This isn’t our first time assembling a ranking of the entire Friday the 13th franchise. Chances are every time I’ve personally made a similar list, it’s been a little bit different. That’s what happens when examining a fan favorite, prolific franchise that holds a special place in the heart. Opinions change, assessments differ slightly. At the end of the day, whether bad or good, most of us love these films, and that speaks volumes to Sean Cunningham’s genius creation.
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan: Easily the worst of the series, Jason Takes Manhattan is an absolute joke of a film. There may be a few interesting death scenes to take in, but outside of the carnage there are extremely few redeeming qualities to the picture.
Friday the 13th Part III: Fans will chastise me from this Friday the 13th to next, but the third film in the franchise is dreadfully bad. Yes, it’s awesome to see Jason don the trademark hockey mask, and yes there are a few lovely looking ladies in the film, but the acting has arguably never been worse in the world of the Voorhees clan, the death scenes are a bit underwhelming (okay, the eyeball scene is pretty awesome) and we’ve got next to zero endearing personalities to cheer for. The film is a stinker, and while it’s a picture that always lands in the marathon lineup, just to keep the continuity feeling as cohesive as possible, it’s not one of the finer 90-minute stretches in said marathon.
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives: The good things about Friday the 13th Part VI? An early nod to Frankenstein and the return of Tommy Jarvis, the longest living character in the series. Just about every other element of the movie looks and feels cheap. It’s the only film in the franchise that doesn’t showcase any perky breasts, which doesn’t do much to help the film, either. If you’re looking to skip a film in the Friday franchise, this is one of the top contenders.
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday: What’s nice about Jason Goes to Hell is the attempt to deliver an original idea to fans. There’s a very real bid to produce a creative film, and even if the majority of it fails to work – which it does – screenwriters Jay Huguely and Dean Lorey, in addition to director Adam Marcus deserve a nod of respect for being brave enough to attempt something new. The look of Jason – what we get of it – is pretty gnarly, and there are a small handful of memorable performances (here’s looking at you, Steven Williams) that work to push the film out of the depths occupied by the most dreadful franchise installments.
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood: Like Jason Goes to Hell, it’s hard not to give The New Blood a little credit for trying something new. Jason vs. Carrie, as the film could have been called, had some very real potential. That said, the performances are depressing as all hell, there’s a flatline in place of performer chemistry, there’s basically zero gore in the film (we’d like to issue a nice ‘eff off’ to the MPAA) and the supernatural element that had so much potential really just ends up feeling rather goofy. It’s not the worst of the lot, but it sure as hell isn’t the best, either.
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning: Wait… a… minute… A New Beginning doesn’t even really have Jason Voorhees in it? No, no it doesn’t. However, Danny Steinmann’s mystery (yep, it’s actually a mystery, even if it isn’t a very complex one) does a few very bold things. There are a handful of very memorable scenes here, an inspired finale and another appearance from Tommy Jarvis, whose time away from the series has gifted him some nifty new martial arts skills.
Jason X: Jason X, according to writer Todd Farmer, was initially going to be a straight-forward, dark story, but, thanks to New Line execs, ended up being an uber goofy flick with some of the most outlandish decisions we’ve seen from the Friday franchise. But holy hell is it a lot of fun! Really, the movie is a blast. There are a number of amazing punchlines, a great hologram scene, a few extremely clever death scenes and a shockingly entertaining makeover for Jason in store for viewers. It’s just too much fun. If you watch it knowing you’re about to watch a horror comedy, you’ll absolutely adore the film.
Friday the 13th (2009): When it comes to Platinum Dunes’ 2009 reboot, you’re likely to hear plenty of negativity from hordes of Friday fans. The truth is, I have no idea where that negativity comes from. There are a couple of sketchy (subterranean tunnels, anyone?) angles to the story, but the acting is polished, unlike the performances featured in the vast majority of other franchise films, the death scenes are pretty rewarding, there’s a great sex scene, great characters and the picture’s tension is nearly unrivalled by other films in the series. It’s a very engaging picture and it’s more likely to hold your attention than most of the other films featuring Jason Voorhees, who, for the record, is finally the fast, agile killing machine so many of us have called for over the years.
Freddy vs. Jason: If you’re just looking to have a good time with a horror movie, this long anticipated crossover pick really, really delivers. We’re talking really delivers! It’s an absolute riot, boasts some insanely cool sequences and brings together two of the greatest villains of our time. Given the location of the film it feels quite a bit different than most other films in the franchise, but seeing Jason and Freddy toe the line is an absolute blast. It may not frighten you, but it will have you fully engaged.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter: If the third film in this franchise had been a keeper, we would have seen something profoundly rare in a four-film hot streak for the series. That didn’t happen, but at least the fourth film, The Final Chapter, rocks the rock. Everything about the movie is awesome, from the characters to the kills, the settings to the dialogue, this is a wildly entertaining movie that proves far more entertaining than it probably should have. Any Friday film that features Corey Feldman is an alright Friday film in our minds!
Friday the 13th Part 2: Friday the 13th Part 2 and the series starter are basically interchangeable for this top slot. The biggest difference between the two is obviously the lunatic responsible for slaying a slew of unsuspecting camp counselors. In part one we get a screw-loose old lady hacking teens to bits, in Part 2 we get the official introduction of a grown Jason Voorhees, an unstoppable killing machine that’s now become iconic within the horror field. This is an awesome movie that never gets old and holds more cultural relevance and cinematic impact than 90-percent of horror films released in the last 40 years.
Friday the 13th: And we close it out the right way, with the original film – the one that started it all – sitting comfortably in the top position of this list. Sean Cunningham’s original flick opened the door for something very special, and we can’t forget that. Although we don’t technically see Jason Voorhees arrive until Part 2, we do get a great film about revenge, lunacy and a broken heart. Poor Pamela Voorhees, she just wants to make someone pay for neglecting her disabled child, who died years ago while a bunch of douche bag counselors smoke, drank and had sex. We’re on your side, Mrs. Voorhees – go get ‘em girl!