Ranking the Friday the 13th franchise from worst to first
Regular listeners to the show are probably well aware that I am a Jason fanboy. I watch the Friday the 13th films repeatedly, never tiring of their campy, hack-and-slash style. From my collection of machetes and goalie masks, to the permanently inked mask on my arm, I live and breathe Friday the 13th and treasure the franchise.
Because of this, people often ask me (no they don’t), “Tony, how would you rank the Friday the 13th movies?” And I’ll politely respond, “Excuse me, but I’m using this bathroom stall. Please close the door.” But, even though it’s been done a million times before, people have been clamoring for me to weigh in (no they haven’t). So since we’re here with the first Friday the 13th of 2017, I’m going to rank the entire Friday the 13th franchise from worst, to first.
So here we go…
#12 Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
You may be asking, “Why is this dead last?” Well, have you seen this hunk of shit? First of all, Jason is in the movie for aaaaabout 5 minutes, collectively. Now my F13 brethren might be saying, “But Tony, Jason isn’t in Part V at all.” I’ll get to that. This asinine movie takes the, admittedly, already farfetched concept of an undead serial killer stalking the woods to an even more ridiculous level by deciding that the Voorhees were some kind of satanic cultists and that’s why Jason can’t die. But when he’s blown to absolute shit, his essence in in some fucking hell-worm thing that has to be put in his sister or niece – neither of whom we’ve never heard of in all EIGHT of these god damn movies – in order to be reborn. If any of this sounds familiar, its because they did practically the same story two years later in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. And whaddaya know? That movie was awful too. So, Jason jumps from body to body by mouth-fucking people with this worm thing that looks like Bad Milo until he can find his remaining family and mouth-fuck one of them to be reborn… or whatever.
This was also the first F13 film to be produced under the New Line Cinema banner after buying the rights from Paramount. And man, did they just fuck it all up. Bad story, bad direction, bad bad BAD acting. Just a total shit show. Plus, except for a couple years, there was a F13 film once a year through the 80’s, but this one fucked that up, coming out 4 years after the previous film. New Line needs to have their collective dicks kicked in for raw-dogging Jason this badly. Even Jason Takes Manhattan wasn’t this bad.
Which leads me to…
#11 Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
Don’t get me wrong, guys. This is still #11, and it’s still really bad.
Admittedly, a lot of Friday movies suffer from varying degrees of poor direction, bad script, bad writing, or bad acting. This one takes all four and cranks it up to 11. What makes that even more sad is that this one actually had a well-known and seasoned actor, Peter Richman, and even he bumbled through it. So the story is, a couple of horny teens are trying to bang on a boat in Crystal Lake, their boat passes over some cables in the water (?) that are apparently carrying an electric charge (??), severs them, and electrocutes Jason (previously dragged to the bottom by a ghost or something) back to life. Apparently Crystal Lake is also an open lake (who knew?) because Jason hops aboard another boat of high school seniors taking a trip to Manhattan (heyyyy there it is), sailing from Crystal Lake…into the Atlantic Ocean. Naturally, Jason slaughters damn near the entire boat’s worth of patrons. Save, of course, for the final girl and her golden boy. She, by the way, keeps seeing vision of little baby Jason. Is she psychic or clairvoyant? Nope, she’s not. Just seeing things. For no particular reason. They make it to land, Jason PUNCHES A GUY’S HEAD OFF, and then he gets obliterated by a tidal wave of New York City’s famous magical raw sewage and is instantly reverted to a child, who has also amazingly been cured of his monstrous deformities, and of the whole being dead thing. Then the final girl and her man walk off into the sunset. That’s how it fucking ends.
Jesus Christ. This was Paramount’s last go with the series, and I’m sure at the time (see above), people thought, “THANK. GOD.” when the rights transferred to New Line after seeing this garbage bag filled with vomit. Kane Hodder’s second time out as Jason and he was of course awesome, but that doesn’t save the film. Oh, and they were only in Manhattan for aaaabout five minutes, and they only filmed there for about that long. The rest was filmed in Vancouver.
#10 Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)
A lot of people will fight me on this one’s position. They’ll say it’s actually one of the better films with good kills and decent acting and a decent story. To those people, I say come at me, bro. This movie is balls. Wanna know why? Two reasons: 1. A guy duets with his girlfriend while he’s taking a shit, and 2. IT ISN’T FUCKING JASON VOORHEES, GOD DAMMIT. Get the fuck out of here with this shit. Apparently the producers wanted to start a new series of F13 films with a new killer. Hey assholes, remember Halloween III and how well that worked out? Yeah, shut up.
Tommy Jarvis had a mental breakdown after killing Jason in The Final Chapter (note that this came after that one, the final chapter), and is being sent to a halfway house for unstable and degenerate teens. While he’s there, some dude starts dressing up like Jason and starts wiping out all of the kids. It’s not Jason, as I’ve said, the guy doesn’t have a particular vendetta against Tommy and quite possibly doesn’t even know he’s there, so why did he opt to take on the persona of a killer that had been dead for multiple years at that point? Make sense to you? Me neither.
I will give this one credit for amping up the kills and having the best nudity in the original series, but my god, this is total horse caca.
#9 Jason X (2001)
People HATE this movie, and I really don’t get it. I mean, it’s not all that good, but it’s by no means the worst in the series. It’s a pretty well known adage in horror that when you go to space, you’re done. Well, over at New Line, even though they had the rights to both characters, Freddy vs Jason was going fucking nowhere. So in order to keep people giving a shit about our boy Jason, Sean S. Cunningham said he wanted to make a new movie. Todd Farmer brought him this story, and I have to imagine Cunningham just went, “Yeah sure, fuck it.” Because this was apparently the only idea that Farmer brought to the table.
In the distant future world of 2010, Jason is finally captured by the US Government and is being prepped for cryogenic stasis until they can figure out how to actually kill the son of a bitch. Thanks to the missteps and overall arrogance of the military, something goes wrong with the cryo and while Jason gets turned into a killerscicle, he takes his…caretaker (?) Rowan with him. Over the next four and half centuries, Jason and Rowan sit frozen (because who would think to maybe get her out?), the human race destroys the planet and jumps ship for for a new planet, the cleverly named “Earth Two.” Then a high school class takes some kind of field trip to Earth “One,” I guess, finds Jason and Rowan and takes them back to the ship as some kind of souvenirs. Then of course, Jason thaws out and comes back to life and does what he does best, slaughtering idiot teens. In the future. In space. Then Jason gets a cybernetic upgrade (TECHNOLOGY!) and starts killing people…basically the same way he was before.
Like I said before, it’s not all that good, but it’s not all that bad either. It’s a pretty standard F13 movie with only a slightly more ridiculous premise than usual. Points for the reappearance of the classic sleeping bag death, the frozen face crushing and for the David Cronenberg cameo as the guy that wants to use Jason for experiments rather than freezing him. It was the last appearance, possibly ever, of Kane Hodder as the big man and was the first time he’d played him in damn near 10 years, and he didn’t miss a beat. All in all, it was mostly enjoyable.
Although, this was the last film in the original canon…so maybe I’m wrong.
#8 Friday the 13th (1980)
Here it is, the one that started it all. Old timers will tell you this is the best in the series. How it was so original (it wasn’t) and how the ending is such a surprise (it isn’t). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike this one. I just get a little salty when other sucka MC’s try to tell me that this is not only the best one, but the ONLY good one. I guess my question is, what makes this one so great? I mean, the kills are kinda meh, the characters are mostly uninteresting, and Jesus Christ, what in the name of fuck is with the camp owner, Steve Christy? I mean, look at this fuckin’ clown…
Jorts and a neckerchief. Seriously? I know it was the 80’s but dear god, man. The minute this guy comes on screen, you’re basically praying he dies soon. Now, this film did give us the “Summer Camp Slasher” sub genre and the foundation to the best slasher series ever (that’s right, Halloween fans), but this one ranks okay at best in the overall franchise. It did have plenty of BACON, though. Kevin Bacon, that is.
The premise, not that it differs too much from the other early ones in the series, is that Camp Crystal Lake, dubbed “Camp Blood” by the locals, is reopening after 20-some-odd years of being closed because of a couple of unsolved murders. Despite this notorious stigma, the hopeful staff is renovating the run down camp and preparing it for a new slew of campers, a mystery killer inexplicably starts killing off the counselors one by one. Bare bones plot, it is what it is.
But, it did open the door for…
#7 Friday the 13th Part II (1981)
Now this is the one where the F13 really gathered steam. It removed the mystery killer aspect and got right to the point: the indiscriminate killing of hormonal teens/20-somethings. I mean, that’s what we really want, isn’t it? Just sheer fucking brutality? Of course it is!
After only being briefly mentioned in the first movie (with an even more brief appearance), it’s revealed that Jason didn’t drown all those years ago, and has grown up in the woods as some kind of redneck feral man-child. When he finds out that his mother, Pamela got decaffeinated (sorry guys, spoilers), he’s naturally a little irate and takes an ice pick to the evil bitch that killed his mommy. Back at Crystal Lake, at another site (you’ll find during the course of the franchise that Crystal Lake apparently has endless amounts of lakeside real estate) a group of camp counselor trainees are gathering for…well, training. Aware of what occurred during the events of the first film, the counselors are naturally a little on edge. And then Jason decides that he really fucking hates these people and starts mercilessly slaughtering them. And by mercilessly, I mean that even the wheelchair guy GETS A FUCKING MACHETE IN THE FACE.
IN. THE. FACE. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
Is it some of Jason’s best work? In general, no. But give him some credit, he’s new to this whole serial killer thing. And damn it if this didn’t introduce us to our modern slasher killer and set the theme for the rest of the series. Thank god for studio greed and the ambition of director Steve Miner, and their ability to ignore Sean Cunningham basically shitting on the idea of any sequels (although I’m sure he’s enjoying the royalty paychecks now).
#6 Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
The first movie to star Kane Hodder as Jason, who made the character into a ruthless, brutal thug. And I LOVE it. God, I love so much seeing Jason just absolutely fuck people up. This movie almost got a fucking X-rating. Jason PUNCHES through some poor fucker’s chest, and THEN snaps his fucking neck. And then he gathers up the dude’s girlfriend in her sleeping bag, and BASHES HER AGAINST A FUCKING TREE like some kind of god damn cat in a pillowcase. THEN he fucking disembowels Bernie from Weekend at Bernie’s! UGH! AWESOME!
Keep in mind, though, that this doesn’t entirely make up for the stupid plot.
This one was billed as “Jason vs Carrie.” Tina is a pretty pathetic, introverted telekinetic that accidentally killed her father with her powers when she was young. In his infinite wisdom, her shrink, Dr. Bernie, thinks that the best way to get her to get a hold on her powers is to go back to the place that her father drowned, which just so happens to be Crystal Lake. When she attempts to use her powers to revive her father from the murky deep (apparently nobody bothered to recover his body?), she unintentionally revives Jason, who has been chained to the bottom of the lake since the events of the previous film. Jason comes ashore, soggy as hell, and just makes Bernie, Tina’s mom and the asshole kids in the cabin next door his bitches. Then Tina’s dad who yes, is apparently still at the bottom of the lake (seriously, does the Crystal Lake PD not have search & rescue or something?) springs up and drags Jason back down into the lake. So, you know, that’s that. Brutal as all hell, but total nonsense.
#5 Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
I think aside from Part V, this is the sequel that could find itself in any seat on a given Top 10 list, depending on the author. This one started out in my list as #3. I’ve always treasured this one and put it above most other entries, but after some soul-searching, some dramatic rides on a motorcycle and some sessions of looking longingly at some crashing waves, I decided to knock it back a couple spots. I kinda think the only reason I put it so high up is because this is the first film with Jason’s iconic hockey mask. And that’s important, don’t get me wrong. This movie created an icon. But I mean, other than that, there’s not a lot that is special about this one. It was originally in 3-D, but aside from an eyeball popping out, a harpoon coming at you, and a yo-yo bobbing up and down, there’s not much to it. Definitely just a stupid gimmick that gives you a headache. Kinda like today’s 3-D.
After staggering away from the brutal injuries he got in Part II, Jason steals clothes from a green grocer and then proceeds to kill the grocer and his ball-busting wife. Because nothing gets you back in the swing of things like a couple of fresh kills. He makes his way back to the lake just in time for Chris and her rag-tag band of friends to show up at her family’s lakeside cabin. Weirdest, most random group, by the way. A tool and his pregnant girlfriend, a tomboy with a chip on her shoulder, a roly poly loser that plays pranks to make friends (the loser part informs how well this tact works for him), and a man and woman that are basically a male/female rip off of Cheech & Chong. Anyway, Jason shows up and starts with the ki-ki-ki’ing and ma-ma-ma’ing. He chops the tool, who keeps doing handstands for some fucking reason, right in the dick. He pops some dude’s head, and impales a couple of fuckers with pitchforks. Not bad.
The one thing that irks me, and many others, about this movie is that Chris recounts a past run-in she had with Jason (and she lived? What?) during which, while not explicitly shown, it is heavily suggested that Jason tried to molest/rape her. Wtf? The guy that spent an entire previous movie offing kids that were just trying to hump is a rapist? Someone explain the logic behind this to me.
Regardless of the complaints, this is still a great movie that followed the lead of its predecessor by molding the legacy of Jason that we all enjoy today. It unseated E.T. as the #1 movie in America, and was just behind Poltergeist in grosses. Not shabby.
#4 Friday the 13th (2009)
“YOU PUT THIS ABOVE THE ORIGINAL?! BLASPHEMER!!!” is probably what a lot of you are saying right now. But you know what? Fuck you. How about that? I like this. This had just about everything I want out of a F13 film. And yes, it’s a Platinum Dunes remake. I know (#fuckmichaelbay). But it was still pretty good. You had idiot millennials getting laid to waste by a big hulking fucker in a hockey mask. What more do you want? The story was a bit thin, sure. But it wasn’t a bad story. And really, how much do you care about the story in a Friday the 13th movie as long as it makes sense?
Whitney and her friends go camping to look for some bomb ass cheeba growing in the woods surrounding Crystal Lake. Jason doesn’t like people fucking with his stash (probably) and lays them all to waste…except for Whitney, who someone in casting decided looked like the actress that played Pamela Voorhees earlier in the prologue. Jason spares her and keeps her captive in his underground lair. About two-ish months later, Trent and his gang of Abercrombie & Fitch friends are headed out to Crystal Lake for some shootin’, snortin’, poppin’, drinkin’ (Black Sheep…get it? No? Nevermind.) and of course, some fuckin’. The meet up with Sam from Supernatural who is looking for his sister Pamela, er, Whitney. Sorry, they just look so much alike! Hilarity ensues and Jason summarily executes just about everyone that shows their face on screen.
It’s not perfect, not by a long shot. Like I said, the story’s thin, none of the characters are particularly likeable, even the ones we’re supposed to like, and the kills could have used a little more imagination. But some of the kills were pretty bitchin’. The axe to the back was particularly good. And the cast played their parts well, fleshing out there roles in the standard group of slasher film cannon fodder. Some were actually pretty funny, kinda like this guy…
Also it had a sex scene that was seriously, so juicy, dude. I don’t care what anyone says, this one definitely deserves its spot in the Top 5.
#3 Freddy vs Jason (2003)
People clamored over the idea of this since it was first hinted at in 1993, and it only took a fucking DECADE for New Line to get their shit together. So good job, guys. Some might wonder why this is on the list since it isn’t “officially” a F13 movie. But I think it’d be insane not to include it. Sure, it’s a little cornball and the awful fucking soundtrack of shitty nu-metal is sickening, but the story that finally brought the two characters together was inspired. It paid tribute to both film series with callbacks and references, which as a fan, is always nice. And combining the lore of both characters was really well done.
Feeling forgotten and down on his luck, Freddy invades the dreams of a…hibernating (?) Jason, and under the guise of Pamela Voorhees, convinces Jason to travel to Springwood to strike fear in the hearts of the children who have either forgotten him or never even heard of him (I’d nitpick this element of the story, but this is about Friday, not Nightmare) so he can regain his hold over their dreams. Jason goes and does what he does best, but Freddy’s plan backfires when Jason keeps killing all the kids that Freddy wanted to have for himself. The two battle back and forth, in dream world and the real world, each having an advantage in their own domain. All the while, the stupid kids basically stand around in the background, acting like they’re relevant somehow.
Why do I rate this above other Friday entries? Well, you only need look at the title for that answer. FREDDY VS JASON. ON SCREEN. I shrieked like a little girl when this movie came out. To FINALLY see these two on the screen together was a dream come true. This is by far and away my favorite look for Jason. Ken Kirzinger is 6’7″ and is the biggest fucker to play Jason. And while I love Kane Hodder, Ken made Jason the fucking inhuman giant that I always wanted him to be. Englund was on point after putting on the glove for the first time in almost 10 years. The story was solid, the kills were awesome despite an overuse of CGI. For some reason, Jason is afraid of water despite having been IN water multiple times throughout the series. But, you know, we’ll look past that. The actual fight scenes were a fan boy’s dream.
Now I just wish we could have gotten Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash.
#2 Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter (1984)
So the original plan was to end the series with Part III, but being that it was the second highest-grossing film of 1982, Paramount was naturally like, “Let’s make that money, fam.”
And thank God they did, because this is just a gem, people. Great kills, great story, Crispin Glover’s bitchin’ dance moves, Corey Feldman, Ginny from Weird Science gets naked. It’s great. Oh, oh, and TWIIIIIIINS! (Someone out there gets that reference)
When Jason awakes in the morgue after having the business end of an axe not-so-gingerly inserted into his cranium at the end of Part III, he quickly dispatches the morgue doctor, Fackler from Police Academy, and the fickle nurse in the other room, and starts walking back to Crystal Lake. Also heading to the lake is, you guessed it, a car-full of victims filled with so many hormones that it’s practically oozing out of their ears. Also at the lake is Tommy, Trish and Mrs. Jarvis. When Jason arrives, things start to go to shit pretty quick. Aided until his stupid death by Rob, the ultimately completely useless brother of Sandra from Part II, the Jarvises (Jarvii?) attempt to stay alive while using the shitty 20-somethings next door as a buffer between them and Jason. When it comes down to it, where Trish and Tommy are the only ones left, Tommy has the brilliant (sure, why not?) idea to make himself look like Jason as a kid…by shaving his head…which distracts Jason long enough for Trish to give him a whack in the head with the machete, which he then falls on, as it slides slowly through his skull. SO GOOD. Then Tommy loses his shit and hacks Jason to death.
Naturally, as the title would imply, this was supposed to be the final film. That being the case, they brought back THE Tom Savini to do the effects (he did the effects the first one. I think I forgot to mention that. Fuck it.) because he wanted to be the one that killed Jason since he helped create him. So, if you notice an uptick in the quality of the SFX, that’s why. A lot of people will say this is the best one, and it’s hard not to agree with them.
That is, until you start talking to me about…
#1 Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
We’ve arrived, folks. This is, hands down (no, put your hands down) the best film in the series. It has all the good stuff…except boobs. Actually this one doesn’t have a whole lot of blood either. BUT STILL! It’s awesome. I promise.
This is our first experience with undead Jason, an unstoppable walking corpse with superhuman strength (don’t overthink it). Remorseless and indiscriminate as ever with his killing (except he doesn’t kill kids. JASON HAS EMOTIONAL DEPTHS!!!!), he gets really creative in this one. Ripping off limbs, multiple decapitations, folding someone at the waist…backwards. So good. Oh, and the third appearance of Tommy Jarvis (now played by Return of the Living Dead‘s Thom Matthews), fresh out of the nuthouse.
Years after the events of Part IV, and even still after Part V, Tommy is still tormented by the memories of Jason. In order to prove to himself once and for all that Jason is in fact dead, he and Horshack from Welcome Back Kotter return to Crystal Lake, now named Forest Green (on account of the bad history), to dig up Jason’s corpse and…I don’t know, I don’t think he had a plan beyond that. But, after venting his emotions by venting the corpse with an iron rod, a well-placed bolt of lightning resurrects Jason, who subsequently relieves Horshack of his heart. Tommy flees back into town to alert the authorities, but the sheriff is busy hamming up his role and doesn’t want any of Tommy’s nonsense, so he locks him up. Tommy is then rescued by the sheriff’s hot daughter Megan who is a counselor at the camp, and is totally DTF, but he’s more concerned about the undead killer on the loose. Meanwhile, back at the camp, Jason is taking out counselors left and right. That is, until Tommy shows up and traps him at the bottom of the lake FOR ALLLLL OF ETERNITYYYYY…until the next film.
This was the first time that Jason lost basically all of his humanity and became the bloodthirsty brute that we know and love nowadays, a robotic killing machine. It’s almost as if his soul didn’t come back from the dead with him. Other films in the series may be better in individual fields, but this is the best balance of story, kills, characters, and depiction of Jason himself (Hodder is king though). And I fucking love the direction they went with Tommy, developing him into a sort of arch-nemesis. He became Jason’s Laurie Strode or Nancy Thompson. I just wish they would have brought him back down the line. Maybe Goes to Hell wouldn’t have been such a heaping pile of shit.
Well, that’s it kids. It took me for-fucking-ever to write this so I hope you enjoyed it. I’m thinking ahead to where #13 will fit into this list, assuming it ever fucking happens. Tell us below what YOUR favorite Friday the 13th movie is. I mean, unless it’s Part VI, it doesn’t really matter. But tell us anyway!