October is a time of scary movies and bizarrely sexualized Halloween costumes. The one day of the year that functions as a sort of mini-Halloween is, of course (in Anglophone societies), Friday 13th. But this Friday 13th falls in October, making it a double spooky day rather than an island of macabre at some other point in the year. For this reason, I have decided not to review a single horror film, but to rank all the Friday the 13th films from my least favorite to the GOAT Jason flick.
12th Place: Freddy vs Jason
Oh boy. This movie had all the quips, chills, and spills of a Scary Movie (the parody series, not the genre) and the hype one associates retrospectively with a box office bomb. Incidentally, it made quite the profit so it was far from a bomb. But it deserved to fail. It took two legendary characters and turned it into a gory version of Godzilla vs Mothra.
11th Place: Jason X
Space can be scary. Jason Vorhees can be scary. Cyborgs can be scary. But chocolate is delicious and Filet Mignon is delicious but that doesn't mean I want Godiva on my steak. The teens in this film are extra campy, to the point that their deaths aren't graphic enough to justify their existence. Don't watch Jason X unless you want to have an ironic, hipster Halloween (Hipsterween?).
10th Place: Jason Takes Manhattan
This film is often remembered for some of the more iconic and quasi-humorous kill scenes. That guitar on a boat scene was pure hedonism for horror fans. But at this point in the series the ideas were running thin and it was just a bit too out of steam.
9th Place: A New Beginning
Jason isn't even really the bad guy. Seriously this one is bad. It probably deserves to be higher on this list but it has Corey Feldman and has a very early instance of a Goth girl character which bumps it up just enough to beat out Manhattan.
8th Place: Final Friday
This film comes right after Manhattan, but manages to add a bit more fuel to the tank with promises of Jason's permanent demise (naturally untrue) and by adding a mystical element about bloodlines and daggers that are reminiscent of Halloween 6 and the Samhain cult. Not too bad, not too good.
7th Place: Jason Lives
This one felt more iconic than the previous two installments, and even follows up on adult Tommy Jarvis (more on that later) and the psychological trauma he's experienced from dealing with Jason two previous (sort of) times. That alone makes it more interesting than most of the films, but again, it uses too much humor, a classic sign of an aging horror franchise.
6th Place: The New Blood
Psychic Powers, resurrected Jason, forgettable kills. Not much to say. The only reason it is this high on the list is because Lar Park Lincoln is such a cutie pie.
5th Place: The Final Chapter
The fourth in the series introduces 12 year old Tommy and his sister Trisha. The film is genuinely scary, and Jason really feels like an unstoppable force, which is his best form. to the point that even his disembodied digits move after death, and we get a good look at his jacked up visage.
4th Place: Friday the 13th (2009)
Ah, the remake. Under 20 million bucks to make, over 100 million profit. Granted, it could have been shot for 30 grand and still been better with some decent writing and casting, the movie wasn't nearly as bad as nostalgic critics (both official and just on social media) claimed. I'm no apologist for this film but I also think, as far as remakes go, it wasn't terribly executed.
3rd Place: Friday the 13th (1980)
Speaking of executed, here's the series of teenage mutilations that started it all. Kevin Bacon gets impaled, some goofy teens play strip monopoly, and the killer is Betsy Palmer in a cute white cardigan. It's a slasher movie with an old lady as the slasher...now that's a twist. Also the jump scare at the end made my childhood nightmares consistently involve lakes.
2nd Place: Friday the 13th Part II
The second installment of the Halloween series is terrifying, which is a rarity for horror franchises (looking at you, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, although Caroline Williams was phenomenal) but Friday the 13th was really great at building on the foundation of the first, and introduced Jason Vorhees as a bonafide slasher with oedipal issues. The mask was just a bag, but that was creepy as hell.
1st Place: Friday 13th Part III
Winner winner, chicken dinner. This film has all the trappings of an iconic slasher film from the era. In terms of music, alone...Manfredini's musical score is still imitated to this day. This film had grisly slayings, a "we gotta get to the car!" moment, and Jason gets a spear gun! It was also originally in 3D, and was number one in the box office that month. If you were a teenager in 1982, this was the film that got you to second base. I did not even exist in 1982...my only regret. That being said, this is the movie I think of when I think of Jason, so it gets to be the gold standard for what constitutes a Jason film. Oh and it stars Larry Zerner, the entertainment lawyer, as the teen whose hockey mask Jason took after killing him. That's just hilarious to me.
Feel free to debate this list in the comment section or on twitter. But be warned...I don't change lists. One time I forgot milk on my shopping list...I just ate the cereal dry.