Not that long ago Amazon Prime uploaded the entire classic run of FRIDAY THE 13TH films. It had been a long time since I watched them and on a whim one evening I started the series from the beginning. Because I can be a bit of a compliest (especially when it comes to horror) I ended up rewatching the entire franchise.
I’ve never been much of a slasher fan. The first NIGHTMARE OF ELM STREET movie is fantastic horror but that series turning into cheesy comedy lost me. I’ve always found the HALLOWEEN movies to just be boring (yes, even the first). But for some reason I’ve always dug Jason. I love the character design and the franchises commitment to always being focused on Jason killing people. It’s sleazy, trashy, and just pure fun.
After rewatching here’s my ranking of all the movies with some brief thoughts on each one.
1: FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER
The quintessential FRIDAY flick. This film is essentially the origin story of every trope associated with the slasher genre. Tom Savini’s gore is some of the best of the series (at least from what the MPPA allowed us to see). It’s just Jason brutally killing teens for 90 minutes. When you picture a FRIDAY film in your head – you’re thinking of this one. Also this is the last film in the series to have the sleazy grindhouse feel (at least to me).
2: JASON X
This is so absolutely insane and balls-to-the-wall that I can’t help but love it. People complain that this is stupid but that’s missing the point – this is Jason in space! Of course it’s stupid! There are some amazing death scenes (the frozen space and the “screw” death are obvious highlights) and cyborg uber-Jason. The moment when Jason is floating through space towards the characters never fails to make me giggle. Fucking great movie!
3: FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES
Super fun and the first appearance of zombie Jason. The larger scope of the story keeps it more interesting than many of the entries before and after. Plus the generous amount of metahumor predating the SCREAM franchise is surprisingly cutting edge. And what the fuck is with the cops in this movie? They are real fucking assholes.
4: FRIDAY THE 13TH (2009)
Basically a remake of the first four films in the franchise. It has that 00’s slick and gritty feel that many of the era’s horror remakes had but it really works here unlike so many other remakes from the same time. It’s just Jason killing teens with super slick gore but isn’t that why we watch these movies?
5: FRIDAY THE 13TH PART II
Baghead Jason is really cool here and I kinda wish that we got to see more of that Jason in the series. This entry also haves the heaviest grindhouse aesthetic of the entire series (which is something I really dig).
6: FRIDAY THE 13TH
The quintessential 80’s slasher that ripped off Bava’s A BAY OF BLOOD and spawn thousands of imitators. This may be an essential part of horror history but these days its better remember for ushering in the slasher subgenre than the actual movie itself. The kills are good (awesome effects from Tom Savini) and the twist at the end is still perfect but this is one of the few film series where I like a majority of the sequels more than the original.
7: FREDDY VS JASON
When this first came out I loved it. It’s ridiculous, over-the-top, and gives us the WWE-influenced Freddy versus Jason fight we’ve always wanted to see. Now that some time has passed my feelings have tempered a bit. We spend WAY too much time with the boring teen characters and, outside of a few brief moments, I could have used a lot more blood and gore.
8: FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD
A really fun sequel that wear’s its dumbness proudly. The “Carrie” vs Jason story is one of the more memorable and exciting of the entire franchise. If it wasn’t for the fact that the gore is cut to hell here (seriously – almost every death is practically cut out of the movie) this would be higher up on my list.
9: FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III
This one I feel very “meh” over. It is where Jason gets his iconic hockey mask and the movie does have some good grindhouse moments but it’s very forgettable and stereotypical “eighties slasher.”
10: JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY
A very average nineties-feeling horror movie that only features Jason in the opening and closing scenes. I believe this is the first movie that we don’t see Jason without his mask. I really wanted to see what super bloated and decomposed Jason looked like.
11: FRIDAY THE 13TH: A NEW BEGINNING
My complaints over this one have nothing to do with the fact that Jason isn’t in this. No, my complaints the actual explanation for what is really going on is so anti-climatic that it ruins everything before. The reason the killer is killing is just goddamn fucking stupid (even for slashser standards). Plus this features all the worse tropes of slashers (characters falling and can’t stand, characters refusing to move out of oncoming trouble, annoying kid that’s more proficient at everything than any of the adults).
12: FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN
Just bad. It’s Jason on a boat for ninety minutes and Jason mostly in back alleys of NYC for ten minutes. Most of the kills are boring (the head punch is one notable exception). Honestly, this was a chore to get through.
So that’s my list. After watching all the movies and thinking about them way too much I have some miscellaneous thoughts on the franchise as a whole:
- I probably knew it in the past but had completely forgotten that 2, 3, and 4 take place over the course of one week. It was pretty neat seeing the previous massacres at the beginnings of the films from the perspectives of people just driving by.
- The concept of Jason body-jumping – which was the basis for GOES TO HELL – was weirdly hinted at during the finale scenes of NEW BEGINNING.
- Why do so many women lose the ability to walk/run/stand during these movies? At many points throughout the entire series the female characters will randomly fall over and crawl for sometimes up to dozens of yards while making zero attempts to get back on their feet. Why was this ever a trope?
- The theatrical runs of these have many kill scenes that are borderline bloodless. I remember these movies being on TV all the time when I was a kid (it was how I first saw many of them). I wonder how little they had to edit out – all the nudity obviously but outside of a few scenes there’s just not that much gore in the franchise.
- Jason reminds me a bit of Batman at times. In almost every movie there is a scene where he arranges in all the victim corpses into the perfect manner to surprise and scare the final girl. After she freaks out, he then appears. How does he know where to set everything up? Where does he know the right spot to hide? The answer – he’s Jason. Just like every question about Batman is answered with “he’s Batman.” Damn, now I want a Batman VS Jason story.
- Is Jason is a spree killer or a serial killer? One of the defining aspects of a serial killer is the cooling off period. Jason, from the moment he starts killing in part 2, never seems to have a cooling off period. Sure he is stopped at times but he is more “killed” than choosing to take a break. In real life some spree killers take a night’s sleep before going back at it and Jason’s breaks seem more akin to that. Jason also has to seem to have a complete disregard for his own well-being whereas another trait of serial killers is planning out their crimes (but not always well) for their own safety. In conclusion, I believe that makes Jason a spree killer with the longest continuous spree in that franchise’s universe.
- There’s actually a time jump in the series so most of the later movies are taking place years after the films actually came out. Fun fact – that means Jason is running amok in a post 9/11 NYC. No wonder no one cares.
- The remake ends with Jason getting hung by a chain. If we would have got sequels this would have set up for zombie Jason to have the chain necklace which was present in all the zombie Jason movies from the original series.
- I think the cat from the beginning of PART 2 was working with Jason. Jason was waiting for the girl to find the head in the fridge before attacking and the only reason she went to the fridge was because of the cat. We also never see Jason kill a cat the entire franchise.
- This frame from JASON LIVES is the single best moment of the entire franchise: