty of fun characters, more nudity than you can shake a stick at. I do wish it was a little gorier, but I liked it, and thought the twist was pretty cool… especially with adequate foreshadowing, which I appreciate.
4. Friday the 13th Part III
This is a quality drop from Part II, but it’s still quite good. This franchise really knows how to have a third act. There’s an awesome climax, and it’s really cool to see him finally get his iconic mask. Little more focused on external strife, like the bikers, but at least even those characters are fun to watch. And just think… if Shelley wasn’t such a goofball, we might have never seen Jason become the behemoth he is!
3. Friday the 13th
This is a pretty damn solid movie. I wish it wasn’t such a part of the cultural zeitgeist, because I’m sure it would have been even better without knowing the twist, but still great and well worth a watch. Kevin Bacon gets a cool kill, the victims are all enjoyable and relatable, and it’s pretty tense the whole way though.
2. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
Really awesome, and this is in second by just a hair. I liked Tommy, and it was great to have him as a through-line in the last three movies. I also really enjoyed Megan as the love interest, and the sheriff was a GREAT secondary antagonist. This is also the spookiest of the bunch, because it’s the only iteration that actually has children at the camp. Seeing a bunch of sleeping kids as Jason passes by a window is honestly frightening. These kids also have some fun lines, like “what were you going to be when you grew up?”. Sprinkle in some inventive kills, and you’ve got yourself a really good movie.
1. Friday the 13th Part II
Ginny Field is my favorite character in this entire series, portrayed by Amy Steel. She is funny, strong, capable, determined, and easy on the eyes to boot. This is also the first movie in the series to have Jason as the killer, even if he’s wearing a bag instead of his mask. Best of all though is the ending of this movie. The back half of this movie just gets better and better, culminating in one of the best scenes I’ve seen in a horror movie.
BONUS: Crystal Lake Memories
This documentary may be 7 hours of content, but it flew by. Really interesting and in-depth breakdown of every single movie, including the reboot. Particularly interesting was seeing the transition to New Line Studios, and looking at the worse ones/what went wrong; as opposed to the NoES documentary, these cast members seemed much more open about the challenges and misfires. Also, I’m pretty sure the NoES documentary reuses some of this footage.
Overall, this series was shockingly consistent. The first one that I’d consider to be actually bad is 8 deep (Takes Manhattan), and the only one I’d probably skip in future viewings is Jason Goes to Hell. They aren’t afraid to switch things up, Jason is awesome, and between the two series I’ve watched so far, I’ll spend my time at Camp Crystal Lake any time.